At a recent chapel service, The Dr. Charles W. Conn Servant Leadership Award was presented to Lee students Kelsie Derrick and Caleb Montgomery and Lee faculty Dr. Carolyn Dirksen and Dr. Jimmy Harper.
The Dr. Charles W. Conn Servant Leadership Scholarship, established in 2003, honors President Emeritus Charles W. Conn. He served as Lee’s president from 1970 to 1982, and a spirit of servant leadership marked his tenure.
As part of the university’s efforts to emphasize the importance of serving others, the award is given annually to rising seniors who have demonstrated outstanding commitment to service during their time at Lee. Students who receive this scholarship give a portion of the proceeds to a charity of their choice.
Derrick, a history major, has been involved in various volunteer projects related to her major. She has served through agencies such as Project Free2Fly and Habitat for Humanity.
“She will give everything she has and pour her entire heart and energy into giving to others,” said Derrick’s nominator. “She loves getting the opportunity to make an impact in people’s lives.”
Montgomery, a psychology major, has been an intern at the Leonard Center for three years and serves extensively through Crossover Ministries, a Lee program that provides groceries and fellowship to East Cleveland residents in need. His nominators describe him as “a person who wants to talk less about caring and simply show it through his actions and relationships.”
“I consider my commitment to service vital in my relationship with God,” said Montgomery. “Through my service with others, my faith and understanding of God have grown immensely.”
Dirksen, as former vice president for academic affairs, helped establish core programs such as Global Perspectives and service-learning. She was a recipient of the Excellence in Teaching and Excellence in Scholarship awards. Dirksen is retiring from full-time service this year, concluding 50 years of continuous service here at Lee.
“Her fingerprint can be found at every level of service to the university – as instructor, professor, department chair, vice president for academic affairs, and as the director of the center for teaching excellence,” said one of Dirksen’s nominators.
Harper has been on Lee’s faculty since 2000. He serves across campus by helping lead the chapel program, working with students, and “even playing intramurals.” Harper also serves the community in such capacities as chaplain for the county fire department. He will transition to lead a local K12 Christian school at the end of this semester.
“When I think of his service in our campus and community, the word that consistently comes to mind is ‘heart’,” said Dr. Mike Hayes, vice president for student development. “Simply put, Dr. Harper loves people.”
Derrick and Montgomery are the fourteenth group of students to receive this award, while Dirksen and Harper are the 10th and 11th faculty members to be honored.
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