Alumni Awards 2013

McKendree University’s 2013 Alumni Award recipients include an expert in the field of physics who worked on the Manhattan Project; an award-winning author and public affairs executive; a minister who marched with Martin Luther King, Jr. during the civil rights movement; a news reporter; a doctor and coroner; a city leader; a former minor league baseball player and others who have made their mark in their professions and at McKendree.

The University celebrated their accomplishments and contributions on October 5, 2013 during Homecoming Weekend at the annual Alumni Awards Dinner.

Loyal Service Award

Gerald "Jerry" Cornell '74


While serving on active duty in the U.S. Air Force, Jerry attended McKendree and received his degree in psychology, graduating with honors in 1974. After a long career in the military, he was employed by the City of Lebanon as the director of public works with his responsibilities including the management of the infrastructure of the city.

During his tenure with the City of Lebanon, Jerry received accolades for his contributions in constructing the state of art sewer plant and instituting health insurance for employees of the city. In 1985, he joined the newly founded Christ Brothers Asphalt Company and remained until retirement in 2012.

His civic commitments are expansive including his involvement with the City of Lebanon as the Chairman of Plan Commission, Alderman 1st Ward, member of the Economic Development Commission, Chairman of Zoning Board, and the Treasurer of the Chamber of Commerce. He is also credited with several civic projects such as installing antique street lights, and wiring the buildings for lighting which is enjoyed by hundreds of visitors to the city of Lebanon during the holiday season. Because of his strong commitment to his community, he was also instrumental in the city of Lebanon receiving two Governor’s Hometown Awards.

Since graduating in 1974, Jerry has been involved with McKendree in a variety of capacities. He has served on various committees for the University and has been a strong advocate for the University with the city of Lebanon. He has been an integral part of many of the site improvements on campus including the design, demolition, engineering and construction of parking lots, playing fields, and the creation of The Hettenhausen Center for the Arts. Jerry is a dedicated supporter of McKendree and the campus arts, is a member of the William McKendree Society, Friends of the Hett and over the years has sponsored several performances at The Hett.

Jerry and his wife Sharon have raised three children and have been blessed with ten grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. They currently reside in Lebanon, Ill.

Rising Star Award

Daniel Winn '03


As a member of the Class of 2003, Daniel graduated from McKendree with a degree in

economics and business.

While a student at McKendree, Daniel was a very involved campus and community leader. He was committed to student involvement and was an active member of the Student Government Association, Sigma Nu, Campus Activity Board, Model UN, President of the Inter-Greek Council, and he also worked in the Student Affairs Office.

Currently, Daniel is a reporter and anchor at ABC 17 KMIZ in Columbia, Mo. He previously held positions as a radio anchor for KTRS Radio in St. Louis, reporter at KTKA-TV in Topeka, Kan., and anchor and reporter at KRCG 13 in Jefferson City, Mo.

Over the years Daniel has remained involved in McKendree and in his community. He has volunteered during the McKendree Scholarship Weekend for several years and frequently comes back to campus for Homecoming and other events. In the community, he has hosted the March of Dimes and American Heart Association Heart Walks. He has served as emcee for the United Way of Central Missouri and hosts the Thursday night Live Concert Series in Jefferson City and Jefferson City Kidsfest. He is a frequent guest of the Warren Krech Show on News Radio 950 KWOS and coaches for the Kids Celebrity Golf Benefit for the Mizzou Children’s Hospital.

Daniel is a very busy young professional, but continues to remain an active alumnus of McKendree, coming back for University events and maintaining relationships with faculty and friends. He and his wife Carrie (Quinn) ’05 are expecting their first child in February and reside in Ballwin, Mo.


Glenn Peterson '04


As a member of the Class of 2004, Glenn graduated from McKendree with a degree in organizational communication and is currently in the process of pursuing his doctorate of physical therapy at Washington University. He holds additional certifications from the International Sports Scientists Association and the Professional Trainers Association.

As a student at McKendree, Glenn was very involved in athletics as a member of the Bearcat Football team offensive line. He was also a member of the Lambda Pi Eta (National Communication Honor Society), and was a student assistant for the intramural gym at the Melvin Price Convocation Center.

After graduating from McKendree, he worked as a personal fitness trainer and in 2008 he opened his own personal training studio Inspire Health and Fitness Inc. In 2011, he expanded his business opening a second location Kinetic Boot Camp in Belleville, Ill., which offers group fitness classes. He is a personal trainer, fitness speaker and develops corporate wellness programs, fitness programs and nutrition education programs for many organizations in the St. Louis region.

