The Magazine for McKendree University - Fall 2019

Fall 2019 Magazine

Photo of President Dr. Dennis
President Dennis Will Retire in 2020 »

Dr. James M. Dennis, who has made an indelible mark as president of McKendree University for 25 years, will retire on June 30, 2020, at the end of his current contract. The Board of Trustees will conduct a national search for his successor, said Chairman Daniel Lett ’91.

“The accomplishments achieved as a result of Jim Dennis’ leadership have been nothing short of miraculous,” said Dan.


University's Largest Gift Announced
University's Largest Gift Announced »

John Bailey ’76, of Dallas, Texas, a longtime member of the Board of Trustees, has pledged $6 million to be paid over a period of time to FORWARD: The Campaign for McKendree University. The contribution—the largest gift in the University’s history and the largest from an alum—significantly moves the campaign closer to completion.

Launched in May 2016, the $40 million campaign is raising funds for renovations to Voigt Science Hall and Holman Library, including improved technology for teaching, learning, research and collaborative study.


A Class Act
A Class Act »

The presentation of a monetary gift made by the graduating senior class is a time-honored University tradition. A Senior Class Gift (SCG) Committee forms each year to help teach students the importance of philanthropy and to grow excitement about giving back to benefit future students. The SCG campaign benefits the Annual Fund, supporting student scholarship and services, academic instruction and other areas of greatest need.


In Belize ...
In Belize ... »

Eager and proud to share their culture, the people of southern Belize opened their homes and their hearts to welcome 15 McKendree students, faculty and staff members during an immersion trip to the small Central American country in May. Organized by the University’s Center for Faith and Spirituality and the Lyn Huxford Center for Community Service, the eight-day trip promoted feelings of mutuality, empathy and cross-cultural understanding.


Clio Celebrates 150 Years of Sisterhood
Clio Celebrates 150 Years of Sisterhood »

Sometimes the hardest-won battles are those made to withstand the test of time. This year marks the 150th anniversary of the founding of Clio, McKendree’s first female student organization and longest-running club. In that same year, the college finally opened its doors to women after decades of rejection. Like most higher learning institutions at the time, McKendree was starting to learn the true value and power of an educated woman. For the women of Clio, much has changed in a century and a half, but the same resolve to let their voices be heard is as strong today as it was at the group’s founding.


Biopsychology Major Prepares Students For A Variety Careers
Biopsychology Major Prepares Students For A Variety Careers »

At less than four years old, McKendree’s biopsychology program is sending graduates into the world well equipped to succeed in their field. With approximately 60 students, “it is already very popular and many have gone on to occupational or physical therapy graduate school, counseling programs and careers,” said Dr. Tami Eggleston, professor of psychology and a driving force behind the program’s creation.



Brittany Schmidtke '19
Four Years Later: Brittany Schmidtke '19 »

In 2014, Brittany Schmidtke ’19 made the decision to become a Bearcat but faced many unknowns as she embarked on her first year at McKendree. She loved to dance and meet new people but was unsure what to major in or what her future would hold after she finally earned that college degree. Fast forward to May 2019: Brittany graduated cum laude in biopsychology and began a new journey.


Commencement 2019
Commencement 2019 »

Wettest. Ceremony. Ever. Rain clouds opened up just in time for the Class of 2019 processional and awarding of diplomas on May 11. According to President James Dennis, the majority of the undergraduates overwhelmingly favored having their ceremony on the front lawn despite the forecast for scattered showers. The morning ceremony concluded with operatic soprano Christine Brewer ’76 singing “Mira (Can You Imagine That)” at the benediction. Master’s and doctoral degrees were awarded in the afternoon in the gym.


Honors, Achievements and Awards
Honors, Achievements and Awards »

Academic achievers across all disciplines were recognized at the Honors Convocation, held during the sixth annual Academic Excellence Celebration on April 25.


Our Fulbright Scholar

Our Fulbright Scholar »

McKendree is proud to announce Naeelah Chism ’19 has received a Fulbright U.S. Student Program Grant to teach English in Kuala Lumpur, the capital and largest city in Malaysia, for 10 months. The highly competitive Fulbright program is the U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange initiative. Each year, more than 1,900 U.S. students, artists and young professionals receive grants to study, teach English or conduct research in more than 160 countries.


Adventures in Morocco
Adventures in Morocco »

“Go out and adventure my friends,” advised Elizabeth Cochran ’19 in a blog recounting her spring semester in Morocco. The psychology major received a prestigious Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship from the U.S. Department of State to study in Meknes, a historic imperial city on the country’s north-central coast. She is McKendree’s fifth Gilman Scholar.

Elizabeth had never flown until she set out for North Africa.


Newman Fellow Advocates for All


Newman Fellow Advocates for All »

Ebony Luster wants to ensure all students on campus feel safe, appreciated and included. “I work to uplift everyone, whether I am directly affected by the issue I am fighting for or not,” said the senior secondary education-English major. “By working with others, I believe that you gain perspective and understand diversity of thinking.”

She is among 262 U.S. college students selected as a 2019 Newman Civic Fellow by Campus Compact.


Technos International Week in Japan


Technos International Week in Japan

Paris Suzuki, Dr. Aurelie Capron, associate professor of Spanish, and Jessica Hoffmann (shown visiting Mt. Fuji) explored contemporary and traditional Japanese life for two weeks as guests of Technos College in Tokyo. This year the annual cultural exchange program emphasized roots, with presentations on rice and sake, classes in origami and calligraphy, a scavenger hunt in Tokyo, and visits to a Shinto shrine, the town of Kamakura, Nagano prefecture, Midori no Mura forest retreat, and Mt. Fuji.


