McKendree Will Honor Alumni at Awards Dinner Oct. 5

Akers Award, Loyal Service, Academy of Excellence, Rising Stars, Sports Hall of Fame

Lebanon, Ill. — 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 alumni awards event on Oct. 5 at St. Clair Country Club in Belleville, Ill., will begin with a reception at 6 p.m., followed by dinner at 7 p.m. Tickets are $32 per person, required in advance. Call 618-537-6826 or e-mail For more information about homecoming and reunion weekend activities, visit

Expert physicist Cyril Curtis, Ph.D., of Albion, Ill., will receive his alma mater’s highest alumni honor, the Peter Akers Award. Given annually to recognize professional success, outstanding service and loyalty to the university, it is named for McKendree’s first graduate and first president.

Curtis completed a degree inmathematics in 1943 while serving in the Air Force. He trained in meteorology, weather forecasting, electronics and radar at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and obtained a doctorate in physics from the University of Illinois. As a radar-weather officer at U.S. air bases, he assisted in testing the first atomic bomb for the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos, N.M., during World War II. In the 1950s he performed nuclear reactor physics research and experiments at Argonne National Laboratory in support of the first nuclear powered submarine, Nautilus.

Curtis later taught physics at Vanderbilt University and authored or co-authored wrote over 50 publications in scientific journals. He worked on the world’s highest energy proton accelerator for elementary particle research that helped produce neutron beams for treating cancer patients. He holds patents on a neutron counter and high voltage generator.

He is a previous recipient of the McKendree Alumni Association’s Loyal Service and Academy of Excellence in Science Awards, and a William McKendree Society donor.

Gerald “Jerry” Cornell, of Lebanon, Ill., will receive theLoyal Service Award. He attended McKendree while serving in the Air Force, graduating in 1974 with a degree in psychology. After his military career, he became the director of public works for the City of Lebanon. In 1985, he joined Christ Brothers Asphalt Company, retiring in 2012. His civic commitments include Plan Commission and Zoning Board chair, city alderman, Economic Development Commission member, and Chamber of Commerce treasurer. He was instrumental in installing antique street lights, wiring downtown buildings for holiday season lights, and helping Lebanon receive two Governor’s Hometown Awards.

At McKendree he has served on various committees as a strong supporter of town and gown relations. He has been an integral part of many site improvements, such as parking lots, playing fields, and the Hettenhausen Center for the Arts. Cornell is a William McKendree Society member, a Friend of the Hett and sponsor of Hett performances.

Four alumni enter the Academy of Excellence for achievement, leadership and character, representing literature and communication, the humanities, science and technology, and education.

H. Donald Winkler, of Gatlinburg, Tenn., completed his journalism-English and psychology degree in 1954 and went on to receive a master’s degree in journalism from Ohio University. He has had a long, successful career as a professional journalist, historian and university public affairs executive. He is the former associate vice president and executive director of Public Affairs and Publications at Longwood University in Virginia; executive administrator for public affairs for the East-West Center in Hawaii; and director of public affairs at California State University, Fresno.

Since his retirement from higher education, he is one of the nation’s top authorities on Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War; three of his five books on the subjects were nominated for national book awards. His work on assassination conspiracies led to two speaking engagements at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C.

Winkler has received countless accolades over the years for his work in university public affairs and journalism, including 84 national awards for public affairs programming and publications. He was the first college public affairs professional to be inducted into the Virginia Communications Hall of Fame. The Council for Advancement and Support of Education named him a “trailblazer” in university public affairs.

At McKendree, Winkler was president of Plato Literary Society and Sigma Tau Delta; vice president of the Public Affairs Forum; reporter, sports editor and editor-in-chief of The McKendree Review; yearbook sports editor and assistant editor; college sports publicity director; and a basketball announcer.

Rev. Melvin “Bucky” Jordan, of Columbus, Ind., graduated from McKendree in 1961 as a sociology and psychology major. He attended Eden Theological Seminary, received a full vocal scholarship to Emory University, and a master’s degree in divinity from Candler School of Theology.

During his 50-year career in the United Methodist Church he was a minister in Kankakee, Ill., Columbus, Ind., and other congregations in the Southern Indiana Conference. He was a youth minister and music director at several churches across the country. In retirement he continues to preach almost every Sunday in the Columbus area.

