It was during the administration of President Sherrill Cleland that the Marietta College Alumni Association Board of Directors first instituted a consistent program of awards and recognition for members of The Long Blue Line.
Seeking to honor fellow Pioneers for service, professional accomplishment, and individual achievement, the initiative was launched in 1977 and now, three decades later, it remains a signature function of the MCAA and much-anticipated element of Homecoming Weekend.
Today, it is routine for the MCAA and its nominations committee to consider dozens of deserving Pioneers for such awards as Outstanding Young Alumna/us, Distinguished Alumna/us, the Liz Tribett Service prize and the highest award bestowed by the Board, the Hall of Honor.
Nominations are accepted online, by letter, and word of mouth and all names go into a candidate pool that is screened in October, narrowed in February, and presented to the full MCAA Board for approval at its winter meeting. That process can be daunting, yet rewarding at the same time.
“For me as a member of the committee, the start of each nomination session included an overwhelming package of bios that on initial reading left me feeling … how do we choose just one for each category?” says Jon Wendell ’70, a former chair of the committee. “Through substantive discussions we were able to sort and choose and, for me, completing that process and presenting the slate to the full MCAA Board was a most gratifying event.”
It all begins with Pioneers nominating Pioneers and while that can sometimes seem a challenge to a busy schedule, it’s really not. Mark Fazzina ’83, who served as chair of the committee and of the Board of Directors during his two-term stint on MCAA, emphasizes the wheels are set in motion by the simplest of gestures. “Taking a moment to single out someone you feel is deserving of recognition is a tremendous way to show your continued appreciation for our institution and other members of The Long Blue Line,” he says.
The slate of nominees placed before the MCAA Board for its approval also includes candidates for that organization as well as Alumni Trustee; a very important role for any Pioneer in representing the alumni voice on the College’s Board. Brian Rothenberg ’82, captain of the committee during his time on the MCAA Board, initially wondered what difference he might make in the process, but realized the impact of his work a few short years later.
“Like many who love (Marietta College) but live a busy life when I was asked to serve on MCAA the first question I had was what impact can a non-governing board have — true service also means true benefit to the institution served,” he says. “Well I found my answer. My assignment as an MCAA Board member was to serve on the Nominations committee ranging from awards to Board of Trustee nominee selection. Six years later attending a joint meeting of MCAA and the Board of Trustees I was gazing at multiple names from resume's that passed through my computer — alumni Trustees are a strong and vibrant part of the College.”
“That's what makes Marietta so unique,” he adds. “Alumni actually do have impact on the institution moving forward.”
When the nominations come before the committee this February, it will be the turn of Jason Rebrook ’96 to moderate the difficult discussions singling out individual Pioneers for celebration next fall during Homecoming Weekend. No matter the outcome, he knows the Class of 2013 presented on stage at Marietta on The Mall will be an outstanding group.
“One thing that continues to impress me is the quality and character of the individuals and the overall impact they have in their local communities,” Rebrook says. “It says a lot about Marietta College and its Long Blue Line.”
And, continues Rebrook, the impact of the committee reaches beyond alumni to influence the next generation of Pioneers as well.
“It is extremely important to recognize and understand our exceptional alumni,” he says. “It can help provide a pathway for future leaders.”
For more information on how you can participate in the MCAA Alumni Award Program, please visit: www.marietta.edu/Alumni/awards/nominate_an_alum.html