Mathematical Association of America Honors Alewine
Mathematical Association of America Honors Alewine »

The Illinois Section of the Mathematical Association of America (MAA) presented its Distinguished College or University Teaching of Mathematics Award to Dr. J. Alan Alewine on March 29, assuring his nomination for the MAA national award in January. The honor has recognized outstanding mathematics teachers at the post-secondary level since 1991.


Welcome, Class of 2023
Our McKendree »

Welcome, Class of 2023!
The University welcomed 340 first-year and 90 transfer students to begin the fall semester. The Class of 2023 has an average high school GPA of 3.5 and 11 percent have a legacy family connection. While 61 percent of the new students have come from Illinois, our newest Bearcats also represent 27 other states and the Bahamas, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Ghana, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kenya, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Russia, Serbia, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and Vietnam.


Outstanding Accounting Educator
Outstanding Accounting Educator

The Illinois CPA Society gave its Outstanding Educator Award to instructor M. Terese Kasson for making a significant contribution to the education of accounting students through leadership, teaching excellence, and active involvement in the accounting profession.

“She’s an excellent instructor, knowledgeable about the field of accounting and so engaged in mentoring students to achieve success in their careers,” said Dr. Christine Bahr, provost.


Promoted to Director of the Hett
Promoted to Director of the Hett »

Elizabeth (Liz) Crabtree was promoted to director of the Hettenhausen Center for the Arts on Feb. 20, succeeding founding director, Peter Palermo.

“As a colleague, Peter was very influential in preparing me for a successful career in arts administration,” said Liz. “I am passionate about the performing arts and the Hett, and I’m thrilled to have this opportunity.”



National Championship Bass Fishing
National Championship Bass Fishing »

The bass fishing program made its mark with an incredible season. The Bearcats won the 2018-19 Bass Pro Shops School of the Year championship, by amassing 7,560 points (895 points above the second place team).

They locked up the title by placing two boats in the top 15 at the 2019 BoatUS Collegiate Bass Fishing National Championship at Lake Pickwick in May.


National & Regional Recognitions
National & Regional Recognitions »

In addition to Bass Fishing, 13 other Bearcat athletic programs were represented at national and/or regional championships and seven athletes won national championships or national/regional awards. Ninety-two athletes had All-American (59) and/or All-Region (33) performances.


The men’s team finished in third place and the women’s team finished as national runner-up at the Intercollegiate Team Championships in April.


Athlete Spotlight
Athlete Spotlight »

During his years as a Bearcat, DeMontez McCray has more than impressed. Among his numerous impressive times and finishes, he has made a name for himself in McKendree’s athletic history books, despite the fact that he didn’t start running track until his sophomore year at O’Fallon High School. The eight time All-American dominated in the 200-meter dash, finishing in the top ten all four years at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships in 2016-2019 and fourth, sixth, and seventh place at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in 2016-18.


Coaching/Staff News
Coaching/Staff News »

Shannon O’Keefe, who guided the Bearcats to their fourth straight appearance in the NCAA National Collegiate Bowling Championship, made history in receiving her fourth consecutive NTCA Division II/III Women’s Bowling Coach of the Year award. She was also named MIAA Coach of the Year for the third consecutive year. Winning her second consecutive PWBA championship in 2019, she dominated the professional season with four victories at the PWBA Tucson Open, PWBA Twin Cities Open, PWBA East Hartford Open and PWBA Orlando Open.


PJ Thompson
Letter from the Alumni Director »

With each year, we rededicate ourselves to our mission to connect McKendree alumni with one another and with our beloved University. The McKendree University Alumni Association is about being a part of a great and enduring community, ensuring the future while honoring the past and  engaging the present. Our goal is to expand the community of alumni who come together to forge new friendships with fellow Bearcats and to deepen the lifelong relationships formed during the journey.


Gifts of Time, Talent and Treasure
Gifts of Time, Talent and Treasure »

Nothing speaks more highly of a university than alumni, friends and patrons who enthusiastically serve and support it. McKendree University and its Alumni Association offer a variety of ways to reconnect, serve and give back. Two alumni and one very special gift have made—and continue to make—a lasting impact on the lives of our students and graduates.


A Four-Legged Ring Bearer? She Can Help
A Four-Legged Ring Bearer? She Can Help »

A pet’s companionship is something special to share, so for many couples getting married, it only makes sense to include their furry family members in the big day, too. As the owner of WedPets, Nicole (Richard) Johnson ’06 has launched the St. Louis area’s first pet-handling business for weddings. The former marketing and management major creates customized packages for couples looking to incorporate their pet (or pets) in their ceremony, photos or reception, handling everything from transportation to potty breaks for her.


A Leadership Legacy Created Through Relationship with Honor
A Leadership Legacy Created Through Relationship with Honor »

In this time of fractured societies, we can all take leadership lessons from Dr. Tanaka–a man who lived his life bridging cultural differences.

My husband Jim and I attended his memorial service in Tokyo. Among the many who came to pay their respects were representatives from McKendree University, Pembroke College, University of Oxford, Johns Hopkins University and Internazionale Milano, a global youth sports program.


Inspiring Global Connections in Lithuania
Inspiring Global Connections in Lithuania »

Somewhere between the campus ministry activities she loved, the spring break mission trips that left her a changed person, and the deep relationships she formed as a McKendree student, Rev. Erin Totten ’11 discovered her calling as a pastor. Now, eight years later, she is using her gifts as a United Methodist minister halfway around the world in Lithuania.


Make It McKendree