Lee University honored its distinguished alumni this year by presenting awards to individuals from each department. The honoree chosen for the Department of Language and Literature was Dr. Susan Rogers.
“Dr. Rogers exemplifies the achievement, the impact and the inspiration that we hold as goals for each graduate from our department,” said Dr. Jean Eledge, chairperson of the Department of Language and Literature at Lee. “Her life has spoken and continues to speak in powerful ways to the students, colleagues and broader circles with whom she interacts.”
Dr. Rogers received her PhD and MA in English from the University of Alabama after graduating from Lee with a BA in English. She returned to Lee in 1989 to teach and went on to obtain the rank of Professor of English.
In addition to core classes in composition and world literature, Dr. Rogers has taught courses in 19th and 20th century British literature, romantic literature, and Victorian literature.
While at Lee, Dr. Rogers served as a sponsor to various student organizations, including national honor society Alpha Chi and service club Sigma Nu Sigma. She also led students on their study abroad trips, including semesters in Cambridge.
Dr. Rogers was an Appalachian College Association Mellon Fellow at the University of Alabama from 1994 to 1996. Her dissertation, "Ephrasis in Robert Browning's Men and Women," is a study of Browning's effort to incorporate painting into his poetry, focusing on the influence of Giorgio Vasari and the conflicted relationship between the spatial and temporal media.
Dr. Rogers has been published in “Persuasions: the Journal of the Jane Austen Society of North America,” and she is a member of the Modern Language Association, the American Comparative Literature Association, and the National Council of Teachers of English.
The honoree chosen for the business department was Mr. Barry Ray.
“Mr. Ray is the epitome of a distinguished alumnus,” said Dr. Dewayne Thompson, chairperson and professor of business administration at Lee. “He maintains faithful support and involvement with his alma mater. His accomplishments include a stellar career as a corporate executive, a successful entrepreneur, consistent family man, and demonstrated faithfulness in his Christian commitment.”
Mr. Ray currently chairs the Business Advisory Council for the Lee University Department of Business.
Mr. Ray graduated from Lee University in 1981 with a degree in business. Throughout college, he held multiple positions at the Holiday Inn South Cleveland, and continued working there after graduation as a hotel manager.
In 1988, Mr. Ray made a career transition to work at Life Care Centers of America, the nation's largest privately held senior housing provider, where he worked for 14 years. During the last several years of his tenure with Life Care, Mr. Ray served as president of American Lifestyles, Inc., the assisted living subsidiary of Life Care.
In 2002, he left Life Care to form Vision SeniorCare Partners, the predecessor of Legacy Senior Services, which is a management organization specializing in independent and assisted living facilities. Currently, Mr. Ray and his business partner Bryan Cook, also a Lee graduate, own and operate four assisted living buildings in the southeast through Legacy Senior Services.
Mr. Ray is a member of the Westmore Church of God, where he is involved in many areas of service, leading Sunday school class, serving on the global missions team, working in the nursery, and serving on the pastor’s council and the church property development teams.
Mr. Ray and his wife Iris currently reside in Cleveland. They have three children. Brooke, a Lee education department alumna, is married to Chris Schelich, a Lee theology alumnus and graduate student. Blake is a senior accounting and psychology double major at Lee, and Christina is a sophomore communications major at Lee.
The award was presented during a departmental breakfast at Lee’s Homecoming.
Dr. Dwayne Thompson, right, presents Business Department Distinguished Alumni of the Year award to Barry Ray.