Tarleton honors 2016 Distinguished Alumni during University Gala



STEPHENVILLE (February 13, 2016) — Tarleton State University honored several distinguished alumni and former faculty and staff members Saturday, Feb. 13, during the Tarleton Alumni Association’s (TAA) annual dinner and awards banquet.

Tarleton President F. Dominic Dottavio and Tarleton Alumni Association (TAA) President Dr. Luke Lawson (’90) welcomed nearly 250 former students, friends of the university and their families to The Gala, where two distinguished alumni were presented bronze medallions and crystal awards.

This year’s TAA Distinguished Alumnus is Chuck Gilliland (’90). Honored as Outstanding Young Alumnus for 2016 was Maj. John Considine (’01). The TAA also named Vickie Swam as its 2016 Distinguished Staff and Dr. Jill Burk as Distinguished Faculty.

“Through your success and achievements, you showed the world Tarleton State University,” Dottavio said to the award winners. “You have left a legacy for students of Tarleton, and you serve as an inspiration to not only our current students but to our alumni and to all of us this evening.”

The Tarleton Alumni Association presented several awards Saturday evening during the university's annual Gala. Pictured (l-r) are TAA Board of Directors' President Dr. Luke Lawson, 2016 Distinguished Alumnus Chuck Gilliland, 2016 Distinguished Faculty Dr. Jill Burk, 2016 Distinguished Staff Vickie Swam, Outstanding Young Alumnus Maj. John Considine, and Tarleton President F. Dominic Dottavio.
The Tarleton Alumni Association presented several awards Saturday evening during the university’s annual Gala. Pictured (l-r) are TAA Board of Directors’ President Dr. Luke Lawson, 2016 Distinguished Alumnus Chuck Gilliland, 2016 Distinguished Faculty Dr. Jill Burk, 2016 Distinguished Staff Vickie Swam, Outstanding Young Alumnus Maj. John Considine, and Tarleton President F. Dominic Dottavio.

Chuck Gilliland – Distinguished Alumnus
Gilliland graduated in 1990 with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. He was a member of Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity, Purple Poo and the “Toro Team.”

After graduating, Gilliland worked for the Dallas Police Department until 1992. He then worked as a firefighter with the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport’s Department of Public Safety. In 1994, Gilliland returned to law enforcement, where his cross-training as a firefighter, EMT and police officer served him well. He was promoted to sergeant in 2001 and is still on the force of one of the most unique law enforcement agencies in the United States.

Gilliland serves as an elder in his local church, is a member of the Gideons International Group (Stephenville Camp), serves as president of the DFW chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Peace Officers (2008-present) and serves on the national board of directors for the Fellowship of Christian Peace Officers (2008-present). He has published two books—The Gospel of Matthew Through the Eyes of a Cop and The Book of Proverbs Through the Eyes of a Cop.

Gilliland’s family has a rich history with Tarleton—his parents attended Tarleton in the 1960s, and his wife, Angie, is a Tarleton graduate. Gilliland  gives back to Tarleton by serving as a guest speaker to criminal justice classes, sharing practical points and stories that keep students on the edge of their seats. He also attends the Richard Shigley Criminal Justice Career Day as a recruiter for the DFW Airport Police Department. As a result, the DFW Airport Police Department has hired several Tarleton graduates since Gilliland first began working there.

Maj. John Considine – Outstanding Young Alumnus
Maj. John Considine graduated with a bachelor’s in animal production in 2001. As a student, he was a member of the Texan Reps, Tarleton Army ROTC Texan Battalion, Wainwright Rifles and the Tarleton Plowboys.

After graduation, Considine began his military career as a recruiter for Tarleton’s ROTC program, where he worked with and helped train cadets to become officers in the U.S. Army. During his nearly 14 years on active duty, Considine was deployed to several of the most dangerous places in the world, including Iraq and Afghanistan.

Considine also served as an assistant professor of military science for the Senior Army ROTC Battalion at Tarleton.

A highly decorated soldier, awarded numerous medals including the Bronze Star Medal and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, he remains an active alumnus, participating in multiple Tarleton alumni scholarship fundraising events, university activities and as a member of the Tarleton Plowboys Alumni Association. He hopes to return to Tarleton as a professor of military science.

Vickie Swam – Distinguished Staff
Swam holds both a bachelor’s of applied arts and science degree and a master’s in human resource management from Tarleton. She began her career with the university in April 1986 as an administrative services coordinator in the College of Arts and Sciences.

In 1999, Swam transferred to Tarleton State University-Central Texas (now Texas A&M University-Central Texas) in Killeen to serve as Dr. Lamar Johanson’s “right hand.” She continued to work at Central Texas as the graduate admissions coordinator after Johanson retired. She returned to the Stephenville campus in 2000 as assistant to the president.

Swam was promoted in 2011 to director of university compliance in Finance and Administration and served in that position until she retired in March 2015.

She exceeded her normal duties by volunteering for numerous committees, attending Texan and TexAnn sporting events across the country and demonstrating Tarleton’s core values in all aspects of her professional life.

She staunchly supports the programs and attends the concerts of Tarleton choirs, bands and theater.

Dr. Jill Burk – Distinguished Faculty
Dr. Jill Burk is the former dean of the College of Education and served the university for 25 years. She worked incessantly to improve public education in Texas by serving on boards, task forces and, foremost, as a teacher. She taught public school before working on her doctorate and brought this knowledge and credibility into the higher-education classroom. Her experience and integrity were second to none at Tarleton, where she conducted undergraduate, graduate and doctoral classes.

“Dr. Burk is known across the state as the ‘Rock Star Dean of Education,’” said College of Liberal and Fine Arts Dean Kelli C. Styron, J.D. “Her students loved her. They respected her abilities and the compassionate delivery of caring, careful instruction. You couldn’t ask for a better teacher.”

Burk’s passion as an advocate for education was seen across Texas. She canvassed the state to not only recruit new teaching sites for student teachers but also to visit with current partners and ask questions to determine how Tarleton was doing with its graduates, how it could help partners or improve programs. Her relationships with superintendents enhanced the university’s ability to widen the region where Tarleton students were placed.

“Dr. Burk’s many years of work with future and current teachers in Texas put Tarleton on the map as the premier education institution within the state for teacher preparation and education,” said Provost Dr. Karen Murray.

Burk left a legacy at Tarleton through her works in and out of the classroom, and from the Tarleton campus to the capitol.

Recipients of the TAA awards are selected from submitted nominations. To nominate an individual for a 2017 award, visitwww.tarleton.edu/ORG/alumniassociation.

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