Alumni Awards 2016

McKendree University celebrated the accomplishments and contributions of following alumni on October 15, 2016 during Homecoming Weekend at the 2016 Alumni Awards Dinner.

Loyal Service Award

Mr. John Schomaker '80


John majored in accounting and business administration while at McKendree. He was a commuter student and didn’t have time for many of the campus activities due to working a part time job. He studied and worked so that he could successfully complete his degree.

Some of John’s career highlights include being employed by Rice Sullivan, LLC since 1980. He passed the CPA exam in 1981 and in 1996, he became a Partner at Rice Sullivan, LLC. He is also a member of the Illinois Certified Public Accountant Society and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.

John is also very engaged in service to his community. He has served as a trustee of St. George Catholic Church, Chair of the Finance Council, and has served as a minister for more than 35 years. In addition, John served on the New Baden Fire Department as a member since 1983, as secretary for five years, and currently as treasurer. He is a member of the Belleville Rotary Club and is also a member of the St. George New Baden Knights of Columbus. He served on the McKendree University Alumni Association Board and has been a longtime supporter of the institution.

John enjoys spending time with his wife Nancy and their two children Christopher and Sarah.

Rising Star Award

Dr. Chris Cunnings '06

Chris graduated in 2006 with a degree in chemistry and a minor in biochemistry. While at McKendree, Chris was actively involved in campus activities. He was a member of the Bearcat football team, and was named Team Captain in 2005, peer science tutor, and Sigma Nu social chair. He was recognized as a 2nd team All American for football and also was All Mid-States Football Association All-Conference for football and academics in 2005.

After his time at McKendree, Chris has been named “Teacher of the Month” by WGN-TV in December of 2011, State Farm Companies Foundation Scholar Award in 2012, and Illinois Outstanding Teacher of Science Award in 2014. Academically he continued to excel earning another bachelor’s degree from Governor’s State University in addition to a master’s degree from Olivet Nazarene University. In 2016, Chris completed his Doctorate of Education from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana. His research was presented at Harvard University’s International Graduate Student Research Conference in 2016. Chris is currently a professor at Millikin University.

Chris and his wife Amanda, recently welcomed Audrey Rose to their family and Audrey is just weeks away from her 1st birthday.


Mr. Tony L. Mitchell Jr. '09


Tony graduated in 2009 with a degree in political science and a minor in speech communication. While at McKendree, Tony was engaged in student life. He was a member of the Bearcat football team, Model UN, Campus Activities Board, Black Men of McKendree and Student Government.

After graduating, Tony went on to become an intern for the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation. He then moved into a role as a Government Affairs Summer Associate at the Podesta Group in Washington D.C. In 2013, he completed his Juris Doctorate from Saint Louis University School of Law. He continued his level of student engagement at SLU serving on the National Black Law Students Association as an executive board member as well as the Student Bar Association Senator. He currently works at the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation in Washington, D.C. as Manager of Health Policy.

Tony continues to volunteer at Martha’s Table. He serves as an ambassador for Washington DC Kicks 4 the City. Tony was recently married to his wife Brittany and enjoys time with family and friends.

Academy of Excellence Inductees

Mr. Kevin Lee '80


Kevin graduated from McKendree with a degree in business administration and a minor in marketing. As a student he was involved with the yearbook, newspaper, and photography. He later went on to study public administration and received his master’s degree from the University of Oklahoma.

Kevin currently serves as President of Matrix Consulting Firm in Fullerton, California. He is a member of the Board of Directors for the Adventurers Club of Los Angeles as well as the Orange County Underwater Photographic Society. Kevin takes pride in and is known for his macro-photography work, which has been widely published in magazines, newspapers, academic works, textbooks, and online. Kevin’s work has been exhibited all over the country and a permanent collection resides at Chapman University in Orange, California. Kevin currently lives in Fullerton, California and was featured in the McKendree Magazine in 2013.

