Burke Olsen · September 4, 2009
At its academic convocation ceremony today, Southern Virginia University Executive Vice President and Provost Paul S. Edwards announced the recipients of the 2009 Ed and Cheiko Okazaki Distinguished Service Award.
Each year the award is given at convocation by surprise announcement to one member each of Southern Virginia’s faculty, staff and student body. This year’s recipients included Barbara L. Crawford, division of arts chair and professor of art; Robert E. Huch, chief financial officer; and Stephanie Roberson, a junior from Harvey, Louisiana.
The award is named in honor of Ed Okazaki, a Japanese-American who served this country in a highly decorated unit of the U.S. Army during WWII, and his wife, Cheiko, an author and educator who served as first counselor in the Relief Society of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from 1990-97.
“With this award we honor exemplary leadership and service,” Provost Edwards said. “And for students, this honor appears on their permanent transcript. Because of our ethic of service, this award ranks with valedictorian as the highest distinction afforded to a Southern Virginia University student.”
Following are bios of the award recipients as read by Provost Edwards in the convocation.
Who would have thought that a young woman from Oklahoma with a bachelor’s degree from Oklahoma State in Stillwater would one day oversee the artistic realization of the most ambitious installation of art in the Louvre Museum in over a century. But through an indefatigable work ethic, through an attitude as bright as the blue of a Chartres cathedral window, and with an unparalleled commitment to life-long learning and self-improvement, that young woman distinguished herself in her graduate studies at James Madison University and Vermont College and has been endearing herself to her students and to patrons of the arts ever since.
It would take more time than we have this morning to list Barbara Crawford’s notable recognitions and exhibits, including her time as a visiting artist at the American Academy in Rome. What we wish to note today is Professor Crawford’s dedication to service. In addition to her dedicated service in our classrooms and her countless hours in faithful fulfillment of faculty committee assignments, and in addition to her personal production of art that has appeared in more than 50 juried shows throughout the world in the last decade, Barbara has served the community through effective service on the governing boards of regional, state, and national arts organizations, including Arrolmont School of the Arts in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, Lime Kiln Theatre, Fine Arts in Rockbridge and the Historic Lexington Foundation.
Bob Huch is the chief financial officer at Southern Virginia University. His association with this institution began in 1996 when he was part of the administrative team that helped Southern Virginia College transition to a four-year liberal arts institution with an environment for young members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
He was born and raised in Gowanda, New York. After serving a fulltime mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Scotland and Northern Ireland, he received both a B.A. and M.P.A. from Brigham Young University. He then began a career in healthcare administration, including time as president and chief executive officer at Virginia hospitals, including three years as president and CEO of Stonewall Jackson Hospital in Lexington.
Within the communities where he has lived, Bob has served in and led various community service organizations and projects including the Rotary Club, Chamber of Commerce, Business/Economic Development and YMCA, not to mention his service in many capacities within the Church. Bob is widely known and respected in Rockbridge County. He currently serves as president of the board of directors for the Rockbridge County YMCA. Along with his wife Leslie, he serves as a band booster for Parry McCluer High School, and often can be seen flipping burgers at events to help raise money for one organization or another.
He and Leslie celebrated their 30th anniversary last month. Together they have five children, two of whom, Devin and Jarom, are students at Southern Virginia. They also have two grandchildren and another on the way.
Stephanie Roberson is the vice president for honor in Southern Virginia University’s Student Association. She is a junior from Harvey, Louisiana, studying liberal arts. She is an excellent example of volunteerism and going the extra mile. She is passionate about honor and about the university.
Last year she served as honor senator and as a member of the honor council. She sings in Southern Virginia’s chamber choir and also is a member of the impromptu comedy group, Shenanigans.
Of her, Associate Dean of Students Joe Bouchelle said, “She is always willing to help however she can and usually doesn’t even need to be asked.”
On a Facebook group page, started by Stephanie’s friends who supported her in the student elections earlier this year, one friend wrote “Stephanie has such a strong passion for SVU. She puts so much time and energy into serving the student body and doing whatever she can to help. . . . I don’t know anyone more fun and as passionate about the honor system as she [is].”