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Fifty-eight Employees Recognized With Awards, Citations During Annual Ceremony

Quick Facts

 Ellen Wilder-Byrd, associate vice president for institutional advancement, received the newly created Dare to Rise Award.
 Boyd Jones, university program director, was honored with the Mary Spann Richardson Award.
 Geoffrey Morrow, outdoor education coordinator, was presented with the Faculty Student Life Award.

Ellen Wilder-Byrd and President Williamson
Boyd Jones and President Williamson
President Williamson, Geoffrey Morrow
and Vice President Frank Ardaiolo

ROCK HILL, S.C. – Winthrop University honored 58 employees during the April 29 Faculty, Staff and Retirees Awards Ceremony with awards and presidential citations for service to the university and presidential citations for service to the community. President Jamie Comstock Williamson, who oversaw her first Faculty, Staff and Retirees ceremony, congratulated each recipient while presenting each with a framed citation.

To begin the awards presentation, President Williamson announced the creation of a new award, the Dare to Rise Award, that is given to an employee, who also is a Winthrop alum, that excels in his or her career and has risen to the challenge of putting Winthrop on the rise. The inaugural Dare to Rise Award was given to Ellen Wilder-Byrd '88, '94, associate vice president for institutional advancement, for leading the institution's digital, video and print messaging surrounding the onboarding of President Williamson that resulted in substantial media attention and increased visibility for Winthrop.

In addition, Boyd Jones, university program director, who will be leaving Winthrop after 22 years of service, was honored with the Mary Spann Richardson Award which was created by siblings Rowland P. Alston Jr., William E. Lenoir, Jr and Victoria Lenoir Saunders ’79 in memory of their mother. The award honors a faculty or staff member for exceptional service, professional excellence and the ability to provide Winthrop with positive visibility throughout the region. Jones, who oversees the DiGiorgio Student Union, has helped the organization win Campus Activities Magazine's Campus Program of the Year Award multiple times. In addition, Jones, who has mentored and encouraged countless students throughout his career, has earned the Founders Award from the National Association for Campus Activities (NACA) and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association for the Promotion of Campus Activities (APCA).

Also, Geoffrey Morrow, director of Winthrop’s Outdoor Education Center and an instructor in the Department of Physical Education, Sport & Human Performance, received the Faculty Student Life Award for his sustained partnership with student life professionals in fulfilling the purpose of the West Recreation Center, always working together to provide many varied enriching recreational activities and events.

Presidential citation for service to the community award winners are recognized for their contributions in agencies external to Winthrop. Their work could be for a social agency, church, community organization, K-12 school, etc. Those employees who received a presidential citation for service to the community were:

Kavin Ming, curriculum and pedagogy, for her leadership role in helping establish a literacy clinic at Finley Road Elementary School as a vehicle to provide free tutoring services to struggling elementary schoolers.
Sandra Neels, theatre and dance, for her tireless work since 2002 to reconstruct and restage the works of the late famed choreographer Merce Cunningham in order to preserve his great works for future generations.
Daniel Hopper, athletics, for his guiding leadership as a key organizer of the Boys and Girls Clubs of York County’s annual Stakeholder Silent Auction.
Chrissy Catoe, development, for her steadfast leadership over the past several years as member and chair of the Boys and Girls Clubs of York County’s board of directors.

Presidential citation for service to the university award winners are recognized for their extraordinary contributions to the university beyond normal job expectations. Winners have demonstrated a history of engagement with the campus community and a career that has significantly advanced the vision and values of the university. Those employees who received a presidential citation for service to the university were:

Linda Ashley, social work, for her decades-long service as an ambassador and supporter of the university and the social work department.
Laura Dougherty, theatre and dance, for her steadfast leadership in partnering with the John C. West Forum on Politics and Policy to create the Performance, Politics, and Civic Dialogue Series.
Peggy Hager, College of Business Administration, for her initiative in overseeing four monumental student projects that resulted in the development of creative business plans to assist in downtown Rock Hill’s revitalization efforts.
Jim McKim, computer science and quantitative methods, for his visionary leadership as director of the Digital Information Design program.
Merry Sleigh, psychology, for going above and beyond the call of duty as an undergraduate research mentor to eagerly learn students’ areas of specialization in order to help them effectively develop and implement a research project.
Terry Guidry and Cara Peters, College of Business Administration, for helping transform the Activity Insight/Digital Measures faculty reporting database into an essential part of the College of Business Administration systems.
Allen Blackmon, university relations, for translating client ideas into effective, attractive design concepts for publication; for meeting the needs of clients across campus, within budget and often on short notice; and for shouldering the bulk of the university’s design work.
Susan Gunderson, Institutional Advancement, for setting a sterling example of kindness and compassion to many international and domestic students over the years.
Tracy Hildreth, finance and business, for her integral role and countless evening and weekend hours spent on a variety of accounting software implementations.
Chris Johnson, facilities management, and Kelly Shelton, public events, for their research and information gathering that led to The Inn at Winthrop becoming the only South Carolina collegiate property and the only property in York County to receive the Green Hospitality Certification from the S.C. Green Hospitality Alliance.
William Haynes, George Kannon, Ricky Ramsey and Tony Warren, facilities management, for performing around-the-clock maintenance and hazardous weather-related tasks in order to ensure the safety of students and employees during the campus’ three-day February shutdown due to snow and ice.
Sean Blackburn, student affairs, for his contributions to the Leadership Studies Minor which has seen increased course offerings and enrollment growth.
Jill Simpson, health and counseling services, for handling additional cases during periods of short staffing which she did with a positive and cheerful attitude.
Deborah Wells, residence life, for handling additional responsibilities and added work in order to assume gap responsibilities due to an unfilled vacancy.
Alex Miller, student affairs, Michele Peterson, student affairs, and Kristi Schoepfer, physical education, sport and human performance, for developing, coordinating and implementing the inaugural on-campus Student Leadership Institute for First Timers (LIFT) Conference.
Laura Foster, career and civic engagement, Kinyata Adams Brown, student affairs, Jessica Martin, residence life, Robert O’Hara, residence life, Elizabeth Sanicola, AmeriCorps VISTA, Katlin Meissinger, AmeriCorps VISTA, and Michele Peterson, student affairs, for sharing their passion for diversity and service as a member of the Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Committee which produced a successful 2014 MLK Day of Service.
The Admissions and Recruitment team: Starr Albert, Debi Barber, Josh Bistromowitz, Crystal Bowens, Donna Coker, Rob Dellibovi, Bernie Fagarang, Price Feimster, Rose Guyer, Candace Jones, Johnathan Kimery, Peggy Lockhart, Louise Mickle, Claire Mooney-Melvin, Franco Wakhisi, Brittany Pearce, Cristal Richmond, Megan Rolf, David Rollings, Kayla Sullivan, Nancy Vienna and Tara Young for the team's demonstrated efforts to meet enrollment growth goals.

For more information on these awards, please contact Judy Longshaw, news and media services manager, at 803/323-2236 or e-mail

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