Union presents 100th Tigrett Medal to standout senior
JACKSON, Tenn. – May 21, 2011 – When Union University President David S. Dockery presented the Elizabeth Tigrett Medal to Kate Cline during the May 21 graduation ceremony, it marked the 100th time for an outstanding Union senior to receive the award.
“The Tigrett Medal is based on academic excellence, strong moral character and service to the university and the community,” said Gary Williams, Union’s associate vice president for alumni relations. “It’s the highest award Union gives to a graduating senior.”
According to the 1912 Union catalogue, Ben Hill Blalock initiated the award as a tribute to Isaac B. Tigrett. An 1898 graduate of Southwestern Baptist University (later renamed Union University), I.B. Tigrett was a railroad president and also served as acting president of Union from 1909-1911. To honor his mother, the award was later renamed the Elizabeth Tigrett Medal.
Over the past 100 years, since R.M. Shelbourne received the first Tigrett Medal in 1912, Union has presented the award to students from a broad variety of backgrounds and majors.
Among those 100 recipients are:
- Gunnar Adalberth (1987). Adalberth serves as director of business development for the London 2012 Olympics for UPS. He has worked for UPS since 1990, relocating nine times to five different countries. He has held positions for the company in marketing, strategy and business development.
As a Union student, Adalberth majored in economics and finance and was the number one player on the tennis team for four years.
“The benefits of attending Union would be in multiple areas,” Adalberth said. “One is the education. The second area would be the sport experience. The third benefit would be, probably, being in a Christian environment.”
Adalberth went on to get a Master of Business Administration degree at Vanderbilt after leaving Union.
Tigrett Medal winners Christine Johnson Fairless ('51) and George Guthrie ('81) fellowship with President Dockery in front of the new Tigrett Medal plaque during the graduates' reception.
- Cheryl Zimmerman (1979). Zimmerman is the owner of Zimmerman Consulting Inc. in Racine, Wis. The company of about 70 employees offers jail alternative and diversion programs and consulting for counties in Wisconsin.
“We have about 25 different programs for juvenile and adult offenders,” Zimmerman said. “They range anywhere from pre-trial bail monitoring to alcohol and other drugs and mental health treatment programs.”
Zimmerman earned a master’s degree in political science from Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago and a Doctor of Philosophy degree in political science from the University of Utah. She said her undergraduate work at Union equipped her well for her graduate studies.
“It provided me with a quality foundation to actually be able to go anywhere and do anything that I wanted,” Zimmerman said. “I highly valued the regular connection with the faculty. I thought that was exceptional. You get to know them not only from sitting in class in an academic way, but you got to know them outside the class.”
- Warren F. (“Spike”) Jones Jr. (1950). Jones spent 21 years as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and professor of psychology at Georgia Southern University. Prior to that, he taught psychology at Stetson University for a dozen years and served as dean of administration at the University of Louisville.
Jones, the son of former Union president Warren F. Jones, retired in 1993. But he said he grew bored with retirement, and in 1996 he opened a resale store for Habitat for Humanity, which he continues to run with 20 to 25 other volunteers.
“I’m having a wonderful time and am making some pretty good money for Habitat,” he said.
Jones said his Union education prepared him for graduate work in psychology (he earned a Doctor of Philosophy degree from Vanderbilt in 1953).
“Further, it provided me a breadth of interests and knowledge that was especially helpful as a dean of the broad range of disciplines included in a college of arts and sciences that offered everything from art and music to physics and sociology and about 15 other disciplines.”
Past Tigrett Medal winners were recognized during the spring 2011 graduation ceremony
- Laura Lee (Moore) Ellis (2004). After graduating from Union with a degree in public relations, Ellis served as a journeyman with the International Mission Board in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, where she engaged in evangelism and discipleship with university students.
She returned to the United States and married Nicholas Ellis (also a Union graduate), and they had their first son, Liam in 2009. Two months later, they headed for Great Britain, where Nick is studying theology.
Ellis said that while her Union education provided excellent training for a career in communication, the character shaping and mentoring she found at Union was even more meaningful. Her interactions at Union helped her answer not only the question, “What will I do?” but also “Who will I be?”
“Union was a period of forging rich relationships with professors and students and a critical time of growth as I laid the foundation for my life work, my marriage, my family and my relationship with God as an adult,” she said. “Some of my best friends today are fellow Unionites. It’s fun to see so many spread throughout the world, working out their callings and living life to the full.”
About 30 of past Tigrett Medal winners were on hand for the May 21 graduation ceremony. Earlier in the day, the winners were recognized at the graduates’ reception.
Related Resource(s): Tigrett Medal Winners
5/21/11 - Union presented the Elizabeth Tigrett Medal to Kate Elizabeth Cline, who double majored in history and English. This marked the 100th year for the presentation of the Tigrett Medal to an outstanding senior.
- Morris Abernathy
5/21/11 - David S. Dockery, president of the university, presents the Tigrett Medal to Kate Cline at spring graduation.
- Morris Abernathy