WESTERN PRESENTS ANNUAL ALUMNI, SERVICE AWARDS                                                                 

Image: Chancellor Bardo (right, center) and recipients of Western's 2005 alumni and service awards
Chancellor John Bardo (right, center) presents Western's 2005 distinguished alumni and service awards during halftime of the Homecoming football game Saturday, Oct. 29. Phillip D. Walker (right) is this year's Distinguished Service Award recipient, William R. Stallings (left) won the Professional Achievement Award and Emily Anne Melton Spangler (left, center) received the Young Alumnus Award.

CULLOWHEE – Western Carolina University spanned the state to pay tribute to illustrious alumni Saturday, Oct. 29, honoring a 30-year veteran of corporate and retail banking from Hickory, a successful businessman and entrepreneur from Greenville, and a community-minded healthcare professional from Indian Trail.

The university presented its Distinguished Service Award to Phillip D. Walker, senior vice president with BB&T. William R. Stallings, who throughout his career has earned a reputation as a “good businessman with a big heart,” received the Professional Achievement Award. Emily Anne Melton Spangler, a nationally credentialed registered health information administrator, received the Young Alumnus Award.

The awards were presented during a ceremony in the Ramsey Regional Activity Center as part of 2005 Homecoming activities.

Walker, a 1971 graduate of Western with a bachelor's degree in psychology, is a former member and past chairman of Western's Board of Trustees. He served on the board during a period of dramatic expansion at the university, including unprecedented construction and renovation projects, and historic growth in enrollment.

“Phil is a good friend of mine, and he is a good friend of the university,” Western Chancellor John Bardo said in announcing the award. “He is the only person who talks about this university more than I do. I can't tell you what it means to the university to have a friend, a colleague and an alumnus like Phil Walker.”

A former president of Western's Alumni Association, Walker also has served on numerous committees and boards for organizations in the Hickory area. He spearheaded the creation of the Catawba County Christian Business and Professional Scholarship Fund, an endowed scholarship fund established by a group of Hickory-area Western alumni and friends. Walker, a 1967 graduate of Tryon High School, currently serves as a regional corporate banker at BB&T for the western region of North Carolina, providing service to companies in the furniture, fiber optics and textile industries.

Stallings, the recipient of the Professional Achievement Award, graduated from Western in 1961 with a bachelor's degree in history. Upon graduation, he began his business career, first as a collector for Home Finance Co. in Charlotte, then as an accounts manager with Ford Motor Credit Corp. Stallings later accepted a position with Atlantic Discount as a branch office manager and loan officer in Greenville, and his office quickly became the company's most productive. “Despite his success, he decided he wanted to take a risk and become his own boss,” said David Andrew, president elect of Western's Alumni Association.

In 1977, Stallings opened a Grady White boat dealership in Greenville. Within two years, his dealership was the second-largest dealer in sales and the top Cox Trailer dealer in the United States. He also began making loans from his personal funds and realized that loaning money was more profitable than selling boats. In 1978 he opened his first office of Regional Acceptance Corp. in Greenville. The company would eventually “go public,” earning $20 million through an initial public stock offering and growing to 175 employees and nearly 30 branch offices in three states.

Stallings has helped several businesses over the years that went through financial trouble, said Andrew. “Not only is he a good businessman, but he has a big heart,” he said.

Spangler, recipient of the Young Alumnus Award, graduated from Western in 2002 with a bachelor's degree in health information management. Upon graduation from Western, Spangler began her career as an assistant coordinator for the electronic medical record at a large specialty physician practice in Charlotte, where she successfully designed and implemented a new electronic medical record system, including software, policies, procedure and training. Spangler also completed a successful reorganization of the flow of vital charts through the department, resulting in a 75 percent improvement in access to the charts.

Spangler is currently employed as an informatics data analyst at PREMIER Inc., a group purchasing organization in Charlotte. While working full time, Spangler also is taking a full semester of courses toward a master's degree in business administration, and is on schedule to receive her master's degree in June 2006.

“Emily epitomizes the ideal of an educated citizen who is engaged in and contributing to North Carolina's economy and working to improve the social and community life of the state,” said Andrew.

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Last modified: Tuesday, November 1, 2005
Copyright 2005 by Western Carolina University