Medlin, Sparks honored as college-level alumni

Appalachian State University honored 11 of its alumni on Saturday, July 16 during the 2022 Alumni Association Awards Gala.

Among the honorees was Dr. Beverly “Dawn” Medlin ’78 ’80, who was named the 2022 distinguished Walker College of Business alumna.

Dawn Medlin ’78 ’80

A native North Carolinian and first-generation college student, Dawn Medlin came to App State to expand her horizons and make a difference in the lives of others. In 1988, she joined the Department of Computer Information Systems in the Walker College of Business and has transformed thousands of lives during her time as a faculty member.

"Dr. Medlin represents the best of the Walker College," said Walker College Dean Sandra Vannoy, who attended the event to celebrate Dr. Medlin. "Through her work as an App State faculty member she has transformed thousands of lives, and with the vantage point of being a Walker College alumna, Dr. Medlin not only experienced but also advanced the values of the college. For example, Dr. Medlin ensured her students' global education by leading them on study abroad programs and exemplified the value of meaningful relationships to promote learning, growth and fulfillment."

In 2018, Dr. Medlin was the inaugural faculty recipient of the Sywassink Spirit of Walker Award, which honors those who most embody the college’s values of integrity, quality, meaning, global, diversity, innovation, collegiality, responsiveness and sustainability.

Additionally, Dr. Medlin served as department chairperson from 2007-13, and she founded Women of Walker, a mentoring program to accelerate the professional development, personal growth and leadership abilities for female business majors.

Dr. Medlin also earned the Sywassink Award for Excellence in Research in 2014, and her research on security, web design, global information systems and health care informatics has been published in prominent journals such as the International Journal of Advanced Computer Science and Applications, Computers in Human Behavior and the Journal of Information Technology Management, among others.

After her retirement, Dr. Medlin was named professor emeritus. She left a legacy to help others, having established four student scholarships: the Bob and Doris Medlin Scholarship, the Kathy Edwards Fitzpatrick Memorial Scholarship for Computer Information Systems, the Best Friends Scholarship for Business and the Women of Walker Scholarship for females in business.

In addition to earning her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Appalachian, Dr. Medlin holds a doctorate of education from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. 

Notably, Richard Sparks ’76 ’78 ’16 was also named a college-level recipient: the Beaver College of Health Sciences alumnus. 

Richard Sparks ’76 ’78 ’16

Dr. Sparks is a two-time Walker College alumnus, having earned his bachelor's degree in healthcare management and his master of business administration from App State. The healthcare management degree program was housed in the Walker College before the Beaver College was founded in 2010.

Dr. Richard Sparks retired from the Appalachian Regional Healthcare System as its president and CEO in 2017. Today Dr. Sparks serves as a lecturer for the Walker College, teaching leadership, ethics and executive skills. 

Dr. Sparks is also a member and past chair of the Walker College’s Business Advisory Council.

Alumni Honorees

The other college-level alumni were: Dr. Lara Souza ’99 ’03, College of Arts and Sciences; Delana Vickers ’85 and Will Vickers ’87, College of Fine and Applied Arts; Todd Wright ’84, Hayes School of Music; Nina Morley Daye ’79, Honors College; Judy Benson ’69 and Robert Steven James, Reich College of Education.

The college-level alumni awards were a new addition to the annual awards. The traditional honorees were:

  • Douglas Middleton, Jr. ’15 ’18, Young Alumni Award
  • June Wilson Hege ’65, Outstanding Service Award
  • John Thomas Roos ’84, Outstanding Service Award
  • Mark E. Ricks ’89, Distinguished Alumni Award

These alumni have made a lasting impact on society and on Appalachian State University through outstanding professional, philanthropic and volunteer accomplishments. Learn more about these alumni and watch videos of why they were selected as the best of Appalachian at

View the photo album from the event

Dean Sandra Vannoy, who attended the 2022 Alumni Awards Gala to celebrate Dr. Dawn Medlin, is pictured (left) with Libraries Dean Sue Polanka and College of Fine and Applied Arts Dean Shannon Campbell.

Dawn Medlin, center, with colleagues and mentees (from left) MSADA Director Jason Xiong, CIS Lecturer Laura Brewer, Doris Medlin, Dawn Medlin, Victoria Fowler, Dean Sandra Vannoy and Executive Director of Development Kyle Allen
Published: Jul 22, 2022 1:31pm