NAWM Celebrates Alumni Chapel

by Jim Amidon

October 4, 2008

The Colors of Homecoming: Decorations and More
McLean to be Named Honorary Alum
Steve Charles to be Named Honorary Alum

On a gorgeous, crisp, blue-sky autumn morning on the campus of Wabash College, the National Association of Wabash Men honored its own and welcomed two new members to the alumni ranks.

A large crowd filled the Pioneer Chapel for the 2008 Homecoming Alumni Chapel, which honors the spirit of the late Barney Hollett ’36.

See photos of the Homecoming Alumni Chapel here.

NAWM President Jim Dimos served as master of ceremonies for the occasion, and as a lawyer was clearly pleased when he read the citation that made his former Constitutional Law professor Ed McLean an honorary alumnus.

"Your legendary status derived in part from how effectively you questioned students using the Socratic method," Dimos read. "You were tough but fair, and thus your impact on students was deep and lasting.

"Through your penetrating questions you drew from students knowledge that they did not know they possessed. By helping them to hone their critical thinking skills, you inspired many students to become lawyers and those lawyer alumni tell us that you are both the best and the most challenging law professor they ever had."

Wabash President Pat White welcomed the large crowd home, and said, "Today you honor the College by your presence and by your lives." 

"At this time... this chapel is the center of the world," said White. "All Wabash eyes and hearts are tuned to Wabash today."

Steve Charles, a Hanover graduate who came to Wabash 13 years ago to become editor of Wabash Magazine, was also named honorary alumnus. Charles chose to align himself with the Class of 1970 to honor his late friend, Michael Bachner, long-time bookstore manager who died two years ago.

The citation that honored Charles included comments from two of Wabash’s best know writers, award-winning fiction writer Dan Simmons ’70 and Time magazine Latin America Bureau Chief Tim Padgett ’84. Both have been contributors to Wabash Magazine — and both have been brutally edited by Charles (pictured left with son John).

Quoting Dan Simmons, Dimos said, "Every organization or corporation — even Wabash College — has people who deeply love and ably serve some part of the institution. They love their discipline or their students, their department or their colleagues. But in any such place there may be only one or two or three people who are so luckily placed to be privileged and capable of loving and serving and representing all of the institution; Steve Charles seems to that rare kind of person at Wabash."

The NAWM also presented three alumni with Awards of Merit. Lee Grogg ’68 received the Fredrick J. Urbaska Civic Service Award for his lifetime contributions in the fields of mental health and caring for foster children. Most recently, Grogg has led Seattle’s Ryther Children’s Center in Seattle, which provides comprehensive services for children who have struggled with foster home placements.

Said Dimos of Grogg, "For a lifetime you have served those who cannot help themselves. You believe that children and people suffering mental health challenges should never have to stand alone, and you have been their champion through responsible leadership, critical thinking, strategic risk-taking, and compassion."

Unable to be present at the Homecoming Alumni Chapel was Stephen Miller ’64, a long-time classicist at the University of California at Berkeley and the archeologist who uncovered the ancient festival site at Nemea, which is thought to have hosted the precursor to the Olympic games. Dr. Miller received the Clarence A. Jackson Career Service Award.

"Experts suggest that his discoveries at the site of Nemea — including a stadium, bathhouse, hotel, and 2,300-year-old starting blocks — are the most significant archeological finds of the last 50 years," said Dimos. "Working with local leaders, Dr. Miller re-established the Nemean Games, modeled after events that transpired more than 2,000 years earlier."

Indianapolis attorney Brad Johnson (right) received the Frank W. Misch Alumni Service Award for his dedication to Wabash.

"The late Frank Misch, for whom this award is named, embodied the true spirit of what it means to be an alumnus, giving back in time, talent, and treasure to lift Wabash to greater heights," Dimos read. "You have modeled Misch’s commitment in the relationship you have with your fellow Indianapolis alumni, the undergraduates of Tau Kappa Epsilon, and as an unwavering supporter of the College’s pre-law activities, particularly Moot Court."

The NAWM also saluted three Wabash men as Alumni Admissions Fellows for their work on behalf of the College’s recruitment efforts. Receiving honors this year were two members of the Class of 1955, Richard Barger of Granger, Indiana and Ralph Powell of Minneapolis-St. Paul. Trustee Mike Dill ’71, who began his career as an admissions recruiter, was also named an Alumni Admissions Fellow.

Both Dimos and President White took time to remember the late Virginia "Ginny" Hays H’97, who passed away last weekend. Ginny and her late husband, Bill Hays ’37, were steadfast in their devotion to Wabash. "Ginny will always be with us in our hearts and our home at Wabash," said White.


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