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FALL 2018


Contributors EKU Magazine is a collaborative effort between EKU Alumni Engagement and EKU Communications and Brand Management. EKU President Michael T. Benson Associate Vice President of Development and Alumni Relations Dan McBride, ’89 Vice President for Engagement & Regional Stewardship David McFaddin, ’99 ’15


Assistant Vice President, Communications and Brand Management Doug Cornett


— Listen at 88.9 FM or online at weku.fm —

Alumni Engagement Staff Senior Director for Engagement and Communications Steve Greenwell, ’06 Coordinator of Engagement and Communications Alex Hanavan, ’15 ’17 Coordinator of Alumni Programming and Student Philanthropy Sarah Baker, ’15 Administrative Assistant II, Alumni Engagement Jessica Duerson

Photography Amanda Cain Matthew Phelps, ’11 Chris Radcliffe, ’04 Tim Webb, ’92 EKU Special Collections & Archives

International Alumni Association Board President Amy Jo Smith Gabel, ’05 ’08

Contributing Writers Kevin Britton, ’00 ’11 Steven Fohl, ’07 ’12 Madison Janae Harris, ’19 Joshua Kegley, ’07 Jerry Wallace

Vice President; Chair, Alumni Awards and Recognition Bob Sullivan, ’72 (ROTC Representative)

Editorial Director, Brand Management; Managing Editor Brandon Moore, ’14 Design and Layout Senior Graphic Designer Mickey Thomas Graphic Designer Tara Leisure, ’16 Design Management Jessica Holly

Eastern Kentucky University

521 Lancaster Ave. Richmond, KY 40475-3102

Immediate Past President Tom Martin, ’93 ’01

Secretary; Chair Development Ray Arnold, ’09 ’13 Board Members: Deborah Alexander, ’77, Tichaedza Chikuni, ’05 ’11, Afsi Davis, ’10, George Demaree, ’82, Christopher Eden, ’09, David Fifer, ’07, Dana Daughetee Fohl, ’07, Kelvin Ford, ’94, Stephanie Goodpaster, ’08, Tonita Goodwin, ’80, DaJuane Harris, ’13 (Chair, Alumni Programming and Student Success), Kristine Herrera (Student Alumni Ambassador President), Jeffery Humble, ’07, Miranda Massey, ’17, Barbara Phillips, ’73, Chris Radcliffe, ’04 ’12, Laura Rudolph, ’08, Lori Tatum, ’01, Lelani Turrentine, ’71, Ray Walker, ’79

Visit us online:

eku.edu stories.eku.edu alumni.eku.edu development.eku.edu

Eastern Kentucky University is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action employer and educational institution and does not discriminate on the basis of age (40 and over), race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, pregnancy, ethnicity, disability, national origin, veteran status, or genetic information in the admission to, or participation in, any educational program or activity (e.g., athletics, academics and housing) which it conducts, or in any employment policy or practice. Any complaint arising by reason of alleged discrimination should be directed to the Office of Equity and Inclusion, Eastern Kentucky University, Jones Building 416, Richmond, Kentucky 40475, (859) 622-8020, or the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW, Washington, DC. 20202, 1-800-421-3481 (V), 1-800-877-8339 (TTY).

FALL 2018


2 A Letter From President Benson



Yousuf Ahmad, ’94 ’95, perseveres and achieves success in business.

EKU Stories

33 Living with Lemurs

36 Athletics Highlights

38 A Good Run

42 Homecoming 2018

44 Alumni News

47 In Memoriam


ON THE COVER: Dr. Brian Clark observes climbers at the Motherlode in the Red River Gorge, Fall 2017. Story on page 24






While studying in New Zealand, Lisa Weir made the most of her international experience. From incredible landscapes that reminded her of home to playing a crucial role on her trivia team, Lisa picked up knowledge both in and out of the classroom and returned home with a renewed sense of gratitude.

For an area of ever-growing concern, the Kentucky Center for School Safety is a valuable resource and advocate for safety measures in schools. Through insight gained from assessments and research, the agency helps to create learning environments that are safe for students and teachers.

Since the days when she earned a volleyball scholarship to EKU, Heather Howell, ’95, has been determined to achieve the impossible. Today, Howell leads new and emerging products set to disrupt an industry firmly rooted in tradition and history.

HIGHER EDUCATION A KEY TO THE FREEDOM TO MAKE YOUR OWN CHOICES A Letter from President Benson Like colleges and universities across our country, we gathered in May to conduct commencement ceremonies, conferring degrees upon a record number of EKU graduates. As I looked out upon the sea of our newest alumni, I couldn’t help but think of the words of George Plimpton, offered to the Class of 1978 at Hobart and William Smith Colleges: “We sense that you are all much brighter than we are. You speak a language that is almost foreign to us. You can read digital printouts ... and what is particularly disturbing is that you all come out at the same time — May or June — in hordes with your dark graduation cloaks darkening the earth.” Even in 2018, the vestiges of the Old World are never more readily seen than in the tradition-rich ceremonies of higher education with our Oxford-influenced mortar boards, dark robes, sheepskins and hoods of various colors and shapes. Notwithstanding these nods to the past, there is nothing more exhilarating than shaking the hand of each graduate and knowing that behind the awarding of every single diploma is a story: a story of sacrifices made so that opportunities could be afforded and chances given to pursue dreams heretofore unattainable. George Washington Carver called education “the key to unlock the golden door of freedom.”

