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Two Outstanding Alumni and “honorary” alumni receive awards during alumni Summer Reunion

June 11-13: Two outstanding alumni and an Arizona couple, who have been friends of Berea College for more than 40 years, were honored as part of Berea College’s Alumni Summer Reunion activities.

The awards of Outstanding Alumnus (and Alumna) went to Dr. V. Eldon Ball of Oak Hill, Va., senior economist with the Economics Research Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and a national leader in the field of agricultural productivity; and Virgie Mahaffey McIntyre, of Columbus, N.C., a school administrator and college teacher who developed reading programs benefitting thousands of students in her home state. Receiving the award of Honorary Alumni will be Duane and Betty High of Tucson, Ariz., who have been friends of Berea College and its students since 1969.

Both recipients were honored Saturday at the Alumni Awards Reception in the Trustees Room, Seabury Center.

Dr. Virgil Eldon Ball is an agricultural and resource economist who has made significant contributions in his field. In his current position with the USDA, Ball is responsible for the design and implementation of the agency’s program of research on agricultural productivity. As a researcher, he has been a leader in developing measures of productivity that are comparable across sectors and countries, added to our knowledge of U.S. agricultural productivity and influenced international research of others in this area. He has organized scientific conferences and workshops in these areas and has presented his work internationally, including conferences sponsored by the Organization of Economics Cooperation and Development, the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization and Eurostat, among others. Ball, originally from Pine Knot, Ky., earned his bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Berea College in 1970. He also holds a M.A. from North Carolina State University and a doctorate in agricultural and resource economics from the University of Maryland.

Virgie Mahaffey McIntyre graduated from Berea College in 1945, majoring in education, later earning her M.A. in Administration and Supervision from Western Carolina University. While working as Supervisor of Schools in a district in western N.C., she discovered what would become the focus of her career at Syracuse University, where she had received a Federal grant to study the teaching of reading. She returned to her hometown and set up special reading programs and wrote numerous articles on teaching and improving reading programs in schools. She later joined the faculty at Western Carolina University. In addition to writing her first book about reading strategies, she lectured and taught workshops in many areas of North Carolina, other Southern cities and in New York.

After a 33-year career, she retired in 1984. Since then, she has published one novel and is working on another. McIntyre and her late husband Bryson are the parents of two daughters who are both public school primary teachers.

Duane and Betty High are natives of Ohio, where they grew up and lived until 1989. Betty worked for several years outside the home, leaving to become a full-time mother. Duane is a Navy veteran, serving on the USS Frederick Funston in the Pacific during WWII who afterwards worked 38 years at the Ohio Seamless Tube Company, from which he retired as Assistant Chief Industrial Engineer. For the last 21 years, the Highs have lived in Tucson, Arizona. In Ohio and in Tucson, both Betty and Duane have been active members in their communities and in the United Methodist Church.

For more than 40 years the Highs have been special friends of Berea College. This relationship began in the 1960s, when as frequent travelers from Ohio to North Carolina, the Highs passed through Berea, making regular stops at Boone Tavern. They got to know the student servers there, and through them, learned about Berea College. The students left a lasting impression on the Highs, who have contributed to Berea College every year since 1969. Since moving to Arizona, the Highs have frequently hosted visiting Berea staff and students. They also regularly attend and have been leaders in Berea’s Alumni Club there. Because of their dedication and loyalty, Berea alumni in Arizona have long considered Duane and Betty High as a part of the Berea family.

Summer Reunion, sponsored annually by Berea’s Alumni Relations Office, brings together alumni from throughout the country for a weekend of celebration, fun, renewing of friendships and catching up on what’s new at their alma mater. Classes celebrating special reunions this year were: 1940, 1945, 1950, 1955, 1960, 1965, 1970, 1975 and 1980.

On Friday evening, an event at the Loyal Jones Appalachian Center featured 2002 Berea graduate and author C.E. Morgan, whose debut novel “All the Living” has been a bestseller. Morgan is the featured author in the summer 2010 issue of “Appalachian Heritage,” the literary quarterly published by Berea College.

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