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Alumni Association Award Winners Named at Reunion 2011

Charlotte, N.C. On Saturday, April 30, five Queens alumni were recognized with Alumni Association Awards, an important part of each Reunion Weekend which acknowledges alumni and friends for their outstanding professional achievements and exceptional service to Queens and their communities. 

Alumni Service Award

The alumni service award is presented to an alumna or alumnus who embodies the Queens motto, "not to be served but to serve."  Recipients are selected on the basis of exceptional service to Queens and its Alumni Association. 

Aileen Ponder Hatcher, class of 1971, received this award.  Aileen served for several years on the Atlanta Alumni Council in the 1990s, representing Queens' second largest geographic alumni constituency, and has hosted many alumni events in her Atlanta home.

She was elected to the Alumni Association Board of Directors, where she became the chair of the Annual Fund from 1995 to 1996 and President of the Alumni Board from 1997 to 1998, representing more than 10,000 alumni worldwide.

From 1995 to 1997, Aileen served on the Aim High Alumni Campaign Committee, helping Queens raise twice as much money as its original goal.  She was elected to the Queens Board of Trustees, where she served from 1999 to 2002 as a member of the Finance and Marketing committees.

 Aileen has supported every Queens campaign during the past 20 years, remained a consistent member of the Royal Society, and is a member of the Thelma Albright Society by including Queens in her will.

Honorary Alumna/us Award

The Honorary Alumna/us Award is presented to a recipient who is not an alumna or alumnus, in recognition of devoted service and in appreciation of his or her unique relationship with the Queens community.  This year, we were pleased to honor two such devoted servants of Queens.

Shirley Schooler received this award.  Shirley became involved with Queens when her daughter, Dr. Pamela Davies, was named Dean of the McColl School of Business in 2000.  She has affectionately been called the "Queen Mother" of Queens, having taken part in countless Queens graduations, lectures, student plays, basketball games and receptions at the President's House.  She is a staple in the Queens community.  President Davies, surprised her mother by announcing her establishment of an endowed scholarship in Shirley's honor, The Shirley Schooler Scholarship.

Bill Vandiver also received this award.  When asked how he first became involved with Queens, Bill said "because Hugh McColl asked me...but of course, I always loved Queens because of my sister, Ann Vandiver O'Quinn, class of '61.  I just didn't know at that time how I could make a difference to the school."

Bill quickly made a difference when he joined the Board of Trustees, and he has served continuously since 1992.  He went on to lead the Board as its Chair at a time of upward trajectory for Queens. 

Bill and his wife, Rita, have led the charge in countless fundraising efforts at Queens. They are members of the Ministrare and Thelma Albright Societies, have made a leadership gift to the Investing in Queens' Future Campaign, and have even established a scholarship in honor of Bill's sister, Ann, who celebrated her 50th Reunion this year.   

When asked about his favorite Queens experience, he said, "It has been to witness the transformation of Queens College into Queens University under Pamela's leadership, and the incredible platform that has built for the future.  William Yeats once said, 'Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.'  Queens lights fires!" 

Outstanding Alumna Award

The Outstanding Alumna/us Award is presented to an alumna or alumnus who has made significant achievements and gained prominence in his or her professional life.

Liza Vann Smith '76, a student of Charles and Jane Hadley at Queens, received this award.  Also a recipient of the Clarence Ross Fellowship from the American Theatre Wing, she has performed extensively in regional and Off-Broadway theater, and has built an impressive career as an actor, independent feature film producer and professional speaker.

One of Liza's most meaningful successes to date is her one-woman show about her own experience with breast cancer - The Top of the Bottom Half:  An Evening with the Keeper of All the Knowledge.  This fabulous production has crisscrossed the US making stops at theatres, universities and health organizations, and won the Silver Award in Women's Issues at Worldfest-Houston in 2000.  

When told she would receive this award, Liza said, "Queens' greatest gift to me as a student was freedom.  As a self-structured major I had my share of unusual requests in terms of internships and contracts.  I was grateful that Queens helped me make those requests work." 

Sed Ministrare Award

The Sed Ministrare Award honors an alumna or alumnus who has provided outstanding service to his or her community. 

This year's recipient is Dr. Mary Jane Love Nye, class of 1947.  After graduating from Queens with majors in English and Psychology, Mary Jane was hired as the Director of Christian Education at Westminster Presbyterian Church, where she worked before going on to Chapel Hill to obtain her teaching certification.   Mary Jane returned to Charlotte to teach at Alexander Graham Junior High School.  After marrying and moving to Durham, Mary decided to pursue a new calling - medical school.  

There weren't many women applying to Duke Medical School in the late 1950's, but Mary Jane was determined, and she had faith.  She was accepted to Duke.  Mary Jane goes explains, "My own path of service was directed by my concern for children whose vulnerability and helplessness made their need for protection very obvious and personal to me."

Mary Jane became a physician and has been serving the Durham community as a pediatrician and medical volunteer ever since.  She offered remarkable comments upon the acceptance of her award:

"Thank you so very much for this honor.  I accept it gratefully for myself as well as for hundreds of more deserving Queens alumnae who live everyday lives of unrecognized valor and sacrifice.  They are the selfless comforters, caretakers, and sitters of frail parents, disabled spouses, lonely relatives, needy children, grandchildren, and foster children.  They are volunteering at nitty-gritty tasks, laundering, cooking, cleaning up, tending gardens, running errands, teaching, tutoring, helping in hospitals and churches and praying. 

They model busy lives of meaning, generosity and purpose for the rest of us to emulate.  They are unnamed here, but you can name them in your hearts.  I accept this honor for them.  When you go home, do remember to send honor and thanks to them for all of us."

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