Freedom is such a beautiful word and fraught with so much meaning. The completed degree signifies freedom from coursework or study groups or exams or research papers. But it also signifies freedom to choose one’s own path, freedom from ignorance and misconceptions and fake news and freedom to come to one’s own decisions and draw one’s own conclusions. In America today, higher education is under a tremendous amount of scrutiny. What is it that we offer to society? Are we worth it? What is the return on investment? Is the cost of a college degree defensible? Three university presidents, when recently asked about the best way to measure the worth of a college degree, offered different responses, based on their experiences and backgrounds. Michael Drake, president of The Ohio State University and a physician, responded in a way one might expect of someone associated with the field of medicine: longer life expectancy and increased quality of life. Michael Schill, president of the University of Oregon, former dean of the University of Chicago Law School and the first in his family to graduate from college, said the best measurement is social mobility. Mark Schlissel, president of the University of Michigan and also a medical doctor, chose to summarize the best measurement of a degree thusly: “At its best, higher education gives us the freedom to make decisions based on our values, desires, human talents and willingness to work hard. We are free to choose our own path. Education takes freedom beyond its status as a legal right and elevates it into a lifetime of choices. It’s the trajectory of those lives, changed by the opportunities available through a college education, that I am most interested in measuring.” As long as we can make American higher education — still the envy of the world — affordable and accessible to all, nothing else provides the portal to more opportunity. College graduates are only limited by their own expectations, the extent to which they are willing to invest in themselves and the effort they are willing to expend in pursuit of goals. LEFT: Chelsey Hernandez and her daughter enjoy a moment together following the College of Justice & Safety commencement on December 16, 2016. OPPOSITE: President Benson processes with faculty following the College of Letters, Arts, and Social Sciences commencement on May 12, 2018.

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College graduates are only limited by their own expectations, the extent to which they are willing to invest in themselves and the effort they are willing to expend in pursuit of goals.


– EKU STORIES – In this

issue Aviation Team Earns National Award 54 Years Elapse Before Octogenarian Receives Degree Research Fuels MBA Program Redesign Partnership Links EKU, Chase College of Law Project Spotlights Mountain Horses EKU, Federal Bureau of Prisons Form Partnership "Appalachian Mining Town" Game Earns National Attention Student Banking Team Claims National Title

AVIATION TEAM EARNS NATIONAL AWARD A faculty member and student from EKU’s nationally prominent aviation program earned a national award for a project aimed at enhancing airport safety. Cameron Sidor, a junior aerospace management major from Richmond, and Kyle Knezevich, assistant professor of aviation, were awarded first place by the Academic Relations Committee of the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE) for their efforts. Sidor received $500 to assist with school expenses or professional development, such as attending a future conference. As Knezevich explained, U.S. airports that handle commercial flights are required to develop and maintain an FAA-approved self-inspection program. During these inspections, the airport operator is required to inspect the airfield for a number of noncompliant conditions, to document any findings, to provide any required remediation, and to keep a record of the inspections and any findings. “It is during this process that the airport operator is often tasked with assigning priority to any noncompliant conditions found, which, in turn, can dictate the time in which it takes for the condition to be mitigated,” Knezevich said. “Our project seeks to eliminate discrepancies or bias in the prioritization of remediation efforts by applying a risk assessment matrix to a list of noncompliant conditions, which are then assigned a priority level based on a predetermined level of threat for each condition.”

Risk Management and Insurance Program Ranks Among Top 20 in U.S.

Read more about these stories and access additional content at

stories.eku.edu Assistant professor of aviation Kyle Knezevich, LEFT, and junior Cameron Sidor

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54 YEARS ELAPSE BEFORE OCTOGENARIAN RECEIVES DEGREE Just how big was Roy Davidson’s smile when he crossed the EKU commencement stage to receive his diploma on May 11, 2018? You might say it was 54 years wide. That’s how much time had elapsed since Davidson, now 85, had last set foot on the Richmond campus. In fact, if a personal tragedy hadn’t curtailed his pursuit of a degree just a few credit hours short in 1964, his diploma would have carried the seal of Eastern Kentucky State College (EKSC). Aside from wearing his EKSC class ring all these years, Davidson hadn’t given his three-plus years at Eastern or finishing his degree much thought. After all, he had gone on to a highly successful career as a property manager, mortgage banker, and founder and president of Davidson Funding Group LLC in Florida, which arranges multimillion-dollar commercial loans for businesses all across the U.S. as well as Central America.

nearly five-hour conversation on January 23, 2017, rekindled fond memories and triggered Davidson’s interest in finishing his degree. Long story short: By current standards, Davidson had already earned enough credits to receive a degree. “I was astonished,” he said. “All of a sudden a door opens, and there’s a big, bright light. It’s an accomplishment, something I finished.” That light dimmed in the spring of 2018 when Davidson learned that his cancer, which had been in remission, was back, necessitating a new round of chemotherapy treatments.

I lived my life always trying to do the right thing. This is the crème de la crème.

