The 2023 Faculty and Staff Award winners of Blue Ridge Community College.

Blue Ridge Announces 2023 Faculty and Staff Award Winners

Featured Photo: Pictured from left to right are Blue Ridge Community College employees Anne Smith, Steve Young, Glenda McCarson, Daniel Wesley, Philip Hosmer and Andrea Craven. (Photo by Rich Keen.)

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Blue Ridge Community College honored several stand-out employees on Thursday, Dec. 15, as part of the College’s Faculty and Staff Awards. The annual awards program recognizes excellence in higher education service and is presented by the Educational Foundation of Blue Ridge Community College.

The program began with a welcome by Vice President for Advancement Lisa Adkins, followed by an inspiring statement from President Dr. Laura Leatherwood, who spoke about how talented employees led the College to many achievements this year. Her message continued the “Together We Can” theme introduced during the August convocation event. Dr. Leatherwood also recognized employees who are retiring or reached milestones in their years of service to Blue Ridge Community College.

“We know that every aspect of our mission takes teamwork and collaboration to make Blue Ridge Community College the successful institution it is,” she said. “We’ve shown through the years our team can build success for our students. Together, we can create opportunities and make our community better.”

The Faculty and Staff awards were announced by Mr. Jim Rasmussen, trustee and president of the Educational Foundation Board of Directors.

“At Blue Ridge Community College, employees play a significant role in our students’ lives as teachers, advisors, and mentors,” he said during the ceremony. “You assist students with finding purpose and direction in the educational process, setting them on a path to meet their career and life goals. The Foundation is proud to present these awards today.”

The award winners were given a special award to display and a monetary gift courtesy of the College’s Educational Foundation. The event also featured a special reception for all Blue Ridge full-time employees to thank them for their hard work in 2022.

The 2023 Blue Ridge Community College award winners are as follows:

Wellness Award
Anne Smith, Environmental Health and Safety Institute Assistant, was selected to receive the 2023 Wellness Employee of the Year.

Employee wellness has long been a priority for Blue Ridge Community College and presents an annual recognition to a deserving employee using the College’s wellness program to meet their goals. Smith competed against and outperformed other employees using the Wellness Committee’s point-based system that encourages friendly competition and healthy lifestyles.

Dr. Eliza B. Graue Extra Mile Award
Blue Ridge Human Services Technology Instructor Andi Craven was awarded the 2023 Dr. Eliza B. Graue Extra Mile Award.

Dr. Eliza B. Graue, former president of the Blue Ridge Community College Educational Foundation Board of Directors, established an endowment in 1990 to fund an annual faculty recognition award. An educator herself, she wanted to provide special recognition to an instructor who has in some special way touched the lives of students at Blue Ridge Community College.

Craven was nominated for the award by her students, whose comments showed the impact and difference the instructor had made on them – even after graduating.

“I’ve had some personal conflicts arise in my life that jeopardized my ability to continue at Blue Ridge,” wrote one student. “[Craven] met with me immediately and served not only as my advisor, but as the support system I so desperately needed during that time. Not only did she create a concrete plan for me, she took the time to listen to my struggles and reassure me that I belonged at Blue Ridge.”

“Whenever I’m doubting myself, she has always been there for my support,” wrote another student. “I would never be as successful as I am now without her generous, kind, and empathetic support.”

Dr. David W. Sink Jr. Community Service Award
Glenda McCarson, Associate Vice President of the Transylvania County Campus, was awarded the Dr. David W. Sink Jr. Community Service Award.

Initiated through an endowment fund set up by the second president of Blue Ridge Community College, this award is presented to a Blue Ridge Community College employee who provides exceptional service to the community, a trait that Dr. Sink values greatly in his own life.

Blue Ridge Community College and Transylvania County are better because of McCarson’s passion and commitment to making the world a better place. She leads by example and serves on myriad community organizations where she can make an impact, connect with others, and provide higher education resources to her community. 

Examples of her community service include serving as the vice president of the Vision Transylvania Committee; vice president of the Brevard / Transylvania County Chamber of Commerce; steering committee member for Brevard Blue Zones Project; board member of the Transylvania Schools Education Foundation; member of the Vision Transylvania Alumni Committee; and member of the Pisgah Forest Rotary Club.

Dr. Molly A. Parkhill Staff Person of the Year Award
Blue Ridge Associate Vice President and Chief Information Officer Steve Young was awarded the 2023 Dr. Molly A. Parkhill Staff Person of the Year Award.

Established by the third president of Blue Ridge Community College, the Dr. Molly A. Parkhill Staff Person of the Year Award recognizes a full-time staff member for individual achievement and exceptional contributions to Blue Ridge Community College.

A deserving recipient of this year’s award, Young is known for being innovative, forward-thinking and calm under pressure. He has ensured the security of Blue Ridge’s servers and systems from ransomware attacks, and he is well respected across the community college system. He played a critical role in the design, bid, construction and move-in of the new Patton Building and Public Safety Training Facility. This year’s recipient also played a key role in College-wide technology projects, such as the facilitation of the CourseDog scheduling software, the DestinyOne instant enrollment project, migration of Blue Ridge’s system to the cloud and a recent partnership with the North Carolina National Guard Cyber Assessment Team. 

Recognizing that cross-campus stakeholder involvement is critical to the success of projects, big and small, Steve Young relishes the opportunity to bring together all of those needed to make sure the needs of students are met in the best possible way.

Dr. and Mrs. William D. Killian Outstanding Teacher Award
Blue Ridge Emergency Medical Sciences Program Director Daniel Wesley was awarded the Dr. and Mrs. William D. Killian Outstanding Teacher Award, which recognizes a faculty member’s commitment to teaching excellence.

While new to his role in leading the Blue Ridge Community College Emergency Medical Sciences Department, Wesley is no stranger to being a leader, both professionally and in his personal life. He is committed to making his department and students successful, and he treats others with kindness and compassion. This year, he has been diligent to give radio interviews and meet with the local EMS agencies, fire departments, rescue squads, and high schools to encourage others to pursue careers and training through Blue Ridge’s public safety programs.

In total, Wesley exemplifies the qualities of a faculty member that Dr. Killian and Helen wanted to recognize through this award.

Dr. Laura B. Leatherwood Excellence in Leadership Award
Dean for Public Safety Philip Hosmer was the inaugural recipient of the Dr. Laura B. Leatherwood Excellence in Leadership Award. Dr. Leatherwood established this new award to recognize exceptional leadership in providing extraordinary services, activities, or other initiatives to benefit the College. 

Hosmer has a proven track record of leadership. During his tenure, he was promoted from instructor to program chair to dean. During this time, he helped expand course delivery methods, including seated, online and ITV instruction. Hosmer has been a driving force behind the success of the programs in his department, including the Career and College Promise programs in both Henderson and Transylvania Counties. When named a dean, this year’s recipient rose to the challenge of merging multiple curriculum programs with continuing education programs. He was also a 2020 Top Five Finalist for the Faculty of the Year Award for the North Carolina Community College System, and he served as the interim police chief for six months in early 2022. Hosmer is highly organized, professional, personable and well-respected.

“The department is thriving under his leadership,” wrote his nominator.

Congratulations to the deserving recipients of Blue Ridge Community College’s 2023 Staff and Faculty Awards!