The Lees-McRae Honors and Awards Ceremony

Outstanding faculty, staff, and students recognized at 62nd Annual Honors and Awards

The college invited the campus community to come together in person and virtually on Thursday, April 22 to honor the individuals at Lees-McRae who have demonstrated excellence in their fields and made a positive impact on the college.  

The Honors and Award ceremony is held annually to acknowledge the good work of students, faculty, and staff. Awards given out at the event include the Edgar Tufts Humanitarian Service Award, the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award, the Edgar Tufts Faculty Award, and awards from each of the academic programs. College leadership also recognized several faculty emeriti for their years of service to the institution.   

Interim Provost Leslie Lambert opened the event by welcoming everyone watching both live and through the video stream and commending all members of the college community on their hard work and success during a difficult year.  

“This has been a challenging time,” Lambert said, “a time where we’re feeling like we’re emerging from a sense of chaos. But as you come out of this, in this season of renewal that I believe this ceremony signifies, I’d like you to think about these things: how are you excellent? How are your eyes wide open? How does your mind wander and wonder, invent and imagine? What art can emerge? What connections can we form? As we gather today in this season of possibility, this a very exciting time for Lees-McRae College, and you are fortunate indeed to be a part of it.” 

After Lambert’s opening remarks, the Lees-McRae choral ensemble The Highlanders performed the song “Connected” by Brian Tate. Lambert then introduced Assistant Professor of English Matthew Wimberley and recognized his recent receipt of the Weatherford Award, a prestigious honor given annually to the books that best encapsulate the qualities of the Appalachian South. Wimberley read one of the poems, “Encomium For Our Last Days,” from his winning collection.  

Professor of Religious Studies Michael Vines announced the inductees to the Alpha Chi National College Honor Society from the classes of 2020 and 2021. Junior and senior students who are in the top 10% of their class are issued invitations to join the organization.  

The 2020 Alpha Chi inductees were Sandra Lee Allen, Ryan Jon Beauchamp, Charlene J. Brady, Casey Noelle Brone-Hammer, Vernon Earl Byrd, Ytia T. Echandia, Emily Claire French, Kylie Lauren Hamilton, Carl Johan Sebastian Hedberg, Jacob Anthony Lail, Faith Nicole Ledford, Dara Marie Madden, Johannes Øeksnevad, Juan S. Restrepo, Abigail F. Shepherd, Arden Grey Simmons, Drew Nathaniel Sims, Kyle Tysinger, Amanda Lynn Welty, Casey M. Wilson, and Amanda Wilson. The 2021 inductees were Zeynep Cakirer, Rachel E. Crum, Haley Elizabeth Donovan, Aiden Downing Eriksen, Destiny Danee Johnson, Kimberly Frances Longsoldier, Laci Jane McMinn, Kathryn Lee Michalecand Christina Nichole Swenton. 

Senior Amanda Lubkemann received multiple recognitions, including the Biology Award, the Fred I. Dickerson award, which is given to the male and female student-athletes with the highest GPA, and the student Edgar Tufts Humanitarian Service Award.  

President Lee King, who presented the Service Award, said, “You have heard lots of accolades already this afternoon about this student, and there’s not much more that I can add, except to say that she fits the bill for humanitarian service to this college, as a student-athlete, a leader in our Order of the Tower organization, and an exemplary student. Amanda Lubkemann, we are so proud of you. Thank you for the impact you’ve made at Lees-McRae.”  

The employee Humanitarian Service Award went to Assistant Athletic Director and Director of Compliance Jeffrey Merrill. Associate Professor of History Scott Huffard receive the Edgar Tufts Faculty Award.  

James Leenhouts, the facilities director for the college, was presented the Sullivan Award for his leadership and proactive work following CDC guidelines and keeping the college community safe throughout the pandemic.  

Carl Griewisch, the director of health services, received the SGA Staff Award in appreciation for his care towards students, especially those students who had to quarantine, over the past year.  

LMS Administrator and Instructional Designer Terreyl Williams received the Bridge Builders Award for his dedication to student learning, his assistance to faculty and staff, and his implementation of a new student engagement learning platform. Tonya Fulk, an adjunct instructor of Education and the regional coordinator for Surry Community College, received the Faculty Academic Advising Award, and Instructor of Criminal Justice Jerry Turbyfill received the New Faculty Award.  

Three individuals received the Faculty Emeritus Award. Rita Smith, who has served as the program director of the Athletic Training Education program, associate athletic director, senior woman administrator for athletics, Athletic Training clinic supervisor, and healthcare administrator, was recognized by Dean of Nursing and Health Sciences Kimberly Priode as the “mother of athletics” and a constant advocate for student safety and success.  

Gene Spears and Stewart Skeate, who both retired last year, were recognized by Dean of Natural and Behavioral Sciences Sean Collins for their contributions to the Biology program. The former professors and administrators were instrumental in developing the Naturalist program, which eventually became the Wildlife Biology program and dependably assisting students throughout their years of service 

Other students who received multiple awards include Juan S. Restrepo, who received the awards for both English and History, and Johan Hedberg, who received the Fred I. Dickerson Award and Sport Management Award.  

The annual Honors and Awards ceremony is one of the many ways Lees-McRae celebrates the end of the academic year. Commencement this year will be held at MacRae Meadows at Grandfather Mountain on Saturday, May 8 at 11 a.m. For more information, please visit  

Read more end-of-year coverage

By Emily WebbApril 23, 2021
Campus LifeAcademics