Bluefield University in the News


by | May 19, 2015

Bluefield College honored its employees with a year-end faculty and staff awards ceremony, May 7, which included the presentation of two Distinguished Faculty Awards to Dr. Bob Boozer and Professor Mimi Merritt, a Distinguished Staff Award to Public Relations Director Chris Shoemaker, and a professor emeritus honor to retiring faculty member Dr. Wayne Massey.

View more photos of employees honored.

President David Olive welcomed the employees to the traditional event that not only helps culminate the academic year, but also “provides an opportunity for the college to recognize those who have achieved milestones in service.” Dr. Olive also presented one of the two Distinguished Faculty Awards to Professor Mimi Merritt, who not only serves on faculty as a professor of communication, but also served the past two years as interim vice president for academic affairs (VPAA).



Under her leadership as interim VPAA, Professor Merritt helped launch the college’s first-ever master’s degree program, a master of arts in education (MAEd), and led the initiative for approval of two additional master’s degrees in business management (MBA) and nursing (MSN). She also led the creation of a new baccalaureate degree program in early childhood education, a minor in forensic science, and certificate programs in family nurse practitioner, nursing leadership/education, and entrepreneurship/small business professional.


“She is a leader of the campus community,” said Dr. Olive, “and I’m grateful for her efforts and her leadership at many points along the way in tending and developing our academic programs.”


While interim VPAA, Professor Merritt also oversaw two monitoring reports for the college’s accreditation agency, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), and in the fall of 2014 she assumed the added role of director of institutional effectiveness.


As interim VPAA, Professor Merritt presented the second Distinguished Faculty Award to Dr. Bob Boozer, professor and chair of the Department of Psychology, who also serves as director of the General Education Program and Vocation and Calling.


“He beautifully exemplifies a love of the liberal arts education,” said Professor Merritt. “Through his tireless work in shepherding through a revised general education curriculum that begins with the invitation to the academy, he has at every turn reminded us of what it means to be liberally educated.”


Dr. Boozer was also acknowledged for his commitment to the Bluefield College mission and his ability to come up with new ideas and new programs that support the BC mission. Above all, he was lauded for his love for the students at Bluefield College.


“We have witnessed so many times his commitment to and compassion for our students,” said Professor Merritt.


Dr. Olive also presented the Distinguished Staff Award to Chris Shoemaker for his “integrity,” “strong work ethic,” and “leadership” on campus. The director of marketing and public relations at Bluefield College, Shoemaker has served on staff for 22 years.


“His selflessness in serving the college is a source of inspiration for those of us that have the privilege of working closely with him,” said Dr. Olive, “and his influence on campus and in the Bluefield community is a testament to his strong Christian character.”


Shoemaker was also acknowledged for his efforts to “tell the Bluefield College story” and to promote the college in the media and within the community, where he serves as a deacon in his church and as a coach for recreational league basketball.


“He is a man of integrity and has a humble spirit,” said Dr. Olive. “We are blessed to have him at Bluefield College and to represent us in the community.”


As part of the year-end awards program, the college also recognized three retiring BC professors, including Sandra Elswick, an assistant professor of mathematics for 34 years; Dr. Bob English, an instructor in the Online Degree Program; and Dr. Wayne Massey, a 27-year veteran of the faculty. Described as “a driving force,” “a scholar,” and “a model to the Bluefield College community,” Dr. Massey also received the distinction of professor emeritus, recommended by the faculty and endorsed by the Board of Trustees.


“He has devoted his career to the discipline of literature and the elegance of the English language,” said Dr. Rob Merritt, professor and dean of the College of Arts and Letters, who shared the resolution crafted by the faculty. “He is a beacon for academic excellence in the liberal arts and devoted to the teachings of Jesus Christ.”


Dr. Massey, who taught language and literature, was also acknowledged for the ways in which he “challenges students to examine the truth of the human heart” and for how he “passionately communicates to students and colleagues, alike.” His colleagues also spoke of the “innumerable hours” he spent with students, often in one-on-one conversations.


“He has demonstrated to his students, by example, how a reverence for the wonder of language is the foundation for a fruitful life in the classroom and beyond,” said Dr. Merritt. “He models Christian behavior through many unsung acts of kindness, and he is unashamed to share the Word at the college and in the community.”


Other BC employees were recognized for faithful service, including Dr. Rob Merritt (25 years); Judy Akers (15 years), manager of the Campus Store; Susan Allen (15 years), instructor of music; Ruth Blankenship (15 years), vice president for advancement; Crystal Kieloch (15 years), director of the Quality Enhancement Program; Dr. Cindy Bascom (10 years), professor and chair of the Department of Communication; Kelly Bittler (10 years), director of counseling and student activities; Carly Kestner (10 years), director of financial aid; Joy Francis, adjunct faculty (10 years); Becky Mosley (10 years), assistant manager of the Campus Store; Mike White (10 years), head coach for baseball; Katherine Jones, cheerleading coach (five years); Dr. Emily Lambert, assistant professor and chair of the Department of Biology; Dr. Charles Priest (five years), professor and chair of the Department of Music; Allen Roberts (five years), instructor of graphic communication; Tim Robinette (five years), database analyst; Paul Upton (five years), adjunct faculty; Michele White (five years), BC Central coordinator; and Kelsey Wimmer (five years), network analyst.

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