The Ottawa University Alumni Association (OUAA) is honoring five alumni or friends of the University with its 2013 OU Alumni Association Awards on October 25 during the Alumni Awards banquet in the Mowbray Union, 1001 S. Cedar Street, Ottawa, Kansas. The event is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. Registration is required at www.ottawa.edu/alumni, or call Director of Alumni Programs Susan Trendel at (785) 248-2331 for more information.
Mary Alice Geise – Esther Ruth Award
To be considered for the award, candidates must be alumni or friends of the University; have given a significant amount of time to volunteer service for the benefit of Ottawa University; shown initiative, understanding and leadership; promoted the University’s mission and purpose; and exemplified the Ottawa University spirit.
Mary Alice grew up in Wichita, Kansas, and attended the First Baptist Church there from the age of nine. Being able to attend Ottawa University was only a dream for her until W.C. Coleman from her church helped make it possible. She came to OU in 1950, graduating in 1954 with a double major in physical education and elementary education.
While at OU, Mary Alice was the Homecoming attendant and a member of Gama Gama Gama. Her decision to add elementary education as a major led to her 30-year teaching career, from which she retired in 1994. The night of her graduation, she married former student Dudley Geise ’53 at Ottawa First Baptist Church, with Rev. Roger Fredrikson officiating.
The Geises attended Prairie Baptist church for 25 years, where Mary Alice taught Sunday School and was a deacon. For the past 28 years, she has attended Overland Park Christian Church, where she serves as a deacon and advisor, is on the landscape committee, and is a circle leader in her home.
Mary Alice has also served for eight years on the Kansas City Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) board and helps with the organization’s camps in Colorado, Nebraska and Kansas. She belongs to the Philanthropic Educational Organization and coaches a Bible study that has lasted 30 years. In addition, she has served as a volunteer at Shawnee Mission Hospital for the last five years.
Currently at OU, Mary Alice helps welcome new students to campus, works with the book fair and has assisted with the annual Adventures in Faith programming. She is also part of the team that established the Dave Owen Golf Classic and regularly volunteers at the event.
Mary Alice’s late husband was president of the Braves Athletic Hall of Fame. After his passing, she and the BAHOF committee established the Dudley Geise Champions of Character Award that honors student athletes who exhibit outstanding sportsmanship. Still a great fan of Braves Athletics, she attends a majority of the basketball and football games each year.
Mary Alice lives in Overland Park, Kansas. She has four children – Rich (wife Kristi), Randy, Terry (wife Lori), and Tamara – and seven grandchildren. She considers the classmates from OU to be her extended family, and she has been a strong leader of her class.
The Esther Ruth Award recognizes individuals for their volunteer service that has enhanced student life at the University’s residential campus in Ottawa, Kansas, and benefited Ottawa University as a whole. Established in 1987, the award names recipients in honor of Esther Ruth Bemmels, who provided loyal and steadfast service to OU students for more than 30 years.
John Goodwin – Outstanding Achievement Award
From Tenafly, New Jersey, John Goodwin became interested in photography in the sixth grade. He continued his interest at Ottawa University, where he had two one-man shows, submitted photos to campus publications, and set up a small photography studio.
In 1960, he traveled to South America with his father, an American Baptist clergyman, to attend the Baptist World Alliance meeting and tour eight South American countries. His photographs subsequently appeared in several American Baptist publications.
Shortly after graduating from OU, Goodwin helped lead a tour to Europe and the Middle East to attend the Baptist World Alliance Youth Conference in Beirut, Lebanon. His photographs from that trip appeared in several ABC publications. He then journeyed to Washington, D.C., to join and photograph the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. His photographs from that event continue to be published online and in print.
Drafted into the U.S. Army in 1964, Goodwin was assigned to be a clerk driver, but he also took photographs for a number of Army publications, as well as The Record newspaper of Hackensack, New Jersey. Following the Army, Goodwin began a 12-year career as a freelance photographer, often photographing aspects and key figures of the anti-Vietnam War movement.
From 1974 to 1994, Goodwin worked in the audio-visual department of The General Board of Global Ministries of The United Methodist Church (UMC), traveling on six continents to over 70 countries. His photographs appeared on over 100 magazine covers and in many publications, filmstrips, slide sets, and exhibitions. He has won numerous Ecumenical and UMC photographic awards, including induction into the United Methodist Communicators Hall of Fame in 1995.
