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BCC Foundation honors Mary Cohen with Distinguished Service Award
new BCC distinguished award cohen

The Barton Community College Foundation honored Dr. Mary Davidson Cohen with the 2013 Distinguished Service Award during Barton’s 43rd commencement on Friday. Cohen was unable to attend, but Barton Foundation Director Darnell Holopirek accepted the award on her behalf.  
The Distinguished Service Award was created in 1981 by the Barton Community College Foundation to recognize individuals who have shown genuine regard for, and have performed outstanding service to Barton Community College. The Barton Foundation Board of Directors selects the recipient from nominations received.
Cohen said she really appreciates the award, and stressed that what the award signifies is what is primary.
“Awards are really nice, but I think what the award stands for is what is really important,” she said. “This award stands for the college and how it creates opportunities and serves as an asset for this community that really helps provide stability in this area.  The college provides jobs, education and cultural activities.”
Dr. Cohen received a doctorate in education administration from the University of Kansas in 1977. In 2002, she began serving as the Secretary for Education’s Regional Representative under Secretary Rod Paige.
Holopirek said Dr. Cohen is very deserving of the award.
“Mary really sees how important philanthropy is, and we are blessed that she has chosen Barton to be a benefactor of her gifts, not only financially but through friendship, enthusiasm and encouragement,” she said.  
In 2005, Dr. Cohen and her late husband Bart donated their extensive collection of Kansas History Literature that is housed in the Learning Resource Center in a dedicated space they also funded, which is called The Cohen Center for Kansas History. They also established an endowment for maintenance of the center and collection. Their commitment to this project inspired the complete renovation of the Learning Resource Center by the college in 2008, a project they also helped support. Today, the Cohen Center boasts one of the most extensive collections of research resources in the state. The center is open to not only Barton students, but community members as well.
Holopirek said the college’s relationship with the Cohens has been mutually beneficial.
“They fell in love with Barton and Barton has fallen in love with them,” she said.  
Since Bart’s death in 2006, Mary has continued her support of and generosity to the college, most recently with an unrestricted gift to be used at the discretion of the Foundation Board of Directors.
“Mary has continued to support almost every endeavor that we have,” Holopirek said of Mary’s continued dedication to the college.  “She has truly gained our respect and devotion, and embodies everything that a true philanthropist is.”