Members of the Tabor College family gathered in the Shari Flaming Center for the Arts for the Alumni & Friends Dinner/Theater on Homecoming Friday, Oct. 18. They celebrated their Tabor connections, witnessed the presentation of alumni awards and to welcome an honorary couple into Tabor’s alumni family.
Medallion Award. President Jules Glanzer presented both alumni awards, beginning with the Medallion Award, which goes to a young alum who has made a significant impact in their field of service. The honoree, Andrew Wiens, graduated in 2001 with degrees in Philosophy, History, Biblical & Religious Studies, and Business Management. Currently, he is vice president of government relations for the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce.
“I am humbled by this award,” Wiens said. “I can unequivocally say that where I’m at, and what I’ve accomplished in life, are due to the opportunities I’ve been given by God and the people I’ve met at Tabor,” he said.
Wiens started his post-Tabor career with the help of Landon Fulmer, who later received Tabor’s Medallion Award as well. “When I was a junior at Tabor, Landon was then Sen. Sam Brownback’s legislative director, and was instrumental in getting his boss to appoint a Tabor student to the Henry Clay Center for Statesmanship Student Congress. My history professor at the time (Dr. Richard Kyle) recommended me for the Student Congress, and I was selected.”
Wiens later served as an intern for then-Congressman Jerry Moran, and spent most of a summer in D.C. working for him.
“These experiences led to connections that allowed me to work under Landon Fulmer in Gov. Brownback’s policy office. That led to future opportunities in policy and legislative affairs, including the Kansas Department of Children and Families, Gov. Jeff Colyer as well as my current position with the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce.
“I am where I am because of Tabor College,” Wiens said. “I believe strongly in its mission and vision and believe in its life-transforming, academically excellent, globally relevant, and decidedly-Christian education. Tabor deepened my faith and intellect, broadened my horizons, and created opportunities to get involved that echo into the present and, I pray, into eternity.”
Alumni Merit Award. The Merit Award recipient was Judy Hiebert, a 1973 graduate of Tabor. After teaching and coaching in high school, she came to work at Tabor. She started in the Advancement Office, then became
the first female vice president at Tabor College in Student Development (now called Student Life) and Athletics.
Hiebert served effectively at Tabor for 24 years. “Together with the individuals I had the privilege of serving with, we had hundreds of opportunities to speak into students’ lives — sometimes in small ways and sometimes in larger ways,” she said. “Sometimes it’s helping a student get tutoring or exploring their gifts, or helping a senior write a first resume. But many times it was just listening and praying with them. Yes, discipline sometimes has to happen. But every conversation is an opportunity.
“When things of crisis would happen, I am so thankful for God’s faithfulness in walking with me,” Hiebert said. “Without that, I could not have done the job. I’m thankful for Tabor College, and for its continuing commitment to be a Christ-centered institution. In today’s world, that’s tough.”
She added, “I’m enormously grateful for the many friendships I have today because of my years at Tabor. I could never have served in the crazy hours and challenges of Student Development without the help and support of my husband, Gordon.”
Honorary Alumni Award. For the fourth time during his tenure, President Glanzer presented an Honorary Alumni Award, which goes to an individual or couple the college wants to recognize for their transformational contributions to Tabor College in service and stewardship. This year’s recipients were Chuck and Shari Flaming.
“I first met Chuck on a centennial tour sponsored by the Center for Mennonite Brethren Studies as part of our celebration centennial,” Glanzer shared. “Over the course of time, we have become really good friends. As part of that friendship, Chuck mentioned he wanted to honor his wife, Shari.”
Glanzer said, “Chuck and Shari have been involved now in two transformational gifts to Tabor College. The first one was the lead gift for the Shari Flaming Center for the Arts, which has literally transformed the culture of Tabor College and how we live our life together. Most recently they’ve given a gift for the Shari Flaming Welcome Center, which is currently under construction. With both gifts, Chuck’s motivation has been to honor the two loves of his life: the Lord Jesus Christ and his wife Shari.”