BOONE, N.C. — Six members of the Appalachian State University Community were awarded W.H. Plemmons Leadership Medallions in recognition of their efforts to provide campus leadership for students.
The medallions were conferred in April during the Celebration of Leadership and Legacy awards ceremony in Appalachian’s Plemmons Student Union to the following:
- Evan Atkinson ’19, of Raleigh, who holds a B.S. in communication with a concentration in journalism from Appalachian — W.H. Plemmons Leadership Scholar category.
- Roy Dale Cox ’19, of Birmingham, Alabama, who holds a B.A. in theatre arts with a concentration in performance from Appalachian — student leader category.
- Jon Garst ’19, of Huntersville, who holds a BSBA in risk management and insurance from Appalachian — student leader category.
- Dr. Harry Davis, the North Carolina Bankers Association (NCBA) Professor of Banking in Appalachian’s Department of Finance, Banking and Insurance — faculty category.
- Nikki Crees, executive director of University College’s orientation and new student programs — staff category.
- Traci Royster, director of staff development and strategic initiatives in Appalachian’s Division of Student Affairs — student affairs educator category.
The medallion, named in honor of Appalachian’s second president, Dr. William H. Plemmons, is presented annually by the university’s Board of Trustees, which established the award in 1996. The award recognizes the time, energy, skills and commitment of students, faculty, student affairs educators and staff who exceed their peers in providing leadership that enriches the quality of student life and advances the education of students at Appalachian.
Each year nominations are sought from Appalachian students, faculty and staff. These nominations are reviewed, and a recommendation is made to the Board of Trustees for recipients of this award.
Leroy Wright, Appalachians’ former associate vice chancellor for student affairs, served as chair of the 2018–19 W.H. Plemmons Medallion Committee, and J.J. Brown, vice chancellor for student affairs, conferred the awards.
More about the 2018-19 Plemmons Medallion recipients
Evan Atkinson ’19
W.H. Plemmons Leadership Scholar category
Atkinson graduated from Appalachian in May with a Bachelor of Science in communication, journalism and a minor in leadership studies.
He was selected from Appalachian's W.H. Plemmons Leadership Scholars as the 2018-19 Plemmons Medallion recipient. In their comments on Atkinson’s selection, the award committee wrote, Atkinson “brings a wave of positive energy wherever he goes. Students, staff and faculty alike are elevated by his energy, passion and engagement. As a Plemmons Leadership Scholar, he has shown an unwavering dedication to the program, serving as a catalyst for the evolution of this program over the past four years.”
In the role of student coordinator for the Plemmons Leadership Scholars program, Atkinson introduced bimonthly meetings, employed the Sustained Dialogue principles to facilitate discussions on topics and maintained the publication of an e-newsletter.
He served as social media marketing coordinator for the university’s Lee H. McCaskey Center for Student Involvement and Leadership and as a student representative on multiple campus boards, including the Department of Communication Advisory Board, the Student Media Board and the Leadership Studies Minor Advisory Board.
Roy Dale Cox ’19
Cox graduated from Appalachian in May and holds a Bachelor of Arts in theatre arts with a concentration in performance.
A nominator of Cox acknowledged his hard work and dedication as a member of WE CAN (Wellness Educators for Change, Advocacy and student Needs), a peer educator group on campus that works to impact student wellness positively.
While a member of WE CAN, Cox served as the director of “y(OUR) Story” — a theater production about metal health — collecting anonymous written stories from the Boone community concerning mental health journeys.
He also served as an archivist for Appalachian’s Belk Library and Information Commons, documenting and preserving the history of African Americans’ experiences at Appalachian.
Another of Cox’s nominators described the alumnus as “empathetic and caring, charismatic, genuine, intelligent, inquisitive, and most importantly, brave,” and said he “will go far in life. He gives more than he gets, and never expects any recognition. He embodies so many of the characteristics one hopes to see reflected in a student body.”
Jon Garst ’19
Garst graduated from Appalachian in May with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration in risk management and insurance.
Garst was a resident advisor (RA) for three years while at Appalachian, serving as the RA for the university’s Leadership and Service Residential Learning Community. He also ran analytics for the men’s basketball team, served as RA Council president, and was an Appalachian Student Ambassador and an intern in the Division of Student Affairs.
One of his nominators wrote, “Jon is the sort of student that student affairs professionals dream of working with — responsible, dedicated and willing to learn. His level of maturity is equal to what I see in many full-time professional staff members. He’s truly an exemplar student leader in all he does.
“He takes time to meet with each RA on the staff individually and ensure that they are pushing themselves to exceed their potential. Jon is the first to volunteer, and the quickest to jump at any opportunity,” the nominator continued.
One of Garst’s former student residents stated, “Jon’s door is literally always open to talk to his residents — from making us comfortable in the dorm to giving us personal advice, Jon is the epitome of a student leader.”
