WINGATE —Wingate University President Rhett Brown said March 30 that before he took the post two years ago, he assumed that the president only ever heard from people who had problems. As it turns out, he said, he gets an overwhelming amount of positive feedback.
“When people tell me how their lives have been affected by what we do here, they always follow up with a name, a name of a faculty member or someone on staff who made a difference to them,” Brown told the crowd at the annual Employee Service Awards Banquet held at the LaVerne Banquet Hall. “This place is, after all, just grass, bricks and mortar without you all.”
Brown and Provost Helen Tate commended faculty and staff, handing out dozens of awards in recognition of more than 860 cumulative years of service and giving special accolades for faith, knowledge, service and spirit.
Catherine Wright, an assistant professor in the religion department, won the Faith Award for having a prophet’s voice, a shepherd’s heart, a servant spirit and an exemplary witness. The Knowledge Award went to Karen Elizabeth Smith, assistant registrar, for her exceptional intellect, practical competence, current expertise and unexcelled attitude. Taking home the Service Award was Jorge Tavera, housekeeping supervisor. His award recognized selfless duty, unassuming skill, ready assistance and steady perseverance. Faith, Knowledge, Service is Wingate’s motto.
Greg Bell, chairman of the mathematics department, earned the Spirit Award for campus involvement, student support and dedication to the university mission. Whereas the motto-based awards were voted on by faculty and staff, students weighed in on the selection of Bell.
Also on March 30, the university recognized three employees retiring this year: James Smith, Gary Williams and Wynne Stegall. And the Friends of the Library gave its Faculty Award to Barbara Williamson, adjunct faculty member in the English department.
Steve Poston, vice president and athletic director, was honored for 45 years of service; Jeanette Redfern and Wayne Shadrick, 40 years; and John Coleman, Richard Helms and James Hall, 35 years.
Timothy Herrin, director of administrative computing, was awarded the Order of the Seal for 30 years of service; Carol Whitley was honored for 25 years; Cheryl Miller and Brian Odom, 20 years.
In the 15-year category were Laora Brizendine, Shelton Collier, Traci Gearhart, Debbie High, Dane Jordan, Carolyn Little, Greg McGee, Mark Roncace, Stephen Smith, Robert Supernaw, Vint Tilson and Marc Yang.
Those honored for 10 years were Rosalind Becker, Charlene Bregier, Mark Bryant, Brandy Clemmer, Ed Davis, Connie Gaston, Joyce Griffin, Marie Irving, Jessie Wright Martin, Annette McCoy, Hugh Patton, Sam Petoskey, Candice Sturdivant and Amanda Sudol.
Five-year honorees were Jeff Atkinson, Kristen Barbee, Dawn Battise, Deborah Brock, Kevin Brueilly, Joseph Calandra, Courtney Callahan, Christy Charter, Jose Castrejon, Megan Coleman, Anna Cook, Donna Crawford, Melissa Fox, Carrie Griffiths, Ann Hancock, Brock Harris, Jane Horne, Stacy Hutchinson, Cameron Jackson, Ji-Ho Kim, Allison Lenhardt, Juan Mata Rosales, Sean McClain, Rebecca McClough, John McKay, Nicole Miller, Stephanie Okada, Caline Olmsted, Lani Ries, Treavor Riley, Denise Ross, Nicholas Roy, Alison Simpson, Guillermo Trejo, Rashi Waghel, Jenny Walden and Jennifer Wilson.
Prior to the end of the awards event, Brown called those who had at least 30 years of service back to the front to announce that a tree would be planted in their honor on campus, a new practice that he said would begin with new members of the Order of the Seal and would be retroactive for any Order of the Seal members hitting a five-year anniversary mark.
He presented each with a document illustrating the maple trees to be planted and said that the trees would include plaques identifying the employee they are honoring and that a map showing the tree locations on campus would be developed.
In July, The Chronicle of Higher Education selected Wingate University as a 2016 “Great College to Work For.” Of the 281 institutions that were considered, Wingate was one of 93 in the nation and only three in North Carolina to get top ratings.