Creative, cultural contributions recognized with awards
Laurinburg, N.C. – The contributions of two North Carolina residents to the art and cultural heritage of the state was celebrated at the 2012 Ethel N. Fortner Writer and Community Award and Sam Ragan Fine Arts Award ceremony Thursday evening at St. Andrews University.
“I would say that the spirit of Ethel Fortner as an innovative advocate of the arts, as a champion of her state’s rich cultural heritage, and as an engaged citizen servant is truly reflected in the life and work of Ms. Lisbeth ‘Libba’ Clark Evans,” said Dr. Edna Ann Loftus, associate dean for academic affairs. “She has always been a passionate advocate for the educational value of the arts. Her priorities and programs emphasized the central role of the arts in promoting creative and critical thinking, interdisciplinary problem solving emotional health and personal growth. She recognized early exposure to the arts encouraged students to become well-rounded individuals and culturally aware citizens.”
Evans, who has ties to St. Andrews through both her mother and uncles, shared that she has been following the story of the university over the years.
“I am so proud of what St. Andrews is doing,” Evans said. “What St. Andrews is doing is so important for Eastern North Carolina. I am honored to receive this award and especially honored to receive it from this institution.”
Ragan Award winner Philip Gerard was on campus in November to give a reading during the weekly Writers’ Forum. It was from that event that presenter and visiting assistant professor in creative writing Ted Wojtasik drew inspiration for his introduction.
“That night, as Philip read these exquisitely poignant portraits, I sat opposite three female students who were sitting on a sofa,” he said. “From time to time I would glance at them and at their expressions. As he read, these three students were intently listening. Philip had their rapt attention. And that is what good story telling involves. That is art.
“Philip once wrote a book called Writing a Book That Makes a Difference,” Wojtasik continued. “That evening, that essay was a reading that made a difference, not just to those three students, but to all who were in the audience. It was one of the most magnificent readings I’ve ever witnessed. And I thought that is what writing is all about."
Gerard shared his appreciation for the award and what it represents.
“I am both humbled and quite honored not only to be the recipient of this award but to be mentioned in the same phrase as Sam Ragan,” Gerard said. “One of the things I admired most about Sam was he was an intellectual democrat. I don’t mean party affiliation. I mean that Sam didn’t think there was anything elitist about intellectual curiosity. He also did not look upon the arts as some kind of decorative add-on. He felt it was basic and essential not just to our cultural well-being, but to our civic life. I am glad to note that the legacy is in good hands at St. Andrews University.”
The legacy is something the university shares a true appreciation for, according to Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the College Robert Hopkins.
“It goes without saying that no one present tonight, no matter how casual an observer that you might be, could not leave this room without appreciating the importance and value placed on the arts by those who have spoken and those who have received the awards tonight,” he said. “It is a great benefit on the part of St. Andrews to play a small role in this recognition of the arts.”
President Paul Baldasare presents the 2012 Ethel N. Fortner Writer and Community Award to Lisbeth "Libba" Evans.
President Paul Baldasare presents the 2012 Sam Ragan Fine Arts Award to Philip Gerard.
From the 2012 Fortner Ragan Awards, from left, President Paul Baldasare, Ragan Award Winner Philip Gerard, Fortner Award Winner Libba Evans and Visiting Associate Professor of Creative Writing Ted Wojtasik.
About St. Andrews University
St. Andrews is a student and teaching-focused University which offers a broad range of undergraduate majors in a curriculum that is global in scope and practical in its application. The quality of the St. Andrews educational experience has been recognized by U.S. News and World Report, The Princeton Review, and GI Jobs among others. In addition to its academic programs, the University has an acclaimed university press, men’s and women’s athletic teams, a nationally competitive equestrian program, and an award-winning pipe band. St. Andrews is a branch of Webber International University, Florida. Further information may be obtained by visiting the University’s website www.sapc.edu, calling 800-763-0198, or sending an e-mail to email@example.com.