News Item

Lander Alumni Association announces 2015 annual award winners

January 28, 2015

Lander University’s Alumni Association has selected a retired criminal investigator, an academician and a business executive to receive its prestigious annual awards.

The honorees are Don Bergman, of Greenwood, Class of 1970; Dr. David Harrill Roberts, ’70, of Athens, Ga., and Robert Bennett, ’01, of Augusta, Ga.

Bergman was named winner of the Grace Iler Norman Award, recognizing significant achievements within the Alumni Association and the university. Bergman, who earned a degree in business administration from Lander, worked as a federal criminal investigator for the Internal Revenue Service and, later, for the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General. While at H.H.S., he received the National Agent of the Year Award.

Bergman and his wife of 48 years, Audine, have been enthusiastic supporters of Lander’s soccer program and endowed a soccer scholarship in the name of Van Taylor, former coach of the men’s team.

Taylor, who recently retired from coaching to become Lander’s director of Development, said of the Bergmans, “They have been an encouragement to many student-athletes over the years, and their love and support of Lander is greatly appreciated.”

 Bergman served more than one term as a member of the Alumni Association board of directors and he is very active in Lander’s Bearcat Club.

Bergman’s 1970 classmate Dr. David Roberts was selected for the Distinguished Alumni Award, given to Lander graduates who gain distinction in their careers. Roberts received a degree in English and literature at Lander. He earned a master’s in theoretical linguistics from the University of South Carolina and a doctorate in applied linguistics from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

His academic credentials include 30 years as a university researcher and professor of rhetoric and linguistics. He retired after 14 years on the faculty of Samford University in Birmingham, Ala., and is now a part-time instructor of rhetoric and linguistics at the University of Georgia.
Roberts was a field linguist in Zambia, Malawi and Zimbabwe, learning three major Bantu languages spoken in East Africa. He and NASA engineer Herbert Mitchell pioneered efforts to translate the Bible into Bantu.

His background also includes work as an education and computer consultant, owner of a consulting firm, software developer and bivocational pastor.

He and his wife, Madonna, have been married for 47 years. They have two sons and three grandchildren.

Director of Alumni Affairs and Annual Giving Myra Greene said of Roberts, “He has distinguished himself in the field of education in ways that few can boast, and he has been a strong supporter of Lander.”

The Young Alumni Award winner is Robert Bennett, executive director of the Development Authority of Columbia County in Evans, Ga. After graduating from Lander, Bennett received a master’s of public administration degree from the University of South Carolina. He is an alumnus of the Economic Development Institute of the University of Oklahoma and a certified economic developer, a designation awarded by the International Economic Development Council.

He has spent his eight-year economic development career with the South Carolina Department of Commerce, the Greenwood Partnership Alliance, the Augusta Economic Development Authority and currently with the Development Authority of Columbia County. During those years, he has worked on teams responsible for creating 3,800 jobs and attracting $700 million in capital investments.

Bennett is former president of ConnectYP, Greenwood’s young professionals organization, and a past president of Lander’s Young Alumni Council. Greene said, “Robbie is a standout among our young alumni and very deserving of the award.”

Bennett and his wife, Trenney, who nominated him for the award, are the parents of two daughters, Carolina and Cressida.

The awards will be presented to Bergman, Roberts and Bennett during Lander’s annual Alumni Day luncheon on April 18.