Bluefield University in the News


by | Oct 21, 2011

Bluefield College recognized three distinguished graduates with alumni awards and honored two longtime staff members with Honorary Alumni distinctions during Homecoming festivities on campus, October 15.

Local financial services executive Julie Hull Johnson from the class of 1988 earned the college’s Alumna of the Year honor. Ron Hall from the class of 1981, who’s raised millions of dollars for Virginia Baptist ministries, took home the Primitivo Delgado Christian Service Award. Journalist Brandy Campbell from the class of 2002 was named the 2011 Distinguished Young Alumna, while longtime BC staff members Chris and Dee Shoemaker earned Honorary Alumni awards.

Johnson — the 2011 Alumna of the Year, an honor presented annually to graduates who have achieved outstanding success in their profession, displayed significant leadership in the community, or provided substantial service to the Alumni Association — is a longtime member of BC’s Board of Trustees, having served as chair of the Enrollment Committee and secretary of the full Board. In fact, last year she was elected chair of the full Board, becoming the school’s first-ever female leader of the governing body.

“Her tireless work as a trustee has helped usher in a new era of enthusiasm and excellence at Bluefield College,” said Alumni Director Josh Cline. “Under her leadership, we have seen the reinstatement of football, growth in enrollment, the development of a new nursing program, and a renewed sense of calling on the Board of Trustees.”

A native of Rocky Gap, Virginia, and a member of BC’s Sports Hall of Fame as a former Lady Rams basketball player, Johnson is vice president and senior trust officer with First Century Bank in Bluefield. She also is president of Mercer County Opportunity Industries, vice president for the Community Foundation of the Virginias, a Paul Harris Fellow with Rotary International, and an active member of Bland Street United Methodist Church in Bluefield.

Hall — winner of the Delgado Christian Service Award for graduates who display continual service and compassion in ministry, leadership in the community, and a passion for the values and mission of Bluefield College — is president and chief executive officer of the Virginia Baptist Foundation, where in the past five years alone he has raised nearly $35 million for local, regional, state, national and international Virginia Baptist missions.

A leader at Derbyshire Baptist Church in Mechanicsville, Virginia, Hall also is a member of the Virginia Baptist Historical Society, the CrossRoads Camp 25th Anniversary Fundraising Team, the Richmond Baptist Association’s Endowment/Planned Giving Team, and the Virginia Planned Giving Council. In addition, he is co-author of “Planned Giving Matters: A Guide for a Local Church’s Planned Giving Ministry,” and has helped develop charitable marketing materials for more than a dozen state Baptist foundations.

“It has been my great fortune to walk through life with charitable people who champion the cause of Christ,” said Hall, a former member of the BC choir, Rams baseball team, Sigma Phi Omega and Baptist Student Union. “Bluefield College continues to hold a tender place in my mind and heart. As a student of ‘Dr. Del,’ I am incredibly honored and humbled by this award. He embodied grace, humility and service.”

Campbell — recipient of the 2011 Distinguished Young Alumna award, presented to former students who in a short time after graduation achieve significant success in their profession or show substantial leadership or service in the community — is a feature writer for Compassion International, where she writes stories for various publications to foster support for children living in extreme poverty. In fact, through her gift of writing, Campbell helps Compassion meet the needs of more than a million poor children across the world.

“Brandy is the voice of many children who live in poverty,” said Cline. “She is a model for our students, other young alumni, and the entire alumni association to follow. She is a true model of a graduate living her passion.”

Campbell also writes for Parenting Teens, Parent Life, Special Education Today, and Essential Connection. In addition, she created a Merci/Mercy Project in 2009 to help send children to school in Togo, West Africa. A native of Appomattox, Virginia, who now lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Campbell was president of BC’s Baptist Student Union, a member of the Student Government Association and the Student Union Board, and editor of the school newspaper.

Chris Shoemaker — who received a BC Honorary Alumnus award, designed to honor individuals who are not alumni, but who still have greatly impacted the school — has served as the college’s director of marketing and public relations since 1993, during which time he has managed the school’s media relations, community relations, publications, advertising, and other marketing initiatives.

“Chris has been the voice of Bluefield College for the past 18 years,” said Cline. “He has a servant’s heart and is committed to the mission and vision of Bluefield College.”

A native of Bramwell, West Virginia, and a graduate of West Virginia University, Chris Shoemaker also is a volunteer assistant men’s basketball coach at BC and a member of the Rams Athletic Booster Club. In addition to his Honorary Alumni Award, he earned the school’s Distinguished Staff Award in 2000 and the Beasley Service Award in 2001. Outside of the college, he is a youth league basketball coach and an active member of First Christian Church in Bluefield.

Dee Shoemaker, a graduate of Wake Forest University and Virginia Tech and the second recipient of an Honorary Alumna award, has served as a professor at Bluefield College since 1994, having taught both traditional and adult degree-completion students, while serving as chair of the Division of Business and the management and leadership portion of the inSPIRE degree-completion program.

Outside of the classroom, she is a faculty advisor for students in BC’s award-winning Phi Beta Lambda business society, president of Sigma Beta Delta, and a member of Beta Gamma Sigma National Honor Society. In the community, she is a Parent-Teacher Organization volunteer, a member of the Tazewell County Accreditation Committee, and an active member of First Christian Church in Bluefield.

“I am extraordinarily blessed to spend each day with the incredible students at Bluefield College,” said Dee Shoemaker. “Those blessings keep multiplying, because my students never really leave. I love the wedding invitations, birth announcements, and e-mails that update me on where students are and how successful they have become. Being at Bluefield is not a job — it’s a big, extended family.”

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