Emory & Henry Celebrates Community at 186th Annual Founders Day

The 186th annual Founders Day Convocation at Emory & Henry College was celebrated on Thursday, March 23, 2023. Each year, Founders Day is celebrated with a keynote speaker and awards ceremony honoring distinguished alumni and philanthropic members of the community.

“Founders Day is the time in which we recognize those individuals and organizations that conceived of and built Southwest Virginia’s first higher education institution in 1836 and its impact on the region,” said Mark Graham, Vice President for Administration and General Counsel at Emory & Henry.

Founders Day (Mar. 23, 23)

This year’s keynote speaker was Dr. Darin J. Waters, Deputy Secretary for the Office of Archives and History for the State of North Carolina, secretary of the North Carolina Historical Commission and the State Historic Preservation Officer. Originally from Asheville, Dr. Waters was most recently an Associate Professor of History at UNC Asheville, the Executive Director of UNCA’s Office of Community Engagement and a member of the Chancellor’s senior cabinet. Waters is also the founder of the African Americans in Western North Carolina annual conference held at UNC Asheville and his scholarship focuses on Black Asheville and race. Waters received a bachelor’s degree in political science and government from Liberty University, a master’s in history from North Carolina State University and a Ph.D. in history from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Dr. Darin Waters Dr. Darin Waters

Following Dr. Waters, the College recognized two individuals with service citations. Those recipients include Beth Macy, bestselling author of Dopesick, and Dr. Dennis G. Carter, Jr. ’95, Superintendent of Smyth County, Virginia, Public Schools.

Macy and Dr. Carter, Jr. ’95 were honored for their community contributions throughout the years. “We acknowledge the role that local individuals and groups had in supporting Emory & Henry for nearly two centuries by recognizing civic leaders in our community annually during Founders Day,” said Graham.

In conjunction with the time-honored celebration of Founders Day, the Emory & Henry Alumni Association selected annual honorees to award various Distinguished Alumni Awards. “Alumni engagement is important for Emory & Henry because our alumni are important to us,” said Monica Hoel, Alumni Director at Emory & Henry. “We are so proud of what our alumni do in the world, and we are grateful that so many will continue to give back to their alma mater as donors, mentors, career connections and volunteers.”

The honorees for this year are Dr. Rosemary Gray, ’68 for the Carl and Ruth Looney Humanitarian Award; Rev. Phyllis Spiegel, ’88 for the Distinguished Achievement Award; Ali Singleton Reilly, ’18 for the A.L. Mitchell Young Alumnus of the Year Award; Dr. D.C. Cobler ’95 for the James A. Davis Faculty Award; and E&H Friends of the Sciences (FOTS) volunteers for the Fred Selfe Distinctive Service to Emory & Henry Award.

“It is very difficult to choose just a handful of alumni to honor each year because we have so many who are worthy of praise and respect; but each year we get nominations from folks who tell stories of the alumni they hope the selection committee will pay close attention to,” Hoel continued. “We really encourage everyone to make a nomination, right now, while it’s on your mind!”

To make future nominations, view the alumni awardee acceptance speeches and see past recipients visit www.ehc.edu/alumni/get-involved/alumni-awards

More on the recipients and keynote speaker:

Keynote Speaker: Dr. Darin J. Waters
Darin J. Waters, Ph.D., is Deputy Secretary for the Office of Archives and History for the State of North Carolina. He is also the secretary of the North Carolina Historical Commission and the State Historic Preservation Officer. Originally from Asheville, Dr. Waters was most recently an Associate Professor of History at UNC Asheville, and the Executive Director of UNCA’s Office of Community Engagement and a member of the Chancellor’s senior cabinet. Dr. Waters is the co-host and producer of the Waters and Harvey Radio Show and Podcast on Blue Ridge Public Radio. Waters is also the founder of the African Americans in Western North Carolina annual conference held at UNC Asheville and his scholarship focuses on Black Asheville and race. He is the owner of the Isaiah Rice photo collection which has been on prominent display at UNC Asheville, Black Mountain College, and the Eagle Marketplace Community Exhibition Space. Waters received a B.S. in Political Science and Government from Liberty University, a master’s in History from North Carolina State University, and a Ph.D. in History from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Beth Macy:
Beth Macy is a journalist who writes about outsiders and underdogs. She grew up in Urbana, Ohio, and received her bachelor’s degree in journalism from Bowling Green State University in 1986. She earned a master’s degree in creative writing from Hollins University in 1993. She spent 25 years as a reporter for the Roanoke Times. Her writing has won more than two dozen national journalism awards, including a Nieman Fellowship for Journalism at Harvard, a J. Anthony Lukas Prize for “Factory Man,” and an L.A. Times Book Prize for “Dopesick,” which was made into a Peabody Award-winning series for Hulu starring Michael Keaton. All three of her books, including her second book, “Truevine,” were instant New York Times bestsellers.

