The Athens State University Foundation, in conjunction with the University Alumni Association, hosted a Scholarship Reception and Alumni Awards ceremony on April 8, 2017, in Carter Gymnasium.
New scholarships and endowments were announced at the event, with remarks by Ms. Judy Houghteling, donor of the Glasgow Presidential Scholarship. Additionally, the Athens State University Alumni Association recognized outstanding members of the Athens State community who have made significant contributions to their companies, community, and society as a whole.
The Outstanding Recent Graduate Award was presented to Mr. Nathan X. Rodriguez, who earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Computer Science in 2014. He is presently employed as a computer engineer with a software company in Madison, Alabama, where he assists with writing and maintaining software and creating detailed documentation for all projects. While at Athens State, Nathan worked as a help desk technician who maintained accurate call logs and assisted with technical issues. He did not forget Athens State after graduating and has returned to become an active member of the Young Alumni Advisory Council (YAAC). He currently serves as Secretary for the Advisory Council and as Chair of the Disc Golf Committee. Nathan puts his heart into everything he does, whether it is his church, his family, the local community, or the Athens State community. Mr. Rodriguez was a scholarship recipient and an Athenian Ambassador during his time at Athens State. He truly values the opportunities that were awarded him through his scholarship and is one of the most active and respected members of YAAC, offering his advice, expertise, and time to the Council.
The Alumnus Loyalty Award was presented to Mr. Richard J. Morris, who earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science in 1988. He has spent more than 27 years working with the U.S. Army to provide support for the PERSHING II Missile system, prior to the INF Treaty with Russia, and to provide worldwide support for contingency construction. He is internationally respected in the USACE and Army Engineer Community for his customer service and technical expertise. Mr. Morris is presently employed with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Information Technology Laboratory, AFCS Project. His volunteer work includes being Santa Claus during the holidays for the pure joy of a special opportunity to give back. He has been Santa for the Alumni Association Christmas Concert for three years, the Civitan Club for adult mental health patients the last four years, the learning center at Friendship Church, and others. He is a volunteer coach for the Athens Recreation Center Soccer Team and a volunteer for the Boy Scouts of America. He and his wife Corrine have four children: Jessica Bates, Colorado Springs; Tracy Knighten, Athens; Jonathan White, Decatur; and Christopher Morris, Amarillo, Texas.
The Outstanding Alumnus Achievement in Arts and Sciences Award was presented to Mr. Kristopher Reisz, who earned a Bachelor of Science degree in English with a minor in Secondary Education in 2013. He is presently employed at the Athens-Limestone County Public Library. Mr. Reisz has the unique opportunity to work directly with a teen library council of 14 members who generate strategies to encourage teen involvement in literary programs. One of the recent ideas was a book swap where everyone brought their used books and exchanged them with one another. He is also responsible for adult programming, such as “Getting Dirty at the Library,” which includes a series of talks on gardening through The Alabama Master Gardeners and the Limestone County Extension Office. In his spare time, he has written three novels for young adults. While attending Athens State University, he was invaluable to the Center for Lifelong Learning and created The Catfish Literary Festival which celebrated its second annual event last summer.
The Distinguished Alumnus of the Year Award was presented to Mr. Dale W. Strong. Strong earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration in 1992, was elected as Chairman of the Madison County Commission of Madison in 2012, and was then reelected to a second term in 2016. Before he set his sights on being the Commissioner of Madison County, he worked for First Alabama Bank in Public Relations and for the Solvay Pharmaceutical Company as a Sales Representative. He has also served as a 911 Dispatcher and worked with Huntsville Emergency Medical Services, Inc. and Huntsville Med-Flight. Mr. Strong has maintained his interest and support in helping people in the community by serving as the county liaison to the 911 Dispatch Center and Emergency Planning. In 1996, Mr. Strong was elected to represent the 84,000 people of western Madison County including Madison, Triana, Monrovia, Harvest, Toney and West Huntsville. He was 26 years of age at this time and was the youngest elected official to hold a major office in Alabama. He was re-elected three additional terms for a total of 16 years. During this time, he was widely recognized for building the Monrovia Community Center and The Children’s Library, helping companies expand, construct, and relocate to North Alabama, and leading efforts in establishing the Local Government Healthcare, saving the taxpayers of Madison County $11 million in reduced insurance premiums. According to Mark McDaniel, Attorney at Law, “Dale Strong is a man of integrity whose overriding concern is the betterment of his fellow men regardless of their station in life.” He and his wife, Laura, have two children, Whitney and Harrison.
