Valerie Simmons-Walston wins 2012 Hagerman-Thompson Award

Valerie Simmons-Walston
Valerie Simmons-Walston, left, reacts as she is named the winner of the Hagerman-Thompson Staff Excellence Award. During the announcement, Associate Vice President Dr. David Barnett described Simmons-Walston as being a role model and a fine representative of our institution. (Nick Dentamaro/Brenau University)

Tough love is one term Associate Vice President Dr. David Barnett used to describe Valerie Simmons-Walston, the 2012 Hagerman-Thompson award winner.

The award, named after Dr. Ron Hagerman and Ione Thompson, is the university’s highest honor for staff members. As he built up to the winner, Barnett listed some ways Simmons-Walston’s peers described her: “A role model for many; a fine representation of our institution; a champion of Brenau and always willing to take on more responsibility without asking ‘What’s in it for me?'”

When a student is apathetic about their academic career, Walston-Simmons uses that tough love. “When students are not reaching their full potential it concerns me,” she said. 

Walston-Simmons, who is the Dean of Student Success and Retention, spends most of her days helping students reach their goals. Whether the issue is financial, personal or relating to school work, she is there to be a motivator and driving force behind student success.

“I was totally caught off guard,” she said. “I was shocked, surprised and humbled by the experience.”