64th annual Honors and Awards ceremony celebrates the success and hard work of students, faculty, and staff

Hayes Auditorium was flooded with Lees-McRae students, faculty, staff, and proud family members on the afternoon of Thursday, April 13 for the 64th annual Honors and Awards ceremony. This event, held each April, celebrates the many accomplishments of the college’s students, faculty, and staff over the previous academic year.

In addition to bestowing awards to a high-achieving student in each academic program, the ceremony honors recipients of the Student Government Association (SGA) Staff Award, Faculty Advisor Award, New Faculty Award, Sullivan Awards, Edgar Tufts Faculty Award, and Edgar Tufts Humanitarian Service Awards.

The SGA Staff Award is given by the SGA on behalf of the student body to a member of the college’s staff who has gone above and beyond to support students throughout their time at Lees-McRae. This year, Student Body President Raygan Rensing presented the award to Student Affairs Coordinator and “campus mom” Denise Dyer.

The Faculty Academic Advising Award was presented by Provost Alyson Gill to a faculty member who consistently provides comprehensive and reliable academic advising to students. This person is accessible and helpful to students for any of their academic advisory needs. The winner of this year’s Faculty Academic Advising Award is Program Coordinator and Senior Instructor for Criminal Justice Tracy Hoilman.

Traditionally also presented by Gill, the New Faculty Award is presented to a faculty member who has been employed with the college for one to three years and has made a great impact on their program through teaching, advising, scholarship, and service throughout that short time. This year the award was presented to Assistant Professor of Performing Arts Natalie Davies by a group of proud and grateful Theatre Arts students.

“In my time at Lees-McRae College I feel privileged to have been able to witness and be a part of the great developments this faculty member has brought to our college. From helping students realize their full potential in classes while challenging them to grow and find themselves outside of that, they have become this beacon of light that brings people together,” senior Abby Paulson said in her presentation of the award. “I’m so honored to have worked next to this person as a collaborative team, and study what knowledge they have passed on in their time at Lees-McRae to me.”

In addition to successes in the classroom, the Honors and Awards Ceremony also recognizes the service efforts of students, faculty, and staff throughout the greater campus and town community. Each year the Sullivan Award, recognizing the recipient’s nobility of character and excellence of service, is awarded to one student and one college employee.

This year’s student Sullivan Award was given to senior Julie Gast for her dependability, skills as a leader, and willingness to step up to serve her campus and local community. The employee Sullivan Award recipient is Alumni Association President, adjunct faculty member, and proud life-long Bobcat Talia Freeman ’07.

“I can tell you there is no one who loves this institution any more than she,” President Lee King said of Freeman in his presentation of the award. “She loves this college and is a strong advocate for us in the community both here, but also in the Boone Chamber of Commerce.”

The final awards for the afternoon honor the college’s founder Rev. Edgar Tufts. The Edgar Tufts Faculty Award recognizes a faculty member who has demonstrated outstanding professional performance and contributed greatly to the welfare of the college and community. This year the award was presented to Veterinarian and Associate Professor Dr. Amber McNamara for her dedication to transmitting knowledge to students and creating an environment where students are encouraged to ask questions, take on challenges, and grow both personally and academically.

The Edgar Tufts Humanitarian Service Awards were the final awards of the afternoon. Presented to one student, and one employee, the award is given to those who carry on Tufts’ legacy by leading a life of service to the campus and local community.

The student recipient of this year’s Edgar Tufts Humanitarian Service Award is senior Charlie Ayers, known around campus for his school spirit, enthusiasm, and, in King’s words, “beautiful hair.”

“When he first stepped foot on our campus as a first-year student four years ago I was immediately impressed by his enthusiasm and friendliness. Everywhere you see him he’s there with a smiling face, a firm handshake, and a ‘How are you doing?’” King said. “I will tell you that our school spirit will probably not be the same after he leaves Lees-McRae.”

The employee Edgar Tufts Humanitarian Service Award went to a member of the campus community who has truly dedicated her life to the college. Known around campus as a well of knowledge who is always willing to lend a helping hand or bit of expertise when needed, Administrative Assistant to the Provost Tammy Franklin was this year’s recipient, an honor that comes just ahead of her retirement.

“She has served the college for 40 years in the Academic Affairs Office. In that time, she has served and worked with 13 provosts and eight presidents, and that doesn’t include the interim ones,” King said while presenting the award to Franklin. “Faculty members have come to rely on her as a critical resource when information or items are needed. ‘Go ask Tammy’ has been a standard response for many questions.”

The annual Honors and Awards Ceremony is just one way that the college strives to give back to, celebrate, and acknowledge the countless individuals who dedicate their time and devote their attention to the continued growth and success of Lees-McRae. Whether for just four years as an undergraduate student, or 40 years as a keystone element of the college, all awardees play an invaluable role in the institution’s success.

Watch a recording of the ceremony

By Maya JarrellApril 17, 2023
AlumniCampus LifeAcademics