Though diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1994, Goodwin continues to undertake some assignments and also provides stock photographs for various media outlets.
A member of the American Society of Magazine Photographers (now Media Photographers) since 1970, Goodwin serves on the board of the New Jersey chapter. From 1999 to the present, he has served on the executive committee of ”New Jerseyans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty,” which was successful in ending capital punishment in New Jersey in 2007.
Goodwin lives in Demarest, New Jersey. He has two sons, David and Benjamin, with former wife Joan Knowlton. Both sons are married and live in northern New Jersey.
The Outstanding Achievement Award, established in 2005, recognizes individuals who have made an impact in their chosen field of endeavor, whether over a span of many years or in a relatively short time frame. Recipients become members of the OU Hall of Fame and their life stories demonstrate what one can do with an OU education. To be considered for the award, candidates must be a graduate of the University; have made accomplishments in the context of their paid career, or for a civic personal interest which they have pursued, with or without pay; achieved accomplishments that have had an impact on the world, nation, state, or community; demonstrated a strong sense of ethics consistent with the values of a Christian education; exemplified the best of the Ottawa spirit; and served as a meaningful role model for current and future OU students.
Nick Scott – Recent Alumni Award
Nick Scott works tirelessly to help others transform their disabilities into possABILITIES. At the age of 16, he was an ordinary teenager with an interest in athletics when a near fatal traffic accident changed his life forever. After the accident, Nick became overweight and discouraged, but somehow found the determination, mindset and strength to transform his life from a debilitating tragedy into a personal triumph. One of the first steps toward that triumph was the day he willed himself to walk across the Ottawa University stage in 2005 to receive his BA in Business Administration. Now he uses his hard-won insights and victories to help others achieve their personal goals.
Since March 2006, Nick has competed and guest posed at almost 100 bodybuilding shows worldwide. He earned his World Beauty Fitness and Fashion (WBFF) Pro Card in 2009 and received his International Federation of BodyBuilding and Fitness (IFBB) Pro Card when he won the overall title at the National Physique Committee (NPC) Wheelchair Nationals in 2011. Nick is the only wheelchair bodybuilder in the world to hold professional wheelchair bodybuilding cards from two bodybuilding organizations.
As a professional speaker, author, champion wheelchair bodybuilder, wheelchair ballroom dancer, and personal trainer, Nick’s life is devoted to inspiring and giving hope to others. In 2007, he created a website, www.NickFitness.com, for helping and training others. He is one of the only fitness trainers in the world to design workouts specifically for disabled athletes.
Nick is also the founder and owner of the largest online wheelchair bodybuilding community and a global promoter of the sport. Through his efforts, wheelchair bodybuilding became the first professional disabled sport in the world to be contested on the same stage as a professional sport.
In 2008, Nick created and led a wheelchair bodybuilding camp for teens at the Shriners Hospital in Chicago, the first ever of its kind. He is also the CEO, president and founder of Wheelchair Athletics Foundation, a non-profit that provides and supports the wheelchair athletic experience through activities open to any child, adult, or veteran with a disability.
Currently, Nick is working on opening a chain of 55,000 – 65,000 square foot non-profit gyms across the U.S., with all proceeds going toward the growth of the gyms and the cause of funding and supporting disabled athletes throughout the country.
Established by the Alumni Association in 2013, the Recent Alumni Award recognizes recent graduates who have attained a significant level of achievement and potential for accomplishment. To be considered for the award, candidates must have graduated from Ottawa University within the past ten (10) years and exhibited one or more of the following: met significant challenges; performed service to community, church and others; and/or engaged in significant alumni participation and support.
Glenda Schmidt – Honorary OUAA Membership
Glenda’s first exposure to Ottawa University was through her brother, Leland (Lee) Melson ‘61. Though she stayed in Lincoln to attend the University of Nebraska due to finances, Lee attended the Baptist Student Conference at Green Lake in 1960 and came directly to Ottawa. On September 10, Glenda accompanied their father to bring Lee’s belongings to school and met Lee’s roommate and best friend, Ramon Schmidt ‘61, who ultimately became her husband.
Glenda joined the Board of Trustees in 1998 and has served on numerous committees, including as chair of the College Committee. Current responsibilities include the Committee on Trusteeship, Vice Chair of the Facilities Committee and membership on the Campaign Cabinet.
