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Ashli Watts, commencement speaker, receives Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award

Ashli Watts, commencement speaker, receives Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award
Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award winner, second from left, was Ashli Schmidt Watts, a 2004 Campbellsville University graduate who was the commencement speaker. From left are Henry Lee, chair of the Campbellsville University Board of Trustees; Watts; Dr. Michael V. Carter, president; and Dr. Donna Hedgepath, provost and vice president for academic affairs. (CU Photo by Ariel C. Emberton)

By Ian McAninch, student intern writer, Office of University Communications

CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky. – Ashli Watts, senior vice president of public affairs for the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, and the commencement ceremony guest speaker at Campbellsville University on Saturday, May 4, was presented with the 2019 Algernon Sullivan Award.

Dr. Michael V. Carter, along with Board of Trustees Chairman Henry Lee and Dr. Donna Hedgepath, provost and vice president for academic affairs, presented the award to Watts.

Dr. Carter said “We are very honored this morning to present the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Awards for the eleventh consecutive year.”

“Campbellsville University was selected in 2002 to participate in this very prestigious awards program that honors the memory and legacy of the late Algernon Sydney Sullivan.  There are some 70 colleges and universities in the South that are approved by the Sullivan Foundation to annually present these awards to one graduating senior and to one adult from the community.”

“Mr. Sullivan was a lawyer, devout Christian, mediator, powerful and appealing orator, a courageous citizen during perilous times, a noted philanthropist and a devoted family man.  In the words of a friend, Sullivan ‘reached out both hands in constant helpfulness to others.’”

“In 1890, three years after his death, a memorial committee was formed – former President Grover Cleveland was among the group’s members.  The members charged themselves with keeping alive the attributes demonstrated by Mr. Sullivan.  The original group passed along the task to the New York Southern Society, which later passed on the torch of remembering Mr. Sullivan’s ideals to the Sullivan Foundation formed in 1934.”

Watts joined the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce in November of 2012.  Prior to joining the Chamber, she worked at the Kentucky Bar Association and the Legislative Research Commission.

Watts graduated from Campbellsville University with a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and History in 2004 and holds a Master’s Degree in Public Policy and Administration from the University of Louisville.

Dr. Carter said “During her time at Campbellsville University, Ashli was very active in campus life, served as Student Government Association president, was an academic honors graduate, and participated in a number of student activities and organizations.”

“Ashli is very active in a number of organizations and serves as a member of the Board of Directors of Prevent Child Abuse Kentucky, a statewide nonprofit organization through which she works with others in raising awareness on issues related to preventing child abuse and neglect. Ashli and her family are active members of First United Methodist Church in Frankfort. She currently resides in Frankfort with her husband Ryan and their two children, Emma and Carter, who join us today for the ceremony, along with other family and friends.”

Campbellsville University is a widely-acclaimed Kentucky-based Christian university with more than 12,000 students offering over 100 programs of study including Ph.D., master, baccalaureate, associate, pre-professional and certification programs. The university has off-campus centers in Kentucky cities Louisville, Harrodsburg, Somerset, Hodgenville and Liberty with instructional sites in Elizabethtown, Owensboro and Summersville. The website for complete information is

Campbellsville University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award certificates, associate, baccalaureate, masters and doctoral degrees. Contact the Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097 or call 404-679-4500 for questions about the status of Campbellsville University.