Western Carolina University


Image: Alumni award recipients are, from left to right, Katherine Abbott Boydston, Kenneth M. Hughes, and Jeanne LaRoque Jolly.
Alumni award recipients are, from left to right, Katherine Abbott Boydston, Kenneth M. Hughes, and Jeanne LaRoque Jolly.

Western Carolina University spanned the country to pay tribute to illustrious alumni Saturday, Oct. 14, honoring a Haywood County teacher whose volunteerism has benefited WCU students and community, an Asheville-based certified public accountant considered one of the most influential in the nation, and the Los Angeles-based featured vocalist with Grammy Award-winning jazz trumpet player Chris Botti.

The university presented the Distinguished Service Award to Katherine Abbott Boydston, water curriculum coordinator for Haywood County Schools; the Professional Achievement Award to Kenneth M. Hughes, co-chief executive officer of the firm of Dixon Hughes; and the Young Alumna Award to Jeanne LaRoque Jolly, who performs and tours with the Chris Botti Band.

The awards were presented during a ceremony in the Ramsey Regional Activity Center as part of 2006 Homecoming activities.

Boydston earned three degrees from Western – a bachelor's degree in business, marketing and retailing in 1967; a master's degree in middle grades education in 1979; and an education specialist degree in 1983. She led the restoration of Bird Alumni House and has served as president of the WCU Foundation and the WCU Alumni Association. She currently chairs the Council for the Advancement of the College of Education and Allied Professions and the Alumni Association's past presidents' organization. Boydston has raised money for student scholarships and initiatives such as building the Alumni Tower, in addition to volunteering on committees charged with working to improve the quality of education for Western students.

“As a freshman at what in 1963 was called Western Carolina College, Kathy was honored with the ‘Most Spirited Award.' Now, four decades later, that spirit marks her immeasurable service to what is now called Western Carolina University,” said Chancellor John Bardo. “Western is fortunate, indeed, for the leadership, energy and enthusiasm that Kathy has demonstrated over the years to bring alumni together to propel initiatives forward that improve the quality of the university.”

Hughes, recipient of the Professional Achievement Award, earned a bachelor's degree in business administration and accounting in 1974. During his 24 years as managing partner of Crisp Hughes Evans, the accounting firm grew into one of America's 50 largest and won recognition in Bowman's Accounting Report as one of the 25 “Best of the Best.” The firm merged with Dixon Odom in March 2004 and now has revenues of more than $130 million and a staff of more than 900 in seven states. Hughes serves on national and international professional organizations that guide accounting practices. In 2004, “Accounting Today” named him one of the most 100 Most Influential People in Accounting.

“The Alumni Association is honored to give the Professional Achievement Award to a person who has so greatly distinguished himself in his field,” said David Andrew, president-elect of the Alumni Association. “His work professionally and in the community demonstrates the high quality of WCU graduates and makes us all proud of our association with the university.”

Jolly, recipient of the Young Alumna Award, graduated from Western in 2001 with a bachelor's degree in music. She went on to earn her master's degree from the highly regarded New England Conservatory. Jolly has performed with the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra and in productions at Opera in the Ozarks. She landed the featured vocalist job with multiple Grammy award-wining jazz trumpet player Chris Botti and his band, and has toured across the country and Canada. On June 17, 2006, their performance before a sold-out Carnegie Hall received a standing ovation.

“We are proud to give the Young Alumna Award to Ms. Jolly, who has had outstanding success in her young career,” Andrew said. “We look forward to a bright future for her as she represents the best of our recent graduates.”

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Last modified: Monday, October 16, 2006
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