O’Quinn Challenges College to Conquer New Frontiers

Posted by Brent Treash

In the 181 years of existence, Emory & Henry College has had many opportunities to conquer new frontiers, according to Virginia House Delegate Israel O’Quinn (’02), the keynote speaker during the annual Founders Day celebration.

O’Quinn pointed to recent bold steps by the College in acquiring the equestrian program from Virginia Intermont College, founding of the School of Health Sciences in Marion, Va., upgrading campus facilities including building of the McGlothlin Center for the Arts, and the launch of the College’s “Ascend” campaign that seeks to ensure institutional relevance and excellence for future generations.

“While other similarly sized institutions have fallen by the wayside and ceased to exist, Emory & Henry continues to blaze the trail towards new frontiers,” remarked O’Quinn. “It makes me so proud to be a part of the Emory & Henry family because I sincerely believe the best is yet to come.”

He closed his speech by challenging the faculty, staff, students and community in attendance to work to make sure Emory & Henry is a growing and vibrant place where people can come to learn, succeed and conquer new frontiers.

O’Quinn has represented the Fifth Legislative District (the cities of Bristol and Galax, Grayson County and parts of Washington and Smyth Counties) in the Virginia General Assembly since 2012. In addition to serving as deputy majority whip, the legislator representing the Emory community serves on the House Commerce and Labor, Privileges and Elections, and Militia, Police and Public Safety Committees.

A native of Washington County, Va. and graduate of Patrick Henry High School, O’Quinn earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in 2002 from Emory & Henry College with majors in political science and history. While at the College, he played varsity baseball, was president of the College Republicans, and was a member of the Pre-Law Society. In 2006, he received the A. L. Mitchell Young Alumnus of the Year Award from the Alumni Association at Emory & Henry College.

Founders Day at Emory & Henry, which celebrates its 181 years, is a time to recognize others who have been generous to their College and their communities through service and success.

Three individuals were honored with Founder’s Day Service Citations: Henry C. Dawson, Jr. ’62, for his dedicated efforts in support of his alma mater as a devoted employee, generous philanthropist and tireless advocate. Marcia Adams Gilliam, in recognition of her service, leadership and contributions to higher education in the region and state of Virginia. William H. Hayter, for his role in assisting Emory & Henry College restructure and improve its long-term financial prospects and for his professional service in the banking industry.

The following individuals were honored as recipients of the College’s annual distinctive alumni awards:

The James A. Davis Faculty Award went to Dr. Celeste Gaia for excellent work with the College’s study abroad program. Andy Winz (’03) received the A. L. Mitchell Young Alumnus Award for his accomplishments in the geospatial sciences. The Fred Selfe Service to Emory & Henry Award was given to Virginia “Ginny” Rowland Barker (’59) for a lifetime of generous service to the College. The Honorable Jerry Beck (’65) received the Distinguished Achievement Award for a stellar career in law. Carl and Ruth Looney Humanitarian Award went to Dr. Patricia “Pat” Bear Huber (’76) for service to the community and outstanding leadership in education.

Additional Information about Award Winners:

CITATIONS

Henry Dawson was the son of a pastor in the Holston Conference of the United Methodist Church and as a result grew up in parsonages all across East Tennessee and Southwest Virginia. He arrived at Emory & Henry College as a student in the fall of 1958, and except for the time he attended the Candler School of Theology at Emory University, Emory, Va. has remained his home for the decades since. Dawson earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Emory & Henry in 1962 with a major in English and a minor in religion. While a student at the College, he was a member of the Chi Club, which was composed of individuals planning a church-related vocation, the oratorio and concert choirs, and the Calliopean Literary Society. He returned to Emory & Henry following his graduation with a Master of Divinity degree from Candler and began what would be a remarkable 33-year career during which time he served as director of admissions and financial aid, director of alumni affairs, dean of admissions and financial aid, and finally, executive assistant to the president. After retirement, he returned as interim vice president for institutional advancement at Emory & Henry. Active in his community, Dawson has served as president of the board of directors for the United Way of Washington County, the Depot Artists Association, and the Bristol Concert Choir. He is frequently seen delivering hot food to neighbors as part of Meals on Wheels. He recently chaired the successful Save the Duck Pond campaign at Emory & Henry, which is just one of the many ways that Dawson continues to contribute to the College he so deeply loves.