Then, shortly after his LinkedIn page was discovered, a call came early last year from Sharron Townsend, senior director of development for the EKU College of Business and Technology. A lunch meeting between the two in Sarasota, Florida, was quickly arranged. And what a fortuitous luncheon it was! Their

But he wasn’t about to miss his big day. So you can imagine the disbelieving look on his physician’s face when Davidson retorted, “I’ve got to graduate from college, and then I’ll be back.”

With family members seated in the front row, a beaming Davidson was greeted by President Michael Benson and a standing ovation as he briskly made his way across the stage during the College of Business and Technology commencement where he earned a long-awaited general studies in business degree. “I lived my life always trying to do the right thing,” he said. “This is the crème de la crème.”



PARTNERSHIP LINKS EKU, CHASE COLLEGE OF LAW EKU undergraduates are now eligible for an earlyenrollment program at Salmon P. Chase College of Law at Northern Kentucky University.

Dr. Beth Polin

RESEARCH FUELS MBA PROGRAM REDESIGN “Business,” said Dr. Beth Polin, “is an ever-changing field.” And that is why EKU’s School of Business, in a spirit of continuous improvement, has redesigned its Master’s of Business Administration (MBA) program. The revamped program, two years in the making, launched this fall and features a number of changes that grew out of “extensive research” conducted with business executives, faculty, current MBA students, and undergraduate business and non-business students. The new program offers compressed 8-week courses, a modern curriculum focused on building both technical and soft skills, stackable certificates, and interaction with business executives. No prerequisite courses are required for entry into the program, so a variety of under-graduate and work experience backgrounds are accepted. All classes are taught face to face in the evenings by an award-winning business faculty, and the curriculum is offered in two-year, three-year and four-year formats, providing students greater flexibility. “The way we managed employees and projects a decade ago is not how we manage today,” said Polin, an assistant professor of management who chaired the MBA redesign team. “As such, it is critical that we keep our business programs consistently updated, and it was time we redesigned our MBA curriculum.” The product of that redesign, she added, is “a forward-thinking design that will prepare our students to be leaders in their fields, equipped with both the technical expertise and soft skills needed to be successful. Our students will graduate with real project experience and sharpened critical and creative thinking skills.” Courses are grouped in sets of four, with each set accompanied by a “Design Thinking” seminar, an experiential learning opportunity for students that capitalizes on critical and creative thinking. As they proceed through the program, students will earn three stackable certificates; completion of the program, then, is the MBA degree.

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The Chase 3+3 Accelerated Law Program combines a final year of undergraduate study with a first year of law school. “The partnership with Chase offers a wonderful opportunity for focused and motivated students to achieve their career goals in an accelerated program,” said Dr. Sara Zeigler, dean of EKU’s College of Letters, Arts, & Social Sciences. “Combined with our award-winning mock trial program, our innovative Legal Studies minor and our excellent liberal arts offerings, it makes EKU an outstanding choice for students pursuing a career in law.” NKU Interim President Gerard St. Amand said the 3+3 program “is designed to enable talented students seeking a law degree to streamline the time and financial burden of completing their undergraduate and law school programs, a wonderful means of easing the financial challenge for top talent to enter the legal profession.” The Chase 3+3 program — named for three years of undergraduate studies and three years of law school — allows eligible students to reduce their education costs by applying their first year of courses at Chase to both their bachelor’s degrees and their law degrees.


PROJECT SPOTLIGHTS MOUNTAIN HORSES When most people think of Kentucky and horses, the images that typically come to mind are of regal thoroughbreds, the scenic farms that ring Lexington and the annual Kentucky Derby. But that’s not the whole story.

“Kentucky Saddlers” — forged a vital partnership. These horses plowed fields and served as the preferred mounts of many farmers, circuit riders, pack horse librarians and Frontier Nursing Service nurses.

Kentucky and its love affair with horses reaches even deeper into history and into mountainous east Kentucky, where settlers and their gaited saddled horses — known at the time as

Now, the Appalachian Equine Project at EKU, with the help of a grant from the Kentucky Oral History Commission and in collaboration with Wells College of Aurora, New York, is shining new light on the subject, recording and preserving oral histories from members of the Kentucky mountain horse community. “Our collection illuminates the historical and cultural significance of these horses in particular, and the intricate relationships among people, animals and places more generally,” said Dr. Stephanie McSpirit, Foundation professor of sociology at EKU, supervising the project along with Neil Kasiak, oral historian with the William H. Berge Oral History Center at EKU. “These oral histories document the struggle — past and present — to preserve an important part of Kentucky history, the Kentucky mountain horse.” Chad Cogdill, associate professor in EKU’s Department of Communication, was responsible for the videotaping of approximately 20 interviews this summer and fall. EKU students Ashley Albano and Robin Martinez, both animal studies majors, and Tabitha Foster, a graduate student in biology, participated in the project this summer. In addition, Dr. Daniel Renfrow, an EKU grad and now an associate professor of sociology at Wells College, received an internal grant at Wells and brought students to assist the EKU team.

