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2015 a year of distinction, achievement at LWC

By Duane Bonifer

Distinction and achievement were bywords for 2015 at Lindsey Wilson College. The college -- which awarded more than 600 degrees in 2015 -- celebrated several academic and athletic milestones that underscore its continued growth and evolution as a distinctive liberal arts college.

In addition to enrolling more than 2,600 students for the fourth consecutive school year, LWC also had its largest faculty in the college's 112-year history -- 118 faculty welcomed students for the start of the 2015-16 school year. More than 1,000 students lived in college residence halls throughout the calendar year as well. And students were greeted by two new A.P. White Campus signs, made possible by gifts from the Classes of 1965 and 2015.

Of course 2015's highlights were spring and winter commencement ceremonies, where the LWC National Alumni Association welcomed more than 600 new members.

At LWC's 101st commencement ceremony, held May 9, a total of 210 degrees were awarded and Adair County native and Secretary of Kentucky's Cabinet for Health and Family Services Audrey Tayse Haynes delivered the commencement address.

Then Dec. 12, 412 degrees were awarded at the college's 102nd commencement ceremony, where commencement speaker Kentucky Community and Technical College President Jay K. Box told graduates about the importance of "being open to new ideas and being bold enough to go after them."

Community service was another hallmark of 2015 at LWC. Led by the Bonner Scholars Program -- which has been named to the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with distinction -- LWC students, faculty and staff collaborated on more than 30,000 hours of service in 2015.

Some of the service initiatives attracted a great deal of public attention, such as the fifth-annual Christmas Carnival at the Doris and Bob Holloway Health & Wellness Center and the 22nd-annual "Safe Halloween" in residence halls, which combined to serve more 1,000 families in the region.

Other service initiatives directly helped individuals struggling to make ends meet: "Cans4Caverna," a project by two education seniors supplied canned goods to needy families of Caverna, Ky., during Thanksgiving; and the Bonner program's fourth-annual "Coats for Kids" delivered 59 winter coats to Adair County Head Start.

LWC's academic programs continued to receive honors in 2015. The LWC counselor education and supervision doctoral program was a recipient of the Outstanding Doctoral Counselor Education and Supervision Program Award, given by the Southern Association for Counselor Education and Supervision; members of the LWC chapter of Phi Beta Lambda business fraternity won several honors at the statewide competition in March; a record 53 students presented at the fourth-annual LWC Women's Studies Student Conference; and the Center for Entrepreneurship had a record level of student participation in its two signature events, the fourth-annual LWC Entrepreneurial & Career Expo and fourth-annual Business Concept Competition.

The LWC Theatre Program -- under the direction of Assistant Professor of Theatre Robert Brock -- continued to thrive in 2015. In the spring, the Theatre Program presented four productions, which was followed in the summer by the third season of TheatreFest! at Lindsey Wilson. A total of four plays and a Christmas special were presented in the fall. The fall season included a first for the program: theatre senior Suzie Herrington of Dearborn, Mich., became the first LWC student to direct a mainstage production, which was Vanities.

LWC Athletics also had another banner calendar year. For the fourth consecutive year, LWC athletics was the top program in the Mid-South Conference. The Blue Raiders won the 2014-15 President's Cup, an annual award given to the top program in the 10-school conference. Nationally, LWC finished second in the 2014-15 NAIA Learfield Sports Directors' Cup standings, which ranks the overall success of the NAIA's more than 180 intercollegiate programs. That was the best finish in program history.

In March, Joe Cozart became the second LWC wrestler to win back-to-back individual national titles when he took first in the 157-pound weight class. In the spring, LWC baseball made its first trip to the NAIA World Series, and then the softball team posted its best finish in program history -- finishing runner-up to Auburn-Montgomery (Ala.) University in the championship.

In fall postseason play, football returned to the NAIA Football Championship Series for the second consecutive year; the volleyball team made its first appearance in the NAIA Final Four, before losing to eventual NAIA national champion Columbia (Mo.) College; and women's soccer was upset by Spring Arbor (Mich.) University in the title match. An impressive fall season was the reason LWC's athletics program was ranked No. 4 in the 2015-16 Learfield Sports Director's Cup standings.

At the 84th homecoming weekend in September, three alumni were inducted into the LWC Athletic Hall of Fame and five individuals were honored by the LWC National Alumni Association. The three new members inducted into the Athletic Hall of Fame: soccer players Natasha Hale of the Class of 2002 and Nora Ohrnberg '03, and tennis player Nicolas Cabrini '04. Hale and Ohrnberg are the first former female soccer players to be inducted into the hall of fame, and Cabrini is the first tennis player to be enshrined.

Also at homecoming, the LWC National Alumni Association honored: Michael Kearns '63 of Hatboro, Pa., Distinguished Alumnus Award; Chris Innes '05 of Los Angeles, Outstanding Young Alumnus Award; retired educator Judith Ford of Louisville, Ky., honorary alumna; LWC Professor of Music Robert Reynolds, honorary alumnus; LWC Assistant Food Service Director and Catering Director JoAnn Panko, Distinguished Service Award.

The year also included special visitors to the A.P. White Campus. Several thousand children from area high schools, middle schools and elementary schools visited LWC during 2015, along with several dignitaries.

In the fall, eight business students from Clark-Atlanta University spent five days at LWC to learn about energy, entrepreneurship, manufacturing and environmental sustainability programs in Kentucky.The students also met with LWC faculty and students to discuss those issues and discover how the region addresses each one. In spring 2016, a group of LWC students will spend a week at the United Methodist college in Atlanta.

The purpose of the exchange -- which was funded by the Mellon Foundation as part of the Mellon Global Citizenship Program and the Salzburg Global Seminar -- is to bring together students from rural and urban colleges around common issues.

But perhaps no LWC visitor was more special in 2015 than Lorena Arnold Christie of Chattanooga, Tenn. In early October, the Adair County native returned to her alma mater. Christie -- who graduated from LWC in 1935 -- turned 105 on Oct. 24, making her the oldest known living LWC graduate, according to LWC Director of Alumni Relations Randy Burns.

"They were wonderful times, and I kindly wish I could go back to them sometimes," Christie said during her tour of her alma mater. "But then I'd have to go through the bad again along with the good, so maybe not."

This story was posted on 2016-01-01 13:08:54
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