2006 Premier Award Recipients Announced at UA

  • February 7th, 2006
The 2006 UA Premier Award recipients were recognized by UA President Robert E. Witt at a ceremony and dinner; shown here at the event are (L-R) Dr. Cassandra Simon, Kristi M. Wilcox, Cody Locke, Dr. Witt, Kimberly Goins, Shermeen B. Memon, Rachel Duncan and Betsy Plank.
The 2006 UA Premier Award recipients were recognized by UA President Robert E. Witt at a ceremony and dinner; shown here at the event are (L-R) Dr. Cassandra Simon, Kristi M. Wilcox, Cody Locke, Dr. Witt, Kimberly Goins, Shermeen B. Memon, Rachel Duncan and Betsy Plank.

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Recipients of the 2006 Premier Awards — the top individual honors for scholarship, leadership and service at The University of Alabama — were announced by UA President Robert E. Witt on Feb. 4 at a recognition ceremony.

The 2006 UA Premier Award recipients include:

The William P. Bloom Scholarship Award honors a junior who has improved intergroup relations within the University community; this year’s winner is Kimberly Goins, daughter of Walter and Jeannette Goins of Eight Mile.

Through her role as chairperson of the SGA Student Involvement Committee, her membership in Delta Xi Phi Multicultural Sorority, and her work with Collegiate Life, Goins has shown tolerance of and appreciation for all kinds of people. “She regularly engages persons across both racial, class, and gender divides” and through her opinion column in The Crimson White she writes “in a way that causes people to think about important issues,” nominators said. The political science major is active in her church and has invested time in volunteer for Focus First and Habitat for Humanity.

The John Fraser Ramsey Award, named in honor of the late University history professor emeritus, recognizes in a junior the versatility of gifts and attainments, as well as the breadth of excellence in mind and character that have traditionally been the goals of a liberal education.

The recipient of the Ramsey Award is Kristi M. Wilcox, daughter of Thomas and Mary Wilcox of Tuscaloosa. As a pre-med English major Wilcox has been called “just the sort of Renaissance person envisioned by the creators of the Ramsey Award.” By combining her physical, spiritual, intellectual, and artistic attainments with her passion for helping others she has created “a life of inspiration, accomplishment, and service,” a nominator said. This has been evident in her work as an intern with Creative Campus, a student-led initiative to promote appreciation of and participation in local arts and culture.

The Morris Lehman Mayer Award is named in honor of Morris Lehman Mayer, business professor emeritus. For three decades, Mayer was a beloved UA teacher and a guiding force in student life. The award recognizes one faculty member and one member of the graduating class who exemplify integrity, selfless service and leadership at UA and in the community while making significant contributions to student life.

Rachel Duncan of Pelham is the Mayer Award student recipient. While many people would feel a triple major—English, Classics, and Biology—along with a triple minor would be all-consuming, Duncan feels true integrity requires service to others as well as development of self. Her volunteer work in keyboarding class notes for a deaf student soon turned into work with Disability Services as a technology assistant. Her research in linguistics equipped her to take on another project, developing an application to teach health-related Spanish phrases to health professionals. She also serves as a College of Arts and Sciences Ambassador and a Blackburn Institute student fellow. Her parents are Cheryl and Calvin Duncan.

Dr. Cassandra Simon, UA assistant professor of social work, has been selected as the faculty recipient of the Mayer Award. The compassion, honesty, integrity and dedication to students that exemplify Simon’s work also exemplify the spirit of the Mayer Award. Simon has consistently shown devotion and concern for her students, caring for the inner person as well as the intellect. “Her honesty has helped me understand the beauty that I have and the power of what this attribute can do for the world … her compassion for me as a student is only a small fraction of what she has for her other students, her colleagues, and family,” a nominator wrote. Simon has conducted social work research on health-related topics such as breast cancer. She is a member of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation National African-American Advisory Council.

The Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award is presented to one man and one woman of the graduating class and one non-student who has been helpful to and associated with the University. The Sullivan Award recognizes excellence of character and service to humanity.

Student winners of this year’s Sullivan Award are Cody Locke of Boaz and Shermeen B. Memon of Tuscaloosa. Betsy Plank is the non-student recipient.

Cody Locke is a first-generation college student from a rural North Alabama community; he is also a USA Today College Academic Team member, Goldwater Scholarship recipient, Benjamin Cummings Biology Prize recipient and National Society of Collegiate Scholars Merit Award winner. Through his epilepsy research at UA he has seen “the opportunity to use my passion for neuroscience to make a substantial impact on society,” he said. He has already presented his work to members of the National Academy of Science, and Science magazine has noted his development of CarpeDB, the world’s most comprehensive epilepsy genetics database. He is the son of Mickey and Patsy Locke of Boaz.

A senior biology major with a minor in computer-based honors, Shermeen Memon’s use of her intellectual resources to benefit society has taught her that character is developed through experience and service. She plans to take that insight with her to the UA School of Medicine. Already her scientific research in the areas of gene therapy, ionic liquids research and the effects of certain soil-borne bacteria on Parkinson’s Disease has brought her scholarly notice and the Undergraduate Research Award. She has volunteered time to promote health literacy in Alabama’s Black Belt, and helped raise over $10,000 for victims of the recent Pakistan earthquake. Shermeen is the daughter of Dr. and Mrs. Bashir Memom of Tuscaloosa.

After graduating from UA in 1944, Betsy Plank went on to a stellar career in public relations, eventually becoming known as “public relations’ first lady” and garnering numerous awards. Her passion for ethical leadership that serves the public good, combined with her interest in quality public relations education and her love for her alma mater has made her a valued friend of the University and the College of Communication and Information Sciences. In 2004, the UA Board of Trustees adopted a resolution establishing the Betsy Plank Center for Public Relations Studies to promote “effective and ethical representation of institutions, organizations, ideas and individuals.” As donor for the Center, Plank has demonstrated her dedication to the University, its students and society.

The 2006 Premier Award recipients will also be recognized in an awards ceremony during UA Honors Week this spring.


Linda Hill or Beth Stephenson, UA Media Relations, 205/348-8325, lhill@ur.ua.edu

The University of Alabama, the state’s oldest and largest public institution of higher education, is a student-centered research university that draws the best and brightest to an academic community committed to providing a premier undergraduate and graduate education. UA is dedicated to achieving excellence in scholarship, collaboration and intellectual engagement; providing public outreach and service to the state of Alabama and the nation; and nurturing a campus environment that fosters collegiality, respect and inclusivity.