EKU, FEDERAL BUREAU OF PRISONS FORM PARTNERSHIP EKU and the Federal Bureau of Prisons have announced a new Inside-Out partnership agreement, the first in the state, to provide EKU criminal justice students a more hands-on learning experience while also providing current inmates a chance to learn in a college environment without leaving custody. Dr. James David Lawson, EKU lecturer for the Inside-Out agreement, said that the Inside-Out class “will offer a unique partnership with the Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) at Manchester. Students will see the criminal justice and correctional systems at work firsthand while also being an integral facet of current re-entry methods.” The Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program is a national educational initiative with an innovative pedagogical approach tailored to effectively facilitate dialogue across difference. It

originated as a means of bringing together campus-based students with incarcerated students for a semester-long course held in a prison, jail or some other correctional setting. “The College of Justice and Safety, EKU’s Program of Distinction, remains committed to staying at the forefront of criminal justice, corrections and police studies education throughout and beyond our region,” including providing access to nontraditional students through flexible hybrid class schedules, said Stephen Kappeler, School of Justice Studies Criminal Justice Program coordinator for regional campuses and sites. Included in the partnership is an ongoing agreement to allow EKU faculty to offer course instruction inside FCI Manchester directly to current inmates as well as EKU students. FCI Manchester houses approximately 1,100 male offenders.



“APPALACHIAN MINING TOWN” GAME EARNS NATIONAL ATTENTION “Appalachian Mining Town” centers on an abandoned mining town in eastern Kentucky, but the video game recently developed by a team of EKU students wasn’t forgotten by the E3 College Competition, which selected the product as just one of five finalists for the national event. “This is an amazing honor!” Gaming Institute Director Dr. George Landon exclaimed, noting that only one game is submitted for consideration from each of approximately 400 schools. It’s not the first national exposure for EKU’s game design program. Each of the last three years, it has ranked among the top 50 such programs worldwide, according to Princeton Review. Developed by a team of 15 EKU students during a Spring 2018 course, Environment Design for Games, “Appalachian Mining Town” is a “walking simulator” inspired by the landscape, depot and mines of Blue Heron, Kentucky, in the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area. Players assume the role of a historical surveyor investigating the mines to determine why it was abandoned in the late 1800s. The player collects old journal entries to eventually learn that black lung was becoming a huge problem for the miners.

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“The student team did research to ensure that the town and props players see are accurate to the time period, though the town, and its layout, is primarily fictional,” Landon said. “Of course, black lung has been an issue in mining communities.” The program’s game art faculty member, Jonathan Hale, worked with Landon to develop the special topics course. Students were then tasked with developing their own game world, filling it with landscape, buildings and props, and developing the game mechanics and code to interact with that world. The final product is a “visually appealing game that is also rooted in the culture of Appalachia,” Landon said. “We don’t see many games that give the region a respectful presentation, and it comes across as a very interesting experience. “Additionally, the setting makes it unique. You don’t see a lot of games set in Appalachia that explore worker issues such as black lung. The protagonist of the game is also a female person of color, so that makes it unique as well.” The annual E3 event, held this year in Los Angeles June 12-14, is one of the largest gaming expos in the world, Landon noted. Seven students represented the team in L.A.


STUDENT BANKING TEAM CLAIMS NATIONAL TITLE A three-member student team from EKU took first place in the national 2018 Community Bank Case Study Competition. The national championship student team members, all seniors, are Lorelei Nguyen, Lexington, Kentucky; Aaron Schmidgall, Somerset, Kentucky; and Dalton Stanley, Pikeville, Kentucky. Maggie Abney served as faculty adviser, and Central Bank & Trust Co. served as the team’s community bank partner. “The students gave us keen insights into their perceptions of what banks should be doing to serve their needs more effectively,” said Luther Deaton, president and CEO of Central Bank in Lexington. “We were very impressed by their knowledge.” While this is the fourth year of the competition, it is the first year that EKU fielded a team.

ABOVE (L-R) Dalton Stanley, Lorelei Nguyen and Aaron Schmidgall

As first-place winner, the EKU team received a $1,000 scholarship per student, was invited to present at the CSBS-Federal Reserve Community Banking in the 21st Century Research and Policy Conference in St. Louis in October, and will be published in the CSBS Journal of Community Bank Case Studies.

RISK MANAGEMENT AND INSURANCE PROGRAM RANKS AMONG TOP 20 IN U.S. The Risk Management and Insurance Program at EKU ranks in the top 20 nationally, according to the February 2018 issue of Best’s Review magazine. Eastern, which offers the only undergraduate insurance degrees in Kentucky, fared especially well in the “Popular Performers” category, which tracks online survey responses, many of whom are alumni. Dr. Burke Christensen, program director and the Robert B. Morgan Chair of Insurance, said the ranking indicates that “respondents throughout the country know about our program and recognize that our graduates are well-educated and do well in their careers.” In addition to on-campus classes, the University began in Fall 2017 to offer an online degree in risk management and insurance. Already, 11 are enrolled online among the program’s approximately 100 students. The entire program will be available online by Spring 2020, according to Dr. Siwei Gao, who heads the online program.



