St. Clairsville, OH (September 24, 2021) — In recognition of their dedication and commitment to Belmont College, three individuals were awarded high honors at the October 23rd Honors Reception held at Belmont College’s Academic Technical Center in St. Clairsville, Ohio.
“Our honorees were chosen in acknowledgement of their unique contributions and long history with Belmont College,” said Mrs. Elizabeth Gates, Board of Trustees Chairwoman. “They have all served in different capacities by devoting their time and excellent work to the College and our students.”
The Heritage Tree Award is presented to individuals who have helped to shape Belmont College through their leadership efforts and steadfast dedication. Receiving this distinguished award for devotion to the College was the late Mr. William Hunkler of Barnesville, Ohio; Mr. John Koucoumaris of Martins Ferry, Ohio; and Ms. Pandora Neuhart of Woodsfield, Ohio.
“As members of our local community and friends of Belmont College, our honorees have dedicated their resources in support of our students, programs and initiatives,” Gates continued.
A symbolic tree with gold leaves adorns a prominent spot in the College to showcase the names of the current honorees and those who previously received the distinction. Inductee’s names are etched on the tree as a permanent reminder of their individual commitment to the creation, growth, and development of Belmont College’s heritage
Additionally, the notable designation of Emeritus was bestowed upon the late Mr. William Hunkler, former Board of Trustees Vice Chairman; Mr. John Koucoumaris, retired Vice President of Administrative Affairs; and Ms. Pandora Neuhart, former Board of Trustees member.
The late Mr. William Hunkler was honored with the title Trustee Emeritus. Hunkler served on the Belmont College Board of Trustees, most recently as Vice Chairperson, for nearly two decades.
“The loss of Bill has been deeply felt College-wide,” said Dr, Paul Gasparro, President. “Those of us privileged enough to know him understood that his passion for this institution and our students was unparalleled. Bill was both wise and discerning, calm yet commanding — all qualities that served him well personally and professionally. His institutional knowledge was important in the decisions the Board of Trustees made, as was his consistent approach to addressing the challenges faced by the College. Belmont is a stronger institution thanks to Bill’s influence and expertise.”
In presenting Hunkler’s award to his wife, Mrs. Alice Hunkler, Mrs. Gates said, “I came to know Bill as a man with a moral compass; it guided him always. That is why I learned to listen to Bill because I knew his heart and it was true.”
She continued, “Bill was a person who exemplified the phrase, “the salt of the earth.” He was a representative of the best of us. It is an honor to name him as Trustee Emeritus and have his name honored on our Heritage Tree.”
Mr. John Koucoumaris, received the title Vice President Emeritus for his many years of service and dedication to Belmont College. He retired from Belmont in 2021 as Vice President of Administrative Affairs with 39 years of service. During his time at the College, Koucoumaris was instrumental in overseeing many important transitions and successes for Belmont. He was also active in Belmont’s rebranding process as well as changing the College name from Belmont Technical College to Belmont College and was instrumental in the acquisition of 45 acres of property for the College campus. Additionally, Koucoumaris prepared budgets for over fifteen million dollars and oversaw many renovation and construction projects, including Belmont’s state-of-the-art Health Sciences Center, CDL Training pad, and Main Campus renovation.
In presenting Koucoumaris with his award, Dr. Gasparro said, “During his time at Belmont, John showed absolute commitment to his colleagues and our students. It is because of people like him that Belmont College is the great institution that it is today. It has been a pleasure to know and to have worked with John over the years. His contributions to the College are numerous and exemplary, and I thank him for his dedication and hard work.”
Moreover, Ms. Pandora Neuhart, former Board of Trustees member, was bestowed with the Trustee Emeritus. Neuhart served on the College Board of Trustees for more than 12 years.
In presenting her award, Dr. Gasparro, said “During her tenure, Pandora was instrumental in overseeing many important transitions and successes for Belmont College. Over the years, she worked diligently to support the mission of the College and to provide assistance to students in meeting the ever-increasing costs of a college education.”
He continued, “Tonight, we celebrate Pandora and honor her for her commitment to Belmont College and to our Board of Trustees. She has been generous with her time, dedication and support of the College.”
A reception was held prior to the ceremony to celebrate the inductees.
“The Heritage Tree and Emeritus honorees deserve high recognition for their devotion to our institution and our students,” said Dr. Gasparro. “They are a representation of the dedication that they have given to our students over the years. It is an honor to have had these individuals as a part of Belmont College and recognize them for the influence they have had on generations of our students.”
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