Celebrating 2022-23 Academic Year

Faculty, staff welcomed and outstanding service recognized at opening celebration

A tree stands in front of the Minges science building

To mark the beginning of the 2022-23 academic year, faculty and staff gathered at the annual opening celebration on August 17. During the program, 16 new full-time faculty members representing eight different disciplines, 15 staff members, and 15 athletics staff members were welcomed to campus.

Jennifer Burris, Ph.D., university provost, recognized faculty promotions. These included: Dave Dryer, John Connelly, Karrie Fuenfhasen, Amy Hedrick. David Jones, Keith McDade and Randy Bergmen promoted to the rank of full professor; Daniel Grimm, Janelle Robinson and Dawn Behrend were promoted to associate professor or associate librarian; and Janelle Robinson, Myra Jordan and Kimberly Price were awarded tenure.

Additional faculty and staff were recognized for their years of service to university ranging from 5-25 year milestones. Five members of the LR community have surpassed those milestones into 30+ years: Joe Mancos (36), Helen Caldwell (41), Burl McCuiston (46), Marsha Fanning (49) and Charles Cooke (58).

As part of President Fred Whitt’s annual presentation, he presented a select number of staff with the Presidential Parachute Award, which recognizes unsung heroes on our campus.

  • Debbie Black, Administrative Assistant for Maintenance

    “Although not considered a first responder, she is usually the first person to receive a phone call for flooding, power issues, alarm calls and electrical issues. She manages the LR fleet of vehicles while insuring those behind the wheel are trained and qualified. She is responsible for directing complicated problems and emergencies, yet she remains calm and confident regardless of the emergency. She ensures communication happens between facilities, maintenance and housekeeping.”
  • Teena Brooks, First-Year Advisor

    “From her bold colors and crafting to her warm smile, this staff member brightens up the days of everyone she meets. While she may not be known to all faculty and staff, her direct and positive impact on students may be farther reaching than virtually anyone else on campus. Meeting with more than 300 students each semester, she brings her kindness and understanding to each one as an individual, enriching their lives in countless ways. Students describe her as a good listener, confidant, cheerleader and advocate. Colleagues describe her as possessing a perfect blend of professionalism and empathy; a boundless optimism matched with good- sense. Her supervisor describes her as invaluable and a beautiful soul.”
  • Tashara Powers, Aramark Dining/Joe’s Coffee

    “Powers is a momma bear to our students, staff and faculty. Do you need a pick me up that is legal? Go see her. Do you need to talk through a concern? Go see her. She has made Joe’s Coffee more than just a place to pick up your morning fuel… she has made it a special place on campus to attract and engage, where all feel welcome and included. She has a passion for Lenoir-Rhyne and loves our students. She is a mentor to so many who work in Joe’s Coffee and a “therapist” to many more who just need a smiling face and a supportive friend. She looks out for her friends and is a true team player in every way.”
  • Larry Waters, Assistant Director of Public Safety

    “Previous to employment with LR, Waters worked at the Conover Police Department and retired in 2009 with the rank of lieutenant. He started as a part-time security officer and was moved to full-time status. He has proven to be one of the more reliable staff and was promoted to assistant director in 2016. He has taken on projects with the Public Safety office such as implementation of the report management system and the vehicle registration and citation system for the campus. Waters volunteers to work beyond his scheduled times, such as filling in for other officers when needed. He has used his many years of law enforcement experience and training to deal with many issues on campus to help resolve problems in a timely manner. Overall, Waters is well liked and respected by the students, staff and faculty and has developed a very good connection with them.”

Two staff members were recognized at the end of the celebration as the Jeff Norris Non-Teaching Employee of the Year.

  • Terry Phillips
    Terry Phillips

    Phillips, a Conover, North Carolina native, joined LR in summer 2021 as director of multicultural affairs. The father of two has 28 years’ experience as the founder and pastor of City of Praise Church and has authored three books. He serves as the liaison on diversity, equity and inclusion training to athletics and requested classroom participation and works closely with admission and student groups to provide a first-rate experience here at LR.

    “I am not sure I have observed any one individual who has made such a positive impact on an entire campus in such a short period of time. It is rare to present such an award to someone who has only been at LR one year,” shared President Fred Whitt. “But that tells you the contributions and impact he has made on this campus. If there is one person on this campus our students know, it is this individual. This person goes in the cafeteria and around his building every day with a warm greeting. His energy and enthusiasm for his work and LR is contagious.”

    Phillips received his bachelor’s degree from Winston-Salem State University and master’s degree from Mountain State University. His previous roles assistant director of freshmen admission at Winston-Salem State University and the coordinator for engagement, persistence and retention at Davie County Community College.


  • Judy Lineberger
    Judy Lineberger

    Lineberger is the executive assistant to the provost in the Office of Academic Affairs at Lenoir-Rhyne University. She supports the provost and is responsible for the day-to-day complex administrative activities in her current role. Before being appointed to that position, Lineberger was the administrative assistant for the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics since 2014. In addition, Lineberger serves as an adjunct faculty member, teaching LRU 050 and 060 Computing Competencies.

    “As part of the LR family for eight years, Lineberger is the organizer behind all things academic. She works tirelessly to make sure our faculty and support staff have all the tools they need to be successful and thriving employees at LR,” shared President Fred Whitt. “She has an incredible work ethic and will not stop until the job is done professionally and correctly. She is here to help colleagues, faculty and students. She often gets those panic emails or calls because something is not working and without hesitation, she jumps in and works to find a solution.”

    Lineberger has more than 20 years of experience in higher education. Before she came to LR, she served as an executive assistant to the dean of the College of Nursing at the University of South Carolina and numerous administrative support roles at Ohio State University.

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