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EKU Abroad students learn a lot in the classroom. However, it’s the moments in between — meeting new friends, playing games, hiking, seeing the sights, trying new foods — that teach them about themselves. EKU Honors student Lisa Wier blogged about her personal struggles and triumphs while studying in New Zealand from June 25 to August 3. She took a class in disaster and risk reduction at Massey University and interned with Fire and Emergency New Zealand. Though she’d traveled internationally, it was her first time studying abroad and her longest time away from friends and family. Read Lisa’s full, unedited journey, as well as other student travel blogs. go.eku.edu /AbroadBlog

Tea Time Trivia

“Twice a day, we gather as a community for tea time and play trivia,” my supervisor explained on the first day of my internship. Trivia? I wasn’t very good at trivia, mostly because anxiety inhibited my ability to speak. After questions about sports and current events, finally it was my time to shine:


“What was the highest grossing movie in the 1980s? A) “Ghostbusters”; B) “Raiders of the Lost Ark”; C) “Return of the Jedi”; or D) “E. T.” While my 15 colleagues debated, I found my voice. “E. T.,” I answered quietly. “It’s E. T.,” I said again, trying to project confidence. The firefighter running the game tapped his phone screen. “Correct!” The team cheered: “I knew it was a good idea to get an intern from the States.” “Good on ya, mate!” My anxiety eased, and I suddenly felt like I was going to fit in.


Meat. Pie.

Aoraki /Mt. Cook

Sumner, South Island

Aoraki, the Cloud Piercer

Growing up in Ohio, I thought I was immune to winter’s chill. I was wrong. After a brutal and cold two-hour hike, my classmates and I reached our destination: Hooker Lake, the glacier-made body of water that sat at the base of Aoraki (also known as Mt. Cook) — the tallest peak in New Zealand. We cheered and hugged each other excitedly — we must have looked like clueless tourists.

Meat Pies

It was at a small-town grocery in Lake Tekapo that I discovered the beauty that is meat pie, a dietary staple in New Zealand. It didn’t look appetizing, but as I took my first bite, I hummed in satisfaction. My teacher flinched when I loudly and uncharacteristically shouted, “This is so good!”

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The Comic Shop

Wellington may be unfamiliar, but the comic shop was not. Being there was almost akin to seeing a friend in a strange place, an ease that floods over you when you find something familiar in chaos. Beside me, a boy asked his mother which comic books he should buy. “You know I don’t know anything about superheroes,” she replied. Knowing how it feels when no one, even family, supports your passions, I spoke up. “Captain America is always a safe bet,” I said, trying to sound friendly. “Cap’s, like, the bestest Avenger ever. I’m American, so I should know.” He picked out some comics and his mother flashed me a thankful look. I couldn’t help but smile as they walked to the register.

In Wellington

X-mas in July

Te Ngaere

Christmas in July

The ninth floor of Fire and Emergency New Zealand decided to have a Christmas in winter celebration, since December is the dead of summer here. While we ate together, everyone wanted to know about my experiences of a white Christmas. I shared both the fond and the not-so-fond memories of snow from November to March. The beauty of the snow glistening in the morning sunrise, the comfort of snuggling under blankets and watching movies all day. However, there’s also the constant cold, shoveling the driveway every morning, the black ice. Granted, my coworkers thought that sounded lovely. They explained to me their Christmases. Children have to wait until it gets dark (around 9 p.m.) to see Christmas lights. There’s a feeling of not belonging every time they watch a Christmas movie that takes place in a snowy setting. But then, Christmas in summer sounds lovely to me. I suppose it’s all a matter of perspective.

Climbing at Te Ngaere

We stopped at the beautiful, beachy Te Ngaere Recreation Reserve on our way to Paihia in the Bay of Islands. As my classmates and I climbed some dark rock outcroppings, I felt my professor’s watchful gaze from the shore. I was the vulnerable one of the group — the one with anxiety, asthma and a tendency to be a bit reckless and clumsy. We continued deeper on the rocks, looking out for one another, pointing out slippery spots and the least risky paths. It felt like we were some sort of pack; I had been with these five people for more than a week, and because of our small class size, it didn’t take us long to become a team. Our bond would keep us safe.


Swarming the Beehive

Seal! Climbing the 3 Rs

Read more student travel experiences. go.eku.edu/AbroadBlog

That one time...

It was another morning tea and trivia time. Almost two weeks into my internship and my social anxiety had gratefully winded down. I was at ease answering the questions now. My coworkers relied on me for answers to movie questions and anything about American culture. “At what age did author Jane Austen die? A) 41; B) 51; C) 61; or D) 71. That one was a little outside my comfort zone, but EKU has an Honors course all about Jane Austen. A good friend of mine had taken it last semester. I tried to remember what she told me. “41,” I spoke up. “Correct! For once your American education didn’t cost us our perfect score,” a firefighter teased. “That was one time!” I said exasperatedly.

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Red Rocks Reserve

Today we walked about five miles from Wellington to Red Rocks Reserve. The hills outside Wellington distantly reminded me of the Appalachians. For a second, I let myself think I was home. When we reached the Red Rocks, which were, in fact, very red, I shared a knowing look with one of my classmates: time to climb! Climbing had become our way of bonding as a group. Soon, we reached a seal colony. Hundreds of fur seals laid upon the rocky shores. We admired them from a safe distance, not getting any closer than several feet. We had to run to catch the bus, making it with minutes to spare. As I took my inhaler, we all started laughing wearily. Today was probably the most fun I had so far on the trip. Small adventures like this, just goofing around with my classmates, mean the world to me.

Mt. Eden Climbing, again

at the Beach Mt. Victoria



I had decided to go see a movie at a local cinema, and during the final act of the film, I felt my seat rumble. I first thought that it was the kid behind me kicking my seat. When I got back to the hostel, I checked GeoNet, New Zealand’s natural hazard database.

