Alumni to be Honored with Awards During Homecoming & Reunion Weekend

November 08, 2019


  • Each November, the Winthrop Alumni Association presents awards during the Alumni Awards Ceremony and Luncheon, held during Homecoming & Reunion Weekend, to alumni who have demonstrated Winthrop's tradition of excellence.
  • The Honors and Awards Committee of the Alumni Executive Board reviews nominations and selects winners.
  • This year’s Alumni Award winners will be recognized during the Nov. 16 Alumni Awards Ceremony and Luncheon at 11 a.m. in McBryde Hall.

ROCK HILL, SOUTH CAROLINA – Seven outstanding Winthrop University alumni will be honored for their service and professional achievements as Winthrop graduates during the 2019 Homecoming & Reunion Weekend, Nov. 15-16. 

This year’s Alumni Award winners will be recognized during the Nov. 16 Alumni Awards Ceremony and Luncheon at 11 a.m. in McBryde Hall. The winners are listed below:


Mary Elizabeth Hope Reed '41, '51 (posthumous award) and Jeuel Bannister Esmacher ’44, Mary Mildred Sullivan Award
This award, established in 1940, recognizes a Winthrop alumna for selfless dedication of time, energy and talent in service to others.

In 2017, Reed committed $3 million to Winthrop – the largest estate gift in university's history. Her substantial gift established the Elizabeth Hope Reed Fellows Program, a service-focused student scholarship program. A longtime educator, Reed was an advocate of learning through community service.  A native of Asheville, North Carolina, she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in home economics from Winthrop in 1941 and returned to earn her Master of Arts degree in home economics in 1951. Reed taught home economics in the North Carolina public school system for more than 38 years.

After graduation from Winthrop, Esmacher worked in Kings Mountain, North Carolina, as the state’s first female high school band director. While there, she was recruited by the U.S. Department of Defense to move to Washington, D.C., to work on a mysterious project, where she was trained to look for patterns within enemy messages intercepted by U.S. military intelligence. The work that Esmacher and others performed was not disclosed until the recent publication of the New York Times bestselling book, “Code Girls: The Story of the American Women Code Breakers of World War II,” by Liza Mundy. Esmacher was one of several women interviewed for the book. The 95-year-old Winthrop alumna lives in Anderson, South Carolina, and will return to Winthrop for her 75th college reunion during Homecoming and Reunion Weekend.


Ben Roach '77, Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award
This award recognizes a Winthrop alumnus for selfless dedication of time, energy and talent in service to others.

Roach’s ties to Winthrop began with family members who were Winthrop graduates, all the way back to his great aunt Emmie Sams, who graduated in 1913. At the time of his birth, his mother, Jackie Roach ’54, was a recent Winthrop graduate who married his father, Ernest Roach. As a child, he became one of the Winthrop family's campus children, often spending many hours with his dad at work on campus. His visits to campus planted the seed of interest that led to him becoming a graduate and later employment. Roach witnessed the many transformations that happened to Winthrop's facilities, academic programs, construction and renovations.  He has worked closely with historians and Winthrop University Louise Pettus Archives to document significant moments in Winthrop’s rich history. For instance, during his senior year, he was among the individuals involved in the burial of Mrs. D.B. Johnson in the Winthrop Chapel upon her death at the age of 100.


David McDonald ’01, Alumni Distinguished Service Award
This award recognizes a Winthrop alumna/us who significantly contributes to the quality of life in his or her community, the development of values and morals within others and serves as an outstanding citizen.

McDonald is a Greenville, South Carolina, resident who earned his Bachelor of Arts in history (minor in secondary education) at Winthrop. Since then, he has worked as a teacher, assistant principal, principal and now assistant superintendent for school leadership for Greenville County Schools. He earned his M.Ed. at Concordia University as well as an instructional specialist degree and Ph.D. in education leadership and policy studies from the University of South Carolina. He has served as a mentor to others in the field of education and has worked with S.C. Priority Schools. Among his accolades: the S.C. Middle Level Principal of the Year (2013), the S.C. Tau Kappa Epsilon Volunteer of the Year and Association for Middle Level Education National Educator of the Year (2017). McDonald is active in his community and alma mater, serving on several leadership boards. He previously served as president of the Winthrop University Alumni Association and received the Winthrop Alumni Association Young Alumni Award in 2008.


Steven Dillingham ’73, Alumni Professional Achievement Award
The Alumni Professional Achievement Award recognizes significant contributions alumni have made to their fields while exemplifying high moral and professional ethics.

Dillingham earned his bachelor’s degree in political science from Winthrop in 1973, as the institution became fully co-educational. He also received his Juris Doctor, Master of Public Administration and Ph.D. in political science from the University of South Carolina, and completed his Master of Business Administration at George Washington University and Master of Laws at Georgetown University. Dillingham became the 25th Census Bureau director on January 7, 2019, following appointment by the president and unanimous confirmation by the U.S. Senate. Dillingham has more than 25 years of statistical, research, senior management and legal experience in the federal government.


Alex Isern '12 and Marc Segarra '13, Outstanding Young Alumni Award
Winthrop recognizes young alumni, age 35 or younger, whose service to the university, service to the community and professional achievements have reflected positively on all alumni and the university.

This year, two Barcelona natives are being honored. Isern studied business administration at ESADE Business School in Barcelona and The University of British Columbia before coming to Winthrop to earn his Bachelor of Science degree in entrepreneurship in 2012.

Segarra attended the University of Bologna, where he studied marketing and strategy at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra, where he majored in international trade/economics before obtaining his bachelor's degree in international business from Winthrop in 2013.

Both Isern and Segarra played for Winthrop’s men’s soccer team for two seasons during their junior and senior years. Isern served as team captain in 2012. Combining their love of soccer with a business background, the two visionaries co-founded ISL Futbol (now ISL Agency), a global sports management company that creates, manages and executes unique soccer experiences. From athlete services to consulting and event planning, ISL is based in both Spain and the United States. Isern is the current CEO of ISL and recently partnered with the Mediterranean International Cup, the world’s most prominent international youth soccer tournament, to bring the event to the United States. The inaugural American event took place earlier this month in Florida. Segarra serves as a managing partner and head of new ventures. ISL employs 11 Winthrop graduates.

For more information about the ceremony or the 2019 Alumni Awards, contact the Office of Alumni Relations at 803/323-2145 or

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