Jane Bierdeman-Fike Inspiration Award presented to Harriet Yelon

William Woods University has always taken
measures to honor those individuals who have made a difference.

This year, the
social work department instituted a new award to honor a woman who helped
establish the social work program at WWU””the Jane Bierdeman-Fike Inspiration

Her distinguished career spanned more than 60 years,
45 of them as a psychiatric social worker with the Missouri Department of Mental
Health. From 1962 until 2000, she was the director of psychiatric social work
at Fulton State Hospital.
Not only did Bierdeman-Fike
help establish the social work program at William Woods, she also supported its
students with scholarships and as a mentor. She died in March.
The inaugural Jane Bierdeman-Fike Inspiration
Award was presented to Harriet Yelon, another woman who has made a difference
at William Woods. Yelon has been a prominent member of the campus community for
three decades. She retired
in 2010, but continued to teach on a part-time basis through the fall of 2011.
Yelon says the thing she misses most about teaching is developing
strong relationships with her students and helping those who needed help the
“I hope I have touched students’ lives with knowledge and
have changed their lives in small ways,” she said.  “That’s worth quite a bit when you teach
every week for 25 years.”
Yelon first came to WWU in 1981 to teach sociology and social
work. She has taught upwards of 10 different courses throughout her career at
William Woods, including Women in Society, Social Movements of the 1960s, Race
and Ethnicity and Ethics in Social Science.
The Jane Bierdeman-Fike Inspiration Award was not
the first recognition she has received for her efforts. In 1992, she was the recipient of the
Louis D. Beaumont Dad’s Association Distinguished Professor Award for
Excellence in Teaching, and in 1999 she won the Governor’s Award for Excellence
in Teaching.
Yelon received the latest award based on the
contributions she has made within the social work department, as well as the
campus as a whole. In addition to her academic responsibilities, Yelon was the
adviser of the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity for four years.
“Harriet has always been an inspiration,” Tony
Weed, former president of Phi Gamma Delta, said. “Her dedication, caring
attitude, wealth of knowledge, and unwavering support have been essential to my
continued education and individual growth.”
He added, “I cannot think of anyone more
deserving of this award, and we (the men of Phi Gamma Delta) wish her even more
success in her future endeavors.”
Harriet Yelon with her latest award, the Jane
Bierdeman-Fike Inspiration Award.

Elizabeth Wilson, director of the social work program, with Harriet Yelon.

Colleagues George Garner, Elizabeth Wilson, Harriet Yelon and Shawn Hull.