University of Lynchburg will celebrate Homecoming and honor alumni for their accomplishments in careers and service during the annual Alumni Awards Gala Dinner Friday night.
Two alumni will receive the T. Gibson Hobbs Memorial Award, the highest honor the College bestows on alumni.
The first recipient is Pauline “Polly” Blackwell Flint ’71, ’73 MEd, the chair of the LC Board of Trustees. Polly taught elementary school in Lynchburg and Campbell County in the 1970s and became a realtor in 1988. Today, she is a sales associate with Flint Property Group. She has served her alma mater in numerous capacities. She also has served as an elder at First Christian Church and has been actively involved in the League of Women Voters, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, the Chamber of Commerce, the Lynchburg Art Club, and Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest Garden Club.
Helen Mundy Witt ’67, ’78 MEd, the first African-American to graduate from University of Lynchburg, also will receive the Hobbs award. She was the first African-American student teacher at Bass Elementary and the first African-American teacher at Forest Hills Elementary. She taught elementary school for nearly three decades and earned a reputation for selfless service to her students, her church, and her community. In 2007, Helen received the J. Edward Petty Outstanding Alumni Award from the University of Lynchburg School of Education and Human Development. In 2013, she received an honorary doctorate from LC.
Three alumni will receive the Distinguished Alumni Award:
Gary Mignona ’86 MBA, president and CEO of AREVA Inc. Gary started his career with Babcock & Wilcox and joined AREVA in 1981. He serves on several committees for the Nuclear Energy Institute and is currently the chairman of the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations’ Supplier Participant Advisory Committee.
Laurie Shelton Moran ’81, president and CEO of the Danville/Pittsylvania County Chamber of Commerce. An English major at LC, Laurie has previously worked as the communications manager for Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company’s Danville plant, editor of a weekly newspaper, and as a consultant to develop the strategic plan for Pittsylvania County Schools. Governor Terry McAuliffe appointed her to serve as an inaugural member of the Commonwealth’s School Readiness Committee.
Syed Towheed ’93, technical director of innovations at Vencore Inc., a company that advises the federal government in areas of information solutions, engineering, and cybersecurity. Over the past 20 years, Syed has founded two technology companies; led the development of mission-critical software for Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the U.S. Treasury during the mortgage meltdown, and at NASA he received numerous awards for his work.
Jamar M. Hawkins ’04, a senior policy coordinator in the immediate office of the Secretary at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, will receive the M. Carey Brewer Alumni Award, which honors young alumni who have made outstanding contributions to society. Jamar leads a team of public health and science policy professionals who manage HHS’s development and review of regulations, correspondence, reports to Congress, and other health policy documents.
Sarah K. Toliver ’16 will receive the first John G. Eccles Leadership Award. She was actively involved in several ventures during her years at LC, including three years as a resident assistant. She also served on the group that helped bring the LC LOVE sign to the campus. A criminology major, Sarah now works as an instructional assistant at a psychiatric treatment facility for abused, neglected and abandoned children. In the future, Sarah plans to become a child protective service worker.
Matt Brandon, who served on LC’s advancement team for ten years, and Shaun Dearden, who has worked in LC’s dining services for 24 years, will each receive the Honorary Alumni Award.
The following will be inducted into the University of Lynchburg Sports Hall of Fame:
Jennifer Overstreet Abbott ’05, a family assessment planning team coordinator for the Bedford County Department of Social Services, will be recognized for her outstanding performance as a softball player at LC.
Brandon Childs ’04, ’08 MEd, director of the men’s lacrosse program at York College of Pennsylvania, is being recognized for his excellence in lacrosse. His performance as a coach, including leading York to its first ever conference championship, has added to his outstanding record at LC.
Timothy Crawford ’78 is being recognized for track and field accomplishments, which included helping LC win three ODAC championships in the sport. He taught and coached in Nelson County from 1980-2011. He coached a Central VA All Star High School track team against Russian teams in Togliatti Russia in July 1994, and he led the Nelson boys track team to three state championships — for indoor track and field in 2004 and 2005 and outdoor track and for outdoor in 2005.
Laurie Haggerty Dolian ’73 is being recognized for tennis. She was team captain during her senior year, when the women’s tennis team enjoyed its fourth consecutive winning season and placed fourth in Virginia. She also played field hockey and basketball at LC. After graduation, Laurie taught middle school and coached many youth sports teams while raising her three sons. She continued to excel in tennis. She was the Stamford Connecticut Women’s Singles Champion, and she plays competitive USTA tennis in Colorado, when she is not hiking, biking or skiing.
Cotrena Liggon ’00, ’02 MEd is being recognized for Softball, for which she placed on the All ODAC First Team and received All State and All Region Honors. She was a graduate assistant softball coach while earning her master’s degree at LC. Cotrena has coached high school and Dixie softball since graduating from University of Lynchburg, and she now coaches Cross Country at EC Glass High school.
Dr. Marie Lewis received a special citation for her work as a coach at LC. She came to LC in 1972 to coach women’s basketball and lacrosse, and encouraged the administration to add volleyball as a varsity sport in 1973. She served as professor and chair of the department of Health, Movement Science, and Recreation. During her 20 seasons on the Hornet volleyball bench, she won 59 percent of games. In basketball, her teams won 169 games in her 14 seasons from 1979-1992. She earned ODAC coach of the year for volleyball in 1999 and 2000 and for basketball in 1989.
Two teams were honored as Teams of Distinction. The 2001 women’s field hockey team, coached by Enza Steele, is honored for its 21-2 record. The team boasted two All-conference players, two All-region, and one All-American. They led the ODAC Conference in ALL statistics—shots, goals, points, goals per game, assists, and assists per game. The 2003 men’s lacrosse team, coached by Steve Koudelka, was honored for winning the ODAC championship, securing a 12-5 season, and winning against the team that was ranked first in the nation that year.