The Outstanding Alumna Achievement in Education Award was presented to Dr. Katie Cole Kinney. Dr. Kinney earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education in 1997. She served as an elementary education teacher in the Madison City School System and as an Athens State adjunct faculty member in 2001. Dr. Kinney is a walking, talking advertisement for the teacher education program at Athens State University. She is well respected and recognized throughout the state of Alabama. In 2002, she began her career at the University of North Alabama and instantly made a name for herself in Instructional Technology. She could be called a triple threat, as she is a certified elementary teacher, a school leader, and a technology specialist. Dr. Kinney is a curriculum leader and has played integral parts in The University of North Alabama’s reaccreditation by NCATE (now CAEP) and movement toward the EdTPA process for assessing the preparation of quality classroom teachers. Dr. Kinney is a member of First Baptist Church in Florence where she and her husband have worked in the Shoals Area Soup Kitchen since 2011 and she has served as a church coordinator since 2012. She is married to Jeremie Kinney, and they have two children, Mary Cole and Griff.
The Deweese and Jim Beasley Appreciation Award was presented to Dr. Betty Dean Newman, who began her career as a classroom teacher and later joined the faculty of Athens State College. For almost 30 years, she not only taught reading and literature classes but also mentored and inspired teachers and children on all levels. Her career includes roles such as professor, Chair of Elementary Education at Athens State, and Director of Continuous Improvement and Accreditation at the University of North Alabama. Her passionate commitment to literacy and unselfish devotion to others have been demonstrated throughout her career. Dr. Newman has been recognized for her professional accomplishments in Athens City, Limestone County, and the State of Alabama. At Athens State University, she was awarded the Lorraine B. Pabst Excellence in Teaching Award; at the University of North Alabama she was named Outstanding Alumna; and at the international level, she received the ILA Maryann Manning Outstanding Volunteer Service Award in 2015. As a retiree, Dr. Newman is President Emerita of the Alabama Reading Association where she serves as District Director, Conference Consultant, and Editor of The Reading Paradigm, the Alabama Reading Association’s professional journal. In addition, she serves as Co-director of the Athens Academy of Fine Arts, teaches Bible studies at First Baptist Church, serves as an educational consultant, leads workshops and conferences, mentors many, and is a friend to all. She was married for 54 years to her beloved husband, Julian, and they have one daughter, Nancy.
The Dr. Angeline Nazaretian Distinguished Service Award was presented to Alabama Senator Arthur W. Orr from District 3. Senator Orr has served in the Alabama Senate since 2006, representing Limestone and Morgan Counties. This newly established award is indicative of Dr. Angeline Nazaretian, who gave to her community; the state of Alabama; her employer, Athens State University; her friends; and all the students who entered her life year after year. Senator Arthur Orr reflects this same commitment and continues to give back in any way he can. The Honorable Senator Orr graduated from the University of Alabama School of Law with his Juris Doctor in 1989. He has served as Instructor of English at the University of Alabama and Educational Consultant in the United States Peace Corps. Senator Orr has practiced civil litigation, probate and corporate law, developed and directed national programs in Bangladesh and Malaysia, and served as Staff Attorney working with government and nongovernmental organizations to facilitate existing or new Habitat Programs. Senator Orr is Vice President and General Counsel for Cook’s Pest Control, Inc. He joined the Athens State University Board of Trustees in 2012 and has been a faithful supporter of Athens State University. Senator Orr and his wife Amy currently reside in Decatur with their two children, Jack and Anna. They are active members of the First Bible Church in Decatur, where he serves as a Sunday School teacher.
The Outstanding Alumnus Achievement in Business Award was presented to Mr. Charles Seifried, who earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business in 1969. He came to Athens College during the 1960s where he met his wife, Brenda, and they eventually made their home in Decatur. They have one daughter, Elizabeth, and a granddaughter, Avery. After graduation and marriage, Mr. Seifried began to develop his true passion in photography. He built two studios in North Alabama but ended up going all over the world doing photos for corporations and ad agencies. He worked in 49 of the 50 states, as well as Italy, Australia, Ireland, and China for international companies such as BP and Marshall Space Flight Center; published six photography books highlighting the beauty of the state of Alabama; and took time out of his busy schedule to do several photo shoots to assist Athens State University. Mr. Seifried has been recognized nationally as well as internationally for his photography, has hundreds of “Addy” Awards, and has been recognized in Kodak international competitions, including nine wins with two in the top 200 out of the worldwide entries of 500,000. He says his 38-year photography career is the fulfillment of a boyhood dream. He has successfully used his business degree to provide the avenue to follow his heart, provide for his family, and capture the beauty around him as he was “Building His Success Story.”