Recognizing what Wingate University President Rhett Brown called the school’s “incredible advantage,” administrators handed out dozens of employee service awards during a banquet Thursday night and honored a handful of soon-to-be retirees.
Travis Teague, dean of the School of Sport Sciences, won the Faith award for his “prophet’s voice, shepherd’s heart, servant spirit and exemplary witness.”
The Knowledge award, recognizing “exceptional intellect, practical competence, current expertise and unexcelled attitude,” went to Vint Tilson, vice president for strategic partnerships. And Susana Peralta of the housekeeping staff took home the Service award for her “selfless duty, unassuming skill, ready assistance and steady perseverance.”
The awards, named to align with Wingate’s motto and handed out by Provost Helen Tate,
were voted on by faculty and staff. Students chose the winner of the Spirit award, Jason Hedetniemi, a visiting assistant math professor. He was recognized for his “campus involvement, consistent student support, commitment to student success and dedication to the university mission.”
In addition to a gift from the University, Silvia Little-Sweat, professor and writer-in-residence, earned a standing ovation for her 55 years of service. Others honored for longevity were Marilyn Brown, Thomas Crawford, Barbara Pann and James Wetherbee, 30 years, Order of the Seal; Ellis Hayes, 25 years; Glenda Bebber and Lisa Schwartz, 20 years; Liz Biggerstaff, Alison Brown, Peter Frank, Lora Gibson, Candy Long, Amie Naylor, Kristin Stowe, Robert Threatt, Kevin Winchester and Chris Ziegler, 15 years.
Roy Blank, Brian Good, Dennis Harlow, Stacey Harris, Olga Klibanov, Michael Manolakis, Sherrie McCaskill, Heather Miller, Jenn Pearson, Casey Pratt, Dawn Price, Lisa Ragsdale, Mick Reynolds, Sharon Robinson, Jorge Tavera and Jessica Teague received awards for their decade of service; and Victoria Best, Donna Brown, Ryan Brown, Brian Carpenter, Debra Davis, Sherry Ferrell, Alex Finley, Irma Garcia-Guerrero, Holly Griffin, Todd Griffin, Lori Hinnant, Ross Jenkins, Greg Keziah, Marcus Kirkland, Susan Lauer, Travis LeFlore, Terese Lund, Angelica Martinez, Elizabeth Maupin, Geniece Monde, Steve Morris, Amanda Myers, Becca Paylor, Tanya Riley, Mark Rollins, Sherri Shank, JoAnn Smith, Karen Elizabeth Smith, Joe Swaim, Mary Swiggum, Guadalupe Vergara, Chip Wiggins, Robby Wise, Diane Wrisley and Kristen Yost were recognized for having worked at Wingate for five years.
All told, the University recognized 725 years of service.
Amanda Stanford, a visiting assistant professor in the English Department, was given the Friends of the Library Faculty Award. The recipient is selected by the Ethel K. Smith Library staff.
Three retiring employees, Mike Gibson, Theresa Gibson and Pam Merrill, were honored with presentations by their co-workers.
Chris Dahm, chair of the Department of Chemistry and Physics, described Professor Mike Gibson, who came to work at Wingate in 1981, as an expert whistler, the science building’s original coffee snob and a frequent volunteer for late-night labs. He said Gibson spent hours offering extra review sessions for his students and was among the first on the faculty to apply for a summer research grant.
Theresa Gibson, director of graduate education at Ballantyne and a seven-year University veteran, was hailed as “personable, caring and knowledgeable,” via a letter from co-worker Ed Davis. Annette Digby, dean of the Thayer School of Education, read excerpts from Davis’ letter, and the words of another of co-worker, Cindy Compton, who called Gibson an “advocate for students and faculty members who always finds a win-win outcome in every situation.” Digby recalled being invited to go “shopping” for furniture in Gibson’s attic.
John Sykes, chair of the Department of English and Modern Languages, rose to sing the praises of the department’s administrative assistant, Pam Merrill, who took the post in 1991. He lauded her for her sympathetic listening and compared her to MASH’s Radar O’Reilly, who frequently supplied his colonel with a completed form before it was requested.
“I can’t say she is efficient, because that is much too paltry a word,” Sykes said. “She anticipates needs and fulfills them.”
The contributions of Physical Therapy Professor Steve Morris and Maintenance Supervisor Richard Helms were also recognized as their retirements were announced, although neither was able to attend the event.
March 2, 2018