Michael “Mike” Aiken Receives Bill J. Leonard Distinguished Service Award

For his lifetime service to the community, Michael “Mike” Aiken (pictured left) will receive this year’s Bill J. Leonard Distinguished Service Award Pro Fide Et Humanitate from the Wake Forest University School of Divinity. Aiken, who graduated from Wake Forest in 1971, has served as executive director of Greensboro Urban Ministry, a non-profit organization that serves the Greater Greensboro area, for more than 25 years. The agency offers emergency financial assistance, food assistance, emergency and transitional shelter, and rapid re-housing.

The award, established by James M. Dunn, Resident Professor of Christianity and Public Policy, and his wife, Marilyn, honors the life contributions of Bill J. Leonard as teacher, scholar, historian, and first dean of the School of Divinity. Awarded annually by the faculty, recipients are faculty, alumni, or friends of the school who embody the principle of Wake Forest’s motto of Pro Humanitate and the School’s mission to educate agents of justice, reconciliation, and compassion in Christian churches and other ministries.

“Mike’s ministry and commitments embody what we as a faculty hope all of our students will do and be when they graduate,” said Gail R. O’Day, Dean of the School of Divinity (pictured right). “Greensboro Urban Ministry is also one of our most important ministry partners in preparing our students for religious leadership.”

Greensboro Urban Ministry is a field placement site for students in the School’s Art of Ministry program, a curricular component that facilitates students’ beginning formation in the life and work of ministry.

Aiken, who majored in biology at Wake Forest, also holds a Master of Divinity degree from Duke and interned in the School of Pastoral Care at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.  He is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ. In 2011, he received an honorary doctorate degree from Greensboro College and recently received the Unsung Hero Award from the Bryan Foundation. In 2012, Aiken received Wake Forest University’s Distinguished Alumni Award. He is a former member of the advisory council of the School of Divinity and has served as a chair or on the board of several organizations, including the North Carolina Disaster Recovery Committee and the Community Coalition of Partners Ending Homelessness.

“When Dean O’Day informed me of this honor, I was deeply moved and humbled,” said Aiken. “I am so proud of the work of the School of Divinity. Nothing means more to me than to be honored by my alma mater for the service I have rendered as a minister serving the poor in the name of our Lord.”

Craig Siler (’73, MBA ’03), current chairperson of the School of Divinity Board of Visitors and board member of Greensboro Urban Ministry, is one of Aiken’s closest colleagues. “Mike’s deeds, large and small, are important and are representative of the ideals of the Distinguished Service Award,” said Siler. “Being closely connected with the people Greensboro Urban Ministry serves gives Mike a more personal way to interact and then represent their needs.”

Aiken will be presented the Bill J. Leonard Distinguished Service Award Pro Fide Et Humanitate at the School of Divinity’s Hooding Ceremony  for the 2014 graduating class on Saturday evening, May 17 in Wait Chapel.


Links of Interest
View a tribute to Mike and his acceptance remarks from the 2012 Distinguished Alumni Awards.


Media Contact: Mark Batten; 336.758.3748

Categories: Awards, Faculty, News