SIOUX CITY, Iowa – Briar Cliff University will present its annual Community Awards at BCU’s 83rd commencement, Saturday, May 17, 2014, 10 a.m., at the Orpheum Theatre in Sioux City. During the ceremony, Beverly A. Wharton, BCU president, will bestow the Briar Cliff University Medal and Spirit of Saint Francis Award.
Established in 1973,the Briar Cliff Medal recognizes human services by persons who have made great contributions to Briar Cliff or have made significant contributions to education, religion or government.
This year’s recipient of the Briar Cliff Medal will be Leonard Gill. A native of Jackson, Neb., Gill attended Jackson Public Schools and Bishop Heelan High School, Sioux City. After graduation, he served in the U.S. Army and later began a long and successful career in construction.
Prominent business and community leader, Gill is the founder and previous owner/operator of Gill Construction. He also founded L. P. Gill Landfill west of Jackson, Neb., which provides waste disposal and recycling services to communities in the tri-state area. He later offered the capital to develop and build the L.P. Gill Landfill Gas Recovery Project, an environmentally-friendly business that captures methane gas from the L.P. Gill Landfill and pipes it to a nearby ethanol plant.
Gill is a member of the Siouxland Chamber, the South Sioux City Chamber, the Knights of Columbus and serves on the Omaha Archdiocesan Council for Development. A former trustee on the Briar Cliff University Board, he has garnered numerous honors for his business leadership and community involvement, including the South Sioux City Chamber Entrepreneur-of-the-Year Award and the Dakota County Developer-of-the-Year Award.
His contributions to Siouxland also have been recognized with the Rotary Club’s Service-Above-Self Award and the W. Edwards Deming Entrepreneurial Excellence Award by the Siouxland Chamber of Commerce. He and his wife, Roberta, have four children Robert, Jean, Bernie and Ginger, 13 grandchildren and two great grandchildren.
The Sisters of Saint Francis of Dubuque, Iowa, will be this year’s recipients of the Spirit of Saint Francis Award. Established in 2006, this award honors those exemplifying the Franciscan spirit of service, caring and openness to all through contributions to society and by leading a values-centered life.
Accepting the award will be Sister Nancy Schreck, president of the Sisters of Saint Francis and BCU’s Board of Trustees; and Sister Margaret Wick, vice president of the Sisters of Saint Francis and former president of Briar Cliff.
Founded 150 years ago in Herford, Germany, the mission of the Sisters remains rooted in the Gospel and in the spirit of Saint Francis and Saint Clare. Over the years, they have served as missionaries in North, South and Central America and Asia and established care facilities for orphans and the elderly, schools and hospitals in the U.S. and abroad.
Among their many local accomplishments in Sioux City are the founding of Briar Cliff University; St. Anthony’s Home, an orphanage; Villa Maria, which provided social service to the community with the guidance of Catholic Charities; Clare House, which assists women in their transition out of prison; providing education at Sacred Heart in Riverside, Saint Michael’s Catholic School in Leeds; and Bishop Heelan Catholic High School; and serving at Mercy Sioux City.
Today, the Sisters are comprised of 256 sisters who are pastoral associates, chaplains, spiritual directors, educators, social workers, health care workers, alternative health therapists and volunteers for many other religious and civic organizations in response to people who are in need in 15 states and three countries.