Merle Mead, Norfolk, was presented with the Northeast Community College Distinguished Service Award. The award is presented to individuals who have demonstrated active service to higher education and who have played a significant role in the development of Northeast Community College.
Also at the ceremony, the College honored David Copple, Norfolk, with the status of Foundation Board of Directors Emeritus, an honorary title of distinction for those who have served on the Northeast Community College Foundation Board. Members must have served for a minimum of one term and contributed significantly to the progress of the Foundation.
Awards were presented by Dr. Michael Chipps, president of Northeast, and Dr. Tracy Kruse, associate vice president of development and external affairs.
A welding/machinist instructor at Northeast from 1978-2011, Mead created a statue of a hawk, the mascot of Northeast. The five-foot long hawk, with a nearly nine-foot wing span, stands on a three-foot concrete pedestal near the front entrance to the Cox Activities Center. It was commissioned by members of the 2014-15 and 2015-16 Student Government Association as their “signature project.”
Mead donated his time and talents to the endeavor.
Carissa Kollath, director of student activities, worked with Mead on the hawk project and said he agreed to the project immediately as a way to give back to Northeast for all it provided him and his family.
“Merle is a lifelong teacher, an outstanding artist and an amazing human being,” Kollath said. “The lives he has impacted as a teacher at this institution and legacy he has left the College both in his instruction and with the hawk sculpture tradition could never be measured.”
Upon accepting his award, Mead praised Northeast and the bonds he formed there.
“I’m very thankful that I had the opportunity to fulfill a career in what I really wanted to do. But most of all, I’d like to tell you that what I took from Northeast was the friendship of a lot of students, and that’s worth more than anything I can say.”
Mead and his wife, Ellen, have three adult children: Carrie Sheppard, Jon Mead and Ryan Mead.
Copple, Northeast’s newest Foundation Board of Directors Emeritus, earned a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1980. He earned his Juris Doctorate from the University of Nebraska College of Law in 1983.
He is the founding attorney in the firm of Copple, Rockey and McKeever and Schlect in Norfolk, and has litigated cases or represented clients in Nebraska and 15 other states.
Copple joined the Northeast Foundation Board in 1993, where he served as president from 2002 to 2006. During his time as president, Northeast’s Chuck M. Pohlman Ag Complex capital campaign began fundraising efforts and opened in April 2004. The McIntosh Legacy Scholarship program was also developed during his leadership.
At the awards ceremony, Copple fondly recalled the early days of his time on the Northeast Foundation Board.
“When I first began serving on the board, we met in the cafeteria. And we sat around some tables, and I looked at the dollars and cents that were involved with the foundation, and I asked myself: ‘Why not? We can do anything we want to do.’
When Copple served as president, he said he set a personal goal for himself.
“I wanted the Foundation to have assets in excess of $2 million because it was my opinion that you had to have significant sums of money to provide scholarships to student who earned them or were in need of them so that they could do anything they wanted to do.”
Copple was joined at the ceremony by his wife, Shirley, and his mother, Barbara.
PHOTO IDs: Merle Mead, David Copple. (Courtesy Northeast Community College)