Her fourth book, “Raising Lazarus: Hope, Justice, and the Future of America’s Overdose Crisis,” is the essential follow-up to “Dopesick”: an account of the activists and ordinary people working to fight the crisis by saving lives, erasing the stigma of addiction, and holding those in power—from drugmakers to lawmakers—responsible.

Dr. Dennis G. Carter '95 Dr. Dennis G. Carter '95Dr. Dennis G. Carter, Jr. ’95:
A life-long educator in Smyth County Schools, Dr. Carter began his career as a special education instructional assistant and then was promoted through the ranks to special education teacher, assistant principal, principal, director of curriculum and instruction, and assistant superintendent. He was appointed interim superintendent for a short time before being offered the role of Superintendent of Smyth County Schools in January 2017. He also has shared his expertise with others as an adjunct instructor of education for Virginia Tech, the University of Virginia and his alma mater, Emory & Henry College. Dr. Carter has a bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary English from Emory & Henry College, a Special Education Certificate from UVA, and a doctorate degree in Educational Leadership & Policy Studies from Virginia Tech, with a concentration in school improvement and turnaround.

Dr. Rosemary Gray ’68:
Dr. Rosemary Gray, Emory & Henry Class of 1968, has spent more than 30 years in higher education, and at the time of her retirement was serving as chief diversity and inclusion officer at West Texas A&M University in Canyon, Texas. During her tenure there, Dr. Gray worked to promote and increase diversity, inclusion and retention of under-served and underrepresented students. She also was instrumental in helping to build the diversity of faculty and staff members. She has been a public school teacher, a diversity consultant, and a presenter for major conferences including the National Association for Multicultural Education (NAME). In 2010, she received the Louisiana Most Powerful Woman Award from the National Council on Diversity. She holds an A.A. Degree in Liberal Arts from Morristown College, a B.A. in English from Emory & Henry, an M.A. Degree in Education from Catholic University, and an Ed.D. Degree in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis from East Tennessee State University.

Rev. Phyllis Spiegel ’88
Rev. Phyllis Spiegel, Emory & Henry Class of 1988, was named the Bishop of the Utah Diocese in 2022. After graduating from Emory & Henry, she interned with Southern Empowerment Project (SEP) and spent time learning grassroots organizing in Appalachia. She also taught Business and Commerce at a secondary school in Kenya for nine months. A graduate of Virginia Theological Seminary, Rev. Spiegel was serving as Rector of St. Anne’s Episcopal Church in West Chester, Ohio, when tapped for the position.

E&H Friends of the Sciences VolunteersE&H Friends of the Sciences (FOTS) volunteers:
E&H Friends of the Sciences (FOTS) volunteers annually provide outstanding connections that allow current E&H students to find summer research fellowship placements in locations like Massachusetts General Hospital (a teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School), Vanderbilt Medical Center, and St. Jude. The founders of FOTS worked with E&H faculty members Dr. George Treadwell and Dr. Ambrose Leong, to devise a plan that has served current students for more than 25 years. Founding organizers were Dr. Ann Sluder ’81, Dr. Wally Smalley ’81, Dr. Glenn Birkitt ’81, Dr. Mark Alley ’82, and Dr. Karen Miller Ruble ’82.

Ali Singleton Reilly '18 Ali Singleton Reilly '18Ali Singleton Reilly ’18:
Ali Singleton Reilly, E&H Class of 2018, is the program coordinator for Blue Ridge Discovery Center in Konnarock, Virginia. She recently led a team of volunteers to transform a contaminated brownfield back into the vibrant, healthy wetland that originally existed there. Within two years, the land has been restored to health, and the biodiversity of that location is flourishing. Ali is also a committed educator who does a wide array of presentations to community groups about the importance of wetlands and native plants.

Dr. D.C. Cobler '95 Dr. D.C. Cobler '95Dr. D.C. Cobler, ’95
Dr. D.C. Cobler, Emory & Henry Class of 1995, D.C. Cobler is an Associate Professor and Department Chair for Emory & Henry’s exercise science department. He was formerly the Program Director for the Athletic Training Program and chair of the Department of Athletic Training. He previously served the college as the Head Athletic Trainer from 1997-2004. D.C. was among the most instrumental faculty members in helping Emory & Henry move seamlessly away from an athletic training major into a new major called exercise science. He holds an M.S. degree and an Ed.D. from East Tennessee University.

