ELKINS — After more than seven decades of service to Davis & Elkins College, a beloved professor received the distinction of being named the inaugural Crystal Mace Award winner Friday.
After serving the institution for 71 years, Dr. Gloria M. Payne, the college’s James S. McDonnell Foundation professor of business and economics emerita, received the award from D&E President Chris A. Wood during Friday’s annual Founders’ Day Convocation.
“What can you say about Gloria Payne? A lot, actually,” Wood said. “In her 71 years serving Davis & Elkins College, she has mentored thousands of students, both as an adviser and friend. It’s often that we hear from alumni who tell us about the impact Dr. Payne has had on their lives. I would venture to say that just about every one of her students could give you a story about how Gloria made a difference.”
He added that the most important aspect of Payne is that she gave students self-confidence to enter the world and “reach beyond their horizons.”
“Most importantly, she instilled self confidence into her students so they left D&E knowing they could reach beyond their horizons,” Wood said. “Many of her students have gone on to start careers. Locally, Nathaniel Bonnell, the newest president and CEO of Citizens Bank of West Virginia here in Elkins. Internationally, board of trustees member Mark Barber, who retired as deputy treasurer, global solutions for General Electric Company and General Electric Capital Corporation.”
Payne did this by “making D&E her life.”
“How did Dr. Gloria Payne do all this? She quite simply made Davis & Elkins College her life,” Wood said. “Today is the day that Davis & Elkins College says thank you.”
In a video recording that was played during the ceremony, Payne explained that she did not do anything except help students realize their potential.
“It is not just ‘what did I do?’ It’s what did we do? What have we done to better — to make our lives better?” Payne said in the video. “What are we going to do with all this knowledge? What are we going to do to make the world a better place? So, it takes everybody.”
She added that she never felt as though helping students was a job because she liked what she did.
“If you really like your work, it’s not a job. It’s just not. It’s simply become part of my life,” Payne said. “I can’t take credit for this because you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make that horse drink. That student had to do it himself of herself. This was just helping them discover their talents and their ability.”
Two years after earning her Bachelor of Arts degrees in business and English, Payne found herself back at D&E. In 1945, she was invited to instruct summer school classes and for the decades that followed, she never viewed her job as “work.”
Payne continued her education, earning a Master of Arts degree in English from West Virginia University in 1970. She also holds a Master of Business Administration and Ph.D. in business from the University of Pittsburgh. She completed additional studies at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, N.Y., New York University, East Carolina University, Marshall University and the Washington School of Protocol in Washington, D.C.
Payne also holds certifications as a modeling instructor from World Modeling Association and the Wheeler Fashion School, a design appearance consultant from the World Modeling Association, an interior decorator from the New York School of Design and protocol certification from the Washington School of Protocol.
As chair of the Business and Economics Department, Payne developed 18 business programs at D&E, including fashion merchandising, health care administration, hospitality management, real estate, marketing and international management, among others.
She connected her students and the business community through honorary organizations and the Beta Alpha Beta Annual Awards Banquet, along with “An Evening with Business” and “Project Interview” which provided students an opportunity to meet and learn from experienced local business leaders.
Payne’s work was recognized throughout West Virginia and the nation with honors such as the West Virginia Business Association Outstanding Business Educator of the Year, the West Virginia Women’s Commission Celebrate Women Award and Education Leader of the Year presented by the International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education, in addition to dozens of other awards.
The James S. McDonnell Foundation Chair in Business and Economics in honor of Dr. Gloria M. Payne was established in 1986 in gratitude for the education Marcella McDonnell received under Payne’s guidance.
More recently, Payne was selected as grand parade marshal for the Mountain State Forest Festival Grand Feature Parade in 2016.
Other awards given Friday included:
• Richard C. “Dick” Seybolt, ’63, was awarded the Distinguished Alumnus Award by Paul S. Stirrup, ’60, chair emeritus, board of trustees.
• Peter Ullman, ’49, was awarded the Senators Community Service Award by Wood. Ullman was unable to attend due to health complications.
• Robin White Rybczynski, ’86, was awarded the Tower Award by Cory Toth, ’06, president of the D&E National Alumni Council.
• Kathryn R. Owsianiecki Hartmann, ’08, was awarded the Outstanding Young Alumna Award by Scott Goddard, ’96, vice president for student affairs.
• Emily A. Coffman was awarded the L. Newton Thomas Sr. Memorial Scholarship by Dr. Robert J. Phillips, vice president for academic affairs.
• Junior Shirley J. Fox was awarded the Freeman J. Daniels Academic Achievement Award by Phillips.
• Sophomore Nicholas N. Altman was awarded the Freeman J. Daniels Academic Achievement Award by Phillips.
• Freshman Jonna R. Burnside was awarded the Freeman J. Daniels Academic Achievement Award by Phillips.
The senior class Freeman J. Daniels Academic Achievement Award recipient is awarded during the commencement ceremony, held in spring.
Faculty recognized as Emerita included:
• Dr. R. Carol Cochran, professor of nursing.
• Harry G. Henderson, associate professor of business.
• Dr. Robert R McCutcheon, professor of English.
• Dr. Gloria M. Payne, James S. McDonnell Foundation professor of business and economics.
• Dr. Jane C. Woods, professor of history.
Additionally, the Rev. Edward J. Thompson, general presbyter for the Presbytery of West Virginia, was recognized as a new member of the Davis & Elkins College Board of Trustees.