Almost instantaneously, the memories of the past six weeks caught up to me like a powerful wave. I thought about my classmates and the people I’ve met; the long road trips enhanced with spontaneous sing-alongs, reflections, homework, movie nights in the girls’ room. I remembered how good it felt to nail the correct answer during trivia, my confidence growing with each passing day, the constant jokes and unfiltered wisdom the firefighters passed on to me.

Since New Zealand is located on the boundary between the Pacific and Australian tectonic plates, the country is susceptible to earthquakes. Several occur daily, though most are small and unnoticeable.

“Guys, guys!” I called out to my classmates. “There was an earthquake like an hour ago.” “Whoa, really?” one of the girls asked. “We were at the zoo and didn’t notice anything.” “I wondered why the displays at the Wellington Museum were shaking,” remarked one of the guys. Our first earthquake, and we barely noticed it.

Hiking up the 193-meter Mt. Victoria was the perfect way to end my trip. I gazed over the familiar skyline, my eyes traveling the city from west to north as the view faded into white from the sun’s intense rays.

At times, I felt alone and vulnerable being halfway around the world, stranded on tiny islands in the South Pacific. However, I was greeted with such hospitality from everyone I encountered. I never experienced anything like that in all my travels abroad. I’m grateful. n


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HEALTH AND TECH LEADER’S UPHILL RIDE THROUGH THE LAND OF OPPORTUNITY When he was a student at Eastern Kentucky University, Dr. Yousuf Ahmad, ’94 ’95, rode to campus on a World War II-era, single-speed bicycle. The vintage bike was given to him by his elderly neighbor to apologize for having once pointed a gun at Ahmad, calling him a “damn foreigner.” No anecdote better sums up the conflicted time at which Ahmad came to America to study business and computer science. In 1991, months after the end of Operation Desert Storm, Kentucky’s famed southern hospitality was juxtaposed with an undercurrent of suspicion. For every new friend who warmly welcomed Ahmad to this new culture, others had little love to spare for a stranger from the Persian Gulf region. The 16-year-old from Abu Dhabi knew this environment would be hard to navigate, but it never occurred to him not to try. Ahmad was determined to finish his education in just three years — occasional unfounded hostility was simply one of many challenges he’d have to overcome. “A big part of the culture shock came from filling out application forms that did not contain the demographic I belonged to,” Ahmad recalled. “I’m filling out my race, and the options are: Caucasian? Nope. African American? Nope. Pacific Islander? Nope. Native American? Nope. So I just filled in the category of ‘other.’ And I have remained ‘other,’ but accepting that was the first step to finding where I fit in.”

The lessons he learned on his journey contributed to his unprecedented success. He graduated in three years, despite the objections of an academic adviser who told him no non-native English speaker had ever managed to do so. Just one year later, at age 20, he earned an MBA. Today, he holds four degrees, including a master’s in health services administration from Xavier University and a doctorate in public health from the University of Kentucky. Ahmad is president and CEO of Cincinnati-based AssureCare, a company that facilitates better care coordination and collaboration between patients, health systems and insurance providers through technology, improving health care for millions of people. Prior to that, he spent 11 years in top leadership positions, including president and CEO at Mercy Health, one of the largest health systems in the country. The reason for Ahmad’s success is simple, according to his longtime friend, Kirby Easterling: “He has an uncommon sense of perseverance.”


I’ve never been around anybody else that works as hard as Yousuf. No excuses, only solutions — that’s who he is. He sees obstacles as ‘How can I overcome this? What do I need to do? Who do I need to seek out?’

Easterling is an executive in residence who teaches supply chain management at EKU, following a career as an international business executive with Corning. Despite his own considerable success, he’s still in awe of Ahmad’s dogged ability to win against all odds. “I’ve never been around anybody else that works as hard as Yousuf,” Easterling said. “No excuses, only solutions — that’s who he is. He sees obstacles as ‘How can I overcome this? What do I need to do? Who do I need to seek out?’” Ahmad chose to study in the United States because it was the first country offering business degrees with computer science concentrations. He came to Eastern almost at random — his parents were worried he’d fall through the cracks at a larger college, and they knew of Kentucky through equine sports popular in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). It was Easterling’s friendship that first showed him the true nature of Kentucky and helped him feel less like an “other.” Ahmad has now been a Kentuckian for nearly 30 years. “Who would’ve thought that a guy from Pikeville, Kentucky, and a kid from Abu Dhabi, UAE, would strike a relationship and become lifelong friends? I would take a bullet for the guy and vice versa,” Ahmad said. “I think Eastern allows that to happen.”