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  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/717-emory-henry-college-holds-mid-appalachian"><picture class="lw_image"><source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/921,0,3059,2136/6043_Mid-Appalachian_Higher_Ed_Summit.rev.1551899402.webp 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/921,0,3059,2136/6043_Mid-Appalachian_Higher_Ed_Summit.rev.1551899402.webp 3x" data-origin="responsive"/><source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/921,0,3059,2136/6043_Mid-Appalachian_Higher_Ed_Summit.rev.1551899402.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/921,0,3059,2136/6043_Mid-Appalachian_Higher_Ed_Summit.rev.1551899402.jpg 3x" data-origin="responsive"/><img src="/live/image/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/921,0,3059,2136/6043_Mid-Appalachian_Higher_Ed_Summit.rev.1551899402.jpg" alt="From left to right: Moderator Dr. Michael Puglisi of Emory & Henry College, Dr. Dean Sprinkle, President of Wytheville Community Coll..." width="345" height="225" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/921,0,3059,2136/6043_Mid-Appalachian_Higher_Ed_Summit.rev.1551899402.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/921,0,3059,2136/6043_Mid-Appalachian_Higher_Ed_Summit.rev.1551899402.jpg 3x" data-max-w="2138" data-max-h="2136" loading="lazy" data-optimized="true"/></picture></a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/717-emory-henry-college-holds-mid-appalachian">Emory & Henry College holds Mid-Appalachian Higher Ed Summit</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"> For the first time in the Mid-Appalachian region, leaders of nine higher education institutions gathered to look at the state of higher education, demographic and economic trends, and workforce and career development needs in the region. <a href="/live/news/717-emory-henry-college-holds-mid-appalachian" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/735-koch-uncovers-the-inequalities-of-food"><picture class="lw_image"><source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/38/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,492,2136,2630/6049_Shelley_Koch-2.rev.1552061534.webp 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/38/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,492,2136,2630/6049_Shelley_Koch-2.rev.1552061534.webp 3x" data-origin="responsive"/><source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/38/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,492,2136,2630/6049_Shelley_Koch-2.rev.1552061534.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/38/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,492,2136,2630/6049_Shelley_Koch-2.rev.1552061534.jpg 3x" data-origin="responsive"/><img src="/live/image/gid/38/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,492,2136,2630/6049_Shelley_Koch-2.rev.1552061534.jpg" alt="Shelley Koch" width="345" height="225" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/38/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,492,2136,2630/6049_Shelley_Koch-2.rev.1552061534.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/38/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,492,2136,2630/6049_Shelley_Koch-2.rev.1552061534.jpg 3x" data-max-w="2136" data-max-h="2138" loading="lazy" data-optimized="true"/></picture></a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/735-koch-uncovers-the-inequalities-of-food">Koch Uncovers the Inequalities of Food</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"><p>Dr. Shelley Koch has released her third book, <em>Gender and Food: A Critical Look at the Food System</em>. The book looks at different aspects of food and how it is affected by gender inequalities.</p><a href="/live/news/735-koch-uncovers-the-inequalities-of-food" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/276-deadline-extended-until-march-1-for-swva-lift"><picture class="lw_image"><source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,1200,800/2658_Lift-SWVA.jpg.rev.1518186593.webp 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,1200,800/2658_Lift-SWVA.jpg.rev.1518186593.webp 3x" data-origin="responsive"/><source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,1200,800/2658_Lift-SWVA.jpg.rev.1518186593.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,1200,800/2658_Lift-SWVA.jpg.rev.1518186593.jpg 3x" data-origin="responsive"/><img src="/live/image/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,1200,800/2658_Lift-SWVA.jpg.rev.1518186593.jpg" alt="A map shows the counties, cities and towns covered by the SWVA Lift program." width="345" height="225" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,1200,800/2658_Lift-SWVA.jpg.rev.1518186593.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,1200,800/2658_Lift-SWVA.jpg.rev.1518186593.jpg 3x" data-max-w="1200" data-max-h="800" loading="lazy" data-optimized="true"/></picture></a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/276-deadline-extended-until-march-1-for-swva-lift">Deadline Extended Until March 1 for SWVA Lift</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"><p> Emory & Henry College, exit 26 off I-81 in Emory, Va., has extended the deadline for its SWVA Lift initiative until March 1. The program helps make a top liberal arts education affordable for need-based students across Southwest Virginia at Emory & Henry.</p><a href="/live/news/276-deadline-extended-until-march-1-for-swva-lift" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/665-professor-michael-lane-releases-groundbreaking"><picture class="lw_image"><source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/409,0,1411,1003/5918_Michael_Lane.rev.1549029248.webp 2x" data-origin="responsive"/><source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/409,0,1411,1003/5918_Michael_Lane.rev.1549029248.jpg 2x" data-origin="responsive"/><img src="/live/image/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/409,0,1411,1003/5918_Michael_Lane.rev.1549029248.jpg" alt="Michael Lane works with students in the chemistry lab." width="345" height="225" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/409,0,1411,1003/5918_Michael_Lane.rev.1549029248.jpg 2x" data-max-w="1002" data-max-h="1003" loading="lazy" data-optimized="true"/></picture></a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/665-professor-michael-lane-releases-groundbreaking">Professor Michael Lane Releases Groundbreaking Work</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"><p>Professor of Chemistry, Michael Lane, has released a collaborative work on the strength of composite materials.</p><a href="/live/news/665-professor-michael-lane-releases-groundbreaking" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>