In the civil rights era, Jordan was an activist who marched with the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Selma, Ala. and Washington, D.C., campaigned against the Ku Klux Klan, and worked hard to end segregation in his community. As chair of the South Indiana Conference of the UMC Board of Church and Society, he has acted on many social justice issues.

Jordan is a volunteer and past president of the Kiwanis International Columbus chapter, Lt. Governor of the District Board, chair of the human and spiritual values committee, and chair of a fundraising campaign. He serves on the Alzheimer’s Association Board of Directors, participates in a Christian clown troupe, and sings with the “Silvertones” senior group.

Dr. Thomas Kupferer, D.O., FACOFP, of Murphysboro, Ill., graduated from McKendree in 1976 with a degree in biological sciences. He attended the Southern Illinois University-Carbondale School of Medicine MEDPREP Program for two years and went on to receive a Doctor of Osteopathy from Kansas City University Medicine and Biosciences in 1982.

Kupferer 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 and certified airway management. He is self-employed at the Murphysboro Family Medical Clinic and Desoto Family Medicine Clinic; medical director for the Jackson County Jail and the Masonic Children’s Home in Murphysboro; associate regional medical director Southern Region for Hospice of Southern Illinois; and the county coroner.

He is on the medical staff at St. Joseph Memorial Hospital in Murphysboro, Carbondale Memorial Hospital and four additional rehab, skilled care and nursing centers. He is also an adjunct faculty member for several universities throughout Illinois.

He has received many awards and recognition from professional associations as a physician and community leader. Current and past civic involvement includes the Boy Scouts of America, SIU-C Choral Union-Community Chorus, Southern Illinois Children’s Choir, and Phantom Regiment Drum and Bugle Corps, among others. Kupferer’s McKendree legacy includes four sons who also attended his alma mater.

Melody (Edwards) Evans, of Mascoutah, Ill., graduated in 1986 with a degree in math education. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in education. She has spent her 25-year career at Lebanon High School, where she teaches mathematics, serves as the girls’ basketball head coach and sponsor for the National Honor Society. She was previously the assistant girls’ basketball coach, head coach for volleyball and softball, math team coach, tutor, and sponsor for the Student Council, WYSE team, SADD, prom, and the freshman, sophomore, junior and senior classes.

As a McKendree Bearcat, she was a member of the volleyball team and played basketball for four years. Evans is active in her church and community, and a Lebanon Greyhounds fan. She and her husband are university donors and Bearcat Athletic Boosters.

Daniel Winn of Ballwin, Mo., and Glenn Peterson, of Belleville, Ill., are the 2013 Rising Stars. Winn, a news reporter and anchor at ABC 17 KMIZ in Columbia, Mo., graduated from McKendree in 2003 with a degree in economics and business. He has also worked at KTRS Radio in St. Louis, KTKA-TV in Topeka, Kan., and KRCG 13 in Jefferson City, Mo.

Winn has hosted or emceed various charity fundraising events in central Missouri. He is a frequent guest on News Radio 950 KWOS and coaches the Kids’ Celebrity Golf Benefit for the Mizzou Children’s Hospital.

At McKendree, he was a member of the Student Government Association, Sigma Nu, Campus Activity Board, Model UN and president of the Inter-Greek Council. He remains active as a Scholarship Weekend volunteer and maintains relationships with faculty and friends.

Peterson graduated from McKendree in 2004 with a degree in organizational communication. He is now pursuing a doctorate of physical therapy at Washington University.

He is personal fitness trainer, certified by the International Sports Scientists Association and the Professional Trainers Association. In 2008 he opened the Inspire Health and Fitness studio and expanded in 2011 with Kinetic Boot Camp in Belleville. He develops corporate wellness, fitness and nutrition programs throughout greater St. Louis and in 2010 was voted the area’s number one fitness trainer by Fox 2 News. He is involved in the Rebuild Belleville civic improvement group and former president of the Belleville Local Business Global Network.

Peterson played on the Bearcats’ offensive line from 2000 to 2004. He continues to support McKendree by giving fitness and nutritional presentations to student-athletes and creating an internship program with Career Services.

Three former Bearcat athletes will enter the Sports Hall of Fame’s Class of 2013. They are Fred Taylor ’90, basketball; Danna Gilbert ’00, softball and basketball; and Lance Marcum ’07, baseball.


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