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King University News :: King’s Dogwood Weekend a Grand Success; Alumni Award Recipients Recognized

In celebration of King College’s 86th annual Dogwood Weekend in April 2012, more than 450 alumni and friends joined together to reminisce and reconnect. 

Events for the weekend included such favorites as alumni volleyball and King Tornado baseball.  The PVA (Performing and Visual Arts) department received rave reviews of their family-friendly musical, “A Year with Frog and Toad,” performed at the Paramount Center for the Arts in downtown Bristol. 

An instant hit was the new cornhole tournament.  Out of the 24 participants, King seniors Matt Kilgus and Dillon Faver took home the prize, with each receiving $50 VISA give cards as the tournament winners. 

Sixty-four participants enjoyed a beautiful day of golf during the Jay Baumgardner Memorial Golf Classic.  The Kingsport Chamber team of Bob Feagins, Stu Fisher, Brad Hoover, and Keith Wilson won the putting contest with each team member taking home a $100 VISA gift card.  First prize for the golf tournament, $100 gift certificate to the Pro Shop at The Club, went to the Friendship Ford/Settlers Life Insurance team of Dustin Walters, Tom Hall, Eddie Grills, and Lynn Booher.  The First Bank and Trust team finished second, while the ACS Benefit Services/SBS Services team took third.

During the annual alumni celebration, several individuals were recognized for exceptional achievement in their career field, remarkable service to King, and commitment to serving as leaders in their communities.

Distinguished Alumni of the Year Award

The alumni awarded the King’s Distinguished Alumni of the Year honor those who exemplify the College’s goals of excellence, achievement, and stewardship.  The award recognizes those who have made outstanding contributions to their career field, shown a commitment to King, and have continually endeavored to serve as leaders and mentors to their home community.  This year the Distinguished Alumni of the Year award was presented to Jon Harr.  A lifelong resident of Bristol, Harr graduated from King in 1987 with his Bachelor of Arts in History and Political Science.  He received a Master of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T.) from ETSU in 1989, an Education Specialist (Ed.S.) in Higher Education Administration degree from Appalachian State University in 1993, and a Doctorate (Ed.D.) in Educational Leadership from ETSU in 1999.

Harr’s career spans more than 20 years in higher education in the region.  While at King, he served as an admissions counselor.  He then transitioned to assistant director of Admissions prior to moving to Northeast State Community College as their director of Educational Services in 1995.  Harr was named NSCC’s dean of Institutional Effectiveness 1997, dean of Admissions and Records in 2000, and vice president for Student Affairs in 2006.  Harr is very involved with Fusion FC, a competitive youth soccer club in the Tri-Cities, and currently serves as board president for the club.  Harr serves as a current member of the King College Board of Trustees and previously served on King’s Alumni Council.  Harr also serves on The Academy at King Board.  

The Harr family has a great King Legacy - Jon’s father Ralph Harr attended King, his cousins Ellis Harr and Richard Harr both graduated from King in the 1950s, his sister Jackie Harr graduated from King as did Jon’s wife Ramona.  Jon and Ramona have two sons—the oldest of which has decided to attend King fall 2012.  The legacy continues.

Volunteer of the Year Award

King College is blessed to have a core of faithful volunteers who are willing to support the College when asked.  This year’s Volunteer of the Year award recipient, Jewell Bell, is known for many things - her unending knowledge of alumni; her ability to recall poignant moments in the lives of others across time, rendered with grace and sensitivity; her love of and encouragement for students, expressed with care; her ability to solve problems using diplomacy whether as a result of some gentle inquiry or some incendiary remark; her ability to get things done, knowing who to call and what to tell them; her inexhaustible energy, deftly directing others to get up and get moving; her bright and perky spirit; her ability to remind her co-workers that she is a Virgo who gets things right and that this quality should not be easily dismissed and certainly not overlooked; her insight into what makes for a great alumni weekend; her sense of humor; and her incisive directives, delivered often, without reservation, her hands lifted and fingers pointing, her voice raised, directing traffic, managing the flow of information for the institution, providing advice incessantly to the person she thinks needs her wise counsel most. 

King College was forever changed in 1952 when Bell began her career at the College as a housekeeper.  Quickly, she was promoted to switchboard operator, taking charge of the College’s public information center.  Her unique style of mentoring and mothering guided generations of students and alumni.  Bell’s community service includes the presidency of the Bristol PTA Council, YWCA board of directors, as well as many years of service with the Girl Scout Council, Lee Street Baptist Church, and Healing Hands Medical Ministry.  Jewel has two daughters, one son, eight grandchildren, and six great grand- children.

