Award Winners 2016
J. NEAL ENSMINGER DISTINGUISHED ALUMNUS AWARD: Richard "Dick" Burdette
Following his graduation from Tennessee Wesleyan in 1966, Dick began his career of more than 37 years with United Airlines. His first eight years were spent in Airport Operations and Customer Service at airports in the New York City area; Norfolk, Virginia; and Reno, Nevada. He then transferred to United's corporate headquarters in Chicago, where he spent the balance of his career in positions with Revenue Accounting, Travel Agency Accounting, Auditing, Accounting Systems Design, and Information Systems Design.
Over the final 10 years of his career, Dick made a lasting impact on the industry working on the concepts that led to the development of the electronic ticketing system used today by all major airlines worldwide.
Dick served on various committees within United, the Air Transport Association of America, and the International Air Transport Association that implemented the electronic ticket worldwide.
For his work on electronic ticketing, Dick received the Vision Award from the Information Services Division of United in 1999.
A New Jersey native, Dick and his wife, Jill, currently reside in Rogersville, Tennessee, where he has served his community as a member of the Rogersville Kiwanis Club and Hawkins County Library Board and was a founding member of the State of Franklin Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution. He has lent his voice to Voices of the Mountains – the choral arm of the Symphony of the Mountains in Kingsport – and has lent his hands to aid with charitable programs such as Meals on Wheels.
Dick and Jill have generously supported the Tennessee Wesleyan European Choir Tour and even traveled with our students across Europe. Their deep passion for supporting student scholarships and international travel led them to create the Burdette Global Scholarship Fund at Tennessee Wesleyan.
OUTSTANDING YOUNG ALUMNUS AWARD: Dana Moody
A 2005 graduate of Tennessee Wesleyan, Dana currently serves as assistant principal of McMinn County High School, where she began her career as a student teacher and later as an English teacher and instructional coach.
She was one of only 600 teachers in Tennessee chosen to serve as a Common Core Coach to help other educators around the state implement Common Core Standards.
An active member of Glenlock Baptist Church, Dana has served as a youth director, Sunday School teacher, nursery committee member, and church clerk. She has also helped to organize youth trips, mission trips, and service opportunities for the youth to visit nursing home patients and assist elderly church members with needs around their homes.
Dana is married to Tennessee Wesleyan alumnus Michael Moody. They have two daughters: Camryn and Carson.
ROBBIE J. ENSMINGER FRIEND OF WESLEYAN AWARD: Dr. Samuel Roberts
A respected member of the Tennessee Wesleyan faculty for 30 years, Sam has aided with the intellectual, spiritual, and personal growth of students over the years as a professor of religion and philosophy.
Sam earned his undergraduate degree from West Virginia Wesleyan University in his native state before earning a master of divinity degree from Yale University Divinity School. After spending several years as a Methodist minister in West Virginia, Sam earned a master's and doctorate from Drew University in 1983 and 1985, respectively.
In 1986, Sam came to Wesleyan to serve as chaplain and a member of the president's cabinet, before moving on to teaching full-time. Prior to his retirement from full-time teaching in 2013, Sam served as longtime chairman of the Department of Religion and Philosophy and served as Associate Dean of the Humanities. He continued to teach part-time until the summer of 2016.
He and his wife, Stella – a retired Methodist minister – divide their time between Athens and Oak Ridge.
ATHLETIC HALL OF FAME
Tennessee Wesleyan Hall of Famer - Shirley Shankle Woodcock
A 1978 graduate of Tennessee Wesleyan, Shirley was a member of the university’s first women’s tennis team, being recruited by Coach Dwain Farmer to play from 1976-77.
Shirley has continued her support of the Bulldogs off the field by contributing her talents and resources to fundraising campaigns for both the Tennessee Wesleyan athletics program and annual fund. From 2003 to 2004, she aided Dean Jack Bowling in raising funds for a new baseball field house – a project to which she personally contributed – and earlier this year, she partnered with the university to raise funds for the Bulldog Plaza project at Robb Gymnasium. She has co-chaired the TWU Capital Campaign since 2014 and made a major gift to the Colloms Campus Center. She has served as a member of the Tennessee Wesleyan Board of Trustees since 2002.
In 2005, she and her husband, Sonny, received the Jack Prince Award for their support of TWU athletics.
A co-founder of her family’s successful business, Sweetwater Valley Oil Company, Shirley has lent her business expertise as a member of the Board of Directors of SouthEast Bank & Trust from 2001 to 2012 and the McMinn County Economic Development Authority Board of Directors from 2006 to 2009. She currently serves on the boards of the Athens-McMinn Family YMCA, Springbrook Golf & Country Club, and the McMinn County Industrial Bond Board.
