Concord’s Annual Alumni Banquet Held May 18

For Immediate Release: 
May 18 2007

CONTACT: Kati Whittaker, Director of Alumni Affairs II

Concord’s Annual Alumni Banquet Held May 18

Athens, W.Va. – Two alumni received special recognition at the annual Concord University Alumni Banquet held on Friday, May 18 in the Student Center Ballroom.

The event began with a welcome from Rosalie Peck ’63, president of the Concord University Alumni Association, Inc. Ms. Peck also offered the invocation. Then, the guests enjoyed a buffet dinner provided by ARAMARK, Concord’s dining and catering service.

Following dinner, Concord University President, Dr. Jerry Beasley, welcomed guests to campus and talked about a project that he is eager to complete—University Point. University Point will feature the Wilkes Family Interfaith Chapel, the Wilkes Museum, and the Erickson Alumni Center. “We need your help to tell the story of the character of the people of southern West Virginia and the people who came through this place.” He then invited guests to submit artifacts for the museum. He also noted that the people who would be recognized during the banquet are “remarkable in a wide variety of ways.”

Ms. Peck recognized members of the Alumni Association Council, noting that they willingly dedicate their time to benefit the organization. Then, members of the classes of 1957 and 1982 were recognized for being successful graduates from the University for fifty or twenty-five years.

Next, Peck took time to recognize the retirees of the University, including Larry Lilly, Andy Lilly, Jean Mann, William Skeat, and Perry Seal.

The following awards were given.


The award is presented to someone who has given to the community, and the recipient does not have to be a graduate of Concord.

Ms. Nancy Ellison, program coordinator senior, introduced the recipient.

“This is a special privilege for me this year because Linda and I graduated from the same high school, and we both graduated from Concord,” noted Ms. Ellison. “Although her life was short she accomplished much in proving herself as a caring person, concerned with making the world a better place. Tonight we honor a woman who shares those same characteristics. Many in this room have benefited from her kindness and generosity. She makes the world a better place by recycling . . . she visits the sick and the elderly, and she serves her community by involvement in political committees, the Eastern Star, and her church.

Sharon Ofsa was announced as the recipient of 2007 Linda Fink Service award. “This was quite a surprise to me,” she exclaimed! “You make it worth the effort!”


Margaret Sayre ’84, a community leader in Beckley, was recognized as Alumna of the Year for 2007 by Ms. Peck.

Mrs. Sayre has served as chair on both the Board of Advisors and Board of Governors of Concord University. She has been involved in local and state community service projects, including the beautification of the city of Beckley. She was the president of the Beckley Community Concert Association from 1986 until 1994 and is a past member of the New River Gorge National River on the National Parks Mid-Atlantic Council. She is a recipient of the “Spirit of Beckley” Community Service Award and the “Distinguished West Virginian” Award in 1991.

“I came to Concord in the 1980s and completed a Regents degree. My adviser was Dr. Bard and he didn’t cut me any slack,” she stated, with a twinkle in her eye. She noted that she has met many wonderful and dedicated people during her association with Concord University and that it was her privilege to be serving as the chair for the Board of Governors when Concord became a university in 2004. “I hope to continue my association with Concord. And, if you know of anyone in their 30s, 40s, or 50s—who is considering going back to college—use your influence to encourage him or her to attend Concord because it is a life-changing experience.”


Ms. Peck introduced Pete Ballard ’53 as Golden Alumnus.

Pete Ballard, a nationally-known costume designer, museum costume historian, and curator, was honored as the Golden Alumnus for 2007. The Golden Alumnus honor recognizes those who dedicated at least 25 years of service to Concord. Ballard served as the first chairman of the board of the Coal Heritage Highway Authority of West Virginia, a state commissioner of the West Virginia History and Archives Commission, and a commissioner on the West Virginia State Arts Commission. Originally from Welch, Ballard now lives near Peterstown. He has enjoyed parallel careers in both teaching and the arts. Ballard has taught all over the world including in Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, and China. In China, he was recognized as a foreign expert and offered a position at the University of Beijing by the government of the People’s Republic. He is known for his creation of fashion dolls which he donates to small museum and historic houses. These dolls allow the public to see the evolution of fashion in the United States from 1770 to 1930. His costume-designing work has earned him many awards.

He talked about his dual careers of teaching and costume design, and then thanked the Association for the award.

Following the presentation of awards, Rose Ann Burgess ’59 a member of the Alumni Association’s Executive Council introduced the special entertainment, Pianafiddle.

Pianafiddle is a duet grown from the vines of Lynn Wright’s ragtime and jazz piano playing and Adam DeGraff’s collaboration of classical violin and traditional fiddling. The duo’s diverse style leads them from Bach to bluegrass, classical to Celtic. They received a standing ovation for their performance.

Afterward, Ms. Burgess led the audience in the school’s alma mater and Ms. Peck thanked the guests for coming.


PHOTO: Margaret Sayre from Beckley received the Alumna of the Year award.

PHOTO: Pete Ballard from Peterstown was the recipient of the Golden Alumnus Award.

PHOTO: Nancy Ellison announced that Sharon Ofsa from Athens was the recipient of the Linda Fink Service Award.

Jesse Call, a senior majoring in political science and history, assisted in the writing of this press release. His hometown is Pocahontas, Va.