Wayland kicks off homecoming with alumni recognition chapel

October 11, 2013

PLAINVIEW — Wayland Baptist University kicked off its annual homecoming weekend with the alumni recognition chapel on Friday. The chapel provided the opportunity for members of the Wayland family to recognize and honor the life and contributions of not only former students but benefactors, as well.

Hosted by the alumni office, the chapel recognized the Distinguished Alumni, Hale County Judge Bill Coleman (B.A., 1972); Distinguished Leadership honoree, Steve Ahlenius of McAllen (B.S., 1983); Distinguished Young Alumni, Dr. Scott Franklin of Plainview (B.S./B.A., 1998); Distinguished Benefactors T.C. and Peggy Wall of Plainview; Distinguished Lifetime Service honoree, semi-retired Wayland Professor Dr. Arch Mayfield of Fort Worth; Distinguished Lifetime Service honoree, former Dean of Students Emmitt Tipton (B.S., 1969); and Distinguished Alumni, Joe and Freda Provence (B.A., 1966 and B.A., 1972, respectively).

Coleman began the ceremony by comparing life to a rollercoaster, with dramatic stops, starts and turns. In the process, he shared some words of encouragement that centered around the Biblical charge of Moses to the Israelites as they prepared to enter the Promised Land. The gist of the charge was to not be fearful because God will be with you and will never leave you.

“That (Biblical) verse has sustained me through the good times and the bad times and I hope and pray it will sustain you too,” Coleman said.

Ahlenius was next on the program and he encouraged the students to “go and do something great.”

Ahlenius said he learned at Wayland the skill sets he uses daily as the CEO and President of the McAllen Chamber of Commerce. Wayland taught him to manage a budget and raise money and organize his time and efforts, as well as his environment. Most importantly, though, his time at the school gave him the motivation and tools to succeed.

“Put down the video game, get off the couch and go and do something great. I think you would be surprised what God has in store for you,” he said.

Franklin challenged those in attendance to find where their greatest passion meets the world’s greatest needs, for that is where God wants each person to be.

“For me, that has been Wayland and I thank her for her mission and the light she shines both on the South Plains and around the world,” he said.

Although they are not graduates of Wayland, T.C. and Peggy Wall were recognized for being longtime benefactors of the university. The couple received the Keeper of the Flame Award, indicating that they have donated in excess of $100,000 to the university.

Mrs. Wall, who currently is a member of Wayland’s Board of Trustees, spoke for the couple saying simply, “We thank God for giving us the opportunity to move to Plainview and as long as He gives us breath and a dollar in our pocket we will continue to support all the things that Wayland does.”

The Distinguished Alumni Award is the highest honor given by the Office of Alumni Development and this year’s recipients, Joe and Freda Provence have long histories both as students and as employees of Wayland. Mr. Provence graduated from Wayland Baptist College in 1966 and in 1967 became the school’s first student recruiter. He retired 40 years later as the Director of Alumni Services.

Mrs. Provence graduated from Wayland in 1972 and went to work for the school as the executive assistant to the president and board of trustees in 1981, serving five presidents before her retirement in 2007. Among other services to the university, the Provences were founding members of the School of Music’s Friends of Music. The couple has been instrumental in the school’s All-Steinway initiative.

Mr. Provence told the crowd that Wayland began to feel like home for him almost immediately and it has been his family’s home since he arrived in 1957.

“We love this school. We love so many things about this school. We say, ‘Go get ‘em Pioneers,’ ” he said, alluding to the family’s longtime support of Wayland athletics.

Dr. Arch Mayfield was the first of two Lifetime Service Award winners. Mayfield taught at Wayland for 40 years and still serves as an adjunct online professor from his current home in Fort Worth.

The second recipient was former Dean of Students, and business professor, Emmitt Tipton, who also was inducted into the Wayland Baptist University Athletic Hall of Honor this weekend. Tipton told the crowd that with the exception of a couple of years in the military he had never lived more than 13 miles from the school.

“It’s been fantastic times,” he said as he reflected back across his 30 years of service.

“It’s been a great ride. I’ve got so many great memories,” he said, pointing out that he was among the first to get to attend chapel in Harral Auditorium.

“Now, I’m here as a retiree, getting ready to go on to do different things, better things, and I owe and awful lot to Wayland,” he said.