Graduate and Professional Studies Award

Graduate and Professional Studies, or GPS, has become a vital part of King College’s success over the past few years.  Each year, King recognizes alumni from GPS who exemplify the College’s goals of excellence, achievement, and stewardship.  The Graduate and Professional Studies award for 2012 was presented to Carolyn Ferrell.  Following a 25-year career in the aviation industry, Ferrell utilized the skills she learned from the King College Bachelor of Business Administration (B.B.A.) and Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) programs to start her own management company, Ferrell Management Consultants, LLC.  She is currently the director of Human Resources with The Robinette Company in Bristol. 

Ferrell is a member of the Society for Human Resources Management and the American Society of Safety Engineers.  She is a certified Six Sigma Green Belt in Lean Methodology.  A firm believer in giving back to her community, Ferrell volunteered with the Bristol Chamber of Commerce in the roles of vice chair of Business and Industry Council, vice chair of Community and Leadership Development, and as chairman of the Board of Directors in 2010.  She is a current member of the Keep Bristol Beautiful Board of Directors and the Northeast Tennessee Workforce Investment Board.  As chairman of the 2012 American Heart Association’s Queen of Heart’s Campaign, a record breaking $103,000.00 was raised for heart research this year.  Ferrell is a member of Addilynn Memorial United Methodist Church where she has served as past chairman for its Council and is also a past lay leader.  She is currently an assistant Sunday school teacher, volunteers in their children’s program, Meals on Wheels, and delivers food for hospice outreach. 

Young Alumni Achievement Award

In 2004, the King College Alumni Office introduced an award to recognize those young alumni who have made outstanding professional contributions to their field since graduating, and who have shown a strong commitment to the service of others.  The 2012 Young Alumni Achievement award recipient is Andrew Jebasingh.  Jebasingh graduated from King College in 2002 with a double major in Mathematics and Computer Science and Honors in Independent Study.  He completed his master’s degree in Computer Science at Vanderbilt University in 2004.  

Andrew began his career at Deloitte Consulting working on projects for Fortune 500 companies.  In 2005, he partnered with a friend to found a technology startup called Xelex Digital.  The company creates software products for the medical documentation industry.  Beginning as an idea on a napkin, the company has grown to ten employees in the US and seven in India with $2 million in annual revenue.  The product, WebChartMD, which has more than 10,000 medical professionals using the system on a daily basis, manages records for more than one percent of the U.S. population, including the Houston Texans NFL team, and the New York City Fire Department. 

Working with Pacific Medical Centers in Seattle, Wash., and Epic in Verona, Wis., a large EMR vendor, Xelex has successfully deployed a solution that will help enhance patient records while lowering documentation costs by more than $200,000 per month.

Jebasingh has a strong relationship with King College, not only assisting King when called upon, but also hiring graduates to work at the company, and offering internships for students.

Legacy Award

In 2009, King College conveyed a new award, the Legacy Award.  King is blessed to have numerous families who have made attending King “a family affair.”  The award recognizes their commitment to King as well as their lifetime of service and achievement.  This year the Legacy Award recognized the Whitner family.  Many members of the family, including extended family, have chosen King College over the years.  Geraldine “Gerry” Jones Whitner graduated from King 55 years ago in 1957.  Soon after, she met her husband, John, whose sister, Dorothy Whitner - Poole (’54), had lived down the hall from Gerry while at King.  The legacy began. 

Gerry and John had four children. Steve (’87), and daughter, Jerri Ann (’90), both graduated from King.  The College has a scholarship in memory of Jerri Ann Whitner Henderson, who passed fifteen years ago. 

Son Steve’s wife, Tracy Robeson Whitner (’89), along with both of her parents, Dr. James (’60) and “Jeannie” Lansford Robeson (’62), and brother, Jimmy (’88) also graduated from King.  Steve, Tracy, and Jimmy all were awarded the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award their senior years’ at King.  Granddaughter Carrie Henderson’s step-mother, Becky Horne Henderson, roommate of Jerri Ann, also received the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award.  “Jeannie” Lansford Robeson’s sister Carolyn Lansford Ward, and her husband, Jerry, also met at King as members of the Class of 1960. 

Rick Whitner, son of Gerry and John, has two daughters, Amanda who attended King, and Candace, who is a current sophomore at King. For the Whitner family, King truly has become “a family affair.”