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SHC alumni, benefactors receive national distinguished service award

John and Mary Lou Barter were presented with the Ernest T. Stewart Award for Alumni Volunteer Involvement by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), the highest accolade that CASE presents to an alumni volunteer. The Barters were honored at an awards banquet held today at the annual CASE Summit for Leaders in Advancement conference in San Francisco. According to CASE, the award recognizes an individual or individuals for service to one’s alma mater and is named for the first executive director of the American Alumni Council.

The Barters, who are Spring Hill College alumni, were nominated by the college for serving extraordinarily in every possible capacity. They have been trustees, administrators and are SHC’s most significant living donors. They carry a combined 28 years of service as members of the Spring Hill College Board of Trustees, with many of those years dedicated to leadership roles. John served as chairman of the Board from 1998 – 2002, and Mary Lou has co-chaired several subcommittees and the presidential search committees.

John and Mary Lou Barter
John and Mary Lou Barter

“John and Mary Lou Barter — with their generosity of time, talent and treasure — have transformed the college and prepared the way for a brilliant future,” said President Christopher P. Puto, PhD. “Their pure, unselfish love for the college and confidence in our future led us to where we are now – excited, hopeful and financially secure as we move toward the beginning of the college’s third century.”

The Barters have contributed more financial support to Spring Hill College than any other living person or couple. In 2013, John Barter offered to become the college’s first Chief Operating Officer, working pro bono to successfully move the college forward financially. In such a capacity, both Barters traveled frequently to Mobile from their home in Charleston, S.C. What was initially a one-year commitment became a 19-month project for the Barters, overseeing the national search for, hiring of and inauguration of President Puto. Also during this time, John and Mary Lou successfully managed an initiative that eliminated $27 million worth of debt.

During the award acceptance, John Barter stated, “The Beacon on the Hill, as we refer to it, has shone for more than 185 years and it is our prayer that its future will be far longer than its past.  While our involvement with Spring Hill has been but a moment in its long history, we hope that we have done something to ensure it will be here for the thousands of students yet to matriculate and to experience its incredible impact.”

Hallet Graham contributed to this article.

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