Wayland honors longtime donors at annual appreciation dinner

March 9, 2015

PLAINVIEW -- Wayland Baptist University spotlighted some of its most loyal supporters and dedicated students at the second annual Evening with the President donor appreciation dinner, held Saturday at the Plainview Country Club.

Dr. Paul Armes, Wayland’s 12th president, presented two entities with The President’s Award, honoring donors who have given significantly to the life of the university over an extended period of time and showing highest support and loyalty. The Roberta Wright Reeves Trust, administered by Glenna Romans in Dallas, and the Weir Charitable Trust, administered through Frost Bank in Austin, received the 2015 honors.

Administrator Janice Torgeson was on hand to receive the award on behalf of the Weir Trust, established in 1984 by Leroy and Merle Weir to benefit four Christian schools in Texas, including Wayland. The trust established a generous scholarship for Wayland students and has continued to add to the principal each year. In 2013-14, the Weir Trust Scholarship provided 81 scholarships for a total of $106,000, taken solely from the interest off the endowment. Since they are undesignated scholarship dollars, Weir Scholarships are particularly beneficial since they can help students across all disciplines and even international students who receive no federal financial aid.

Roberta Wright Reeves, who was the granddaughter of famed Texas rancher Col. C.C. Slaughter, established a charitable trust at her death in 1989. The endowment created in 2002 at Wayland provides generous scholarships for students in the School of Languages and Literature each year, with some $73,000 distributed in 2013-14. The trust also gave $154,000 to complete the third of four phases of Wayland’s All Steinway Initiative in 2013, helping the university achieve that status early in 2015. They have also helped fund other projects over the years. Glenna Romans administers the trust.

The university also recognized two couples for generous lifetime donations totaling at least $100,000 with the Keeper of the Flame Award, noting their sustained and loyal giving over many years. Mike and Suzy Hutcherson of Lubbock and Dr. Vernon and Belva Stokes of Midland received the awards during the dinner.

A 1966 graduate of WBU, Hutcherson is the son of the late Claude Hutcherson, the longtime benefactor and pilot of Wayland’s women’s basketball squad, the Flying Queens. Mike took up that role after his father’s death in 1977, traveling many miles to support the team. He and Suzy have continued to support the program, and he was named to the Athletic Hall of Honor in 2004. They have also supported the university at large with generous gifts, including an endowed scholarship in the family’s name, lights for the baseball field and gifts to the Laney Student Activities Center.

Vernon and Belva Stokes both earned degrees from Wayland in education, then went on to teach. Dr. Stokes also was an administrator, directing the District 18 Education Service Center and was formerly superintendent in Odessa. The couple endowed a scholarship in their name in the School of Education and another in memory of their daughters, Shelly Stokes Coll and Shauna Stokes Sanderson, as well as supporting many major projects at the university. He is a longtime member of the Wayland Board of Trustees and received the Distinguished Leadership Alumni Award in 1987.

Greg Hall, minister of music at First Baptist Church of Plainview, and his wife Beth provided musical entertainment for the event, accompanied by Martin Duckett. The church was recognized for its longtime support for the university as well, contributing more than $1 million in its history.

Senior Alexa Taulbee Lunsford of Plainview and junior Virginia Espinoza of Littlefield shared their student testimonies, thanking donors for their role in making educational dreams possible for students across the Wayland system.

“Before Wayland, I never thought scholarships were available to me. I was smart, but not an honor student,” Lunsford said. “I didn’t know you could be an average student and still get a scholarship. I attribute these gifts that are made available to students like me to Wayland’s Christian environment and the donors that love Wayland.”

Espinoza, who is raising her sister’s two children while attending school full-time, added her thanks as well.

“Your gifts are important to us because if no one helped, I don’t think I could have survived. Without gifts, other students may not have the opportunity to do this either,” she said.
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