Lander Alumni Association announces recipients of three prestigious awards

February 15, 2012

Gen. Goff

Gen. Darlene Goff

Amy Landers May

Amy Landers May

Jeff May

Jeff May

The first female general officer in the history of the South Carolina Army National Guard (SCANG); last year's winner of the state's Young Lawyer of the Year award; and the individual whose name adorns Lander University's new sports complex are this year's winners of the Lander Alumni Association's top awards.

The honorees are Brig. Gen. Darlene Goff; Columbia attorney Amy Landers May; and Lander athletic director Jeff May, no relation.

Goff received the Distinguished Alumna of the Year Award given to Lander graduates who gain distinction in their careers. Goff graduated from Lander with a sociology degree 1978 and obtained master's degrees in computer and information resource management from Webster University, and strategic studies from the Army War College.

She enlisted in the Army National Guard in 1977 and completed officer's training at Palmetto Military Academy in Columbia four years later. Over the next 29 years, she rose through the ranks, culminating with her promotion to brigadier general in December of 2010.

Gen. Goff is SCANG's Assistant Adjutant General and Vice Chief of the Joint Staff. During her career, she has earned an impressive array of military decorations for distinguished service. Among them are the Meritorious Service Medal, the Army Commendation Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters and the Army Achievement Medal with one Oak Leaf Cluster.

The native of Ninety Six is married to retired Army Col. Eddie Goff. Last December, she was the featured speaker at Lander's commencement exercises and received an honorary doctor of science degree.

Gen. Goff described herself as stunned to be chosen Distinguished Alumna of the Year. "It's an awesome acknowledgement," she said, adding that she appreciates Lander for giving her what she needed to help her advance in her career.

For Amy Landers May, the last year has seen a succession of first-time events in her life. Last spring, she learned she was pregnant with twins and the next day, she was selected as the South Carolina Bar Association's Young Lawyer of the Year.

On Oct. 25 her twin boys, Finnegan and Landon, were born. A few weeks later, she was named winner of the Alumni Association's 2012 Young Alumna of the Year Award, recognizing alumni who have graduated within the last 15 years and serve their communities in exemplary ways.

May received a political science degree from Lander in 1998 and a law degree from Mercer University in Georgia in 2001, fulfilling a lifelong goal. She said, "I knew in fifth grade that I wanted to be a lawyer."

In 2006, she joined the firm of Rogers Townsend & Thomas in Columbia where she is a shareholder specializing in estate planning, probate administration and elder law. She, her husband, Jon, a quality assurance inspector for Boeing, and their twin boys live in Columbia.

May's community service includes positions on the Palmetto Health Foundation Hospice and Palliative Care Advisory Board and the S.C. Gerontological Society Board.

She was surprised by her selection as Young Alumna of the Year. She said, "It's nice to be recognized. I am proud to be a part of Lander."

Athletic director Jeff May is the recipient of the Alumni Association's Grace Iler Norman Award, which recognizes significant achievements within the alumni association and the university. In 2009, the Board of Trustees voted to name Lander's new athletic facility on Montague Avenue "The Jeff May Complex" to honor his many contributions to Lander as a student-athlete, administrator and athletic director.

During his student years, he was a standout basketball player and won several collegiate awards including All-American honorable mention three times. The team's most valuable player four years in a row, May was inducted into Lander's Athletics Hall of Fame.

May received a health, physical education and recreation degree from Lander in 1973 and a master's in administration and supervision at Clemson University.

After graduation, he worked as an educator at schools in Abbeville and McCormick counties. In 1976, Lander hired him to be director of Student Activities and an admissions counselor. Over the next 35 years, he held several other positions including dean of students, assistant to the president, vice president for University Advancement and executive director of The Lander Foundation. He was also the assistant men's basketball coach for eight years.

In 1997, he was appointed athletic director upon the retirement of his former coach, mentor and friend Finis Horne.

May said, "I am blessed to have received a number of honors and awards, but to receive the Grace Iler Norman Award is special because of who it is named after and for what it represents. Grace was a very special lady who was very helpful to me during my early days working in the Alumni Affairs area."He added, "Receiving this award provides yet another opportunity to help celebrate her life and remind the Lander family of her many contributions to the university." May has a daughter, Cristin, and son-in-law Zach Cooper.

The awards will be presented to Gen. Goff, Amy Landers May and Jeff May at the Alumni Association luncheon in April.