Mrs. Angela Grossmann-Roewe '98


Angie, as she is affectionately called, graduated with a degree in political science and a minor in journalism. Angie was a writer for the McKendree Review and served as its editor from 1996-1998. In addition, she received departmental honors in political science and in journalism.

Angie is heavily involved in her community and loves to give back through her civic duties. Angie has served as a volunteer for the 200th Birthday of Belleville, Neighborhood Association President, St. Teresa school PTO member, St. Clair County Juvenile Judicial Council, Our Lady of Peace Mother’s Club, and Belleville Catholic Schools Picnic Committee. She is a member of the McKendree University Alumni Association Board, Daughters of the American Revolution, Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians, and Board of Directors of Violence Prevention Center of Southwestern Illinois. Angie is truly a humanitarian that believes in giving back to her community. In addition to all her service, she is also a general election candidate for the St. Clair County Board of Review. Angie enjoys being a wife, to husband Thomas, and mother of her two sons Zachary and Ian.

Mrs. Sharon Wright '09


Sharon graduated in 2009 with a degree in nursing administration. She attended at the Louisville Campus, while working full-time as a Nurse Manager and remaining fully engaged with her family.

Sharon has actively served McKendree University. She helped develop and implement an onsite McKendree ADN to BSN program for RNs at Hardin Memorial Hospital in Elizabethtown, KY. She attained full funding for 25 nurses to continue their education along with their coworkers.

Sharon is just as involved in her community. She currently serves on the Nursing Advisory Board at Western Kentucky University, McKendree University, and Elizabethtown Community and Technical College. She is a member of the Board of Directors in Hardin and Larue Counties for their Community Clinics. She is also on the Board of Directors Chamber of Commerce for Hardin County and continues to lead in Hardin county any way she can. She attributes her earning her master’s degree in nursing from McKendree University for lots of her success in leadership positions she has served.

Sharon enjoys attending church, cooking, and spending time with her husband John and their 3 children, twins, Logan and Brandon and their youngest son Evan.

Sports Hall of Fame Inductees

Kari (Crnkovich) Crask '96, Student Athlete, Women's Basketball & Softball


Kari Crnkovich Crask enjoyed an outstanding four-year career as a member of the McKendree Women’s Basketball program. She had a well-rounded game that saw her excel as a scorer, rebounder, shooter and defender for a Bearcats’ program that was on the rise throughout her career.

After her freshman season was cut short due to injury, Kari was a mainstay in the Bearcats’ lineup during her final three seasons. From her sophomore through senior seasons, she appeared in 100 games for McKendree. That includes 35 as a senior in 1995-96, which is tied for the most games played by an individual in a single season at McKendree.

In her four years at McKendree, Kari registered 1,532 points, 697 rebounds and 165 steals. At the time of her induction, she ranks sixth in scoring, seventh in rebounding and 10th in steals. One of the best long-range shooters of her era, Kari connected on 130 three-point field goals, which is good for seventh on the Bearcats’ career list. She is third all-time in three-point field goal percentage at 37.5 percent, and holds the single-season mark by connecting on 42.1 percent of her tries from beyond the arc as a senior in 1995-96.

Kari was just as solid at the free throw line. She ranks second on the McKendree career list with 442 free throws made, and is third on the career chart in free throw percentage, making 78 percent of her attempts. Kari was a first-team All-Conference honoree in the American Midwest Conference (AMC) as a junior and followed that with second-team All-AMC mention following her senior year. Off the court, Kari was a four-time Academic All-AMC honoree.

In addition to her accomplishments on the basketball court, Kari was a two-year member of the McKendree softball program. As a junior in 1995, she batted a team-high .377 and starred in center field while helping the Bearcats to a fourth-place finish at the NAIA Softball National Championship.

Jackson Makene Marwa '00, Student Athlete, Track and Field & Cross Country


Jackson Makene Marwa was one of many pioneers who helped the McKendree cross country/track and field programs get their start in the late 1990s. By the time he completed his career with the Bearcats, Jackson had helped the Bearcats’ running programs establish a tradition of success and hard work that continues today.

