WCU presents alumnus, service awards to entrepreneur, paramedic, “dynamic duo”

CULLOWHEE — Western Carolina University paid tribute Saturday, Oct. 21, to an entrepreneur who devotes considerable time to work with at-risk inner-city adolescents, an emergency shock-trauma helicopter flight squad member, and a husband-and-wife team of activists working on behalf of WCU in North Carolina’s Piedmont.

Presentation of the three awards was part of Homecoming 2000 activities at Western.

David Dingler of Brentwood, Tenn., co-founder of a firm specializing in payment recovery for trauma and emergency medical care clients, received the Alumni Association’s Distinguished Alumnus Award. Eric Powell, a paramedics instructor at Roane State Community College in Knoxville, received the association’s Young Alumnus Award. Berry and Betty Mauney, long-time supporters of WCU who helped launch a Western Club for Lincoln and Gaston county alumni, were named co-winners of the Distinguished Service Award.

Dingler, a 1969 graduate of WCU with a bachelor’s degree in business administration, was acknowledged for excellence in both the worlds of entrepreneurship and community service. “David has a proven track record and is a shining example of what makes this country’s business community great. However, these achievements are even more remarkable when viewed in the context of David’s other chosen profession – community service,” his nominator wrote in a letter putting forward Dingler as a candidate for the award.

Dingler has served as president of an 800-member church and helped lead the first-ever mission trip to a remote section of Guatemala, raising thousands of dollars to help build schools in the Central American nation, his nominator said. Dingler also works with Junior Achievement as a classroom teacher in inner-city middle schools to promote future goals in business among at-risk adolescents, and he helps the Boy Scouts of America promote scouting to inner-city youth.

Powell, recipient of the Young Alumnus Award, continued the Tennessee connection at WCU’s Homecoming awards ceremony. A 1991 graduate of WCU with a bachelor’s degree in emergency medical care, Powell is currently working toward his doctorate in educational psychology at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. One of just 17 paramedic instructors in Tennessee, he is the only community college faculty member in the state who is part of an active SWAT team. He is a member of the University of Tennessee Medical Center’s emergency shock-trauma helicopter team, and he coordinates the flight squad’s community outreach and continuing education program.

Powell is a sought-after speaker at conferences and conventions, and his lecture topics have included hostage crises, workplace violence, domestic terrorism, crack and cocaine abuse, and school violence response. A member of the board of directors of WCU’s Alumni Association, he has made several weeklong humanitarian trips to Mexico and Venezuela as part of medical mission teams.

Berry and Betty Mauney, co-recipients of the Distinguished Service Award, are “a dynamic duo that has given back to the university in many ways over the past 30-plus years,” said WCU Chancellor John W. Bardo in presenting the award. Members of the class of 1964, the college sweethearts married just before their senior year at Western, and have become “a husband-and-wife team of goodwill ambassadors for Western Carolina University,” Bardo said.

While holding down busy professional careers in Lincolnton — Berry as vice president of Mohican Mills, and Betty as a teacher at Lincolnton High School — the Mauneys have long served as tireless activists on behalf of their alma mater. They were the driving forces behind the establishment of a Western Club for alumni in the Gaston and Lincoln County area, an organization that sponsors two annual scholarships for incoming freshmen. Both have been active in the Catamount Club athletics boosters’ organization, including planning for the annual scholarship auction, and together they are heading up the 2000-01 Loyalty Fund Drive for academic scholarships, campus improvements and technological upgrades.