Enabling students to be successful is of high priority to Glenda. Together, she and Ramon helped establish the Schmidt Center for Personal and Professional Growth, represented by the Adawe LifePlan Center on the residential campus and the Center for Adult and Professional Studies (CAPS) at the adult campuses and online. Glenda enjoys maintaining personal relationships with many students, and the Schmidt home is often open to them, as well as faculty, staff, and other University guests.
Previous honors include graduation from the Kansas University School of Nursing with Highest Distinction in 1966 and Salina Volunteer of the Year in 1982. She and Ramon were given the Distinguished Service Award by OU in 2001. Because of Ramon’s profession of general surgery, Glenda was active in the physician spouse organization, the Kansas Medical Alliance, serving as state president in 1997-98.
Christian faith and service are paramount to Glenda, who has served in American Baptist churches large and small. She is currently an active member of the First Baptist Church of Ottawa. She feels blessed to have had Christian parents, teachers, pastors, and friends to nurture her faith walk, and in turn, she encourages others in their walk with the Lord.
A recent gift from one of her children declares: ”My Greatest Blessings Call Me Mom.” Twins, Lara ’91 and Bryan, and younger brother, Karl, joined their family by the miracle of adoption. Grandson Kyle McCullough and Karl’s wife, Heather, complete the immediate family.
Honorary Membership into the Ottawa University Alumni Association (OUAA) is a prestigious honor granted by the OUAA. Once recognized, honorary members hold alumni status throughout their lifetimes and are entitled to all the rights, privileges and benefits of any member of the OUAA. To be considered for this selective honor, candidates must be a friend of Ottawa University; must have distinguished themselves over a considerable period of time by devoting a significant amount of time, energy and talent toward promoting the mission of the University; and must have provided service to OU in regard to enhancing activities at a particular campus, promoting and supporting the University-wide structure, or both.
Reverend Robert Tiller – Distinguished Service Award
A resident of Silver Spring, Maryland, the Reverend Robert Tiller worked in government relations and public policy advocacy for church and non-profit organizations for 29 years. Bob earned a Bachelor’s degree from Ottawa University, a Master of Divinity from Yale Divinity School, and a Master of Urban Studies from Yale University Art and Architecture School.
Bob was ordained in 1967 at Mariners’ Temple Baptist Church on New York City’s Lower East Side, and he served as pastor there for five years. He then worked in the New York City mayor’s office and for a local community organization.
In 1979 he moved to Washington DC to work in the Office of Governmental Relations of American Baptist Churches USA, where he remained until 1996. As director of that office, Bob was the spokesperson to Congress and Administration for the positions of the American Baptist General Board on public policy issues. During his tenure he created The Advocate, a quarterly newsletter on current issues, and the Rapid Response Network, which enabled American Baptists to become more involved in public policy advocacy.
Subsequently Bob was director of government relations at Bread for the World, an anti-hunger organization, and at the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. His final position, from which he retired in 2008, was at the National Council on Aging, where he did both direct lobbying and building the organization’s grassroots network.
Bob participated in many civil rights marches, notably in Washington DC in 1963 and in Selma in 1965. In the 1990s he protested apartheid at the Embassy of South Africa and was arrested for civil disobedience.
He and his wife sponsored a refugee from Burma who lived with them for several months as a first step in resettlement in the United States. In 1996 he was chosen to represent the National Council of Churches at the international conference on anti-personnel landmines in Geneva. He was honored by Interfaith Impact “for his long commitment to justice and the inter-religious community.”
He has served boards of directors of several organizations, including the Baptist Joint Committee, the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America, the Churches’ Center for Theology and Public Policy, and Churches for Middle East Peace.
In retirement Bob has been a volunteer English teacher with immigrants, a member of the Montgomery County (Maryland) Commission on Aging, and a regular writer for the journal Baptist Peacemaker. He enjoys growing tomatoes, playing senior softball and serving dinner at the local soup kitchen. He and his wife Elaine reside in Silver Spring, Maryland. They have two sons and four grandchildren.
The Distinguished Service Award recognizes individuals or couples who have demonstrated exceptional service in the church and/or community over a span of time. Established in 1974, the Award is the cornerstone of the OUAA award system. To be considered for the honor, candidates must be alumni or friends of the University, have demonstrated professional competence, accomplishment and/or service within their church or community, and exhibit abiding loyalty to Ottawa University.
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