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Alumni Association to honor 11 during annual banquet

GEN Jack Wheeler smiles as he is awarded the Distinguished Alumnus award at the 2012 alumni awards banquet. This year, 11 people will be honored, including students, faculty and alumni.

The NGCSU Alumni Association Inc. will honor 11 people during Parents-Alumni Weekend, set for April 19-21 on the University of North Georgia's Dahlonega campus. The annual awards banquet is just one event in a weekend filled with activities, including reunions, sporting events, military demonstrations, and presentations.

Awards to be presented at Saturday night's Alumni Awards Reception & Banquet are:

  • The Alumni Hall of Fame award, presented to alumni who have distinguished themselves through outstanding careers and/or community service, this year goes to E. Paul Stringer ('53) and Mary Helen McGruder ('68). In 2012, Stringer, a Dahlonega native and member of the Board of Trustees of the University of North Georgia Foundation – Dahlonega Inc., earned the university's Presidential Leadership Award for his work as co-chairman of the university's first-ever capital campaign, which raised more than $44 million. McGruder, a Cumming, Ga., native, is vice chairwoman of the Board of Trustees of the University of North Georgia Foundation – Dahlonega, Inc. An ardent community supporter, McGruder helped found the Sawnee Mountain Preserve and worked to bring higher education opportunities to Forsyth County.
  • This year's recipients of the Distinguished Alumnus award, given to alumni who have an extraordinary record of service and support to North Georgia, are Linda Sumpter ('61), COL Mike Pyott ('88, posthumously), COL Jack Peevy ('64), and Paul Lockard ('66). Sumpter, an Atlanta native, won county-level Teacher of the Year honors and an Outstanding Elementary Teacher of America award during her 33-year career in education and has served the university's Alumni Council for eight years. Pyott formerly served as the university's professor of military science and received the Bronze Star, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal, two Air Medals, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, the Joint Meritorious Unit Award and Meritorious Unit Citation during a 20-year military career that included combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. Peevy, an Alpharetta, Ga., native, earned a Purple Heart, the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, and Meritorious Service Medal during his 30-year military career. In 2012, Peevy pledged $2 million to a military scholarship fund, the largest private gift to the university's Corps of Cadets. Lockard, of Mississippi, earned three Bronze Stars, a Purple Heart, the Combat Infantryman's Badge, two Army Commendation Medals, the Cross of Gallantry with Bronze Star and Honor Medal 1st Class during his five years of service that included two tours in Vietnam. Lockard has overseen a successful program to provide memorial pavers in the COL Ben Purcell Formation Plaza.
  • The Ralph Colley Spirit of North Georgia award, given to an alumnus who has experienced adverse circumstances and has risen above those circumstances to live an exemplary life, goes to the Honorable Joseph H. Booth, a 1974 graduate who lives in Jefferson, Ga., and is a Superior Court judge in Georgia's Piedmont Circuit.
  • The Young Alumnus award, given to alumni within 20 years of their graduation who have distinguished themselves through outstanding professional careers and/or outstanding contributions to community service, this year goes to the Honorable Ben Miller Jr., a 1992 graduate who lives in Thomaston, Ga., and is presiding judge for Juvenile Courts in the Griffin Judicial Circuit.
  • The Distinguished Professor award, established in 1971 to recognize faculty members based upon "total service" to the university, goes to Dr. Mark Spraker, professor of physics and chairman of the university's Faculty Senate. Spraker's research in nuclear physics has been supported by a U.S. Department of Energy grant since 1997 and for the past several years by NASA.
  • The Paul M. Hutcherson Outstanding Student award is given each year to male and female students who demonstrate the highest ideals of citizenship through their accomplishments on campus or in home or community life. This year's recipients are Nicole Bronsted and cadet COL Michael Carty. Bronsted, of Blue Ridge, Ga., graduated summa cum laude in December 2012 with a degree in history and a cumulative GPA of 3.92. She was a member of the UNG Honors Program and has completed more than 100 hours of community service with various organizations. Carty is commanding officer of the university's Boar's Head Brigade, which numbers more than 700 cadets. Carty will graduate with a degree in chemistry in August and commission as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army. He plans to return to graduate school to seek a medical degree.

Most of the weekend's events are free, but class reunions, the awards banquet, sporting events, and other some events require pre-payment and registration is preferred for all events. For more information or to register, visit the University of North Georgia Office of Alumni Relations & Annual Giving website at

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