Longwood Magazine
A Magazine for the Alumni and Friends of Longwood University Current Issue Archived Issues


Cover of Summer 2004 Issue


Continuing the Tinnell Tradition

For 30 years Wayne Tinnell enlightened Longwood students on the world of the microbe and other aspects of biology. While expecting students to work to their fullest potential, he earned a reputation of being challenging. His excellence in teaching was admired by many students, and he received the Faculty Recognition Award in 1986 and the Maria Bristow Starke Faculty Excellence Award in 1991.

Image: Dr. Tinnell.In 1993, Bob Chonko, the director of admissions, asked Dr. Tinnell to speak with an area graduating high school senior who showed great promise in biology. The student, top in her class, was interested in Longwood but was receiving competing offers. "It saddened me greatly that we had little financially to attract or reward high achieving students," said Dr. Tinnell.

With little scholarship money with which to recruit, Longwood lost this outstanding student to James Madison University.

Not long afterwards, Dr. Tinnell was having lunch with a former student lab assistant, Mary Lou McKenzie Gambill '74. When he told her of his recruiting frustration due to limited scholarship dollars, she listened. Two days later Lou Gambill and her husband, Mark Gambill, who would later serve on the Longwood Board of Visitors, made a significant gift to establish the Wayne H. Tinnell scholarship to honor Dr. Tinnell for his outstanding skill as a professor and mentor.

Overwhelmed, Dr. Tinnell says, "In my mind there is no greater honor than to have a scholarship named for you. That Lou and Mark would do this in my honor was very humbling, especially since I am still alive."

The value of a scholarship has deep meaning to Wayne Tinnell. His mother, the late Helen B. Tinnell, raised him as a single parent and made great sacrifices on his behalf. Had it not been for a scholarship, Dr. Tinnell would have had a more difficult time funding his college education.

In 1999, when Wayne Tinnell wanted to honor his mother and his wife, Camilla Cross Tinnell, then a faculty member in the Department of English, Philosophy and Modern Languages, who always inspired him to be a better teacher, he could think of only one way to do so: a scholarship in their honor. Dr. Tinnell then established The Camilla C. Tinnell & Helen B. Tinnell Scholarship in English.

The third scholarship connected to Wayne Tinnell came about due to another former student and research assistant, Lynn Hines Harper '73 and recipient of Longwood's Alumni Achievement Award in 1998. "Lynn was a brilliant student and a remarkable research assistant," said Dr. Tinnell. "She realized the importance of scholarships because there were none available in biology when she was at Longwood. Again, I am humbled that she would give to the university in my honor." The Wayne H. Tinnell-Hines Scholarship was established.

In addition to these three scholarships connected to Dr. Tinnell, he is also indirectly responsible for two additional scholarships. Following encouragement from Dr. Tinnell, Dr. Linda Marie Long '86 and former lab assistant of his, established the Donald A. Merkle Scholarship fund in honor of one of her favorite biology professors, Dr. Merkle.

The scholarship that most clearly shows Dr. Tinnell's tenacious commitment to scholarships came from his dentist, Dr. Paul Hicks, a former member of the Longwood Foundation Board. During a dental exam, Dr. Tinnell again felt compelled to share his testimony of need for scholarships to high achieving students. "What was I to say, but yes!" said Dr. Hicks. The Paul P. Hicks, Jr. Scholarship was then established.

Longwood's campaign totals grew through this one man's wholehearted commitment to high achieving students. When asked if he plans to solicit further on Longwood's behalf, Dr. Tinnell concluded by saying "You betcha. There are never enough scholarships and it is such a wonderful way to honor someone who has been important to you. Once a scholarship is endowed, it lasts forever!"

Three tragic losses during the course of the campaign led to two memorial scholarships honoring young people taken from us in the prime of their lives.

The Jay Christopher DeBoer Memorial Scholarship was established by his family and friends following his untimely death from an asthma attack in his senior year (1997). Chris was a member of the Men's Golf team and a student in the College of Business & Economics. Through a series of five annual fundraising golf tournaments at the Petersburg Country Club and tremendous support from the community and Longwood alumni, the fund now has over $54,000 in the corpus. The award is made to a student pursuing a degree from the College of Business and Economics with first preference to a member of the Men's Golf team.

The Andrew O'Brien Memorial Scholarship was established in memory of Andrew, '04 who, while a Longwood student, lost his life in an automobile accident on February 8, 2002. Andrew's parents, Gary and Melissa O'Brien, spearheaded a grassroots fundraising effort that established an endowed scholarship which as of June 14, 2004, had a value of $42,000. The gifts came largely from many relatively small gifts from family and friends who wish to remember Andrew, his sense of humor and his community service with children on his birthday and other special occasions. Gifts to that fund still come in regularly honoring his memory.

The Ashley Warren Taws Scholar-Athlete Award was established in memory of Ashley, '90, by her family and friends after she passed away in March 26, 2002. Because Ashley was a well known student leader, a scholar and a top golfer while a student at Longwood, her husband John wanted her legacy to live on in those areas and to have something that their young son could remember his mother's Longwood experience by. He believes that by making the award based on those criteria, the recipients will strive for the kind of excellence that Ashley personified. The value of that award stood at $34,500 as of June 14, 2004.

These two funds demonstrate how memorial scholarship funds live on in perpetuity establishing a legacy and ensuring that the memory of loved ones will always be a part of the fabric of Longwood University.