As a young business owner, Glenn has found great success and has received several accolades for his work. In 2010 he was voted the number one fitness trainer in the St. Louis area by Fox 2 News and is frequently featured in the Metro East Community Health Magazine.

In the community, he is involved in a group called Rebuild Belleville and has helped to organize city clean-up days, community meetings and neighborhood block parties. He is committed to helping build community relationships within Belleville and is the former president and member of the Belleville Local Business Global Network.

Glenn is a continuous supporter of McKendree and has volunteered for the McKendree football team by providing fitness and nutritional presentations to student athletes. He also worked with our Career Services Office to create an internship program. He and his wife Amanda reside in Belleville, Ill.

Academy of Excellence Inductees

Language, Literature, and Communications

Donald Winkler ’54


After completing his journalism/English and psychology degree in 1954 from McKendree, Don went on to receive his masters of science degree in journalism from Ohio University.

As a student, Don was very active. He served as the president of Plato Literary Society and Sigma Tau Delta. He was vice president of the Public Affairs Forum; a reporter, sports editor and editor-in-chief of The McKendree Review; sports editor and assistant editor of The McKendrean yearbook; college sports publicity director; basketball announcer at home games; member of the Methodist Student Movement, Student Christian Association and Future Teachers of America. He was selected as Outstanding Journalism Student, Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges, winner of the Dorris Oratorical Contest and was selected nationally for a summer internship at The Methodist Publishing House.

Don has had a successful career as a professional journalist and historian, and is a retired university public-affairs executive. He was the former associate vice president and executive director of public affairs and publications at Longwood University in Virginia; executive administrator for public affairs GS 15 for the East-West Center in Hawaii; director of public affairs (tenured) at California State University, Fresno; director of information services at Randolph-Macon Woman’s College in Virginia; assistant and acting director and communications instructor at North Dakota State University; and editor-in-chief for Concern Magazine for the National Conference of Methodist Youth in Nashville, Tenn.

Don has received countless accolades and awards over the years for his work in university public affairs and journalism and has won 84 national awards. He has been inducted into the Virginia Communications Hall of Fame and was the first college university/public affairs professional to be honored. He has been named a “trailblazer” in university public affairs by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE).

Since retiring from higher education, he is one of the nation’s top authorities on Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War and has written five widely acclaimed books on these subjects. Three of his books were nominated for prestigious national book awards. Winkler’s work on assassination conspiracies led to two speaking engagements at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C., where Lincoln was assassinated.

He also remains active with professional organizations such as the National Press Club, the Society of Professional Journalists, the New Salem Lincoln League, the Lincoln Forum, the Surratt Society, the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States, the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, and Sons of the American Revolution. He gives back to his community and has contributed 119 Civil War and Lincoln books to the History Center at the King Family Public Library in Sevierville, Tenn.

When he is not writing or researching, Don’s hobbies include photography, reading, coin collecting, genealogy and collecting St. Louis Cardinals memorabilia. He and his wife Azile have two children and five grandchildren and reside in Gatlinburg, Tenn.


Rev. Melvin "Bucky" Jordan ’61


A graduate of the Class of 1961, Bucky graduated from McKendree with a degree in sociology and psychology and minor in voice. Bucky went on to attend Eden Theological Seminary and received a full vocal scholarship to attend Emory University where he received his master’s degree in divinity from Candler School of Theology.

He has had a career in ministry with the United Methodist Church that has spanned over 50 years. During his tenure, he served as minister of Asbury United Methodist Church in Kankakee, Ill., Jollity United Methodist Church in Columbus, Ind., and several other congregations in the South Indiana Conference. He also served as the youth minister and music director at several churches across the nation. Until recently, Bucky still preached almost every Sunday at Jollity United Methodist Church and other local churches.

Dedicated to social justice, Bucky worked alongside Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. marching with him in Selma, Ala., and Washington D.C. He also actively campaigned against such groups as the Ku Klux Klan and worked tirelessly in his local community to try to end segregation. He has also served as the Chair of the South Indiana Conference of the United Methodist Board of Church and Society where he led the conference in action regarding gambling, human rights, war and peace, civil rights, issues of sexuality, minority rights, prison reform and other ills of society.

