Alumni Loyalty Award: Larry Woods ’75
Larry Woods could not be more deserving of the Alumni Loyalty Award. He is a 1975 alumnus of the Agriculture program who went on to earn his master’s degree in education from the University of Kentucky. He served on the Berea College Alumni Executive Council for seven years and is a past president for the Council. Larry was class reunion chair for his 35th and 40th reunions at Berea College and helped bring fellow alumni back to campus. He was involved in new-student orientation and served on various campus committees such as the personnel, planning and vision committees. He also served as a spokesperson for college video and letter writing campaigns and is a Second Century Club contributor to Berea.
Larry directed many students to Berea College over the years while serving as a principal and superintendent of schools in Kentucky. He also was involved with GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) in both Garrard and Breathitt counties. GEAR UP is one of the suite of programs administered through Berea College’s Partners for Education focused on improving educational outcomes in Appalachian Kentucky. These are only some of the ways Larry has touched our campus, and we are so grateful for his incredible representation of what it means to be a Berean by serving our community.
Distinguished Alumnus Award: Ann Beard Grundy ’68
Ann Beard Grundy is a 1968 graduate of Berea’s Music Department. Raised in a tradition rich in music, biblical justice, and community awareness, she has always sought to level the playing field for the disadvantaged. As a student at Berea, Ann was deeply involved in matters of racial justice. Her father pastored the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala., which served as the central rallying point for the Civil Rights movement where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. became a frequent speaker.
Ann carried the movement with her to Berea and was one of the founders of the Black Student Union. She participated in a landmark march led by Dr. King from Selma, Alabama, to the capitol in Montgomery in March 1965. Dr. King helped organize the march to protest civil rights violations and to champion the right to vote. Along the way, Ann used her musical talent to lead other marchers in songs of hope for the struggle ahead.
When Ann married Chester Grundy in 1974, it seemed to be their destiny to join for a higher purpose. Each has a résumé of credentials that makes their leadership and message highly credible. In all their endeavors, they seek to remind the community of what they may have forgotten or perhaps never known regarding the precious heritage of the struggle for equal rights for African Americans. They have unselfishly used their individual talents to open doors of enlightenment for others.
Ann has evolved over the years in her advocacy for racial justice. She has moved from anger to artistry, from confrontation to inspiration, from teacher to storyteller, using her dramatic voice in narrations of black history and in song as a member of the American Spiritual Ensemble. She has been a teacher, counselor, “youth director” (her notation), field representative for the Human Rights Commission, Vista Volunteer in three states, and she presently serves as program organizer for Lexington’s annual King Holiday Program and the Roots and Heritage Festival. Ann is a member of the National Holistic Society, a speaker and workshop facilitator, the founding director of Nia Day Camp and was a charter member (now Emeritus) of Open Ground’s Board.
In May 2016, Ann was invited to introduce commencement speaker Dr. Everett McCorvey, director and executive producer of the Opera Theatre at the University of Kentucky, during Berea’s May graduation ceremony, and it is so very fitting that she has been recognized with this year’s Distinguished Alumnus Award.
Distinguished Alumnus Award: Robert Auerbach ’49
Robert Auerbach graduated from Berea in 1949 and went on to earn a master’s degree from Columbia University in 1950 and a doctorate in zoology/genetics from Columbia in 1954. Following a year of post-doctoral studies at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, and two years as a fellow of the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland, he accepted a faculty position in the Department of Zoology at the University of Wisconsin, rapidly progressing from assistant professor to associate and full professor by 1965. Within a few years, Robert was awarded a distinguished professorship and named the Harold R. Wolf Professor of Zoology.
His research studies, resulting in more than 200 publications, included pioneering work on the development and functions of the thymus, having started these studies when the thymus was still an organ of unknown function. Robert’s early work also included the establishment of methods for achieving immunological competence ex vivo. He was also appointed as a visiting professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School, where he collaborated with Judah Folkman, medical scientist and pioneer in the study of angiogenesis, and others. This appointment was followed by a prestigious Rockefeller Foundation fellowship spent at the University of Texas Health Science Center.
In recognition of his many seminal studies, Robert has been asked to serve on numerous research and training panels of the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health. He was also elected to many committees at the University of Wisconsin, including the University Committee, the primary committee for faculty governance at the University.
Among his other honors are a Guggenheim fellowship for research studies at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in Melbourne, Australia, and election as a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Robert also received a Distinguished Teaching Award from the University of Wisconsin Student Association.
In 1940, the Auerbach family fled to America to escape the escalating persecution of Jews in Germany. Because of Berea’s devotion to the idea that we are all of one blood, the College extended admissions to include Jewish war refugees. The only requirement was to attend some religious service every week. Robert attended not only Union Church, but seven others, though on Sunday afternoons he would go up to Phelps Stokes belfry and play Smetana’s “Die Moldau,” the Jewish national anthem.
Wanda Irwin ’50, whose roommate was also Jewish, recognized the tune, and said, “I want to meet that rebellious spirit.” Wanda and Robert were married in Danforth Chapel by philosophy Professor W. Gordon Ross, who presided over their ceremony in English, German, and Hebrew. They returned to Berea to renew their vows for their 55th wedding anniversary in June 2005. They were married 62 years, until her death in 2012.
Robert continues to be a long-term and ardent supporter of Berea College. His daughter, Emily, inspired by Berea’s mission, founded the Odyssey Project at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, a tuition-free introduction to the humanities for low-income students.
Gary McCormick Receives Honorary Alumnus Award After 10 Years of Service
By Caroline Arthur ’16
First Lady Laurie Roelofs and Associate Vice President for Alumni Relations Jackie Collier ’80 presented longtime Boone Tavern General Manager Gary McCormick with an Honorary Alumnus award at his retirement celebration on May 25th. The Honorary Alumnus award is presented to non-alumni in recognition of their outstanding service to, and demonstrated loyal interest in, Berea College.
Gary served as the general manager of the Historic Boone Tavern Hotel and Restaurant for 10 years, becoming an integral part of the Berea community and a familiar face to the many guests who visited the tavern. He spent time getting to know visitors and community members, and helped provide an exceptional experience for those who chose to make the Boone Tavern their hotel and restaurant of preference over the years.
Named the Garner B. Hanson Hotelier of the Year by the Kentucky Hotel & Lodging Association in 2016, Gary has overseen initiatives to source local food and to incorporate green practices like restaurant composting and providing bicycles for guests. In 2015, the Boone Tavern was nominated for the Historic Hotels of America Award of Excellence as Best Small Historic Inn/Hotel, and travelers ranked it sixth in the nation on USA Today’s list of top eco-friendly hotels.
Serving at Berea was the culmination of a hotel-management career that spanned more than 30 years. Before coming to the Boone Tavern, Gary served as general manager for the Four Points by Sheraton and The Lafayette Club, both located in Lexington, Kentucky. Berea College is appreciative of the many years of service Gary committed to the Boone Tavern.