Marcia Gilliam is one of the most influential female voices in Southwest Virginia today. A certified life underwriter, she served as president of CSE Financial Services, which operates offices in Abingdon and Wise, Va., for nearly a decade before the company merged in 2012 with The Hilb Group, a top insurance agency in the southeast United States. Today, Gilliam is Life and Health department manager for the group. She has served as president of the Bristol chapter of the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors and was recognized professionally as “Boss of the Year” by the Insurance Women of Southwest Virginia, with a Forty Under 40 Award from The Business Journal, and was included in a listing of Influential Women in Virginia by Virginia Lawyers Media. Deeply involved in her community, Gilliam has been chair of the American Lung Association’s Breath of Spring Ball, board member at Abuse Alternatives, division leader for the United Way of Bristol, and officer with The Junior League of Bristol. She and her husband, Marvin, are widely known for their philanthropic generosity to many charitable organizations throughout the area. She was a finalist for the YMCA Tribute to Women in the volunteer community service category, received the distinguished service award from the Bristol Jaycees, an Arts Alliance of the Mountain Empire award for dedication to the arts, the Sue Shawl Memorial Award from the Bristol Junior League, and the Volunteer of the Year award from the University of Virginia’s College at Wise. But her contributions to education in the state and region are particularly notable. Gilliam graduated magna cum laude from the University of Virginia’s College at Wise with majors in business and public administration. She has been a member of the UVA-Wise board since 2000 and its chair since 2011. In addition, she is a member of the college’s foundation board and was co-chair of its most recent capital campaign. Gilliam has also served as a member of the State Board for Community Colleges in Virginia, where she chaired the budget and finance committee; as a member of the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center board; and as chair of the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center Foundation board.

William Hayter is a graduate of Virginia Tech and the Virginia Bankers Association School of Bank Management at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He began his banking career as a commercial lender and was a founding officer of First Russell County Bank, which later became The First Bank & Trust Company. Hayter has served as president and CEO of The First Bank & Trust Company since 1979. Under his leadership, the bank has grown from a single office in Lebanon, Va. with $1 million in assets to 21 offices along the Interstate 81 corridor in Southwest Virginia and Northeast Tennessee with assets greater than $1.7 billion. The First Bank & Trust is consistently rated by others as one of the top community banks in the nation, distinguished as one of the strongest financial institutions in the nation, and has been honored as a top agriculture lender in the country. The company has received the United States Department of Agriculture’s Business and Industry Award twice for outstanding participation in the rural business loan program. Hayter himself owns and operates a commercial cow-calf and stock operation near Glade Spring, Va., and is the former chair of the Virginia Agribusiness Council. He is currently serving as chair of the Virginia Bankers Association, a statewide banking organization, is a member of the Johnston Memorial Hospital Foundation board, and is a legislative appointee to the board of directors of the Virginia Economic Development Partnership. He has been an outstanding business partner with Emory & Henry College over the years because he understands its educational and economic impact on the region. It was Hayter himself who suggested that the College refinance its long-term debt with USDA’s Rural Development agency in order to construct the College’s new $13 million Village student housing and community center that saved the College an estimated $1 million annually.

ALUMNI AWARD RECIPIENTS

James A. Davis Faculty Award: Dr. A. Celeste Gaia is a professor and chair of the psychology department at Emory & Henry College. She completed a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a minor in French at Christian Brothers University and finished her master’s degree and Ph.D. degree at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Believing that applied learning experiences are essential to a student’s education, Dr. Gaia has mentored 101 students in undergraduate research resulting in 100 conference presentations since coming to the College in 1997. She also serves Emory & Henry as the director of the Office of International Education and the College’s principal designated school official for the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System. In 2015, Best College Reviews listed Emory & Henry’s study abroad program among the top 50 study abroad programs nationwide. While an average of only 2 percent of U.S. college students study abroad, 37 percent of E&H students do so; this reflects a 93 percent increase in study abroad under Dr. Gaia’s leadership. She has overseen the development of 15 faculty-led courses, and has supervised 721 students visiting 48 countries since 2007. The James A. Davis Faculty Award is presented to an E&H faculty member with a distinguished record of excellence in teaching. It is named for James A. Davis, Class of 1845, the first E&H alumnus to return to his alma mater as a faculty member.

