One of Tusculum College’s most active Board of Trustee members and alumni was honored with the 2007 Distinguished Service Award Friday night, given each year to an individual who has made outstanding contributions to the life and progress of Tusculum College.
James F. “Jim” Durham, a member of the class of 1979 and a trustee of the College for nearly two decades, was presented the award by President Dr. Dolphus E. Henry during the President’s Dinner in the Chalmers Conference Center of the College. Durham, 49, lives in Brentwood and is a full-time “community volunteer” who devotes his time to public service volunteerism.
Presented the framed award, Durham said he was surprised and “humbled” to receive the honor. He expressed his love for Tusculum College and “the community that supports Tusculum College.” The President’s Dinner is held annually to honor major donors of the college.
Present to see Durham honored was his wife, Lynee, who had been told of the award in advance. She provided many of the biographical details used to create the framed award document and the associated remarks given by President Henry in making the presentation.
Dr. Henry described Durham as a native Tennessean who has such a dedication to Tusculum College that he attended his first board meeting while he and his wife were on their honeymoon. Durham has missed only two meetings of the Board of Trustees in his years on the board, one of those during a major ice storm and the other because the Durhams’ daughter, Allison, was being born.
Durham is the “seven-times great-grandson of Samuel Doak, one of Tusculum’s founders,” Dr. Henry noted. He added that Durham’s father, Walter, is the official state historian for Tennessee. Durham’s mother, Anna, was a student at Tusculum College during the 1940s.
“The values of volunteerism and public service are so much a part of the spirit of this year’s honoree that he retired at a young age so he could devote his life to being a full-time community volunteer,” Dr. Henry said of Durham. “He is highly active in his church, serving in leadership roles and taking part in ministry programs to the homeless and in prison ministries.”
Durham has served as a teacher and mentor for prisoners in the Metro-Nashville Jail and the Riverbend Maximum Security Prison in Nashville, the location of Tennessee’s Death Row.
He has also been a volunteer teacher in schools in Nashville devoted to helping troubled teenagers who are in alcohol and drug recovery. He is also a volunteer for Habitat for Humanity for projects in Davidson and Williamson counties.
“In short”, Dr. Henry said, “this year’s honoree stands as a fine example of the kind of citizen Tusculum College seeks to develop. He exemplifies successful living on many important levels – success in business, community life, church life, and family life. And because he has involved his successful life with the life of Tusculum College, this College is itself a more successful enterprise than we ever could have been without him.”
Also at the dinner, incoming Student Government Association President Duane Randolph, Crossville, spoke to the group, thanking the college’s donors for their support of students. He said he looked forward to his year as SGA president and would work toward helping make Tusculum College a “healthy and happy institution.”
Dr. Kenneth Bowman, chairman of the Tusculum College Board of Trustees, brought greetings to the group from the board, calling his alma mater “a wonderful place with a wonderful future.”
Dr. Henry also addressed the group, giving an update on the college and passing along the text of an email that was recently received via the college web site from a Florida resident who met Tusculum College’s baseball team while the team took part in a tournament in Tampa.
The text of the email is as follows:
“On May 16, 2007, three colleagues and I went to Ya Ya’s for lunch in Tampa, Florida. When we got to the restaurant, we found your entire baseball team in line. They let us go first because we were a small group (and they let other small groups go before them as well). They were all as polite and well mannered as they could be. Without exception, these young men had a neat appearance. Even though they wore shorts, t-shirts, and flip-flops, they were clean and neat. There were no too-baggy shorts, offensive slogans on t-shirts, or anything like that. In fact, a few of the shirts had the slogan, “It is NOT all about me”. These young men were truly wonderful representatives of your college. We chatted a bit with them in line, and they could not have been any nicer. My school-age sons love sports, and I would have loved for them to see such wonderful role models. There was no cursing to be heard, no pushing, and no loud behavior or antics in the restaurant. Their behavior is a credit to their families and to your school. Even though your team is playing a Florida team tonight in Tampa, my friends and I are all rooting for you.”
More than 100 visitors attended the President’s Dinner, which was catered by Sodhexo, the company that operates Tusculum College’s food services.