John G. Reese, Wilkes University's former Athletic Director for 34 years (1958-1992) and Head Wrestling Coach for 42 years (1953-1995), was chosen as this year's recipient of the President's Medal.
Coach Reese is one of the winningest coaches in NCAA wrestling history with 515 wins. Under his leadership, the wrestling program gained national attention with 40 winning seasons, 14 MAC titles, the 1974 Division III National Championship and a nationally ranked Division I program. He was also responsible for creating the Wilkes Open, “The Rose Bowl of Wrestling” which is held annually during the Christmas holiday. During his tenure as Athletic Director, Wilkes experienced significant growth in both men's and women’s varsity sports teams and the construction of the Marts Center was completed. He has been inducted into ten sports Halls of Fame including the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.
Reese's devotion to his late wife, Patsy, is widely known. He and his family have established The Patricia "Patsy" Reese Annual Nursing Scholarship in her memory. Wilkes appreciates his dedication, loyalty and many years of service to the University.
A First Generation Scholarship Fund recipient
Coming from a family that is only $3,000 above the poverty line is not something easy to deal with. As a high school senior, I balanced a part-time job at 30 hours a week and college preparatory classes, receiving honors throughout all of my years attending. This was not a stress-free road that I have traveled, worrying about bills, food and other miscellaneous things. When I applied to Wilkes University, I did not think I was going to be able to afford to attend. Then I received my financial aid package, noticing that I was awarded the First Generation Scholarship. This scholarship put me right to the point where I knew I was going to be able to afford college. If it were not for this award I am not sure if I could have attended this prestigious college. I am pleased to say that I will be remaining at Wilkes University to complete my bachelor’s degree in nursing I thank the donors who made this possible. When I step onto the campus at Wilkes University I feel as my dreams are already in hand, and my aspirations have been grasped.