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Even when he felt less than welcome, Ahmad always looked for a lesson to be learned. Take, for instance, his neighbor: During his first semester at EKU, Ahmad was taking a shortcut along the man’s property line, trying to save time on his 3-mile walk to class. The man, named Will, approached him with a gun drawn, yelling, “Get off my property, you damn foreigner.” With no real recourse, Ahmad simply went back to walking the long way. At the end of the semester, Will knocked on his door and apologized for his rudeness. He’d watched the teen walk 3 miles each way, every day, through stifling humidity, torrential rains and bitter cold, never missing a class. He presented Ahmad with an antique Norman bicycle he’d brought back from World War II. The only thing he requested in return was for Ahmad to invite him to his graduation — although, sadly, Will passed away one week before the ceremony. Ahmad gave the bicycle to another international student when he graduated. “It was a very salient moment in my life. Here was this guy, this total jerk, who turned out to have a very compassionate heart,” Ahmad said. “Part of my learning is you don’t know what’s going on in people’s lives. You just have to be more forgiving, lean in and learn more, seek to understand.” n

at the


SCHOOL SAFETY A Kentucky Organization Based at EKU Recommends Holistic Approach

In an age when mass shootings are more common and school shootings are more visible than ever, a debate is raging: what’s the best way to keep students safe in the classroom? Should we rely on more security measures, such as metal detectors and resource officers? Or will improved mental health resources and a more inclusive environment help? The answer, according to the Kentucky Center for School Safety, is “Yes.” And then some. Since it was founded in 1999, KCSS has advocated for a far more holistic approach to school safety than the single issues debated at length by parents, pundits and politicians today. The organization recommends almost all of the measures being discussed in this important national conversation (with the exception of arming teachers, due to inherent safety risks).

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“It’s a comprehensive approach,” said Jon Akers, ’70 ’74, director of KCSS. “I use two terms: hardware and heartware. Hardware is the target-hardening component — locking the doors, buzz-in systems, metal detectors, emergency management plans. The heartware portion relies on teacher connectivity. It’s making sure teachers care, making sure kids aren’t being bullied, making sure you have a healthy, safe learning environment for the kids and the educators.”

Patrol Officer Chet Wright at Model Laboratory School while students visit their lockers before class.


KCSS has been located in Eastern Kentucky University’s Stratton Building, home of the College of Justice and Safety, since it was founded. It is a state partnership involving EKU, the University of Kentucky, Murray State University and the Kentucky School Boards Association, with a governor-appointed board of directors. However, it has become so synonymous with EKU that many people, including the University’s faculty and staff, believe it is a department within the college.

You start off with teacher and student relationships. That’s paramount. Then you get into emergency preparedness. And that goes for everything — there’s more to school safety than preparing for an active shooter.

Jon Akers, ’70 ’74

Director of the Kentucky Center for School Safety

The close proximity between the state’s premier college of justice and safety and its leading authority on school safety offers benefits to both organizations. They share research, data and trends to improve teaching and training of students and school resource officers. Professors pull double duty between the two organizations. They co-sponsor training and community education events — most recently, a threat assessment workshop for school guidance counselors that drew so much interest that attendance had to be limited. The organization’s most visible day-to-day job is providing Safe School Assessments, in which specially trained six-member teams travel to Kentucky schools to evaluate safety and climate. Two months prior to the visit, school officials must complete a survey and send any written emergency plans to KCSS. Following the evaluation, the organization provides recommendations. These evaluations are not audits — they are voluntary, but there is no shortage of public and private schools that choose to take part. KCSS will conduct nearly 90 assessments this year, a somewhat higher-than-normal number, likely in response to the shooting at Marshall County High School in Western Kentucky in January. That number doesn’t include less formal consultations, which are constant.

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“I get phone calls daily from principals and superintendents asking questions, clarifications,” Akers said. The agency is also instrumental in passing safe schools legislation. Akers helped craft Senate Bill 8 in 2013, the year after the Sandy Hook massacre. The bill was enacted into law, amending a state statute to require schools to conduct safety drills within 30 days after the start of the school year and report on the results. He is currently working with legislators on a new bill, one that would require the creation of threat assessment teams to identify students who may be a danger to themselves or others. A former teacher, vice principal and principal in the Lexington, Kentucky, school system, Akers has directed KCSS for 18 years. During that time, the safety landscape has changed drastically. Today, students lead digital lives that bring a whole host of complications unknown by previous generations. New research is regularly released redefining how school officials identify threats, communicate with troubled students and conduct drills. For example, the concept of the lockdown drill, in which students are trained to turn off the lights, lock or barricade their classroom doors and hide from an active shooter, doesn’t account for the increasing number of shootings taking place during lunch or during gatherings in gyms and cafeterias. In response, KCSS is now training school officials on a “situational awareness model,” in which students take note of their surroundings and plan exits constantly. At a recent drill at Corbin High School, 350 students managed to exit the cafeteria in 16 seconds, Akers said. “The dynamics and strategies of school safety are fluid. We stay ahead of that,” Akers said. However, there is one thing that has remained constant over the years — the need for a school climate where teachers and staff connect with students on an individual basis. What Akers refers to as “heartware” is sometimes referred to as a “public health model” because it is proactive, rather than reactive, to potential threats. It incorporates elements of community policing as well, a law enforcement method in which officers are assigned to specific neighborhoods so they can get to know the inhabitants. “You start off with teacher and student relationships. That’s paramount. Then you get into emergency preparedness,” Akers said. “And that goes for everything — there’s more to school safety than preparing for an active shooter.” Bullying. Suicide. Fire. Gangs. Drugs. Sexting. Parent aggression. KCSS trains school officials to respond to all of it, and regardless of the problem, school safety starts with “heartware.” It’s simple psychology — people trust a familiar face, and they’re more likely to share their thoughts and problems with people they

