Tusculum College presented Margaret Simpson Gaut the Distinguished Service Award during the annual Tusculum College President’s Dinner on Friday, May 15. She was recognized for her service and support of Tusculum College.
Tusculum President Dr. Nancy B. Moody and Dr. Kenneth A. Bowman, chair of the Board of Trustees and 1970 alumnus of the college, presented the award. In addition to the presentation of the Distinguished Service Award, guests heard remarks from Ryan M. Barker, a 2015 graduate of the college and winner of this year’s Bruce G. Batts Award.
The Distinguished Service Award is given to an individual or individuals who have a history of outstanding support of Tusculum College. The award is presented at the President’s Dinner, which honors the college’s major donors.
Gaut, a 1940 graduate of Tusculum College, has lived most of her life less than half a mile from Tusculum College. She grew up on the ancestral family farm in Tusculum, and her dedication to education and community has changed the lives of innumerable students and others fortunate enough to cross her path.
She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in home economics and went on to post graduate study at the University of Tennessee. While at Tusculum, she was a member of the Cicero Society. She spent a life dedicated to education in the East Tennessee region, retiring after serving 31 years with the educational systems of Bristol, Va. and Greeneville. She served at the state level on the Board of Tennessee Classroom Teachers and remains an active member of the Retired Teachers Association.
From her early youth Gaut was a dedicated member of Shiloh Cumberland Presbyterian Church, where she began her career of teaching in Sunday school classes. She later became a member of the Greeneville Cumberland Presbyterian Church and was active in its Sunday school program. She served as the Worship Committee Chairman and established and chaired the Heritage Ministry for the church.
Throughout her life, she maintained a connection with Tusculum College, supporting its students and programs, and serving as president of the Alumni Association. She remains an active member of the Alumni Executive Board. She has served on a presidential search committee and was a member of the External Relations Committee of the Tusculum College Board of Trustees. She has served as a class representative and as a phonathon volunteer. In 2001, she received the Pioneer Award, the highest honor given by the Alumni Association.
“With her commitment to education in the community and at Tusculum College, Mrs. Gaut has made a significant impact on the education of students, said Dr. Moody “She is an amazing person, and her legacy will continue to impact the lives of thousands of students for many, many years to come.”
In his remarks to guests, Barker talked about how his life had been changed at Tusculum College and how those he encountered during his time there has imprinted upon him the importance of working to improve the world around him.
Presented in memory of a beloved educator at Tusculum who helped define the college’s civic arts curricular focus, the Bruce G. Batts Award is presented to a student who clearly demonstrates the qualities that reflect the civic arts ideals. The Civic Arts embrace such things as active and empathetic listening, the ability to present one’s thoughts clearly in speaking or writing, the ability to analyze situations carefully and solve problems creatively, consistent use of the virtues embodied in the traditions for personal and public decision making and respect for one’s own cultural heritage, as well as those of others.
“This desire to influence my environment, to create the place I want to live in, is possibly the most distinguishing trait of my Tusculum experience. More than the experiences in and out of the classroom, the civic arts notion that one should create the environment he wants to live in is one of the strongest beliefs I have taken from Tusculum,” he said.
Barker graduated cum laude as a double major in history and English: creative writing. Coming to us from Laurens, S.C. Barker has repeatedly earned spots on both the Dean’s List and the Charles Oliver Gray List. He was named to the Alpha Chi National Honor Society for his academic achievement, one of the highest academic honors offered at Tusculum College.
Among his other successes, Barker served as the 2013-2014 president for Tusculum’s Student Government Association and as SGA Senior Senator. He presented three research papers at conferences, while also completing several internships. He has taken the initiative to study abroad with a class on Medieval Europe in 2013. He is the type of student who was fully engaged in the Tusculum College experience, enriching his academic and extracurricular success.
“I went out of my way to be active and involved in my time at Tusculum. As a result, Tusculum paid me back for my time and energy. I’m now getting ready to move to Charleston, South Carolina and enter a master’s program in history,” he added.
“This was an amazing night, featuring two particularly amazing people who, while graduating 75 years apart, both embody the civic arts and the desire to serve their communities, and who both credit Tusculum College in large degree with helping to develop these value systems,” said Dr. Moody.
Also recognized at the event were Dr. Angelo and Dr. Jeannette Volpe and Dr. Judy and Fred Domer, both of whom recently celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversaries. Dr. Angelo Volpe and Dr. Judy Domer are members of the Tusculum College Board of Trustees. Dr. Domer graduated from Tusculum College in 1961.