A four-year member of the men’s cross country team, Jackson was among the first runners to help the young program gain notoriety in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). For two consecutive years—1997 and 1998—he earned NAIA All-Midwest Region honors for his performance on the course. Jackson took that one step further at the NAIA Cross Country National Championship, where he raced to a seventh place overall finish and was named an NAIA All-American. Thanks in part to Jackson’s performance, McKendree placed fifth in the final team standings at that meet, which began a run of three consecutive top-10 finishes at the national meet, including a second-place showing in 1999.

As a distance runner for the McKendree track and field squad, Jackson continued to shine on a national level. He earned All-America honors at the 1997 NAIA Indoor Track and Field National Championships as he posted a second-place finish in the 5,000-meter run. Jackson followed with another All-America effort at the 1997 NAIA Outdoor Track and Field Championships by placing fifth in the 10,000-meter run.

Jackson was named as the Most Valuable Track Athlete by the McKendree coaching staff following the 1997 season. He also earned the 110 Percent Award in 1998.

At the time of his induction, Jackson holds top-10 career times for the McKendree cross country program at three different distances. He ranks second all-time at 10 kilometers with a time of 32:25.10. Jackson is also third over an eight-kilometer course with a time of 24:25, and he sits in fourth all-time with a time of 26:33 on a five-mile course.

Dave Markwell '73, Student Athlete, Men's Baseball, Multi-Sport Coach & Sports Professional


Whether serving as an educator, a coach or a sports official, Dave Markwell has excelled at a high level. His accomplishments display a versatility along with proven results that have been achieved by a select few throughout the state of Illinois.

That versatility was first shown on the baseball diamond at McKendree, where Dave was a four-year letterman for the Bearcats. He served as team captain as a senior. A pitcher and outfielder at McKendree, Dave led the team in both hitting and earned-run average as a junior. He also spent two years as a member of the Bearcats’ basketball program.

Following his graduation from McKendree, Dave embarked on a career that saw him serve as an educator, coach and athletic director at various schools around the state. In 1983, he led the Beecher City High School baseball program to a runner-up finish in the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) Class A state baseball championship. For his efforts, Dave earned Coach of the Year accolades and was selected to coach in the East-West All-Star Game. Dave also served on the IHSA Baseball Advisory Committee from 1984-88. Four times in his baseball coaching career, Dave was named as Coach of the Year.

In 1988, Dave took a teaching/coaching position at Oakwood High School. In more than two decades as the school’s wrestling coach, he led his teams to nine conference titles, 11 county championships and eight regional crowns. In his time at Oakwood, Dave coached 33 state qualifiers, 11 state place winners and even one high school All-American.

In a coaching career that included baseball, wrestling, basketball, cross country and track, Dave had a hand in nearly 770 team victories. A nine-time wrestling Coach of the Year honoree, he was inducted into the Illinois Wrestling Coaches and Officials Hall of Fame in 2009. Along with his coaching accolades, Dave was also an accomplished official in the IHSA. He was a baseball, softball and basketball official for more than three decades. David was picked to work state finals events in both basketball and baseball by the IESA for three years. David was also selected to umpire several USSSA National Tournament events.

H. Francisco Mosca '03
, Student Athlete, Men's Soccer

Francisco Mosca was one of the most dynamic players ever to wear a McKendree soccer uniform. Throughout his four-year career, he was one of the most feared scoring threats both on a conference, regional and national level.

Playing as a forward for McKendree, Francisco led the men’s program in scoring in each of his four seasons. He burst onto the scene with 10 goals and 22 points as a freshman in 1999. Francisco then followed up with a 17-goal, 12-assist performance for 46 points while leading the Bearcats to 13 victories as a sophomore in 2000.

After posting 16 goals, 10 assists and 42 total points as a junior, Francisco saved his best for last. In his senior season of 2002, he registered career-high totals of 22 goals and 48 points. He led the American Midwest Conference (AMC) in scoring as a senior as well. The 22 goals scored by Francisco still stands as the third-highest total in a single season at McKendree.