A.L. Mitchell Young Alumnus of the Year Award: Andrew Hahn Winz ’03 is the Geographic Information System (GIS) manager for the City of Portsmouth, Va., and is the youngest municipal GIS manager in the Commonwealth of Virginia. He is a member of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, serving as division chief of the International Affairs Directorate, and as the public affairs officer for Sector Hampton Roads, 5th Southern District. He is assistant cub master for Boy Scouts of America Pack 57. He is a certified GIS professional and has received awards including the Auxiliary Achievement Medal, the Coast Guard Unit Commendation, and has twice won the Auxiliary Commandant’s Letter of Commendation. He is a geomentor for the Association of American Geographers, and has served as an adjunct professor of GIS at Tidewater Community College (TCC) and guest lecturer for TCC and Portsmouth Public Schools. The A.L. Mitchell Young Alumnus Award is given to an alumnus/a who has made outstanding professional achievements during the first 15 years after graduation. It is named for A.L. Mitchell, Class of 1946.

Fred Selfe Distinctive Service to Emory & Henry Award: Virginia “Ginny” Rowland Barker ’59 was a member of the Alethian Literary Society, Cardinal Key, Kappa Phi Alpha, the cheer leading squad and the women’s basketball team while at Emory & Henry. She has served the College in innumerable volunteer roles including service on the Holston Conference Colleges Board of Trustees, the E&H Parents Council, the J. Stewart French Alumni House Committee, capital campaign committees, ad hoc alumni committees, and the Emory & Henry Board of Visitors. She has assisted on College hiring committees, was a presenter at and has assisted with the summer alumni college, More Than A Vacation, and has assisted with the annual alumni-sponsored faculty/staff social. She was selected for lifetime membership in the Abingdon Garden Club for outstanding service and dedication, and for many years was chair of their annual Historic Abingdon Garden Tour. She is on the Antiques and Patrons Committees of the Virginia Highlands Festival, is a volunteer for the William King Museum of Arts, is a past president for Abingdon Random Arts, and has held an array of leadership roles at Abingdon United Methodist Church. The Fred Selfe Distinctive Service to Emory & Henry Award is presented to an alumnus/a who has provided extraordinary support to the College. It is named for E&H alumnus Fred Selfe, Class of 1969.         

Distinguished Achievement Award: The Honorable Jerry Beck ’65 received his law degree from George Taylor School of Law of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and did post-graduate course work in criminology and criminal justice at East Tennessee State University. He served as assistant district attorney in Sullivan County, Tennessee for 20 years, and was appointed to the bench in 1993 by Tennessee Governor Ned McWherter. He was later elected to the position by Sullivan County voters where he served until his retirement in 2017. He was a member of the Kingsport Bar Association, the Tennessee Judicial Conference, and served on the Tennessee Pattern Jury Instruction-Criminal Committee for 24 years. He is a former member of the E&H Alumni Board of Directors, a member of the Kingsport Rotary Club, Kingsport Free Masons, and is a Shriner. In 2017 he was inducted into the Dobyns-Bennett High School Alumni Hall of Fame. The Distinguished Achievement Award is given to an individual with a record of excellence in a volunteer or professional capacity.    

Carl and Ruth Looney Humanitarian Award: Dr. Patricia “Pat” Bear Huber ’76 is serving as president of New River Community College (NRCC), and is the first woman to hold that position. She earned a master’s degree in education from West Virginia University and a Ph.D. in community college leadership from Old Dominion University. She began her career in the public school system teaching in Smyth, Wythe and Pulaski counties, and served as an instructor and assistant professor at NRCC. She was interim vice president for academic and student services at Wytheville Community College, and has served NRCC in the role of dean of arts and sciences, vice president for instruction and student services, and assistant division chair for the Division of Arts and Sciences. She has received numerous teaching excellence awards, was inducted into the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society, and was presented the Old Dominion University Distinguished Alumnae Award in 2017. She is a member of the Pulaski Rotary Club, serves on the Board of Directors for the New River Valley Community Foundation, and serves in leadership roles at Pulaski First United Methodist Church. The Carl and Ruth Looney Humanitarian Award is presented to an alumnus/a who has shown extraordinary commitment to others. It is named for Carl, Class of 1929, and Ruth Bourne Looney.

  • Israel O'Quinn speaks at Founders Day 2018
    Israel O'Quinn speaks at Founders Day 2018
“It makes me so proud to be a part of the Emory & Henry family because I sincerely believe the best is yet to come.”
Virginia House Delegate Israel O’Quinn (’02)

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Memorial Chapel

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