In 2005, she was named the Athens Area Chamber of Commerce’s Business-Professional Woman of the Year and, in 2007, received the Mary Mildred Sullivan Award for humanitarian service from Tennessee Wesleyan.
Shirley has two children – Jaime McGinnis and Matt Woodcock – and three grandchildren: Brody Woodcock, Ruby Woodcock, and Will McGinnis.
Tennessee Wesleyan Hall of Famer - Jeff Lanning
A 1995 graduate of Tennessee Wesleyan, Jeff helped the Bulldogs baseball team clinch a 28-12 record in 1992 and a 35-9 record in 1993.
Jeff was named Most Valuable Player both seasons he played, helping the team win back-to-back Tennessee-Virginia Athletic Conference Championships and District 24 Eastern Division Championships.
He was named All-TVAC Pitcher and First Baseman and All-District First Baseman in 1992. The following season, he was named All-TVAC Player of the Year and All-District Utility Player of the Year.
Jeff went on to play professional softball, being named a 1998 ASA National Championship Tournament First Team All-American and helping his teams clinch the 1999 NSA Men’s Super World Series National Championship and USSSA Men’s Major World Series Championship. He was named to the USSSA Men’s All-World Team in 2000, and was named 2001 ISA Men’s Class AA World Series Most Valuable Player after his team won the Class AA World Series, a feat they repeated in the NSA in 2002, when Jeff was named to the NSA Men’s AA All-World Team. His team also won the 2002 USSSA Men’s Major World Series.
A 19-year educator, Jeff has served as a head coach for middle school basketball and softball, as well as an assistant and head varsity baseball coach at the high school level.
Tennessee Wesleyan Hall of Famer - Jason Sewell
A 1993 Tennessee Wesleyan graduate, Jason was a four-year starter for the baseball team, helping the Bulldogs amass records of 18-16 in 1990, 24-16 in 1991, 28-10 in 1992, and 35-9 (without a single home game loss) in his final season. His teams were TVAC Conference Champions and District Runners-up in 1992 and 1993.
Jason was TVAC Conference Rookie of the Year in 1990 and made the All-Conference team all four years, along with being named to the All-District/Region Team in 1991 and 1993. He was an All-District/Region Player of the Week in 1991 and was a runner-up for the Burger King National Player of the Week. He received the team’s Best Defensive Player and Best Offensive Player awards, as well as Most Valuable Player, all in the 1991 season. He received the team’s M.C. Tip Smith Award for character and leadership and he graduated with the highest GPA of any student who took all of their coursework at Tennessee Wesleyan.
Currently serving as Director of Student Life and Leadership at Cleveland State Community College, Jason was named the 2010 CSCC Distinguished Staff Member and was elected by his staff peers to serve from 2008 to 2010 as Staff Senate President. He served as NJCAA Division II National Golf Coaches Association Vice-President in 2005 and was inducted into Cleveland State’s Athletics Hall of Fame for his work as golf coach in 2015.
Tennessee Wesleyan Hall of Famer - Jill Hitson-Harris
A 1995 graduate of Tennessee Wesleyan, Jill was a four-year member of both the basketball and softball teams.
With her help, the Lady Bulldogs basketball team amassed a record of 86/46 in her time at Wesleyan, being named Conference Champions in 1994 and 1995 and making it to the National Tournament Sweet 16.
Jill is a member of the Bulldogs 1000 Point Club, having scored a career 1,001 points, with an average of 14 points per game, 34 percent career points from the 3-point line, and a field goal percentage of 45. She had a career 650 rebounds, averaging seven per game.
She made the All-Conference Team in both basketball and softball, and was named Offensive Most Valuable Player in softball and Most Athletic of her senior class.
An elementary educator with 21 years of experience, Hitson-Harris is currently a teacher for Gwinnett County Public Schools in the Atlanta area, where she was named Outstanding Teacher of Mathematics in 2012-13 and was a Teacher of the Year Finalist in 2008-09. She is also a volunteer coach with Peachtree Ridge Youth Athletic Association.
Tennessee Wesleyan Hall of Famer - Talley S. Caldwell
A member of the Bulldogs basketball team from 1993 to 1997, Talley was named to the All-Freshman Team in 1994 and the All-TVAC Team in 1995, 1996, and 1997, as well as being named an NAIA All-American.
Talley, who is the Bulldogs’ second-all-time leading scorer with 2062 points, helped the team clinch the 1997 TVAC Championship and qualify for the NAIA National Tournament.
Currently, Talley serves as Assistant Principal in the Hamilton County School System.