NAWM Honors Outstanding Alumni & Facultyby Jim Amidon • September 29, 2012
The National Association of Wabash Men honored its own — and welcomed two new members into the ranks of honorary alumni — at Saturday’s Homecoming Alumni Chapel.
NAWM President Greg Castanias ’87 served as master of ceremonies for the annual event, at which the alumni board pays tribute to Wabash alumni for their career and civic contributions, as well as to those whose volunteer efforts support Wabash’s Admissions Office and the Schroeder Center for Career Development.
President Patrick White offered a warm welcome "home" to the alumni and friends who returned for Wabash's 100th Homecoming Celebration. The Alumni Glee Club, returning to campus to celebrate the 120th anniversary of the Club's founding, also performed in Chapel.
The NAWM’s newest award, the Outstanding Young Alumnus Award, was renamed this year to honor the memory of Jeremy Robert Wright, Class of 1996, who was an All-American distance runner and honors graduate during his time at Wabash. He died while serving as a Green Beret in Afghanistan in 2005.
Jeremy's parents, Dale Wright and Jackie Nickel, were on hand for the first presentation of the award named in memory of their son.
The first recipient of the Jeremy Robert Wright Award was Michael B. Bricker ’04, who was honored for his entrepreneurial approach to urban development. Bricker was unable to attend the event while he works as production designer on a motion picture being shot in Maine, but Castanias paid tribute to the talented and creative alumnus.
“Your work has been described as both innovative and subversive — using zero-waste, collaborative design and fashion to create objects of desire — that people want to buy, thereby creating jobs and economic impact while reducing urban waste,” Castanias said. “We salute you today for the force with which you live your life and the inspiration you provide in others. Rather than waiting on others to find solutions to our most pressing urban problems, you say, ‘What can we do next week or next month that says, We can make a difference today, right now?’”
Judge William I. Garrard ’54 received the Fredrick J. Urbaska Civic Service Award for his outstanding three-decade career on the Indiana Court of Appeals.
“Judge Garrard, too often men of your intellect and integrity leave the bench for far more lucrative careers as corporate counsel or in private practice,” said Castanias in tribute.
“As a scholar and a teacher of the judicial process, you raised the intellectual level of the judging process in the State of Indiana through a lifetime of study and active application of what you have learned.”
Dr. J. Marc Overhage ’79 received the Clarence A. Jackson Career Service Award for his “astonishing career as a teacher, physician, administrator, and innovator in medical informatics.”
Overhage, chief medical informatics officer for Siemens Healthcare, is a fellow of the prestigious Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences.
“In your work over the last 25 years as the director of medical informatics and research scientist at the Regenstrief Institute, you have been a leader in the development of clinical health information systems, and have done much to implement protocols and guidelines that bring together the processes by which care is administered while focusing on patient outcomes and safety,” said Castanias in tribute.
The Frank W. Misch Award, which honors alumni for their contributions to Wabash, was shared by Challenge of Excellence Co-Chairs Allan J. Anderson ’65 and Ted R. Grossnickle ’73.
The dynamic duo led Wabash’s campaign in surpassing its original goal a full year ahead of schedule. Formally begun in 2010, the COE generated more than $68 million in gifts and pledges to support students and faculty of the College.
Castanias summarized the success of their work: “Your steady leadership was exemplary, and allowed Wabash to blow past its goal a full year ahead of schedule. Over the course of the campaign, more than 5,600 alumni and friends made contributions — over half the faculty and staff and almost half of the College’s graduates. In addition, the Challenge of Excellence produced 10 new endowed student scholarships, four new faculty chairs, a new Asian Studies program, and many new opportunities for study abroad, immersion learning, and career development”
The warmest moments of the Homecoming Alumni Chapel were felt when two long-time faculty members were welcomed into the ranks of Honorary Alumni. Castanias saluted David J. Hadley (H’76) and David A. Phillips (H’83) for their excellence as teachers, administrators, and scholars.
About Political Science Professor Hadley, Castanias said, “This College is fortunate that you stumbled — literally — onto this campus in the fall of 1969 and grateful that you stayed 43 years to become one of the longest-serving, most-respected professors in Wabash history.
"You arrived here as a calming voice in turbulent times while still pursuing your Ph.D. at Indiana University. For decades thereafter, you worked alongside Phil Mikesell and Melissa Butler in what would become one of the strongest political science departments around — as evidenced by the disproportionately large number of Wabash men who became exceptional lawyers, scholars, and public servants.”
Professor Phillips joined the chemistry department faculty in 1968 and for 36 years served as a tough, but fair teacher who demanded — at all times — his students’ best efforts. Castanias honored him for his good teaching, but also his work on the College’s stunning Hays Hall science facility and his service across the College.
“The men of Wabash welcome you into our ranks as an alumnus because of your excellence as a teacher; for your fabulous mind; and the tough love you showed your students,” said Castanias.
“You were known to console disappointed students after exams by saying, ‘Well, you didn’t expect it to be easy, did you?’ as you flashed them your famous smile. At fraternity dinners and campus events, you could carry on conversations about historic Monon Bell games, the element Boron, and the symphonies of Wagner — simultaneously. Your thirst for knowledge and capacity to retain it inspired generations of students of the liberal arts, and we are all better for it.”
Castanias also saluted alumni volunteers to the Admissions Office and the Schroeder Center for Career Development. Receiving honors as Alumni Admissions Fellows were Peter F. Horvath ’92 and David J. Wagner ’05.
Erik V. Ness ’94 and David A. Reed ’89 were saluted as Alumni Career Services Fellows for their work in hiring Wabash interns and supporting Wabash’s innovative efforts to prepare Wabash students for their post-graduate lives.