Four members of the Washington University in St. Louis community are being honored with the Gerry & Bob Virgil Ethic of Service Awards.
The annual award, presented by the Community Service Office of the Gephardt Institute for Public Service, recognizes WUSTL community members who exemplify a character of service and giving to the St. Louis region. All students, faculty, staff, alumni, retirees and volunteers are eligible to receive the award.
This year’s honorees are: Kailey Burger, second-year law student; Preethi Kembaiyan, a senior in Arts & Sciences; Paul Tice, who earned bachelor’s and law degrees from the university; and Virginia Dowsing Toliver, associate dean of WUSTL Libraries.
The honorees will be recognized at an April 18 private reception and dinner.
Nomination criteria includes: compassion for others; passion for a social, cultural or economic issue; positive impact on the St. Louis community; serving the community as a way of life; going above and beyond professional responsibilities; demonstrating selflessness; inspiring others; and positively influencing public perception of St. Louis.
Founded during the university’s Sesquicentennial year, the award is named for Gerry and Bob Virgil. For more than 30 years, the couple has represented the qualities of service and giving exemplified by this award, both together and individually. For more information about the award, visit ethicofservice.wustl.edu.
“Cheerfully” is the closing second-year law student Burger uses when ending her emails to others. Whether she is performing legal research for WUSTL’s Juvenile Rights and Re-Entry Project or pulling together the many moving parts of her annual NorthSide 3 on 3 Basketball Tournament and Community Fair, Burger has the remarkable ability to leave others with a feeling of good cheer.
Before attending WUSTL, Burger attended Truman State University, where she graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in political science. There, she served as a youth mentor at the Adair County Juvenile Center.
As an undergraduate, Burger established the NorthSide 3 on 3 Basketball Tournament and Community Fair in 2008. This program allows hundreds of area young people the opportunity to meet and compete for prizes in a fun sporting event, while also providing access to free health screenings, school supplies and social services.
Burger’s passion for public service projects has continued during her law studies where she serves as co-director of the Public Service Advisory Board and as the law school representative for the Community Service Office’s Graduate & Professional Advisory Council. Burger combined her heart for service with her political interests by establishing the Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Literacy Project, which pairs law students with public school classes to teach constitutional law.
Burger also is an invaluable asset to the law school’s Juvenile Rights and Re-Entry Project. This project provides free legal representation to St. Louis area youth as part of the larger Legal Clinic.
“We are so very lucky to count Burger among our law students — she makes the world a better place every day,” says Mae Quinn, JD, LLM, professor of law and one of Burger’s nominators.
Kembaiyan is a senior in anthropology in Arts & Sciences and public health student by day, budding social worker between classes, student group leader and nonprofit developer by night, and St. Louis activist by weekend.
Kembaiyan’s unique passion for others began to manifest in high school, where she established service clubs in her hometown of The Woodlands, Texas. Her passion has continued to grow at WUSTL, where she founded a student-run nonprofit dedicated to helping Ugandan youth. Kembaiyan has rallied students as president of GlobeMed, an organization that seeks to improve the health of those living in poverty, and inspired her peers through fundraising and grant-writing pursuits on behalf of GlobeMed’s partner NGO (non-governmental organization) in Uganda.
Kembaiyan formerly interned at Urban Studio Café, a nonprofit café in Old North St. Louis that seeks to foster a sense of strong community, creativity, knowledge and enrichment while providing a quality cup of coffee. Today, Kembaiyan has remained friends with many residents of Old North.
Her five nominators highlighted the way she inspires the WUSTL community by teaching “more about St. Louis, both its faults and beauties, than any tour, class or research project could.”
Kembaiyan believes in remedying problems ranging from economic hardships in Old North to human rights abuses in Uganda. Her compassion bridges divides and strengthens communities, and she changes lives and challenges others to follow her lead through her tireless efforts toward social justice.
Paul N. Tice
Tice learned the importance of public service at a young age from his parents who were zealous advocates for his sister who has Down Syndrome. Based on this formative experience, he began acting on his commitments by serving on the board of Rainbow Village, a provider of housing for people with developmental disabilities, which his parents helped start.
Thereafter, he joined, and later chaired, the Productive Living Board, a government entity providing significant funding to nonprofits serving individuals with developmental disabilities in St. Louis County. He also has served in leadership roles with other nonprofits, including Lutheran Family and Children’s Services and the Lutheran Foundation. Paul shares his dedication to service with his wife, WUSTL alumna Nancy Parker Tice, also a leader in several nonprofits.
Tice earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration in 1990 and a law degree in 1994 from WUSTL. In his eclectic professional career, Tice has been a CPA, an attorney, and now serves as chief investment officer at Argos Investment Advisors LLC. His passion for service, however, extends beyond his professional work. While participating in the Leadership St. Louis program, Tice realized one of the keys to addressing social justice issues is public education, and he focused his efforts on the emerging educational reform movement in Missouri.
In 2003, Tice helped found the nonprofit Confluence Academy, a school system designed to give at-risk children the best opportunity to grow and develop their talents. Confluence began with one campus, 200 students and a budget of a few million dollars; it has grown into the largest nonprofit charter school provider in Missouri with five campuses. Tice applies both his skills and passions as a member of the Confluence board, primarily by managing several complex financings involving tax exempt bonds and various tax credit programs.
Virginia Dowsing Toliver
Toliver was born in rural Mississippi and, though her parents lived next door, she was raised primarily by her grandmother who had a second-grade education.
After positions at Alcorn State University and University of Southern Mississippi, Toliver was selected for a prestigious Council of Library Resources Academic Library Management Internship and assigned to Washington University in 1981 where she was hired by the Libraries to oversee personnel and budget.
According to her nominator Shirley Baker, vice chancellor for scholarly resources and dean of Libraries, Toliver lives and breathes service. She treats all staff fairly and humanely and gives them opportunities to grow, serving as a counselor, mentor and adviser to many. Toliver has touched the lives of students through service on the Chancellor’s Roundtable on African American Student Recruitment, the W.E.B. DuBois Awards committee, and as a progress counselor. Students regularly pop into her office for support or to joyously share an accomplishment.
Outside the university community, Toliver has served for many years as an HIV/AIDS support group facilitator, is a life member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. and long-time member of the United Way’s Charmaine Chapman Society.
“Virginia devotes the majority of her free time to helping others and to community engagement,” Baker says. “She is guided by a strong work ethic, determination, and a compassion for humankind.”