Dr. Harry Davis
Davis currently serves as the NCBA Professor of Banking in the Department of Finance, Banking and Insurance in Appalachian’s Walker College of Business (WCOB).
“Dr. Harry Davis is passionate about teaching the business leaders of tomorrow. Through work in the classrooms and hallways of Peacock Hall, he is leaving a legacy through hundreds of future banking executives,” said a nominator of Davis.
The nominator continued, stating that, through Davis’ interactions with the WCOB’s Holland Fellows Program — he “provides transformational educational opportunities to our students regarding trends and issues in the ever-evolving banking industry.”
As an instructor and dean of the North Carolina School of Banking, Davis further reaches undergraduates, as well as lifelong learners and professional students. “His unique position serving in both university and industry has enabled him to facilitate powerful connections resulting in internships, job placement and career growth for countless individuals,” a nominator said.
In the past year, Davis was named Outstanding Conference Speaker by the North Carolina Association of CPAs for his exceptionally high average evaluation scored from conference participants. Additionally, Davis is a recipient of the Wade Brown Award for Community Recognition, presented by the Boone Area Chamber of Commerce.
In recognition of his nearly four decades of service to North Carolina’s banking industry and the university, the WCOB, in collaboration with the NCBA, is creating an endowed professorship in Davis’ honor.
Crees, who holds a B.A. from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and an M.A. from Appalachian, currently serves as the executive director of orientation and new student programs in Appalachian’s University College.
One of Crees’ nominators wrote, “Nikki Crees serves as the face of Appalachian to incoming mountaineers and their families. She works tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure that all new and incoming students are heard and all concerns (are) appropriately addressed on their behalf.
“Nikki builds relationships and rapport with each student leader during the training process, aiding in their educational and social development all while challenging them to gain new or differing perspectives,” the nominator continued. “She leads by example and earns the respect of her students by creating lasting relationships built on honesty, accountability and encouragement.”
Other nominators described Crees as “a leader who challenges us to think critically and take ownership over our lives,” and “a mentor who can adapt their style of support depending on who they are interacting with and what their needs are.”
Before assuming her current role in 2007, Crees was a graduate assistant in the university’s Learning Assistance Program (now known as the Student Learning Center), a program coordinator for Freshman Learning Communities, assistant director of Freshman Learning Communities and assistant director of orientation.
Student affairs educator category
Royster, who holds a B.S. in psychology and an M.A. in human development and psychological counseling, both from Appalachian, currently serves as the director of staff development and strategic initiatives in Appalachian’s Division of Student Affairs.
Her nominator wrote, “There are people that light up a room when they enter it and Traci is one of those people. She is always the first to ask a student or staff member if they need help or assistance. Over the years, there are so many examples of her authentic leadership that I cannot list them all.
“When there are difficult incidents on campus that need time spent in thoughtful reflection with students that may feel marginalized or unheard, Traci is one of the first professional staff members in Student Affairs to be approached to assist,” the nominator continued. “For the students that she was able to engage with during these difficult times, Traci was certainly able to enrich the quality of their lives and help them process and learn through adversity.”
Royster served as interim director of Multicultural Student Development for the 2015–16 academic year and possesses over 16 years of professional experience in higher education. She has also served as director of the university’s Parent and Family Services, internship and student employment coordinator in the Career Development Center and assistant director for student support services in the former Learning Assistance Program.
To learn more about the W.H. Plemmons Leadership Medallion and view lists of past recipients, visit https://plemmonsmedallion.appstate.edu.
What do you think?
Share your feedback on this story.
Give to Appalachian
Sep. 22, 2017
When Evan Atkinson was in high school, his parents told him to look at whatever college he wanted and they would nd a way to pay for it.
Aug. 7, 2018
This theatre performance major says opportunities in the Department of Theatre and Dance are helping him reach his goal.
July 27, 2018
Ten Appalachian students have been recognized for their campus contributions in the areas of academic, service and leadership excellence through the university’s Leadership and Legacy awards.
About Appalachian’s Board of Trustees
The Appalachian State University Board of Trustees is a 13-member body that promotes the development of the institution within the functions prescribed by the UNC Board of Governors. The board serves as advisor to the Board of Governors on matters pertaining to the university and also serves as advisor to the chancellor concerning the management and development of Appalachian. The powers and duties of the Board of Trustees are primarily defined and delegated by the Board of Governors. Individuals are appointed to four-year terms by the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and the UNC Board of Governors. Included as a voting member of the board is the president of Appalachian’s Student Government Association. The president of Appalachian’s Alumni Council and chairs of the Faculty Senate and Staff Senate serve as ex officio constituency representatives to the board. Learn more at http://chancellor.appstate.edu/bot.
About Appalachian State University
As the premier public undergraduate institution in the Southeast, Appalachian State University prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The Appalachian Experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and to embrace diversity and difference. Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Appalachian is one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina System. Appalachian enrolls nearly 21,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.