Bucky has dedicated his life to service and has worked tirelessly to make a difference in his community. He is a volunteer with Kiwanis International, having served as past president of the Columbus (Indiana) chapter, Lt. Governor of the District Board, chair of the human and spiritual values committee, and current chair of the Eliminate fundraising campaign. He also serves on the Alzheimer’s Association Board of Directors, works as a caregiver for Home Helpers, is a member of the Last Resort Performing Arts Ministry of Ashbury United Methodist Church (local Christian clown troupe), and sings weekly with the Silvertones, a group of vocalists organized for senior citizens.

Bucky and his wife Pauline ’63 frequently attend campus events such as Homecoming, Hett performances, Founders’ Day and are members of the William McKendree Society. He has been a long-time supporter and volunteer of his alma mater and performer at Bothwell Chapel.

He and his wife reside in Columbus, Ind., and are proud parents of two sons and have two grandchildren.

Arts & Sciences

Dr. Thomas Kupferer ’76


After graduating with a degree in biological sciences from McKendree, Thomas attended Southern Illinois University-Carbondale School of Medicine, MEDPREP Program from 1976–1978 and went on to receive his doctor of osteopathy from Kansas City University Medicine and Biosciences in 1982.

Since becoming licensed in medicine in 1983, he has had an extensive career in the medical community spanning over 30 years. After his residency, he established the Murphysboro Family Medicine Clinic in 1983 and the Desoto Family Medicine Clinic in 1992. He has advanced certifications in cardiac life support, pediatric life support, trauma life support, neonatal life support certification, certified airway management and as a lifelong learner continually pursues additional certifications each year.

Thomas has held numerous positions in the medical field and during his career has practiced at the Erma Hayes Center in Carbondale, Shawnee Health and Development Better Babies Program, and Oak Grove Rehab Skilled Nursing. He is currently self-employed at the Murphysboro Family Medical Clinic & Desoto Family Medicine Clinic, Medical Director for Coordination of Medical Services for Detainees at the Jackson County Jail in Murphysboro, Medical Director for the Murphysboro Masonic Children’s Home, Associate Regional Medical Director Southern Region for Hospice of Southern Illinois, and is the Coroner for Jackson County, Ill., a position he has been re-elected to five times.

He holds staff memberships at the St. Joseph Memorial Hospital in Murphysboro and the Carbondale Memorial Hospital and four additional rehab, skilled care and nursing centers. He is also a member of the faculty at Midwestern University-Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine, Southern Illinois University-School of Medicine, University of Illinois-College of Medicine, SIU-Medical Preparatory Program, and former instructor at St. Louis University-College of Allied Health Sciences.

As a physician and community leader, Thomas has received numerous accolades and awards including the American College of Osteopathic Family Physicians Fellowship and Crest Awards and Erma Hayes Center Award for service to indigent populations. He has also received the Shawnee Health and Development Corporation Award for providing obstetrical care to pregnant women in underserved rural Southern Illinois counties and the Illinois Community College and National Catholic Education Association Outstanding Alumnus of the Year Awards.

His civic commitments are also expansive including his current and past involvement with the Boy Scouts of America, member of the SIU-C Choral Union-Community Chorus, Southern Illinois Children’s Choir Board member, Physician Advisor and Co-Med Director for the  Phantom Regiment Drum and Bugle Corps, member of Knights of Columbus and Sons of the American Legion, and he is a dedicated volunteer and member of St. Andrews Catholic Church in Murphysboro.

Thomas regularly attends McKendree events and has passed on his love for his alma mater to his children who have all attended McKendree. He and his wife Dr. Valerie Kupferer, D.O., FAAFP, reside in Murphysboro, Ill., and have four sons and two grandchildren.



Melody (Edwards) Evans ’86


A member of the class of 1986, Melody graduated from McKendree with a degree in math education. She is currently pursuing her master’s degree in education. As a student, she was a member of the volleyball team and played basketball for four years.

Since graduation, Melody has had a career in education for over 25 years teaching upper level mathematics at Lebanon High School. She has also been a dedicated coach and athletic supporter, currently serving as the head girls basketball coach.

She has devoted her life to teaching and coaching others and over the years has served in a variety of roles at Lebanon High School. She previously held coaching positions as the assistant girls basketball coach, head volleyball coach and head softball coach. She is the current National Honor Society sponsor and over the years has served as the sponsor for Student Council, Math Team Coach, Freshman Class, Sophomore Class, Junior Class, Senior Class, Prom, tutor, WYSE team, and SADD sponsor.

