Welcoming hundreds of alumni back to campus to participate in its annual Homecoming weekend, the Wittenberg Alumni Association recognized seven individuals with Alumni Awards at its Alumni Awards Dinner on Friday October 2nd.
Wes Bates, class of 1970 from Marco Island, Florida received the Alumni Association’s most prestigious recognition, the Class of 1914 Award, given to individuals who have served Wittenberg above and beyond what might be expected of any contributor to the college’s welfare. A member of the University Board of Directors for eight years, Bates has been a loyal and long-term supporter of the Wittenberg Community. He is the CEO and Chairman of the Board of Stanley Steemer International.
The Association also presented Alumni Citation Awards to two alumni who have brought honor to Wittenberg by their exceptional accomplishments in which service to humanity is placed above personal gain or recognition. Those receiving the awards this year were Dr. Levi Wingard, class of 1970 and Ms. Shannon Wahl class of 2003. Dr. Wingard, of Downington, Pennsylvania served as a public school teacher and administrator in Pennsylvania for 36 years. His professional and past community accomplishments included serving as a member and advisor to several boards and committees, including Chester County Community Foundation, Chester County Economic and Development Council and Executive Board of the Chester County Council Boy Scouts of America. Ms. Wahl of Dayton, Ohio is an attorney in Springfield, Ohio. She primarily practices employment law working with local businesses and HR professionals. She is also an adjunct professor for Wittenberg’s School of Community Education, teaching a variety of employment and HR-related classes to non-traditional students in the evening program.
In addition, Allison Scaia, of Chicago, Illinois, class of 2009 received a Graduate of the Last Decade (GOLD) Service Award for sharing her time and talent with the University. Miss Scaia is a member of the Wittenberg Alumni Board. She is presently Director – Auto and Property Claims (Data and Analytics Team Lead) for Hartford Financial Services Group. She is currently a candidate for a Master of Business Administration degree at Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois and recipient of the Jane Robertson Memorial Academic Excellence Award. She was a recipient of the M. Alice Geiger Award her senior year. The award, named for Wittenberg's first woman graduate, recognizes a senior woman for outstanding contributions to the campus in the areas of performing or literary arts, athletics, co-curricular leadership, new programming, special academic pursuit or through special representation at any time during her college career.
Earning Outstanding Young Alumni awards for professional achievement were Dana Norris, Chicago, Illinois, class of 2001 and Steve McNelley, Chicago, Illinois, class of 2002. Dana Norris is a writer and the editor-in-chief of Story Club Magazine. She has an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from Northwestern University.She is founder of Story Club, a monthly live-literacy show for stories held in Chicago, Minneapolis, and Boston, that has been featured in Poets & Writers. She was named one of Chicago’s top 50 literary influences by New City. She teaches at StoryStudio Chicago and has been featured in the Chicago Reader, the Chicago Tribune, and on WBEZ.org. She also writes for the website Role/Reboot. Steve McNelley is Director of Property Investment for Optimum Sports, Omnicom Media Group. He oversees sponsorship consultation, valuation, negotiation, and account services for all clients within the agency portfolio. He manages $100 million in team and league partnership investments. Prior to that, he was account executive with WGN Radio, Tribune Media Group, Manager of Business Development with Learfield Sports- Northwestern University Sports Properties, and Account Executive with the Chicago Blackhawks Hockey Team. He is working on a Masters Degree in Sports Administration with an emphasis in Sports Marketing at Northwestern University.
In addition to these Wittenberg Alumni, Joe Fincham, Head Football Coach at Wittenberg, was named Honorary Alumnus. A 1988 alumnus of Ohio University, Fincham joined the Wittenberg staff in 1990. He was named Head Football Coach in March 1996. In twenty seasons, he has a record of 174 wins and 39 losses, the best record of any football coach in Wittenberg history. He has been named North Coast Athletic Conference Coach of the Year nine times, Coach of the Year in AFCA District IV in 1998 and 2009 and d3football.com North Region Coach of the Year in 2009. In 2014, he was named Associate Director of Athletics, with a focus on fundraising. His award was presented at the Wittenberg Athletics Hall of Honor Dinner.
Affiliated with Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Wittenberg University offers an active, engaged learning environment that challenges students to become responsible global citizens, to discover their callings, and to lead personal, professional, and civic lives of creativity, service, compassion, and integrity. Wittenberg has repeatedly been ranked by the Princeton Review for the quality of its teaching and faculty, including 11th in the nation for “Best Classroom Experience” and 15th in the category “Professors Get High Marks” in the 2011 edition of Princeton’s annual Best Colleges guide. Most recently Wittenberg earned the No.4 spot in the category of “Most Accessible Professors.” Wittenberg has also been named as one of the most environmentally responsible colleges in the United States and Canada in the Princeton Review Guide to 353 Green Colleges. In spring 2015, Wittenberg was ranked No.24 on Fortune Magazine’s list of public and private institutions in America for return on investment. And it has been selected as a 2015-16 College of Distinction by the College of Distinction organization.
Additionally, the Chronicle of Higher Education named Wittenberg one of the nation’s top producers of Fulbright Scholars among bachelor degree-granting institutions, and the University boasts more Ohio Professors of the Year than any other four-year institution in the state. The university has also been recognized nationally for excellence in service and athletics, and is one of only a handful of schools to offer a Peace Corps preparation program.