Distinguished Award Recipients
2022 Distinguished Retiree Award Recipient
Dr. Michael Braz
Dr. Michael Braz, Professor Emeritus of Music, is a nationally and internationally recognized music educator, composer, and clinician. Mike earned his bachelor and master of music degrees in Music Education from the University of Miami and earned his PhD as a University Fellow at Florida State University.
From the beginning of his professional career, and continuing in his retirement years, Dr. Braz has remained actively involved in community music projects and service to a variety of community organizations, as well as to the university. For example, not long after joining the GS faculty, he (with Dr. Sandra McLain) founded the Statesboro Youth Chorale and, following a hiatus during the COVID shutdown years, in mid-2022 brought it back to life with the assistance of GS music professor Dr. Tamara Harper.
His service to the community includes President of the Statesboro Arts Council, active membership in the Kiwanis Club of Statesboro and the Statesboro Rotary, benefit piano performances for the Averitt Center for the Arts, accompaniment for others in vocal performances, entertainment at Georgia Southern events (including the annual luncheons for retirees), performances at assisted living residences, and contributions to many other individuals and groups, a favorite being the Boys and Girls Club of Bulloch County.
In his retirement years, Mike has traveled the world and enjoyed artist residencies in England, Kathmandu, and in Wuhan, China. He loves to travel, and has traveled in Europe, South Asia, Scandinavia, and French Polynesia, and has spent time trekking in the Nepal Himalayas, all the while exposing people to
music and serving as an informal Georgia Southern ambassador.
A tremendous ambassador for Georgia Southern, Dr. Braz continues his considerable contributions to the university, civic organizations, and charities at the same rate as he did during his tenure as a music professor at GS.
The four recipients of GSURA Distinguished Retirees Awards for 2019 are:
Dr. Warren F. “Spike” Jones
Warren F. (Spike) Jones arrived at Georgia Southern College in 1972 as Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences. He retired from Georgia Southern University 21 years later, in 1993, as Dean Emeritus and Professor Emeritus of Psychology.
Although he has been retired for more years than he served, Spike remains one of Georgia Southern’s most popular and inspirational figures The School of A&S was huge, so he had lots of faculty to know. But Spike is a “people person” and his administrative style was always personal. He kept up with what departments and faculty members were doing. He gave faculty members credit for their achievements and often sent handwritten thank-you notes to mark special accomplishments.
Twenty-six retirement years have gone by and Spike have gradually slowed down. They still do a little volunteering at the hospice and the store, are still pretty healthy, and remain happy and grateful for it all.
Mrs. Zandra Brasington
Zandra Brasington began her career with COBA in 1992 in the Associate Dean’s office and in June 1993, she moved to the Accounting Department under the leadership of Chair, Dr. Karen Fortin. She was promoted to Administrative Secretary in 1995 and went on to receive the Tomlinson Bond Staff Award for Excellence in 1996, The Ori James Recognition Award for service to Beta Alpha Psi in 1998, a Distinguished Service Award for contributions to AACSB accreditation in 2007, and the University Staff Merit Award in 2008. Through the years, Zandra was a valued and respected leader in the School of Accountancy, especially in the organization of the school’s annual Accounting Day festivities, which highlight the achievements of the students, faculty, and staff.
Zandra is one of the best secretaries of an organization that we have ever had the pleasure to work with and we would be lost without her.
Dr. Betty Lane
On March 16, 1929, Dr. Lane was born to a family tree of educators with 56 descendants (so far) who have demonstrated participation and service to education. This distinguished retiree counts 36 years of her life to have been affiliated with teaching. By 1959, our awardee, had earned her BS and Master’s degrees at the University of Georgia and assumed a position of Assistant Professor of Home Economics at Georgia Southern College where she soon took leave to earn her doctorate at Florida State University. She returned to Georgia Southern College after earning her doctorate in Home Economics and remained here until her retirement in 1986.
When asked what she felt to be her most important contributive impact, she quietly replied—including many other people with whom she collaborated….”Working on the Board of Regional Historical Resources with Senator Jack Hill…serving on the National Council of Home Economics Administrators, and being actively involved in the American Association of Home Economics since 1957. Also, very important to me is that I was a founding board member of the non-profit Home Health Agency with Charlotte Edwards (called Gentiva Home Health now) for home-bound services and medical treatment aids for those unable to provide for themselves.”
Dr. Del E. Presley
From Georgia Southern Magazine Volume 16, Number 1, Fall 2013 feature story ” ‘SPRUNG UP FROM SANDY EARTH’ Historian and Professor Emeritus Del Presley preserves the origins of regional culture ” by David Thompson.
It was 1969 when Presley and his wife, Beverly, arrived in Statesboro on an offer from iconic University professor and chair Fielding Russell to teach English at Georgia Southern. Through the 1970s, Presley’s love of language and literature and his training from Mercer, Baptist Theological Seminary and Emory served him well in his academic pursuits. Yet, in the back of his mind an idea was forming — one that became increasingly focused with the passage of time and led to a gradual shift. Presley’s passion was focusing less on classical lit and more on south Georgia grit.
He continued to teach, but in 1971, he and history professors George Rogers and Frank Saunders received a grant to study the local Deloach Primitive Baptist community. “That was my first effort in that area,” he said. “It turned out well, so we kept getting grants. We got grants through the `70s until I went to the Museum and then we carried it on there.
In 1982, he organized Project R.A.F.T. (Restore Altamaha Folklife Traditions) as a way to honor the memories of the men who floated timber down the Ocmulgee and Altamaha rivers in the early 20th century. A tremendous success, the project was coordinated with folk life festivals along the river and its message continues to be shared with others more than 30 years later. That year heralded an official career shift when he became the first permanent director of the new Georgia Southern Museum, leaving the classroom and delving full time into stories about the people of south Georgia. For 17 years he enthusiastically embraced exhibits on the region’s history, culture, geology, zoology and botany while independently writing and researching.
Retiring from the Museum in 1999, he continued to study, interpret and organize local and regional historical events.
Last updated: 6/13/2022