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Evangel University honors two professors for academic excellence

Published on May 10, 2021 by Erin Hedlun



SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Evangel University honored two professors for excellence in their service to students and the university on May 7, during the 63rd annual Commencement ceremony. Dr. Sandy Friesen, professor in the Theology & Global Church Ministries Department, was honored with the annual Clark Award and Dr. Sarah Walters, professor in the Kinesiology Department and College of Adult & Graduate Studies, was honored with the Mills Young Faculty Award.

Dr. Sandy Friesen

Clark Award

Dr. Sandy Friesen, professor and program coordinator of intercultural studies, was awarded Evangel’s highest honor for academic excellence — the E.M. & Estella Clark Award for Excellence in Teaching, Scholarship and Service.

The award was established in 1991 by Dan and Elaine Johnson, in recognition of Elaine’s parents’ work on behalf of higher education in the Assemblies of God, as well as the Johnson’s special affection for EU. Students, faculty, and staff submit nominations, and a committee makes the final decision.

Friesen began teaching at Evangel in 1996 and has grown the intercultural studies and missions programs into a premier outlet for the training of missionaries within the Assemblies of God fellowship. Under her leadership, short-term missions and service trip opportunities for students expanded, and the Global Connections program, which Friesen oversees, became a core requirement of all EU students.

Global Connections provides a variety of ways for students to serve locally, nationally, and around the world as they explore other cultures and engage with a diverse group of people.

Friesen has also provided leadership to the student ministry team known as CROSSwalk, an on-campus organization that enhances spiritual development activities and promotes service opportunities within the local community.

Friesen previously served as chair of the Missions Department (now a part of the Theology & Global Church Ministries Department) and was interim director of EU’s Center for Compassion.

Prior to her role at EU, Friesen and her husband, Bob, served as Assemblies of God world missionaries in South Africa, working at International Bible College in Durban. After their return to the states, they served the Assemblies of God national office as missionary kid directors. Sandy also provided direction to children’s curriculum design and development for the Assemblies of God.

“Dr. Friesen has made missions part of the Evangel identity,” said Dr. Brandon Schmidly, Theology & Global Church Ministries Department chair. “She is a devoted professor, and her scholarly work and programmatic success has distinguished her as a faculty member.”

In addition to her leadership roles, Friesen serves as a student advisor within the department, carrying one of the largest advising loads. Her natural mentoring ability has made her a favorite among current and former students.

“Dr. Friesen has completely changed my college career,” said student Sydney King. “She has a heart for students and truly wants to invest in them. She has been an incredible professor, leader, advisor, and mentor.”

Friesen serves on a variety of missions-focused boards and committees, including the board of directors for Business as Missions through Assemblies of God World Missions, providing insight and leadership to the implementation of missions work within the marketplace on a global scale.

“It is an honor to receive this award. I am both touched and surprised to be recognized in this way.” said Friesen. “My goal has always been to connect students to a global community in order to build the kingdom of God. To receive an award for doing what I love is both humbling and rewarding.”

She holds a Doctor of Philosophy in Administration of Higher Education from Saint Louis University, a Master of Science in Guidance and Counseling for Elementary Children from Southwest Missouri State University, a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from Evangel University, and a Bachelor of Arts in Religious Education and Bible from Central Bible College.

Friesen and Bob have three married adult children, all of whom are EU graduates, and five grandchildren. She has an affinity for travel and has visited over 60 countries, with more trips to plan in the future.

Dr. Sarah Walters

Mills Award

Dr. Sarah Walters, assistant professor of kinesiology and program coordinator for EU’s master of organizational leadership degree, was awarded the Orville & Jewel Mills Young Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching, Scholarship and Service.

The award was established in 2006 by Orville and Jewel Mills to recognize the academic work of outstanding young professors. Orville Mills is a retired comptroller of Exxon-Mobile and serves EU as a trustee emeritus. The couple’s three daughters are graduates of Evangel.

Walters began teaching at EU in 2011, though her connection to the university began while earning her master’s degree in organizational leadership. During her time as a student, she worked in the Athletic Department, and this work parlayed into a full-time teaching position.

Through her innovative program development and focused energy, Walters has grown the Kinesiology Department into a strong recruiting source for the university. Using her passion for the field of athletic training, she served as the head athletic trainer from 2011-2016.

“Sarah’s potential is easily recognizable,” said Dr. Keith Hardy, Kinesiology Department chair. “Her faith, work ethic, positive attitude, and leadership skills propelled her to the top of the nominee list for the Mills Award. She is an outstanding person and a great colleague to work with.”

Under her leadership, the university secured accreditation for its Kinesiology bachelor’s and master’s professional programs with the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education.

Walters strives to uncover the leadership potential in all of her students, and her recent doctoral dissertation work on identifying hope as a clear measurement to successful strategic plan implementation highlights her optimistic attitude towards leadership in the workplace.

Walters is a certified athletic trainer and serves as a PRN athletic trainer for Cox Health. She holds membership in a variety of organizations, including the International Leadership Association, Society for Human Resource Management, and the National, Mid-America, and Missouri Athletic Trainers Associations.

She is also active within the community, volunteering her time to serve as an assistant coach with the 417 Juniors Volleyball Club, event planning with Ozarks Teen Challenge, serving her local church, and as a previous Red Cross instructor.

Walters holds a Doctor of Philosophy in Organizational Leadership from Regent University, a Master of Organizational Leadership from EU, and a Bachelor of Science in Athletic Training from the University of Central Arkansas.

“I am honored to receive this award,” said Walters. “I love what I do, and the fact that I get to do it with amazing students, faculty, and staff. The Lord led me here, and I’m excited to see what new adventures unfold!”

A native of West Monroe, LA, Walters’ parents worked in the healthcare industry for 30 years before their retirement, and her brother continues the family’s focus on higher education as a math professor at Louisiana Tech University.

When not in the office, Walters enjoys her dogs, hiking, kayaking, traveling, and spending time with her boyfriend.

Both faculty members were nominated by their peers, and both awards come with an unrestricted cash gift.


About Evangel University

Evangel University, with the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary (AGTS), is a comprehensive Christian university committed to excellence in educating and equipping students to serve the Church and society globally. Evangel and AGTS serve more than 2,200 students from all 50 states and numerous foreign countries, offering 70 undergraduate majors and 19 master and doctoral degrees.