Two faculty members and a staff member were recognized with awards during Southwest Baptist University’s formal convocation Wednesday, Aug. 27.
“Convocation is a time to focus on traditions that have become a part of Southwest Baptist University. An important tradition at SBU is our commitment to stay focused on our mission, which has remained consistent down through the years,” said SBU President C. Pat Taylor, Ed.D. “All of us – students, faculty, and staff – should be challenged by our mission statement to be Christ-centered and caring. We also should be challenged to do our best academically and to recognize the importance of servant leadership. If each of us will continue the tradition of living out the SBU mission statement in our lives, the 2014-2015 academic year will be a great year.”
Joe Wooderson, recipient of the Orien B. Hendrex Distinguished Teacher Award, delivered the convocation address, as is tradition. The Distinguished Teacher Award is chosen by the current and three previous graduating classes and is presented annually to a faculty member for “outstanding teaching ability and personal guidance.”
Wooderson joined the SBU faculty in 2005 as an assistant professor of kinesiology. He is currently the chair of the department of kinesiology and instructor of physical education.
In his speech, Wooderson addressed some of the most common struggles faced by college freshmen: loneliness, as many of them are spending time away from home for the first time, and the adult responsibilities that come along with being a college student.
“You are forced to take responsibility of your own behavior,” he said. “You are becoming an adult. You must decide what kind of a person you want to become.”
He said that a solid foundation in Christ will help students as they transform into young adults.
“If you intensify your spiritual disciplines, such as daily prayer and frequent Bible study, worship, evangelism, service to others and constantly reminding yourself of the presence of God, you will be able to handle the challenges and the difficulties of being a college student and becoming an adult,” he said. “You will become the young man or young woman that you want to be and that God wants you to be.”
Newcomer of the Year awards
The Newcomer of the Year awards were begun in 1995 to recognize one full-time faculty member and one non-teaching staff member, who, in their first months of employment at Southwest Baptist University, demonstrate exceptional commitment to the University’s mission and make a positive impact as part of the SBU family. Faculty and staff members who have been employed full-time for no more than 18 months prior to the selection process are eligible. The winners are selected by committees of their peers.
Staff Newcomer of the Year Chris Allison: Chris Allison, director of the Meyer Wellness Center since July 1, came to SBU in August 2013 as resident director of Landen Hall.
“He possesses the necessary skills to think big and accomplish big things,” said Rob Harris, vice president for student development. “He has a genuine interest in the welfare of others, which is evident as he cultivates relationships, affirms community, inspires hope and pursues Christ.”
He and his wife, Krista, resident director of Plaster Hall, have a daughter, Faith, and attend First Baptist Church of Bolivar.
Faculty Newcomer of the Year Meilani Conley: Conley, a graduate of SBU, is an instructor of computer and information sciences.
“She has poured herself into the lives of her students and shown herself to be an excellent colleague who has great expectations of herself and her students,” wrote Troy Bethards, D.B.A., dean of the College of Business and Computer Science.
During her first year on faculty, she wrote and presented a paper with Baochuan Lu, Ph.D., associate professor of computer science. Conley and Lu also redesigned the Foundations of Computer Science course. She took students to the 2nd biannual Women in Computers Conference, where she served as a panelist. During the spring semester, she became the adviser for Phi Beta Lambda and accompanied students on a trip to the national leadership conference and national competitive events.
She is married to William, and they are members of Southern Hills Baptist Church, where she helps manage the church website.