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Long and Viars receive Lee University’s Zeno C. Tharp Award

From the Chattanoogan: Lee students Blake Long and Miriam Viars were named the recipients of Lee University’s 2024 Zeno C. Tharp Award and were r

From the Chattanoogan: Lee students Blake Long and Miriam Viars were named the recipients of Lee University’s 2024 Zeno C. Tharp Award and were recognized for this honor during a special chapel service.


The Zeno C. Tharp Award is given annually to the Lee senior who shows the greatest promise of making a significant contribution to the Church, though this year, due to a tied vote, the award went to both Long and Viars. Established in 1955, the award is named in honor of the sixth president of Lee, who served from 1935-44. Each department may nominate one student for the award, and winners are selected by faculty vote from the group of nominees.


“I was flooded with emotion when I heard I would be the STM nominee for the Zeno Tharp Award!” said Mr. Long. “I hope I have made an impact on the lives of my peers, the Lee faculty, and the Cleveland community. I’m overwhelmed by this honor and look forward to representing Lee in all my future endeavors.”


Mr. Long is set to graduate magna cum laude from the School of Theology & Ministry with a Bachelor of Science in pastoral ministry and a minor in theological studies. He has been published in the McNair Research Journal and is the author of “The Daily Rhythm.” Mr. Long is the associate college pastor at North Cleveland Church of God.


“In observing his work with the college class at North Cleveland, I was always impressed with how Blake drew on complex ideas he had engaged in the classroom and presented them in such a manner to make them accessible and edifying to young adults in the Church in the cultivation of their faith and practice,” said Dr. Michael Fuller, professor of biblical studies.


Ms. Viars graduated summa cum laude in December 2023 with a Bachelor of Arts in theatre and psychology. She has served as president of Alpha Psi Omega, the Lee theatre honor society. She has also been a peer leader, teaching assistant, and worked with various service organizations on and off campus. Ms. Viars plans to work in crisis response to meet the needs of global communities, particularly those serving in the mission field.


“It’s an honor to be considered for this award, let alone to be co-awarded it!” said Ms. Viars. “It was a surprise for me to be nominated in the first place, however I am proud to represent those of us who did not major in ministry related things in undergrad but who want to go on and work in ministry, specifically serving those who are in ministry.”


Chairperson for the Department of Communications, Dr. Christine Williams, said this about
Ms. Viars, “I had the pleasure of teaching Miriam for three and a half years while she studied at Lee. Miriam’s heart for Jesus was evident from her first moment on campus, and she was always eager to find ways to integrate her passions for theatre, psychology, and her faith. She always finds a way to merge her experience as a missionary kid with her future goals, and I am so excited to see where the Lord takes her. She is an excellent example of the great work that happens when students follow their vocational calling and the direction of the Holy Spirit.”


Miriam Viars