The Meredith Alumnae Association presented the 2015 alumnae awards during the College’s annual reunion weekend, held May 15-17.
Jo Allen, ’80
Distinguished Alumna Award
Jo Allen, ’80, is the first alumna to lead Meredith College, one of the largest private colleges for women in the United States. She is a strong advocate for women’s education who brings her experience as a faculty member, administrator, and scholar to her current role as president.
Prior to becoming Meredith’s eighth president, Allen served as senior vice president and provost, and professor of English, at Widener University. Other leadership positions held by Allen at universities where she taught include special assistant positions for various projects, as well as vice provost and interim vice provost. Allen has published and presented in more than 200 scholarly venues, focusing on communication, assessment, and leadership in higher education.
Linda FitzSimons, ’73
Distinguished Alumna Award
Linda FitzSimons is an artist and educator who spent more than 25 years in Meredith’s Department of Art, retiring in 2010 as professor of art. During her years teaching at Meredith, she was an excellent professor, department head, and public school education advocate. She maintained professional ties to the community, exhibiting her own work and acting as juror for other exhibitions.
After her retirement as a full-time faculty member, FitzSimons continued her service to Meredith College. She worked with the Office of International Programs and the Alumnae Office to create an international study program for Meredith alumnae and friends. The Tuscan Intensives programs are housed at the Palazzo Alberti, Meredith’s site in Sansepolcro, Italy. Over a four-year period, FitzSimons has planned and coordinated 14 Tuscan Intensives, generating more than $100,000 to support the Meredith in Italy program.
Carrie Swart Tulbert, ’01
Career Achievement Award
Carrie Swart Tulbert, ’01, has been called a role model for all principals. In recognition of her work as principal of Mooresville Middle School, she was named the 2014 Wells Fargo North Carolina Principal of the Year.
Tulbert led Mooresville Middle through one of the state’s first schoolwide 1:1 Digital Conversions. Today her school is a national model for using technology to support instruction. State Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson called Tulbert a “pioneer who believes in the power of shifting school culture, thoughtful planning, and cultivating meaningful and productive relationships among teachers and student.”
Tulbert earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English (with grades 6-12 licensure), and she holds a master’s degree in school administration from Gardner-Webb University, and a doctorate in educational leadership from Wingate University.
Amanda Hillard Smith, ’06
Recent Graduate Award
Amanda Hillard Smith, ’06, uses her Meredith degree to educate others about the history of North Carolina and the world. Smith is a social studies teacher at Beaufort County Early College High School, where she teaches civics and economics, and world history. In 2014, she was selected North Carolina History Teacher of the Year by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.
In July 2014, Smith became a published author when her book, The Williamston Freedom Movement: A North Carolina Town’s Struggle for Civil Rights, 1957-1970, was released. The book began as Smith’s Honors thesis at Meredith College. She conducted more than 20 oral history interviews for the project, which details the civil rights movement in her hometown of Williamston, N.C. She holds a bachelor’s degree in history with a minor in public history from Meredith, and a master’s degree in public history from North Carolina State University.
Meredith College also presented three philanthropy awards during reunion weekend.
Durema Kohl, ’45
Reunion Philanthropy Award
Durema Fitzgerald Kohl, ’45, is being honored in recognition of her loyal support of Meredith’s music program. Kohl has faithfully supported the music program through many gifts, including equipment for the Keyboard Lab in memory of her parents. In 2014, she established the Durema Fitzgerald Kohl Music Scholarship Endowment with preference given to a piano or organ student.
Ellen Amanda Rumley, ’77
Meredith Memorial Philanthropy
Ellen Amanda Rumley, ’77, passed away during her senior year at Meredith as a result of an automobile accident. Her parents, Katherine “Kitty” Furches Rumley, ’43, and Leon Rumley, continued to love and support Meredith. In 1987, the family established The Ellen Amanda Rumley Scholarship Fund in Ellen’s memory. In 2015, Meredith was the recipient of a $3 million gift from Mrs. Rumley to add to the scholarship fund. The scholarship supports students like Ellen who exemplify integrity, scholarly excellence and character.
Alicia Griffin Baucom, ’05
Meredith Philanthropy Award
Alicia Griffin Baucom attended Meredith College as an adult student, and has generously supported Wings, adult education at Meredith, through an estate gift. Baucom also supported students who attended Meredith through the Initiative to Educate Afghan Women, first as a volunteer and host, and later as a full-time IEAW coordinator.