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Lander University Recognizes Three Alumni for Outstanding Record of Service

Pictured, from left to right, are Katie Troutman '07, Young Alumni Achievement Award; Sharon M. Adams '65, Grace Iler Norman Alumni Service Award; and Col. Cory J. Plowden '99, Distinguished Alumni Award. Photo by Randy Pace 

“It’s not every day that we have the opportunity to recognize our alumni for the good work they do in their communities,” Lander University President Richard Cosentino said during Lander’s annual Alumni Awards Ceremony on Saturday, Oct. 15.

The ceremony was held at the conclusion of Lander’s week of Homecoming festivities, which included a score of activities for students, social gatherings for alumni and a tailgating event Saturday morning. Several events, including the awards reception, paid special tribute to the University’s Sesquicentennial celebration.

“This year’s alumni awards are particularly special, because they come a time when we celebrate Lander turning 150 years old,” said Cosentino. “These alumni are not only ambassadors of Lander University. They exemplify how a Lander education has empowered generations of students to lead productive lives around the world.”


Grace Iler Norman Award: Sharon M. Adams ’65

Each year, the Lander University Alumni Association recognizes one alumnus/a who has displayed a deep love for Lander through exemplary service with the Grace Iler Norman Alumni Service Award—the association’s highest honor. Adams was nominated by one of her classmates for regularly coordinating class reunions, and for leading efforts to create a scholarship in honor of the Class of 1965.

After finishing her degree in history, Adams served as a teacher for 32 years in Spartanburg County School District 2 and as a volunteer for several civic organizations, including two terms on the Lander Alumni Association Board of Directors. Her nominators remarked that Adams is well known for “always singing the praises of Lander and what it meant to her.”

Since retiring from teaching, she is now a world traveler. Recent trips abroad include excursions in Europe, Thailand, and a special trip to Hong Kong to visit one of her former students. Her retirement has also given her the chance to stay connected with Lander classmates. “Keeping in touch and organizing class meetings in Columbia for lunch is such a pleasure,” she said.


Distinguished Alumni Award: Col. Cory J. Plowden ’99

Presented annually to an alumnus/a of Lander University, the Distinguished Alumni Award recognizes graduates who have not only distinguished themselves through professional accomplishments, but have also gone beyond a successful vocation to do something of greater benefit for the University community. Plowden was chosen for his many years of service in the United States Army.

Plowden received a degree in biology from Lander and was commissioned into the Medical Service Corps as a Distinguished Military Graduate in 1999. He holds a master’s in healthcare administration from Webster University and has received training at numerous military schools, including the Combined Arms and Services Staff School, the Intermediate Level Education/Advance Operations Course and the Army War College.

Plowden has completed 19 assignments in his 23 years of distinguished military service, including three combat tours—two in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and one in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. He is currently assigned as the commander and director of the Desmond T. Doss Health Clinic, at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. 

Plowden received the Young Alumni Achievement Award in 2011, and along with his continued service to the nation, has continued to provide unwavering support to Lander. He is a past member of the Lander Alumni Association Board of Directors, and in 2021 joined his fellow members of the Upsilon Eta Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc. to endow the Dr. Benjamin E. Mays Endowed Scholarship at Lander.


Young Alumni Achievement Award: Katie Troutman ’07

This award is presented to graduates, age 40 or younger at the time of nomination, who have demonstrated significant career achievement, have been acknowledged by their peers for outstanding work, and who show promise of future professional success. Troutman’s nominator called her “the epitome” of a successful young alumna.

Currently, Troutman serves as the associate director of Lander’s Baptist Collegiate Ministry (BCM), where she has worked since 2010. Her colleagues say she has been instrumental in helping students find direction in their lives and shaping their understanding of the world. Troutman previously served in various roles at Connie Maxwell Children’s Ministries, and holds a master’s in Christian studies from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in addition to her degree in education from Lander.

Troutman is serving a three-year term on a national committee with the Baptist Collegiate Network. She has been on several mission trips across the United States, Peru and Russia, and co-led a mission trip to Egypt. Originally from Rock Hill, she enjoys attending sporting events, walking, traveling and spending time with friends and family.


About the Alumni Association:

The Alumni Awards Ceremony is presented annually by the Lander University Alumni Association, comprised of Lander alumni who lead successful professional lives across the country and around the world. All Lander graduates and former students who completed at least 30 semester hours at Lander are members of the association. To stay connected with other Lander Alumni, and to find out more about alumni events and activities, visit


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