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Alumni Awards

Mary Mildred Sullivan Award

Polly Wylie Ford '48

Polly Wylie Ford '48

Each year, Winthrop recognizes an alumna for selfless dedication of time, energy, and talent in service to others. The Mary Mildred Sullivan Award captures this high honor.

Mary (Polly) Wylie Ford ’48 spent much of her childhood on the Winthrop University campus and as an administrator, helped its programs evolve into the thriving institution it is today. Thus it is with great pleasure that Winthrop bestows on Ford its Mary Mildred Sullivan Award for 2017.

Ford graduated from the Winthrop Training School in 1944 after attending kindergarten through 12th grade. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in physical education at Winthrop, received a master’s degree in education from the University of Virginia and a Ph.D. from the University of Iowa.

Returning to Winthrop to teach in 1960, Ford became chair of the physical education department two years later. During her tenure until her retirement in 1992, the department successfully completed several rigorous accreditation processes and added a master’s degree program. The department also oversaw its students’ entrance and participation into competitive athletics in the 1960s until the Athletics Department was created in 1975.

Honored by the physical education department in 2000 in its inaugural Distinguished Alumna class, Ford was elected to the Winthrop’s Board of Trustees as the Alumni Association representative from 2002-06.

In her last year on the Board of Trustees, two funds were set up to honor this visionary. The Ford Physical education Fund presented by the Department of Physical Education allows for membership to the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance (AAHPERD) for a senior Physical Education major who demonstrates promise.

Also in 2006, Polly Ford established the Jack B. and Polly Wylie Ford Endowed Physical Education Fund to promote collaborative research between faculty and students. It assists faculty and students with funding to attend conferences, with presentation opportunities given priority and assists in promoting professionalism and recognition of the department.

Although she never taught in the West Center, Ford has a conference room named for her. The Polly Wylie Ford Conference Room is located on the second floor of the Lois Rhame West Center and was dedicated in 2008.

Throughout her career, Ford has been recognized for her leadership in professional organizations. She served as president of the Southern District Association of the AAHPERD and as Southern District Representative to the Board of Governors of the national association. She received an Honor Award from its South Carolina and Southern District organizations, and a Citation for Outstanding Contributions from the Southern Association for Physical Education of College Women.

Over the past two decades, Ford has served on various civic, church, school health and athletics boards, advisory groups and committees.

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