Wayland recognizes donors during Pioneers of Excellence Banquet

PLAINVIEW, TX — Wayland Baptist University expressed gratitude to donors Thursday night during the annual Pioneers of Excellence Banquet, presenting President’s Awards, Keeper of the Flame Awards, Founders Society Awards, and a Special Award.

“One of the greatest joys as President of this university is awarding the annual President’s Award,” said Dr. Bobby Hall. “This award is given to those who support us with their financial resources, but more importantly, give of their time, talent and efforts to make sure that the university's mission of providing an excellent Christian higher education is accomplished.”

The first President’s Award went to Ben and Bertha Mieth, who have supported the university with scholarship gifts, a professorship, and contributions to the Core Mission Fund.

“In 2023, the Mieths made a generous gift of $2.5 million as lead donors to the new Thrive campaign, supporting the School of Nursing at Wayland in honor of Bertha’s mother,” Dr. Hall said.

The second President’s Award went to the late Jimmy Dean and his wife, Donna Dean.

“They made their first gift to WBU in 2008, a $1 million donation to support the Centennial Campaign and a scholarship in memory of Jimmy’s mother Ruth,” Dr. Hall said.

In 2012, Donna Dean donated her late husband’s memorabilia and funds to create a museum in his memory on the Wayland campus.

“Most recently, Donna announced the creation of a planned gift from her and Jimmy’s estates that will be transformational for Wayland when it matures, blessing students for years to come,” the president said.

The final President’s Award was presented to representatives of the Sally Society, a women’s organization founded in 2011.

“The Sally Society has raised more than $500,000 that has benefited the university living and learning environments,” Dr. Hall said. “These women are tireless in their efforts and have a true love for seeing Wayland become a better place for students that call this campus home.”

Laurie Hall, Wayland’s First Lady, and Linda Adkins, a charter member and Sarah Wayland’s granddaughter, accepted the award.

The Keeper of the Flame Award honors those who have contributed $100,000 or more in cumulative gifts in their lifetime. Covenant Health, First Baptist Church of Olton, Fred and Louise Joachim Foundation, Odis and Edith Sims Foundation, and Noe and Irma Valles received those awards.

A Special Award was presented posthumously to Audrey Boney, who left her estate to Wayland in support of both the Impact 2020 and Thrive campaigns. She passed away in September 2021at age 95.

“The Founders Society is a donor recognition group for those who have designated Wayland in their estate plans,” explained Mike Hammack, Vice President for Institutional Advancement. “Planned gifts exhibit extraordinary foresight by alumni and friends who want to enrich the educational experiences of Wayland students in countless ways.”

Hammack presented new Founders Society members with a commemorative medallion. Those recognized included Daniel and Kim Brown, Carolyn Courtney, Claude and Paula Lusk, Brian and Cindy McClenagan, Jean Silverthorne, and Tommy and Teresa Young.

Two scholarship dedications were part of the festivities. The university formally dedicated the Lt. Col. Odis V. and Edith R. Sims Endowed Scholarship, as well as the Dr. Charles and Susie Starnes Endowed Scholarship.

Following a meal, the banquet began with a video featuring Alice Conely, a senior who has benefited from the Angus and Vera Ott Family Scholarship. Then, Sarah Manchee spoke of the impact donors have had on her life at Wayland.

The evening also included words of appreciation from Mark Murdock for Dr. Hall, who is retiring in July, as well as an introduction to Wayland’s Thrive campaign by Hammack.

The banquet was sponsored by HighGround, a non-profit investment management and trust services company involved in the management of many of Wayland’s endowments.