Melody has made teaching a lifelong passion and has been an example and role model for countless students and teachers alike. She has been instrumental in the Lebanon High School leading the area schools in math scores and is proud of her student’s accomplishments. Although very humble about her achievements, her hard work and dedication to her students does not go unnoticed among her peers and in the community.

When she is not devoting her time to her family or her students, she is also very active in her community. She is very involved in her church, enjoys scrapbooking and cheering on the Lebanon Greyhounds.

Melody and her husband Frank ’84 are loyal McKendree donors and Bearcat Athletic Boosters. They reside in Mascoutah, Ill., and have two daughters.

Sports Hall of Fame Inductees

Fred Taylor '90


Fred made quite an impact on the McKendree basketball program during his two-year playing career with the Bearcats. During that time, he and his teammates used their scoring abilities and high-octane style of offense to reach levels never before attained by a McKendree squad.

A two-year starter, Fred joined the McKendree squad as a junior in 1986-87 and put together one of the top all-around seasons in program history. He averaged 20.1 points per game, scoring 704 points in the process. One of the most accurate three-point shooters in the nation, he connected on 51 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc, a McKendree record that still stands at the time of his induction. Thanks in part to his scoring prowess, the Bearcats collected their first-ever 30-win season and reached the finals of the NAIA District 20 Tournament.

In his senior year, Fred and his teammates were part of an historic season for McKendree basketball. The Bearcats reeled off 22 consecutive victories to start the 1987-88 season on its way to a school-record 35 victories. That included a win over Saint Xavier in the District 20 title game to give the program its first trip to the NAIA National Championship in Kansas City, Mo. That marked the first of 15 appearances by McKendree at the NAIA national tournament in a 23-year span.

A team loaded with offensive firepower, McKendree led the nation by averaging 102 points per game. Fred showed the way by averaging a team-high 21.1 points per contest. He saved his best for last, scoring a season-high 33 points in the Bearcats’ national tournament second round game against Dordt (Iowa).

He finished his McKendree career with 1,400 points in two seasons, a mark that sits 27th on the Bearcats’ all-time list. He is also third on the team’s career chart for three-point field goal percentage at .452.

Fred studied speech communication while attending McKendree and is employed with Big River Zinc. He is the proud father of three children and resides in Belleville, Ill.

Danna Gilbert '00


A two-sport star during her playing days at McKendree, Danna excelled in both basketball and softball for the Bearcats. She was an integral part of both programs as each climbed to conference and national prominence during her playing days.

In the basketball arena, Danna showed her talents while playing in the backcourt for the Bearcats. Twice she grabbed All-Conference honors in her four seasons with the program, including first-team accolades as a senior in 1999-2000. A long-range shooter, she is second on the career list for three-point field goals attempted (596) and is tied for ninth in three-point field goals made (99). Danna also ranks 10th on the Bearcats’ all-time list with 285 assists. In addition, she is ninth in career steals with 167.

Danna played a big role in guiding McKendree to a pair of American Midwest Conference Tournament championships in 1997-98 and 1998-99. In turn, those titles enabled the Bearcats to qualify for their first two appearances at the NAIA Division I Women’s Basketball National Championship.

On the softball field, Danna was equally as talented. A four-year starter in the outfield for the Bearcats, she had a career batting average of .395, which is the highest of any player ever to wear a McKendree uniform. She also holds the program record for highest on-base percentage at .439. Known for her speed, she swiped 47 bases and collected 10 triples throughout her career, and both totals are good for second all-time at McKendree. Also at the time of her induction, Danna still ranks among the Bearcats’ top 10 in career hits (200), sacrifice hits (24), runs scored (98), total bases (236), slugging percentage (.466) and games started (156).

In addition to her lofty career numbers on the softball diamond, Danna has two of the top five single-season batting averages in McKendree history. She batted .417 as a junior in 1999 and followed that with a .405 average during her senior season in 2000. In each of her four seasons with the Bearcats, she earned All-Conference recognition.

In 1998 and 1999, Danna helped lead McKendree to appearances at the NAIA Softball National Championship. The 1999 Bearcats’ softball squad earned a fifth-place finish at the national tournament. Danna also made her mark in the classroom at McKendree and was a four-time Academic All-Conference honoree in both sports.

Danna graduated from McKendree with a degree in mathematics and received her masters of science degree in economics and finance from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. She is the manager of information technology at an investment firm in Clayton, Mo., and is also the owner of Domain Street Wine Bar in New Town at St. Charles, Mo. She remains very active in her local community and is a board of governor in New Town at St. Charles where she resides.

