Local dentist receives biology alumni award


Dr. Timothy Shannon presents Dr. Joe L. Griffin with the Lawrence Swalls award on Oct. 21.

Rachel Droze, Staff Writer

On Oct. 21 the Francis Marion University (FMU) biology department honored Dr. Joe L. Griffin with the Lawrence Swails Award.

The Lawrence Swails Award was named in honor of the second chairman of the biology department.

For the last nine years, the Lawrence Swails Award has been presented to a graduate of the biology program who has shown outstanding work in their community and use of their degree. In order to receive the award, a recipient must be an alumni of FMU. With the help of the FMU Alumni Association, the biology department selects a worthy candidate.

“We look for things like community service and what [the alumni] are doing with their degree and how successful [they are],” Dr. Ann Stoeckmann, Biology Department Chair, said. “They do not have to have stayed in South Carolina, but it is always nice to award somebody close by.”

Griffin graduated from FMU in 1981 and attended the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC). Griffin graduated MUSC with a degree in dentistry.

Griffin is currently a dentist in Florence and the owner and operator of Advanced Dental Center. Griffin has been involved with the FMU Alumni Association and is the chairman of “Dentistry from the Heart.”

“Dentistry from the Heart” occurs annually and is a day for locals who cannot afford dental work to receive the attention they need for free.

The second annual “Dentistry from the Heart” was held on Oct. 16, 2014. The free services included cleanings, extractions and fillings.

In addition to the Lawrence Swails Award, Griffin has also received the Palmetto Patriot Award, the highest honor presented by the lieutenant governor, for his work with “Dentistry from the Heart.”

Griffin has also volunteered at Mercy Medicine, a home for single mothers, and worked with a prison ministry.