Alumni Award Recipients

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Charles Rayburn '45

Dr. Mike Johnson ’73 Honored with Rodney C. Bussey Award of Special Merit

Mike Johnson '73

Dr. Johnson reflects on his career at Berea during the annual Intercollegiate Athletes Banquet in April after being presented with the Rodney C. Bussey Award of Special Merit from the Berea College Alumni Association.

During the annual Intercollegiate Athletes Banquet in April, Dr. Mike Johnson was honored as the 2017 recipient of the Rodney C. Bussey Award of Special Merit. This award is given to alumni who have been employed by the College and recognizes their outstanding service, demonstrated loyal interest, and extraordinary quality of work to the Berea College family.

Coach Johnson has worked at Berea College for 36 years, coaching track, cross country, and swimming. Until recently, he was the head men’s track coach—a position he held for 29 years. He continues to serve as the head coach for the men’s and women’s cross country teams, and is the assistant in charge of distance running and throwing events.

“Mike is known for creating very positive relationships amongst his teams, something that I think leads to his success as a coach,” said President Lyle Roelofs. “He has seen his student-athletes rewrite the record books many times over the last third of a century.”

During his time at Berea, Coach Johnson has coached 21 National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) All-Americans, 42  NAIA Academic All-Americans, and one NAIA National Champion. Since Berea began competing in the NCAA Division III and the United States Collegiate Athletic Association (USCAA), Coach Johnson has coached seven USCAA Scholar Athletes, seven USCAA First-Team All Americans, two Second-Team All Americans, and two individual USCAA National Champions. In 2015, he coached the men’s and women’s cross country teams to USCAA National Championships, and was named the USCAA National Men’s Cross Country Coach of the Year. Coach Johnson was named Coach of the Year 43 times during his illustrious career and is in the Kentucky High School Athletic Association (KHSAA) Track and Field and Cross Country Coaching Hall of Fame.

Additionally, Coach Johnson and his wife, Mary Kay Clairborne Johnson ’73, have served as host-parents to many Berea College students. They are the parents of two children, Luke and Carrie.

Charles Rayburn ’45 Receives President’s Medallion

By Tim Jordan ’76

Charles Rayburn '45

from left to right: Major Gift Officer Melissa Strobel, Director of Gift Planning Amy Shehee ‘91, Dr. William Rayburn, Charles Rayburn, President Lyle Roelofs, First Lady Laurie Roelofs, and Vice President for Alumni and College Relations Bernadine Douglas.

On February 13, 2017, alumnus Charles Rayburn received the Berea College President’s Medallion. The award, established in 1988 by President John B. Stephenson (1984-1994), is given at the discretion of the president to honor those who have shown “exemplary service in the advancement of Berea College and its cause.” Rayburn is the first recipient of the President’s Medallion during President Lyle Roelofs’ tenure and the 15th honoree.

In addition to being a lifelong supporter of the College, Rayburn had a distinguished career as a physicist and inventor with 914 inventions protected by 78 U.S. patents, many of which were also licensed in Europe and Japan. Several of his inventions focus on electronic components used in radios, televisions, computers, and other electronic products.

During the awards ceremony, President Roelofs noted his admiration for the accomplishments of a fellow physicist, making special reference to Rayburn’s first patent, which came in the area of automated production systems for integrated circuits. These are the type of circuits that evolved into modern computer technology, including smartphones.

“Berea is where I learned to work,” stated Rayburn, whose late wife is Charlotte Ballard Rayburn ’45.

He took a course in electricity at Berea that qualified him for a production line defense job at General Electric as a final tester for miniature transformers used in aircraft communication equipment. His experience with General Electric was recorded in his military record and provided leverage for his military career. He enlisted in the Army Air Corps, moving through the ranks from private to captain. Specializing in B-29 aircraft systems, Rayburn established then operated facilities on Guam to enable the bombers to make the long runs over Japan.

When Rayburn returned from the war in 1946, Berea was fully enrolled, so he finished his undergraduate education at Morehead State College (now Morehead State University). Then he enrolled in the University of Kentucky, where he earned a Master of Science degree in Physics.

During his career, Rayburn was an engineering manager for a classified military project within the National Bureau of Standards in Washington, D.C. The project focused on designing and automating construction of the first electronic integrated circuits. Later, he worked in the hyper-competitive electronics industry, where his innovative skills led to the development of hundreds of components that serve people and provide employment. Rayburn estimates that his inventions have created more than 5,000 employee-years of jobs.

Now retired, Rayburn lives in New Mexico.

Carl Carpenter Presented with Honorary Alumnus Award

Carl Carpenter Honorary Alumnus

Carl Carpenter Hon ’17 stands proudly next to his Honorary Alumnus award.

Carl Carpenter Hon ’17 spent most of his life working, starting in the first grade. He came to Berea College in 1953 when he was 27 years old to begin a two-week temporary job that paid 90 cents an hour. Today, he has worked in Facilities Management at Berea for over six decades—spending 18 of those years as its director.

On March 1, 2017, the Berea College Alumni Association recognized Carpenter’s service and commitment with an honorary degree. He has worked under five Berea College presidents, starting with Francis S. Hutchins (1939-1967). In his presentation, current President Lyle Roelofs noted that when they first met, Carpenter suggested they spend some time mowing together.

“Clearly, he was thinking ahead to that eventual retirement, and wanting to have his replacement ready to go, someone who would have the requisite maturity to do this job,” said Roelofs. “I will grant that I am a slow learner, but Carl was a good teacher, and with another lesson or two, I think I’ll be ready for the job.”

Derrick Singleton, vice president for operations and sustainability, joined Roelofs in sharing how Carpenter had positively affected the lives of countless students, staff, and faculty with his kindness and dedicated service to the community. “Carl represents the humbler, finer aspects of all Bereans,” said Singleton.

This long-tenured staff member remembers Berea College’s campus in a way that many of us have never seen–the dairy, the bakery, the laundry, and even a candy shop. He recalls that when he started here, the grass was mowed by mule, not machine. He spent his time here digging lines for water and sewer, painting, washing windows, cleaning floors, mowing, being an incredible leader, and so much more. Most importantly, he spent his time here being a friend.

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