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Three Alumni to be Honored at Founders Day Convocation

Oct 4, 2017

On Friday, October 13, during West Virginia Wesleyan College’s Founders Day Convocation at 3 p.m. in Wesley Chapel, three outstanding alumni will receive awards for their accomplishments.  Receiving awards are Don Gardner ’77, Alumni Service Award; Dr. Sara Stankus ’89, Alumni Achievement Award; and Dr. Darrel Tenney ’64, Alumni Achievement Award.

Gardner, director of music and church operations at First United Methodist Church in Clarksburg, WV, where he resides, served as the music director at First United Methodist, and through the years also has led several children, youth, and adult ministries.  He has served as the director of the Madrigal Singers of Clarksburg since 1982.

He was a member of the Larry Parsons Chorale and Camerata Appalachia while each was performing and has directed both the Harrison County Symphonic Chorus and West Virginia Symphony Chorus. He was also the founder and director of Choral Arts of West Virginia.

Gardner has served as president of the Clarksburg-Harrison Cultural Foundation and was an active member of the Clarksburg Community Concert Association. He has been involved with the West Virginia chapter of the American Choral Directors Association and has served as the choir director of the West Virginia Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.

He received his master’s of music in choral conduction from Southern Methodist University and a bachelor of music education from West Virginia Wesleyan College in 1977.

Dr. Stankus currently serves as the principal of Union Elementary in Upshur County, the first school in West Virginia to ever receive the distinction as a National School of Character. She has taught classes for Marshall and Fairmont State Universities and supervised clinical students from Wesleyan.  She is also a Licensed Professional Counselor, a Nationally Certified Counselor, and a certified Ruby Payne “Understanding the Structure of Poverty” trainer.

Her professional experiences include cadre work for the West Virginia Department of Education and as a presenter for WV Center for Professional Development and the WV Department of Education and the Arts.  Dr. Stankus was named as the WVWC Martin Luther King Community Partner of the Year.

Dr. Stankus also serves as co-chair on the West Virginia Partners to Assure Student Success (WVPASS) leadership board, President of the WV Elementary and Middle School Principal Association, the WVWC Community Engagement Board, the WVWC Advisory Board, and the Food Recovery Network Board of Advisors.

Dr. Stankas completed her doctorate degree at West Virginia University, her master’s in counseling at Marshall University, and her undergraduate degree in elementary education and special education from Wesleyan in 1989.  She holds certifications as superintendent, principal, supervisor, and counselor.

She and her husband reside on a small farm in Buckhannon with their three children.

Dr. Tenney is director of the Aerospace Vehicle Systems Technology (AVST) Program Office at NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, VA. As the director of AVST, he is responsible for planning and advocating NASA’s basis research in airframe systems including advanced vehicle concepts, light weight structures and material, advanced aerodynamic design and analyses, among many other duties.

Dr. Tenney served as chief of the materials division at the Research Center from 1987 to his appointment as AVST director in 1996. Joining NASA in 1974 as a senior researcher, he subsequently held positions as a group leader, head of the Environmental Effects Branch, head of the Applied Materials Branch, and assistant chief of the Materials Division.

Prior to joining NASA, he was an assistant professor of Materials Engineering at Virginia Tech.

He has co-authored more than 80 technical papers and has given numerous technical presentations at national and international conferences. He is active in national technical societies, including the Society for the Advancement of Material and Process Engineering (SAMPE) and the American Society of Materials (ASM). He is a fellow of the ASM and a past chairman of its Aerospace Technical Division. He served as a member of the Virginia Tech Committee and National Presidential Advisory Committee at WVWC. He is a past recipient of the Presidential Rank Award at NASA.

A graduate from Virginia Tech with a doctorate degree in materials engineering, he graduated from the Harvard PMD Management Program after receiving his degree from West Virginia Wesleyan College in 1964.

He and his wife, Linda, live in Poquoson, VA.

For a complete list of Homecoming activities, please visit