Following the 2002 season, Francisco was named as the American Midwest Conference Player of the Year. He also earned honorable mention All-America honors from the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). During his career, Francisco was a three-time All-Conference selection.

At the time of his induction, Francisco stands second on the Bearcats’ career charts for total points scored (158), goals (65), assists (28) and is third all-time in game-winning goals with eight. During his four-year career at McKendree, Francisco helped guide the Bearcats to 43 victories.


Carl Poelker, Former Football Coach, Revived Football Program after 40-year Hiatus


In 1995, Carl Poelker was hired to revive a McKendree football program that had not played a game in more than four decades. Over the next 17 years, Carl and the members of his coaching staff molded the Bearcats’ program into one of the top programs in the nation, both athletically and academically.

From the time he first led McKendree back onto the football field at the beginning of the 1996 season to his retirement after the 2012 campaign, Carl guided the Bearcats to 117 victories. At the time of his induction, Carl is the all-time leader in wins and winning percentage (.657) in program history. In 31 seasons as a collegiate head coach, he amassed 205 victories, and won nearly 70 percent of his contests.

During his 17 years at McKendree, Carl led the Bearcats to nine appearances in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Football Championship Series. That included an NAIA post-season berth in 1997, which was just the second season following the revival of the football program. The most memorable of those post-season appearances came in 2002, when the Bearcats won a school-record 11 games and reached the national semifinals for the first time in team history. For this accomplishment, Carl was named the 2002 NAIA National Coach of the Year.

As a member of the Mid-States Football Association (MSFA) Midwest League, McKendree collected seven league championships under Carl’s watch. He led the Bearcats to undefeated MSFA records in 2004 and again in 2009. Carl was a two-time MSFA Midwest League Coach of the Year honoree. While at McKendree, Carl coached 14 NAIA All-Americans and 69 players who received first-team All-Conference accolades.

Carl was at the helm of the Bearcats’ program as it began its transition towards NCAA Division II membership. He led McKendree through its first season of Great Lakes Valley Conference (GLVC) play in 2012. Six Bearcat players received GLVC post-season honors in the team’s inaugural year as league members.

In the classroom, McKendree was just as accomplished thanks to Carl’s leadership. A total of 25 NAIA Scholar-Athletes and 72 individual Academic All-MSFA honorees were produced by the Bearcats’ program. In 2012, a total of 23 McKendree student-athletes collected Academic All-GLVC honors. The McKendree football team also boasted a graduation rate of better than 98 percent for players who completed all four years in the program during Carl’s tenure.

Peter Akers Award

Mrs. Janet (Welch) Eckert '89

Janet (Welch) Eckert is the 2016 Peter Akers Award recipient for her professional success, outstanding service, and loyalty to the University.

While at McKendree, Janet was not involved in many student organizations. She was a non-traditional student and wanted to further her education to pursue a career in nursing.

Following graduation, she served as an Oncology RN at Barnes Jewish Hospital. In addition, she was the Home health RN at an agency in Belleville, IL. She also served as the Private Duty RN and Nurse educator as well as RN in the gallstone clinic all while at BJC.

Janet continues to be involved in the community as a member of the Lebanon History Club, a member of First United Methodist Church of Lebanon, a volunteer at Siteman Cancer Center and more. She serves the University through being a longtime annual fund contributor, Star Friend of the Hett, and William McKendree Society member. In addition, she is sponsor of the Eckert Scholarships, the Welch Memorial Concert and the Robert and Grace Welch endowment at the Hett.

Janet’s hobbies include but are not limited to traveling, sewing, knitting, exercising, gardening, volunteering and spending time with her family. Janet is married to her husband William and they have four children Susan, Sarah, Mary Jane, and Elizabeth. She not only enjoys time with them, but also with her nine grandchildren.

This award is special to Janet because her mother (Grace Renner Welch) received this same award in 1983.