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Colby Earns Fellow Award

Jack Colby, assistant vice chancellor for Facilities Operations, will be honored July 17 in Atlanta with the Fellow Award from APPA, an international organization for educational facilities management.

The organization’s highest individual honor requires active membership for a minimum of 10 years, graduation from APPA’s Institute for Facilities Management and Leadership Academy, completion of an approved research project, authorship of an article for APPA and references from professional colleagues.

Jack Colby
Jack Colby

Colby, a former APPA national president, has been a member of the organization since 1978, serving on numerous committees.

A licensed professional engineer with 24 years of state service, Colby previously served as director of facilities operations for NC State and held similar roles at UNC-Greensboro, Duke University and Daniel International. He has chaired the State Building Commission.

Last year, Colby received the Frank B. Turner Award, which recognizes a state employee who has made outstanding professional contributions to the built environment. He was cited for his role in creating a standardized model to provide operating support for new and renovated buildings, assuring that major investments are properly maintained.

Colby served on the UNC System President’s Advisory Committee on Efficiency and Effectiveness. He established NC State’s sustainability office and its first campus environmental sustainability assessment. He is a graduate of Virginia Tech and the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University.

The College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences (PAMS) at NC State University has announced the establishment of the John S. Risley Distinguished Professorship in the Department of Physics. The professorship was made possible by a gift from John and Dellaine Risley that, with matching funds, will provide a $1 million endowment to provide salary and other support in perpetuity for a senior faculty member.

John Risley is founder and CEO of Raleigh-based Advanced Instructional Systems and a longtime NC State faculty member.

The Risley Professorship will be the first named professorship awarded in the history of the NC State Department of Physics. It is the second professorship established in the department, overall, joining an endowment made possible by a planned gift from Risley’s colleague, Brand Fortner, in 2008.

“I think it says a lot that now a second faculty member, who has such intimate knowledge of the department – and his spouse, who probably knows more about it than she’d care to admit – have such confidence in the path of the department and such a strong commitment to its continued success,” said PAMS Dean Dan Solomon.

John Risley joined the Department of Physics in 1976 after earning his Ph.D. at the University of Washington. Trained as an atomic physicist, he became interested in the application of computer technology to teach physics in the early 1980s. In 1997, Aaron Titus, a graduate student, and Larry Martin, a visiting professor from North Park University in Chicago working in Risley’s lab, created the first version of WebAssign, a unique online service that enabled students to complete their homework and have it automatically graded online.

WebAssign was spun off from the Department of Physics as part of Advanced Instructional Systems in 2003. Under Risley’s guidance, the software and the company have experienced continued growth and success. To date, more than five million students have used WebAssign to submit over a billion answers to homework assignments, tests and practice problems. During any one academic term, more than 500,000 students are using WebAssign at over 1,500 educational institutions worldwide.

To support the Risley Professorship or for more information on establishing your own endowment in PAMS, please contact the Office of College Advancement at or 919-515-3462.