Foster, Williams And Blake Receive Lee University 2023 Charles W. Conn Award

  • Wednesday, May 3, 2023
This year’s CWC Award winners, from left, Dante Williams, Lane Foster and Dr. Chris Blake
This year’s CWC Award winners, from left, Dante Williams, Lane Foster and Dr. Chris Blake

During a chapel service, the Dr. Charles W. Conn Servant Leadership Award was presented to Lee students Lane Foster and Dante Williams, and faculty member Chris Blake. 

The Dr. Charles W. Conn Servant Leadership Scholarship, established in 2003, honors President Emeritus Charles W. Conn. He served as Lee’s president from 1970 to 1982, and a spirit of servant leadership marked his tenure. 

As part of the university’s efforts to emphasize the importance of serving others, the award is given annually to rising seniors who have demonstrated outstanding commitment to service during their time at Lee. Students who receive this scholarship give a portion of the proceeds to a charity of their choice. 

Ms. Foster is a junior psychology major from Murfreesboro, Tennessee. She currently serves with the Breakfast Club at the Cleveland Emergency Shelter. She was also the service coordinator for Sigma Nu Sigma where she organized services with New Hope Pregnancy Care Center and Mainstreet Cleveland. She has served many hours in churches and schools in the Cleveland community, as well as with Music City Trikes, an organization that builds and gives bikes to the disabled. 

“Lane has grasped the idea of service and used the gifts and strengths the Lord has given her to serve within the Cleveland community and beyond,” said Mary-Chrislyn Deerman, from Lee’s Leonard Center. “She sees the value in serving others in many regards by looking for the not so obvious, taking initiative, and being innovative.” 

Mr. Williams is a political science major from Cleveland, Tennessee. He is a member of the local chapter of Pi Sigma Alpha, where he helped to organize a “stream clean-up” event. He is also a member of the Kairos Honors program and contributes to events like “Random Acts of Service” and serves in the local homeless shelter. 

“Through Dante's learning in the classroom and his experiences of working directly with the community, he has come to understand that everyday decisions have a real-life impact on the members of our community,” said Dr. Mark Scully, assistant professor of political science. “As a servant leader, he helps epitomize the idea that our first obligation is to the neighbors around us.” 

Dr. Blake joined Lee’s faculty in 2011, where he serves as associate professor of TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) and linguistics. He has served as director for over a decade at the Center for English Language Learning where he trains, teaches, and mentors members of the Cleveland community. He also serves as the faculty sponsor for Lee Prayer and is involved in leading the outreach with his church in the East Cleveland community.  

"Dr. Blake willingly and humbly pours himself into his students and hundreds of English language learners,” said Dr. Donna Summerlin, chair of the Department of Language and Literature and professor of English. “His outreach ministry to East Cleveland further reveals the burden he feels for the community.” 

Mr. Williams and Ms. Foster are the 19th group of students to receive this award, while Dr. Blake is the 15th faculty member to be honored. 

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