trust. To demonstrate this, Akers recalled a shooting that was averted in Massachusetts in 2001. “There were five kids that were planning a Columbine-like massacre the day before Thanksgiving. They had in their minds who they were going to kill and how they were going to do it,” he said. “It was going to be done before school, and they were all going to go up on the roof of the school after they shot everybody, do drugs and then shoot one another. That was their pact.” The plot was uncovered when a girl who was involved warned her favorite teacher. Though the case occurred nearly 20 years ago, it’s still upheld as an example of the power of positive teacher-student relationships. Teachers were asked to enact individual plans to connect with more students. Not only did students report feeling safer, but the plan seemed to provide truly holistic benefits — hallmarks like test scores, average GPA and attendance all increased, while disciplinary issues went down. Despite the visibility of gun violence in schools today, and budget shortages in schools across the country, the needle is moving in a positive direction. Statistics show schools are safer than they were in the 1990s. School shootings have not increased, despite being more visible in the internet age.

Teachers were asked to enact individual plans to connect with more students. Not only did students report feeling safer, but the plan seemed to hallmarks like test scores, average GPA and attendance all increased, while disciplinary issues went down.

“We don’t want to diminish the fear that people feel, but we want to keep things in the proper perspective,” Akers said. “Are schools safe? Yes. Can they be safer? Certainly. They’re safer today than they ever have been, but they’ll be safer tomorrow due to new technologies, new strategies.” In Kentucky, KCSS and EKU will be at the forefront. n


provide truly holistic benefits —




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For decades, serious rock climbers from all over the world have traveled to Kentucky’s Red River Gorge to take on its challenging rock faces and take in the breathtaking views. However, there has long been a sharp divide between these climbers and the community. Many locals viewed climbers as unemployed partiers and troublemakers, an image that has persisted since the first small groups of climbers began frequenting the area in the late 1960s. Two EKU professors are revisiting that image, finding that today’s rock climbers are quite the opposite — and that rock climbing could be an important revenue source for some of the nation’s poorest counties. EKU professors Dr. James Maples and Dr. Brian Clark found that climbers bring $3.8 million a year into the six Red River Gorge counties. Their economic impact study was published in the 2017 Journal of Appalachian Studies and has since been featured in numerous trade publications and newspapers. “In the next 10 years, we’re going to see the climbing community become very valuable to Eastern Kentucky,” said Maples. “They are mobilizing resources into this region in a way politicians can’t.” Working with Maples on the study inspired Clark to complete his doctoral dissertation on outdoor ethics awareness among climbers in

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the Red. With increased climbing tourism, Clark found a need for improved education to help climbers reduce their environmental impact. No such training existed specific to the climbing community. “Once we get people in, we have to make sure we’re minimizing our impact as much as we can, so that Brian’s kids and my kids can experience rock climbing in the Red,” Maples said.

In the next 10 years,

we’re going to see the climbing community become very valuable to Eastern Kentucky.

A PASSION PROJECT For Clark, climbing is as much a personal interest as a professional one. “There’s nothing like it when you get to the top of the climb, and you’re worn out, but you feel great that you’ve figured it out,” he said. “You look around, and you see the environment and the cliffs from the other valley. It’s instant gratification.” After years of playing organized sports, Clark craved a different experience. In 1999, some of his friends taught him the basics of rock climbing. “I was hooked,” he said. But he had found more than a sport. “It’s a climbing community. A lot of people view it as a way of life, a mindset, a culture or an identity.”

OPPOSITE, LEFT: Land of the Arches check-in offices. OPPOSITE, RIGHT: Dr. Brian Clark in the Red River Gorge, Fall 2017. THIS PAGE: Climbers at the Motherlode in

the Bald Rock Recreational Preserve, an area owned by the Red River Gorge Climbers’ Coalition, Fall 2017.

Climbers take a break while exploring the Motherlode. OPPOSITE, LEFT: Land of the Arches Campground in Campton, Kentucky, hosts tent campers. OPPOSITE, RIGHT: Beer taps at Sky Bridge Station in Pine Ridge, Kentucky.

Clark’s love for climbing is partially responsible for his choice of career. He was EKU’s director of adventure programs in Campus Recreation for eight years before becoming a professor in the Department of Recreation and Parks Administration. The sport opened his eyes to new possibilities. “It helped me realize that this is not only something I love and am passionate about, but this could be a career,” he said. That passion made Clark jump at the chance to work on the economic impact study. It had been started by Maples and former EKU professor Ryan Sharp before Sharp accepted a new position with Kansas State University. The departing professor knew Clark would make a great replacement and introduced him to Maples. The two discovered a shared passion for research and the outdoors, and quickly developed a unique professional camaraderie. CLIMBING OUT OF POVERTY Their study, titled “Climbing Out of Poverty: The Economic Impact of Rock Climbing in and around Eastern Kentucky’s Red River Gorge,” was a monumental research effort. Maples and Clark spent weeks in the Red surveying hundreds of climbers. They distributed 727 surveys, covering 95 percent of the most popular climbing spots. The key finding is that climbers are good for the regional economy. Climbing is a form of sustainable tourism, characterized by low

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environmental impact and limited disruption of the local culture. Climbing could be an economic lifeline for the six counties the Red spans — Estill, Owsley, