Back in 1986, five students’ names were called out during a chapel service. These students were the first recipients of the newly formed President’s Club, a designation to honor students for outstanding conduct.
Just as those five students were selected 29 years ago, five more students joined the ranks of President’s Club during Thursday’s chapel.
But how have those (and all the students throughout the years) been selected for honor?
The process begins with an email—an email to the entire student body—from Betty Rooks, administrative assistant for Dr. Eric Newton and who has been involved with the President’s Club nominations ever since the program first began back in the ’80s.
Rooks receives all the nominations and forwards them to the President’s Club committee.
For current students, receiving the nomination email is nothing out of the ordinary, but Rooks can remember when email wasn’t available for the nomination process..
In the past all nominations were made on pen and paper and were sent through the campus mail system. The post office would then deliver the nominations to Rooks.
Another change that came in recent years to President’s Club is the alerting of honorees of their selection prior to the President’s Club chapel. In the past a surprise factor was involved as students would find out about their selection when they were being called up the chapel platform. Now honorees are alerted via email several weeks prior to President’s Club of their selections.
Rooks said while the new system lacks surprise, it does make scheduling and other facilitation details much easier. Rooks said in the past it was difficult to guarantee that every honoree would be present for the President’s Club chapel as students would occasionally be absent for things like student teaching or internships. The new system guarantees that all students being honored will be present.
While those are two examples of how President’s Club has changed, by and large the program has remained the same. For instance the awards have not changed.
The awards the five students received yesterday were the exact same awards the five original winners received back in 1986: the Overcomer Award, the Partner Award, the Prevailer Award, the Second-Miler Award and the Sower Award.
One additional award that has become a regular part of the President’s Club is the student worker award, which seeks to recognize students who go above and beyond in their work at a campus job.
The idea behind honoring students based on these categories originated many years ago with Dr. Bob Jones III.
“I wanted the student body to know of the wonderful things God was doing in student lives that normally don’t get noticed,” Jones said. “I felt it would encourage others in their pursuit of developing a Christ-honoring life to learn of them.”
Another feature that’s remained largely the same is how the winners are selected. Students can nominate any student for consideration based some action that has met the criteria for any of the categories.
Once all the nominations (usually approximately 20-50) are collected, they’re given to the committee (a group composed of faculty and staff members from various areas including Student Life) which then selects the students they feel are the most deserving of this very public and unexpected recognition.
The “President” part of President’s Club chapel comes from the awards given out to the chosen students by the University’s president: honorees are given a small gift such as a book or a bouquet of flowers on stage during the presentation, and the entire group has a catered dinner with the president later that week.