The UCSB Academic Senate awarded its highest honor to geography professor Reginald Golledge, naming him the Faculty Research Lecturer for 2009.

Professor Golledge, affectionately called “Reg” by friends and staff, has been recognized as an innovator in the field of human geography. His work includes groundbreaking research in the fields of behavioral and disability geography, as well as the creation of the UCSB Personal Guidance System to help blind people navigate.

In a press release, Golledge said the honor caught him off guard.

“I was surprised and excited to be selected for the 2009 award and readily admit that, as a disabled person, much of the credit for my career at UCSB must go to a supportive administration, a number of sympathetic and challenging collaborators – foremost of which has been psychologist Dr. Jack Loomis – and excellent graduate student research assistants,” he said in the statement.

Golledge was declared legally blind in the 1980’s, and since then has remained at the forefront of his field. According to Golledge’s research associate Bill Norrington, Golledge has never allowed his handicap to stop his work and often says, “You don’t have to have sight to have vision.”

“He’s one of the most prolific writers [in the field],” Norrington said. “Reg’s output is incredible, especially considering his legal blindness. For a geographer to go blind is really devastating because geography depends so much on the visual end of things. That’s one reason he went into the area of human geography, with its emphasis on way findings and navigation.”

Typically, Faculty Research Lectures give an honorary public lecture in April or May. However, Academic Senate member Mike Goodchild said that this year’s lecture may be held off until the fall.

Golledge received his Ph.D. from the University of Iowa in 1966 and holds an honorary Ph.D. from Göteborg University in Sweden. Golledge served as chair of the UCSB geography department from 1980 to 1984, and will be retiring this year at the age of 71.