Piedmont College Alumni award recipients are, l-r: Natalie Crawford; James Sievers; Spencer Wright; and Edward Ariail.
Jim Sievers ’63, a member of the Piedmont College Board of Trustees and longtime amateur golf advocate, was awarded the college’s Distinguished Alumni Award Saturday, April 7 during an awards luncheon that was a highlight of Piedmont’s Alumni Weekend.
Others receiving awards include Edward Ariail ’80, Hon. DB ’94 (Alumni Service), Spencer Wright ’98, M ’02 (Excellence in Education) and Natalie Crawford ’0, M ’12 (Pacesetter).
Sievers, who grew up in Atlanta, was recruited to Piedmont to play baseball but was also a member of the golf and basketball teams. After graduating, he moved to Chattanooga to begin a long career in pharmaceutical sales. To become connected with the community, Sievers began volunteering with a junior golf program. The work sparked a lifelong passion for amateur golf and charity work. He was later elected President of the Chattanooga District Golf and appointed to United States Golf Association. He also served on the executive committees of the U.S. Amateur and the Curtis Cup teams.
“Golf has raised more money for charity than all of the other sports combined,” Sievers said during his brief acceptance speech. “I am so proud of my involvement in that.”
Sievers, who retired from Bristol-Myers Squibb, Nuclear Medicine-Diagnostics Division and is living in Fort Myers, Florida, also spoke of his days as a Piedmont student and his current work as a college trustee.
“I am working through my fourth term as a Piedmont Trustee and it’s been a lot of fun,” he said. “Looking at it from the inside, I can tell everyone here that Piedmont is on the rise.”
Ariail, a native of Habersham County, has served Piedmont in numerous capacities. After graduating, he taught night classes at the college and later served as treasurer for the Piedmont College Alumni Association Board. In 1990, he joined the Piedmont Board of Trustees, serving as chair from 1998 to 2002, and continues to serve on the board. Ariail, who also advises the college on financial and real estate matters, received an honorary doctorate from Piedmont in 1994 and has served as an elected member of the Habersham County School Board.
Wright, who has served as Choral Director and Fine Arts Director Department Chair at Dawson County High School for 20 years and touched the lives of hundreds, credited Piedmont faculty for molding him into the music mentor and advocate he is today.
“When I came here in 1995, I was a mess and had no clue what I was doing or where I was going. But two people in this room, Dr. (James) Mellichamp (now Piedmont’s President) and Dr. (Wallace) Hinson believed in me and they beat me into submission,” he said laughing.
Crawford, a software development entrepreneur and former Piedmont student affairs employee, said the college’s values of inquiry, service, and legacy helped shape her priorities as an adult. And her professors instilled a work ethic and commitment to community service that influenced Crawford as she served multiple terms on the Habersham County Commission and developed an internship program that is popular with college students.
“Everything I do is linked to Piedmont’s values,” she said. “And anything I have accomplished is attributed to Piedmont professors and staff.”
In all, approximately 150 Piedmont alumni, some dating back to the class of 1951, returned to campus for events and celebrations that included a reunion for Natural Sciences alumni, a reception and dinner for those celebrating 40th and 50th decade reunions, a cookout, nature hike, baseball and softball games and art and theatre events.
One of the weekend’s most popular events was a Piedmont College Chamber Singers reunion, which attracted about 50 alumni. A touching moment occurred when alumni recognized longtime Singers’ conductor Hinson for his 25 years of service to the college and presented him with a surprise gift: a bound book filled with memorable photos from the past two decades.
Click here to view photos from Piedmont College’s Alumni Weekend