Luncheon Recognizes Outstanding Columbus State Alumni

COLUMBUS, Ga. — Five Columbus State University alumni will be honored during an Oct. 22 Alumni Recognition Luncheon that’s a key event in CSU’s inaugural Alumni Weekend.

Seats are still available for the 12:30 p.m. Saturday luncheon at the Coca-Cola Space Science Center, either as an individual event costing $15 a person, or as part of a $40 weekend package covering all Oct. 21-22 events. For information on all events and to register, follow the links at

Alumni WeekendNon-alumni are welcome at the luncheon, and friends and family of the honorees are encouraged to attend.

Those being honored at the event and awards they’re receiving are:

  • S. Scott Voynich, Alumni Service Award. Voynich attended Columbus College from 1972-1974 before completing his bachelor’s degree in accounting at what’s now the University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business in 1975. A longtime donor to Columbus State, Voynich is a member of the Tower Society, whose members pledge to support CSU with a minimum annual gift of $1,000. He is a past Annual Fund chair and currently serves on the CSU Planned Giving Council. A CPA, Voynich is the managing partner of Robinson, Grimes & Co., Columbus’ largest public accounting firm.
  • Brenda Coakley Williams, Alumni Service Award. Williams, B.S. 1992, has been a CSU Day and corporate volunteer since 1999. During the 2010-2011 Annual Fund campaign, she served as the corporate chair, increasing donations by 28 percent. Williams is the regional manager of the Commercial Real Estate Division of Columbus Bank and Trust.
  • Nicole de Vries, Young Alumna Award. De Vries, BBA 2007, is now serving as CSU Alumni Association board member. She was also active as a student, serving as president of the Student Government Association and in leadership roles with other groups and programs. Now manager of academic data at Columbus State, she’s also an active volunteer, working with the Jaycees, American Heart Association, St. Jude’s Hospital, Relay for Life, Alzheimer’s Association and Steeplechase, Callaway Gardens’ annual fund-raising event. This past year, de Vries was named Georgia’s “Jaycee of the Year” and was profiled in Columbus and the Valley magazine’s annual “Five Under Forty” feature on “up-and-comers worthy of recognition for their efforts to promote their community and help other people.”
  • Steve Taylor, Excellence in Alumni Achievement. Taylor, BBA 1977, is a founding member of the Tower Society and recently helped provide cash prizes for the university’s first annual business plan competition, organized by the Turner College of Business and Computer Science. Taylor has also helped support the Columbus Research Foundation, GameDay for Heroes and Wounded Warriors. Taylor started his career with CB&T and later worked for Aflac before starting his first company, CheckCare Systems. That business grew to 47 locations and served 70,000 merchants before he sold the company in 1999. He later started Transcom Payment Services and then sold it in 2005 to Merchant e-Solutions.
  • Charles F. Merkel Jr., Distinguished Alumnus in Military Service. Merkel, B.A. 1975, served as an Army officer for more than 20 years, including a stint at Fort Benning while he earned degrees in both English and history from Columbus College. A master Army aviator, he flew helicopters in Vietnam and Korea, worked as an intelligence officer and civil affairs officer, served as a test pilot and ended his Army career at the rank of major, serving as a test engineer working with armored ground vehicles. After retiring, he worked as a defense contractor with an Air Force missile program. He also continued his education, earning a master’s in education from Troy University and a Ph.D. in history from Florida State University. He currently serves as the historian for the 53rd Wing at Eglin Air Force Base (Florida) and spent several months in Afghanistan in 2009-2010 in a similar role.
  • Steve Morse, CSU Alumni Association Faculty-Staff Appreciation Award. Morse, the sole non-alumnus honoree, plays a key behind-the-scenes role at Columbus State as director of Logistic Services for the past eight years. His office plays a role in virtually every event held on CSU’s two campuses, as well as many off-campus events involving Columbus State interests. His office, part of CSU Plant Operations, also manages campus signage.

For more information on the luncheon or other Alumni Weekend events, contact Alumni Relations Director Jennifer Joyner at 706-507-8956 or

# # #