McKendree Will Honor Outstanding Alumni at Awards Dinner on Oct. 3

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

(LEBANON, Ill., September 28, 2015) — McKendree University will celebrate the accomplishments of several alumni at its annual awards dinner on Oct. 3. The 2015 awardees have made their mark in their professions and at their alma mater.

McKendree alumni are invited to the Oct. 3 event at the Hettenhausen Center for the Arts on campus. It begins with a 6 p.m. reception followed by dinner at 7 p.m. Tickets are $32 per person, required in advance. For information, call 618-537-6826 or e-mail

Joan (Weber) Barnes, a Belleville, Ill., resident, will receive her alma mater’s highest alumni honor, the Peter Akers Award for professional success, outstanding service and loyalty to the university. The 1953 graduate has supported her alma mater throughout the years as an Annual Fund donor, Friend of the Hett, Bearcat Basketball Booster and loyal sports fan. She is active in St. George’s Episcopal Church and enjoys tennis, golf, her book club, and being a grandmother.

An elementary education major and psychology minor in college, Barnes enjoyed a long career as an educator and administrator whose greatest reward came from being a classroom teacher at many levels. She earned a master’s degree in education before working as a reading specialist, elementary school teacher, teacher corp-director at SIUE/Cahokia School, Cahokia School District principal, director of the Early Childhood, program. She also wrote and developed curricula for the Cahokia School District and adult education program.

D. “Brant” Harper, of Murray, Ky., will receive the Loyal Service Award. The 1973 graduate majored in business and economics at McKendree, where he was a member of Ferox (Phi Rho Chi) for four years, a class officer, president of his junior class, and member of the Inter-Society Council, Campus Program Board and Student Congress. He received an MBA degree from Millsaps College in 1986 and was most recently employed by Bunge North America as an assistant vice president. He remains an active supporter of the university and for five years helped bring the Lone Oak High School Marching Band from Kentucky to the Lebanon campus for a one-week band camp.

Three alumni enter the Academy of Excellence in 2015 for achievement, leadership and character in education; the humanities; and language, literature and communication.

Kyle Gordon, of Swansea, Ill., graduated in 1998 with a bachelor’s in social studies and in 2008 completed a master’s in education and education leadership. He is teaches history at Collinsville High School, where he advises the nation’s largest student council and sponsors several co-curricular activities, chairs the school improvement team, and is creating a Renaissance-style program to recognize student achievements. He is director of the Illinois Association of Student Councils and the Kaskaskia District of Student Councils, a former Illinois Student Council Advisor of the year, and served as co-chairman of the National Association of Student Council’s National Conference. He has received numerous awards for education, leadership and service to his community.

The Reverend Lisa (Jones) Guilliams, of Granite City, Ill., completed a degree in management and marketing in 1984 and received a Master’s of Divinity from Asbury Theological Seminary in 2009. Since 2003 she has been a pastor at Trinity United Methodist Church in Granite City, and was ordained as a UMC elder in 2011. In 2009 she founded FIGS (Fellowship Involving Granite Seniors), a fellowship group now 150 members strong. In 2001 she founded TWIGS, a free summer children’s lunch program that continues to grow, serving 15 local communities and distributing 60,000 lunches in 2015. In 2012, FIGS and TWIGS combined to form the non-profit Family Treehouse. In addition to children’s lunches, TWIGS now offers school supplies, backpacks, haircuts and sack lunches to children of families in need.

Tracy Rouch, of O’Fallon, Ill., graduated in 1988 with a degree in public relations and went on to earn a master’s degree in speech communication and organizational communication. She is an honorary member of Lambda Pi Eta, has served on the McKendree Alumni Board, and volunteers as a Presidential Scholarship interviewer. She has been employed since 1996 as the director of public relations for the St. Louis Post Dispatch.

Rising Stars are McKendree graduates of the past decade who have made significant achievements in their professions or chosen fields, and who have demonstrated a high level of involvement in the university and in their respective communities.

Adam Prest, of O’Fallon, Ill., graduated in 2005 with a major in accounting. He interned at Anders CPAs & Advisors Tax Services and Group in St. Louis, was later promoted to manager and became a licensed CPA in 2006. He is co-leader of the Anders Startup and Emerging Companies Practice and a member of the Anders sports, arts and entertainment practice. In 2009 he received the Missouri Society of CPAs Outstanding Young Professionals Award in 2010 was named one of the St. Louis Business Journal’s “30 Under 30.” He is a member and past president of the Missouri Society of CPAs’ St. Louis chapter; a member and past chairman of the Lea Global CPA Network’s Young Professionals Steering Group; an associate member of the St. Louis Sports Commission; and a Fair Saint Louis committee member and volunteer. He remains involved at McKendree as treasurer of the Sigma Nu Alumni Association, a Friend of the Hett donor and a Bearcat Booster.

Dr. Adam Biggs, formerly of Troy, Ill., studied psychology at McKendree as an undergraduate, receiving a bachelor’s degree in 2006. He then earned master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Notre Dame and completed his post-doctoral work at Duke University. His research interests have been in attention and perception, including theory and practical applications of visual search, individual differences and cognitive enhancement. At Duke, his study of visual search—the act of finding targets among distractors—helped transportation and safety agents become better at searching for dangerous objects. He currently is a research psychologist for the U.S. Navy.

Rebecca (Lindstrom) Wohltmann, of Belleville, Ill., graduated in 2009 with degrees in accounting and political science and went on to graduate summa cum laude from Saint Louis University of Law in 2012. She is licensed to practice law in Illinois and Missouri and specializes in business transactions, estate planning, corporate law, criminal tax, taxation and litigation for Mathis, Marifian & Richter, Ltd.

She is a member of the Zion Lutheran School Board, Zion Lutheran Women’s Missionary League, Belleville Running Club, Belleville Marathon Committee, Illinois State and St. Clair County Bar Associations. At McKendree Wohltmann was a campus leader involved in debate, bowling, Model U.N., as a New Student Orientation leader and University 101 peer mentor, student ambassador, and a member of several organizations, committees and honor societies. She continues to stay active as a donor, a judge for university debate tournaments, member of the Homecoming Committee, and a participant in McKendree 5K road races.

Entering the McKendree Bearcat Sports Hall of Fame in 2015 are Derwood (Woody) Derickson ’60, baseball and basketball; Darrell Flake ’05, basketball; Kayla (White) Moll ’09, softball; and Rebekah (Diers) VanScoyk ’10, women’s bowling. More information about these former athletes is posted at