HAYS, KS -- Lena Sidders, a graduate of Wood River Rural High School, Wood River, NE, was recognized as the outstanding graduating senior Saturday, May 13, during Commencement at Fort Hays State University. The university also presented annual faculty awards to Dr. Stephen Tramel, professor of philosophy, and Dr. Shala Bannister, assistant professor of political science.
The FHSU Alumni Association selected Sidders for the Torch Award, which is given each year to the outstanding senior. Candidates are nominated by members of the faculty on the basis of leadership and academic excellence. Sidders, a psychology major, maintained a 3.96 GPA while being active in Mortar Board, serving as president and vice president of the Psychology Club, treasurer of the National Resident Hall Honorary, the McMindes Hall Council, Kansas Special Olympics, Youth Educational Services Program, Hays Head Start, Phi Sigma Iota, Alpha Lambda Delta, the Residence Hall Association and the Youth Educational Services Program.
In recommending Sidders for the Torch Award, Dr. Stephen Kitzis, associate professor of psychology, said Sidders "has become a leader in several student organizations, and is active in a number of other, more community-oriented organizations. In my opinion, Lena has already reached a personal level of maturity and interest in everything which we, as educators, hope to instill in all our graduates."
During her time at FHSU, she has been honored by Mortar Board, Phi Sigma Iota, Alpha Lambda Delta and Psi Chi. She has been listed on the Dean's Honor Roll, included in Who's Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges, been included in the Undergraduate Research Scholar's Program and the Midwest Student Exchange Program. Sidders has won numerous scholarships, including the Gold Award.
Tramel received the Pilot Award, which is given by the Alumni Association annually to a faculty member on the basis of professionalism and an enthusiastic commitment to teaching students. Tramel earned a bachelor of arts in philosophy from FHSU and a doctorate in philosophy from the University of Nebraska. He began teaching at FHSU in 1970. He is currently the interim chair of the Philosophy Department as well as a member of the teaching faculty. He also received the Pilot Award in 1993.
Tramel, said Allie Meiers, a senior graduating with the Class of 2000, "respects his students and their opinions. Dr. Tramel is more than an educator, he is a mentor to all who come in contact with him." She continued, "Dr. Tramel is extremely deserving of the Pilot Award and in my opinion will always be 'Teacher of the Year.' "
Tramel serves on many committees and has published numerous books, manuals and texts. He has several times been named a "Top Prof" by Mortar Board and has been invited to lectureships and fellowships. In the community he has been active as a member of the Board of Overseers for Hays Christian Church and has been chairman of the Church Board and has participated in numerous charitable and community service foundations and associations.
Bannister received the university's third Navigator Award, which was begun in 1998 to recognize an outstanding advisor based on how closely he or she adheres to the university's goals for academic advising. "Her personal commitment to her advisees is very evident to them, and to her peers. Her office door is always open and there are always students in there talking to her. She takes an interest in her students' lives and not just their academic requirements," said Molly Bircher, who is also a graduating senior with the Class of 2000 and who has been an advisee of Bannister's for three years.
Before becoming a teacher, she was FHSU's Affirmative Action Officer for three years and before that she was a practicing attorney in the Kansas City area and in Lawrence. She has numerous publications and presentations to her credit in both law and academia.
Bannister received a bachelor of arts in history from Baylor University and a law degree from the University of Kansas. She began teaching at FHSU in 1997.