WBU Announces Alumni Awards for Homecoming 2021


PLAINVIEW – The Wayland Baptist University Alumni Association has selected six individuals to be honored during Homecoming 2021. The Distinguished Alumni Awards will be presented on Feb. 19, 2021, in an online release since the homecoming celebration had to go to a virtual format given the continuation of COVID precautions.

Awardees from 2020 will include the following:

  • Mike Davis, BA w/honors ’87, Distinguished Alumni Award: Dr. Davis is Campus Dean of Clarendon College Pampa Center as well as Dean of Career, Technical and Continuing Education after more than 27 years working in nuclear training and qualification for several U.S. Department of Energy facilities, including Los Alamos, N.M. He has supported many endowed scholarships and established new ones for external campus students after serving as a commencement speaker at every location.
  • Paul Harkey, BM’04, Distinguished Alumni Award: Paul worked in church music ministry for several years before taking a temporary gig as a bass singer with gospel group Crystal River. Realizing his call to the performance ministry, Paul then served with The Anchormen before landing his “dream job” as bass singer with Ernie Haase & Signature Sound in 2012.
  • Joe Lombard, BA’75, Distinguished Alumni Award: Joe retired in May 2020 after 42 years of coaching high school girls basketball, the last 35 at Canyon (Texas) High School. Joe is the second winningest coach in Texas history, amassing a career record of 1,379-133 and 26 state championships (19 in basketball, 7 in cross country while at Nazareth High). He is a member of the national women’s basketball hall of fame.
  • Joel O’Hair, BS w/honors ’06, Distinguished Alumni Award: Dr. O’Hair is Managing Director of Data Science and Analytics for KPMG, a large audit, tax and advisory firm. He previously worked in data analytics for IBM, Epsilon and other firms and is based in the Denver area.
  • Estelle Owens, BA’71, Distinguished Benefactor Award: Dr. Owens retired in 2016 as Professor Emeritus of History after serving 41 years at WBU and has continued to support her alma mater generously. She is a charter member of the Sally Society and has consistently given to scholarships, capital campaigns and general funding and has been recognized with the Keeper of the Flame Award.
  • Dananai Semwayo Gardner, BA’13, Distinguished Young Alumni Award: A former Miss Wayland and member of the WBU Track Team, Dananai completed her Juris Doctorate degree at North Carolina Central University in 2017. In January 2020, she was sworn in as assistant district attorney for the Eleventh Prosecutorial District in North Carolina.

In addition, the association will present its Pioneers of Promise awards to an undergraduate from each academic school on the Plainview campus. They will also recognize Mike Manchee, principal at Lorenzo de Zavala Middle School in Amarillo and the recent winner of the Baptist Educators Serving Texans (BEST) Award from Texas Baptists.

The awards presentation will premiere at 6 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 19, on the alumni YouTube channel and be available afterward for viewing on demand.

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