Heritage Day notes university employees’ service

By Maddy Mendoza


Honorees, students, faculty, staff and family members gathered Oct. 9 in the Chapel of the Incarnate Word for the 20th annual Heritage Day Employee Recognition Ceremony.

Annette Thompson, director of human resources and master of ceremonies for the event, opened with a quote by Winston Churchill: “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”

Once opening statements were presented, a reflection was read by Sister Walter Maher, vice president of Mission and Ministry. Following the reading, William Gokelman, a music professor, and Dr. Orit Eylon, a new music professor, performed what Thompson called a “breathtaking duet.”

The presentation of awards began with employees being honored for five years of service. Seventy-one honorees celebrating that anniversary were asked to stand to be honored with applause.

Dr. Patricia Lonchar, a longtime English professor and former assistant dean, was honored for 30 years of service. When asked what she enjoys most about working here, she said the community is filled with amazing individuals and therefore feels honored to be a part of it.

Incarnate Word High School faculty members were also honored in the ceremony. Gordon Scales, a physics teacher and 20-year honoree, said he “enjoys discovering new ways to interest students in physics.”

Some faculty members were able to share the contributions they have made to UIW. Dr. Valerie Greenberg, director of graduate studies for the Department of Communication Arts, said she hopes she has made a positive role in the life of the university in the 25 years she has served it.

“I feel like I’ve helped the school develop and grow, especially communication arts,” Greenberg said. “I’m proud of what we’ve done. In 1988 (when she arrived), all the Logos (newspaper) had were typewriters. We didn’t even have a television studio.”

Greenberg also spoke of the experiences she has been able to enjoy as a faculty member.

“I’ve really enjoyed the opportunity to research and present my research all over the world,” she said. “I’ve presented papers in Portugal, New Zealand, Germany, Great Britain and Tokyo. Tokyo’s like being in a pinball machine.”

Dr. Caroline Spana, director of student affairs for undergraduate nursing, was honored last for her 50 years of service. Not only is Spana a distinguished faculty member, she is also an alumna of the university. According to the UIW website, she graduated in 1959 with a bachelor’s degree then joined the UIW community as a faculty member in 1964.

Spana has accomplished much in her 50 years. She is active in faculty governments and committees, serving as the first woman to lead the faculty association. Besides being active in associations on campus, Spana is also active in the Texas Nurses Association in which she has held positions at state and local levels.

Spana has helped more than 2,800 students during her time at UIW. Kathryn Mayhan, a nursing student, is one of them.

“Dr. Spana loves helping students out with any concerns they have,” Mayhan said. “She always gives us encouraging feedback.”

Spana received a standing ovation when UIW’s president, Dr. Louis J. Agnese Jr., presented her with a certificate and commemorative diamond pin. Spana said she values the opportunity she has been given to form lasting collegiate relationships. Although she has no plans for retirement, she will quickly learn how to handle it just as she did teaching when she first started at UIW.

Agnese ended the ceremony with closing remarks in which he discussed future plans for the university, including a potential medical school to be built in the downtown area.

“UIW changes in building and design, but never in spirit,” he said.




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