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Faculty, alumni awards presented at Wake Forest University Opening Convocation


September 17, 2009

Wake Forest University honored two alumni and three faculty members during Opening Convocation Sept. 17 at 4 p.m. in Wait Chapel.  The annual recognitions were made at the event featuring a keynote address titled “Inquiring Minds and Open Hearts:   Wake Forest and Public Engagement” by Suzanne Reynolds, professor of law at Wake Forest.

President Nathan O. Hatch presented the Marcellus E. Waddill Excellence in Teaching Award to alumni Brian Rudel of Winston-Salem and Katherine Baird of Bethesda, Md.  Each receives $20,000 with the award.

Rudel graduated in 1993 with a Bachelor of Arts in education and is a fourth-grade teacher at Caleb’s Creek Elementary School in Kernersville.  Rudel previously taught at Julian Gibson Elementary in Winston-Salem.  From 1993 to 2001, he taught at Southwest Elementary in Winston-Salem where he was named Teacher of the Year in 1997.

The principal at Gibson Elementary praised Rudel for contributing to a positive school climate by initiating school-wide activities such as a multiplication tournament for third, fourth and fifth- graders modeled after the NCAA basketball tournament.

“The judges were very impressed by his commitment to his students.  He has had opportunities to do other things, but he has stuck to his belief that he belongs in the classroom,” said Mary Lynn Redmond, the chair of Wake Forest’s education department who led the selection committee.

Baird graduated in 2005 with a Master of Arts in education from Wake Forest.  For four years, she has taught French at Walter Johnson High School in Bethesda, Md.  Baird was selected as a model teacher for new French teachers to observe and has been involved in developing content for county-wide exams.

The principal of her school noted her outstanding use of technology in the classroom. She was selected as a model teacher for new teachers in her county to observe and has been involved in developing content for county-wide exams.

“The judges found Katherine to be very creative, passionate and energetic in what she does. We were impressed that she was constantly learning and doing different things to be a better teacher,” Redmond said.

The Waddill Award was established in 1994 in honor of Marcellus E. Waddill, professor of mathematics from 1962 to 1997.  The award is given annually to one elementary school teacher and one secondary school teacher in recognition of exemplary classroom teaching in public or private schools.  The award is one of the largest monetary awards of any teacher-recognition honor in the country.

Provost Jill Tiefenthaler presented the Donald O. Schoonmaker Faculty Award for Community Service to Professor of Music Susan Borwick in recognition of her contributions to the university and to the community.  She joined the Wake Forest faculty in 1982 and chaired the music department from 1982 to 1994.  She served as president and vice president of the University Senate from 1989 to 1991 and directed the women’s studies program from 1997 to 2000.  She has composed music for local churches and community arts groups to perform and has served on the board of the Winston-Salem Children’s Chorus.

The Donald O. Schoonmaker Faculty Award for Community Service was established in 1988 by the Wake Forest Alumni Council to recognize extraordinary community service by a respected teacher-scholar from the College or the Calloway School of Business and Accountancy.  The award was posthumously named for Donald Schoonmaker, a professor of political science at Wake Forest.

Tiefenthaler presented the first Divinity School Service Award to Bill Leonard, dean of the Divinity School and professor of church history.  The award recognized Leonard’s contributions as teacher, scholar, historian and founding dean of the Divinity School.

Leonard joined the Wake Forest faculty in 1996 with joint appointments in the Divinity School and the religion department.  He has authored or co-authored 15 books and more than 400 articles and has been a leader in the arena of public engagement.

The award is given to a graduate, faculty member or friend of the Divinity School who embodies the university’s motto “Pro Humanitate” and reflects the Divinity School’s mission to serve as agents of justice and reconciliation.  In future years, the award will be called the Bill J. Leonard Distinguished Divinity School Service Award.

Perry Patterson, associate dean of the College, presented the Jon Reinhardt Award for Distinguished Teaching to Barry Maine, professor of English.  Maine has taught at Wake Forest for 28 years and served for several years as chair of the English department.  His former students, who nominated him, said they admired his dedication, insight, wit and generosity. 

The Reinhardt Award was established in 1986 in memory of Jon Reinhardt, a professor of political science at Wake Forest from 1964 until his death in 1984.  The award recognizes an experienced member of the faculty for his or her performance in the classroom, for exemplifying the ideals of a liberal arts education and for an enduring influence on his or her students. 

Students serving on the Judicial Council, the Honor and Ethics Council and the Board of Investigators and Advisors were also recognized.  About 2,000 students who have engaged in civic leadership through service, internships, coursework and research over the past year were given T-shirts — with “Engaging Minds, Empowering Communities” printed on the back — to wear to Convocation to recognize their commitment to public engagement.

Press Contacts:

Cheryl Walker
(336) 758-5237


Kevin Cox
(336) 758-5237


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