Auburn University presents awards for humanitarian service

AUBURN – Auburn University presented its highest awards for humanitarian service and recognized 12 outstanding graduating seniors during a recent ceremony.

Barry Burkhart, professor and chair of the department of psychology, and seniors Michael Ross Harper II and Haley Diane Walker received the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Awards during a ceremony on April 14 at The Hotel at Auburn University and Dixon Conference Center.

The Sullivan awards, presented by Auburn University President Jay Gogue and Dean of Students Johnny Green, are given annually to two students from the graduating class and one non-student member of the Auburn University community.

The Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award has been presented at Auburn since 1951, when it was established at several Southern universities by the New York Southern Society – since renamed the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Foundation – as a permanent reminder of the noblest human qualities. The award was named for the society’s first president, a prominent humanitarian of his day.

Burkhart has provided over 20 years of leadership and support to Project Uplift, a program that successfully unites the unique qualities and attributes of Auburn’s student leaders with youth in the community.

Burkhart has also provided many other organizations with his advocacy including the Auburn Women’s Caucus, the Auburn Gay and Lesbian Association, SAFE Harbor, Rape Counselors of East Alabama and the Lee County Youth Development Center.

He was described by one of his nominators as being “able to look at the big picture and dream big.”

Harper, a senior in French, has served as a leader with the Study Partners and Summer Transition Enhancement Programs, devoting countless hours to working with incoming students to help them transition to the academic rigors and expectations of college.

He has been recognized in “Who’s Who Among Students in American Colleges and Universities” and the U.S. Student Fulbright Program. He maintains membership in honor societies including Phi Kappa Phi, Pi Delta Phi, Alpha Lambda Delta, Tau Sigma, Golden Key and the National Society of Collegiate Scholars.

In addition to his scholastic endeavors, Harper has also made time to help those less fortunate through his volunteer work with SaveFirst Alabama, a program designed to help lower income families prepare their income tax returns.

Walker, a senior in mechanical engineering, has served as president of the Auburn University Committee of 19, a program dedicated to finding solutions to end world hunger. She organized a student hunger march from Auburn to the state Capitol in Montgomery, and, as a top five Miss Homecoming candidate, Walker used her platform as an opportunity to educate the campus community on hunger-related issues.

She maintains membership in honor societies including Pi Tau Sigma, Phi Eta Sigma, Alpha Lambda Delta and Cardinal Key. She has also represented the College of Engineering as student president and has been named on the Dean’s List for two consecutive years.

“Haley’s ability to demonstrate excellence in all aspects of her life epitomizes her as a true Auburn woman,” Green said.

The President’s Award, also presented at the April 14 ceremony, is designed to recognize the outstanding graduate in each school or college who has completed at least three semesters at Auburn University with a minimum scholastic average of 3.40, and who exhibits outstanding qualities of leadership, citizenship, character and promise of professional ability.

The 2009 President’s Award winners are: Leah Ruth Mitchell McElmoyl, College of Agriculture; Tyler Ryan Maloney, College of Architecture, Design and Construction; Amanda L. Bahakel, College of Business; Matthew Wayne McLaughlin, College of Education; Karen Denise Kirk, College of Engineering; Amber C. Dunn, School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences; Lindsey R. Buchanan, College of Human Sciences; Michael Ross Harper II, College of Liberal Arts; Julia Atherton Evans, School of Nursing; Tarik Elie Bou Akar, School of Pharmacy; Anne-Marie Hodge, College of Sciences and Mathematics; and Kevin John Fritz, College of Veterinary Medicine.

Sarah Lewis Malony was also awarded the W. James Samford Jr. Memorial Scholarship.

(Contributed by Lisa Marshall.)

Contact: Mike Clardy, (334) 844-9999 (