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Wilson and Distinguished Service Awards to be Presented in Online Ceremony


JONESBORO – While the coronavirus pandemic has cancelled many on-campus events at Arkansas State University, the honoring of A-State’s top graduating seniors and the naming of the 2020 Wilson Award recipient will continue through a special online premiere on Thursday, May 14, at 6:30 p.m.

“If the spirit of R.E.L. Wilson tells us anything, it is that Arkansas State and the students that come here persevere and find a way,” Chancellor Kelly Damphousse said.  “Mr. Wilson and President V.C. Kays saw this university through some of its toughest times, and it humbles me to join with his great-great-grandson to maintain the tradition of announcing the award named in his honor during the spring.”

Damphousse and Perry Wilson will serve as the online hosts for the video premiere which is replacing the traditional private banquet with university representatives and the Wilson Fellows, the A-State alumni group of Wilson Award recipients.

“In many ways, this is an opportunity for everyone to see the videos and hear the stories of service to Arkansas State that made these students winners of our Distinguished Service Award,” Damphousse said.  “While the fellowship of the banquet and the opportunity for the 2020 recipient to meet the past winners in person will be missed, what a fantastic chance this is for everyone – our current students, faculty, staff, alumni, and community – to participate.”

The announcement will premiere on the university’s Facebook page, Facebook.com/ArkansasState.

“We considered postponing the award dinner to a time when we could all gather in person, but with input from Perry and former award winners, we decided it would be a wonderful opportunity to lift up these students and their faculty nominators, by taking the ceremony online,” Damphousse said.

The banquet was scheduled for Thursday, April 30, at the Cooper Alumni Center, but to allow time for the completion of videos and the shipping of Distinguished Service Award certificates to the six student winners, the announcement premiere was set for two weeks later on May 14.

“As the students watch, hear their names called and see their stories, we wanted them to be able to have their award in hand as they would have traditionally,” Damphousse said.  “If they are able to be with their families, I’m hoping they can send us a picture of their celebrations at home.”

The 2020 Distinguished Service Award recipients will be announced next Monday, April 27.  The DSA winners are recognized as the institution’s most outstanding graduates because of their leadership, scholarship and citizenship. Faculty, staff, advisers to student organizations, and other members of the campus community submit nominations for the prestigious awards.

First presented in 1934, the Wilson Award is presented annually at a ceremony for the university's outstanding graduating senior. The recipient is selected from the recipients of the DSA on the basis of character, determination, involvement, and academic achievement. This honor is bestowed in memory of R.E. Lee Wilson, a member of the Arkansas State University Board of Trustees from 1917 until his death in 1933.

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