Published May 17, 2019
Wittenberg Alumni & Friends,
What a weekend! Commencement was on May 11, and the day proved a perfect one to celebrate our graduates' many accomplishments and formally welcome them into the Wittenberg alumni family. Sincerest thanks to all the alumni who played a role in this ceremony, including The Rev. Jonathan Eilert '93, chair of our Board of Directors, Allison Scaia '09, president of our Alumni Board, and our honorary degree recipient, Dr. P. Kay Carl '59, who offered wonderful words of wisdom to the Class of 2019 in her brief remarks. The event was live-streamed, an archive of which can be found here. To access, click the on-demand tab and then select Wittenberg Commencement.
This month has also been an exciting one in the Office of Advancement as I was able to announce two new divisional leaders. Beginning July 15, our new Vice President for Advancement and Alumni Engagement Rebecca Kocher will be joining our community. Prior to her arrival, 2010 Wittenberg alumnus Andrew Steele will join us on June 1 as our new Assistant Vice President for Advancement and Director of Campaigns. As I shared last time, it was essential that we found leaders committed to our mission who will bring innovation, excitement, and a strong desire to partner with you in our future success. I believe we have found both in Becky and Andrew, each of whom you can read more about below.
I am also pleased to announce that A.S. Vikki Hooper, class of 1978 and past president of the Wittenberg Alumni Board, has agreed to serve on our Board of Directors. More on Vikki's election will be forthcoming, but I hope you'll join me in congratulating her.
In addition, I want to thank everyone who participated in our Commit to Witt Day of Giving, April 24. We surpassed our goal of 500 donors, landing at 626 donors and raising a one-day total of $123,288. A special thank you goes to Ho Pak Kong, class of 1950, who provided a $20,000 challenge gift to support this 24-hour effort.
While I already miss the energy that students bring to the campus, I also know that our summer will be busy as we prepare to welcome our newest students on August 15. May your summer be one of renewal and of continuing to pass your light on to others.
Michael Frandsen, Ph.D.
Nearly 400 members of the Class of 2019 crossed the stage in picturesque Commencement Hollow during Wittenberg's 169th Commencement exercises on May 11. Highlights included: educational leader P. Kay Carl '59, Ph.D., being recognized with an honorary degree and sharing some words of wisdom; twins Ashley and Emma Byrd being able to graduate together at Wittenberg despite Ashley graduating from a different school, and tons of applause for Irene Bilal-Engle, the oldest graduate on record at age 78.
At the second annual Black Congratulatory Dinner celebrating students of color and those representing various nationalities, 10 students were recognized with awards that honored excellence in academics, athletics, bridge building across cultures, and other areas. New this year was the Jimmy Williams Memorial Award in honor of the late Jimmy Williams, senior associate director of admission and coordinator of multicultural recruitment. This annual event was founded last year by Julius Bailey, associate professor of philosophy.
Investing in Students
While students enjoy summer break, Wittenberg will continue in its efforts to enhance its student-centered, living-learning environment by investing more than $1 million to renovate and upgrade several facilities on campus, including Ferncliff Hall, Firestine Hall, Hollenbeck Hall, Recitation Hall, the McClain Center for Diversity, and the Matthies House. WHIO-TV did a special report on this investment.
Rebecca Kocher, associate vice president for alumni relations, annual giving and development operations at Bowling Green State University, will serve as Wittenberg’s new vice president for advancement and alumni engagement. Kocher brings more than 13 years of experience in higher education fundraising to her new role, which she is expected to begin on July 15.
Alumnus Named AVP
Andrew G. Steele ’10, current director for global mission funding at the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and a member of the Wittenberg Alumni Board, will return to his alma mater to serve as assistant vice president for advancement and director of campaigns. Steele is expected to begin his new responsibilities on June 1.
Wittenberg alumni are making an impact in everything they do, both in their careers and their communities. The Alumni Association annually recognizes and celebrates our outstanding alumni at an awards ceremony during Homecoming weekend.
You are invited to nominate alumni deserving of recognition. There are no restrictions on the number of nominations you may submit, and those submitting nominations do not need to be graduates of Wittenberg University. With the exception of the Alumnus/a of the Year, awards may be awarded to multiple recipients in a year, at the discretion of the committee.
In a recent Q & A, Barbara Randazzo, executive director of the School of Graduate and Professional Studies (GPS), shared her vision for the division that serves adult and nontraditional learners through graduate programs and the organizational leadership major, as well as music lessons for local youth and the College Credit Plus Program for junior high and high school students.
Court of Honor Award
Delta Tau Delta recently honored the Iota Beta chapter at Wittenberg with the Court of Honor award at the Fraternity’s Northern Division Leadership Conference for excellence in chapter finance, recruitment, membership education, academics, alumni relations, and community service. The chapter also was recognized for overall GPA among its members.
What is the meaning of life? Do humans have free will? Does God exist? These are a few of the questions that philosophers debate, and Professor of Philosophy Nancy McHugh is collaborating with other professionals in her field to bring those conversations out of the classroom and into public spaces.
Meet the Alumni Board
As the governing body of the Wittenberg University Alumni Association, the Alumni Board regularly returns to campus to interact with current students, highlight faculty excellence, foster alumni engagement, support fundraising, and partner with admission in encouraging prospective students to make Wittenberg their college choice. This month's featured board member is Mary Howell '00, who has spent 20 years successfully directing and building non-profit ministries, government organizations, and a corporation, all while encouraging community engagement through collaborative efforts. A former risk analyst with Bank One who transitioned to non-profit management and served as city manager for two municipalities, Howell currently serves as the COO and CFO of a cybersecurity corporation in Charleston, South Carolina, where she also continues to be involved in philanthropic endeavors.
Wittenberg connections have served Julia Kregenow ’01 well in her career as a professor of astronomy and astrophysics at The Pennsylvania State University and author of three children’s books.
Steve Moore ’74, one of the the most successful basketball coaches in NCAA history, regardless of division, will be inducted into the Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame in May 18, along with fellow Wittenberg great Larry Baker '71, featured in the April communication. Moore has compiled a stunning career record of 846-245 in 38 years as a head coach at Muhlenberg and Wooster. He ranks 12th all-time among NCAA men’s coaches and second within NCAA Division III in total coaching victories.
Ronnie Ross ’09 is taking seriously Wittenberg’s challenge to its students to become a responsible global citizen. Ross announced in June 2018 that he would run for the Virginia Senate and has been on the campaign trail for about a year now as only Virginia and New Jersey have odd election years.
Wittenberg “opened a lot of doors” for former international student Kantaro Suzuki ’08 who now works as a freelance reporter based in Tokyo. A former news assistant at The New York Times, Suzuki also previously worked for Buzzfeed Japan and for a Manila newspaper.
The Office of Advancement currently has two opportunities available: an associate/assistant director of leadership gifts and a director of advancement information and analytics. To apply for either post, please visit the Office of Human Resources' website via the link below.