Lance Marcum '07


Considered by many to be the greatest pitcher to ever wear a baseball uniform at McKendree, Lance was the backbone of the Bearcats’ rotation throughout his four-year career. He helped the program continue its winning ways at the conference, regional and national levels.

Originally recruited as a basketball and baseball player at McKendree, Lance chose to make baseball his primary sport. That decision proved to be one that would help the Bearcats continue their dominance of the American Midwest Conference. During Lance’s career, McKendree recorded 172 victories along with four consecutive AMC Tournament championships along with a pair of regular-season league titles. McKendree also reached the NAIA Region V Championship during his junior year in 2005, when the Bearcats were just two games shy of reaching the NAIA World Series.

Over his four years on the mound at McKendree, he won 38 games with 38 complete games, 11 shutouts and 361 strikeouts in 377 2/3 innings pitched. Those are just five of the eleven McKendree baseball records that Lance set during his career, all of which were still standing at the time of his induction. He is the only player to throw multiple no-hitters for the Bearcats, tossing two during his time on the mound for McKendree.

In each of his last three years, Lance was selected as the American Midwest Conference Pitcher of the Year, and was also a first-team All-Conference honoree during those years. He earned NAIA Region V Pitcher of the Year accolades as a junior and senior (2005 and 2006), and was a three-time All-Region choice from his sophomore through senior seasons. Nationally, Lance received first-team NAIA All-America honors in both 2005 and 2006.

Following his McKendree playing days, Lance signed a free-agent contract with the St. Louis Cardinals organization and made 19 appearances for the Class A State College Spikes in the New York-Penn League.

Lance graduated with a degree in education and went on to obtain his master’s degree in educational administration from Eastern Illinois University. He previously served as a teacher at Centralia City Schools, assistant principal at Casey Middle School in Mt. Vernon, Ill., and principal at Centralia Jr. High School. He currently serves as an investment advisor with Barrow Financial Group (Prudential).

He and his wife Megan are the proud parents of three children and reside in Centralia, Ill.

Peter Akers Award

Dr. Cyril Curtis '43


A graduate of the Class of 1943, Cyril graduated from McKendree with a degree in  mathematics and a minor in physics. As a 1st Lt. in the U.S. Air Force, after graduation he trained in meteorology and weather forecasting, electronics and radar at Harvard and MIT. He went on to obtain a master’s degree (’47) and doctorate degree (’51) in physics at the University of Illinois.

While serving in the military he was a radar-weather officer at US airbases and was sent to Los Alamos, New Mexico to assist with testing of the first atomic bomb for the Manhattan Project during WWII. In his role, he performed nuclear reactor physics research at Argonne National Laboratory (1951-1953) in support of the first nuclear powered submarine “Nautilus” and participated in the experiment that demonstrated “breeding” of nuclear fuel was possible.

During his career he has held a number of roles. He taught physics and directed the M.S. and Ph.D. thesis students at Vanderbilt University, worked at the Midwestern Universities Research Association in Madison, Wis., on novel methods of accelerating charged particles (electrons or protons) to high energy. He went on to work for Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Ill., on the design, construction and operation of the world’s highest energy proton accelerator for colliding beams for elementary particle research. As a result of Cyril’s work, his research helped produce neutron beams for treating cancer patients at Fermilab and development of a small proton synchrotron for treating cancer patients at the Loma Linda University Medical Center in California. He has also obtained US patents on a neutron counter and high voltage generator.

As a revered expert in the field of physics, Cyril is the author and co-author of over 50 publications in scientific journals and has been honored by the American Physical Society, American Association for Advancement of Science, and selected as a “Who’s Who in Science and Engineering” and “Who’s Who in America.”

Cyril is also very active in his community of Albion, Ill. He continues to remain active in his local church programs at Albion First United Methodist Church, frequently speaks at local men’s and women’s clubs, authors letters to his local papers, plays the piano and recently organized his 17th annual community music recital. He was the past president of the Albion Rotary Club and enjoys giving back to his community.

In addition, Cyril has been a longtime supporter of McKendree. He has previously been awarded the McKendree Alumni Association’s Loyal Service Award and Academy of Excellence in Science Awards. He is a member of the William McKendree Society and frequently returns to campus to volunteer and attend events such as Homecoming Weekend.

All of Cyril’s accomplishments have been supported by his late wife Helen and family. He is a beloved friend to the University and his presence and influence inspire and encourage all those around him.