COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) — Columbus State University’s Alumni Association hosted their annual Alumni Recognition Awards Thursday night as a part of the university’s Homecoming Week celebration.

CSU alum gathered at the Green Island Country Club for a night dedicated to those giving back to the university and working towards CSU’s mission: making Columbus a better place.

Columbus City Councilman Jerry “Pops” Barnes. received the university’s most prestigious alumni award. Barnes wears many hats: US Army veteran, CSU alumni board member and now, a recipient of the Thomas Y. Whitley Distinguished Alumnus Award, named after CSU’s first president.

Barnes was 58-years-old when he started at CSU. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in nursing after retiring from the Army. Before becoming a councilman, he started the Pan Columbus Wellness project, a community service initiative to provide free health education and screenings.

Barnes is appreciative of the award, but says he should be the one giving CSU an award.

CSU encompasses everything that a university is supposed to. A university is supposed to impart education. That’s what CSU does. They got me and they encouraged me. I had been out of school for a long time. I started when I was 58 years old and they encouraged me.

Councilman Jerry “Pops” Barnes, Award recipient

The CSU Alumni Association Executive Director, Katie Evans, says Barnes is very deserving of the distinctive recognition.

If you’ve ever met Pops, you know that he is effervescent and he is just a great spokesperson for anything that he’s attached to. We really enjoy having him on the board and knew that he was worthy of the highest distinction that an alum can receive from Columbus State.

Katie Evans, CSU Alumni Association Executive Director

Here is a list of CSU’s top alumni awards:

  • Thomas Y. Whitley Distinguished Alumnus Award: Jerry “Pops” Barnes
  • Frank D. Brown Achievement & Leadership Excellence Award: Teddie Ussery
  • Young Alumni Awards: Evan McGill and Beth Reeves
  • Alumni Service Award: Dr. Kimberly M. Scott 
  • Distinguished Alumnus in Military/Public Service: Retired U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges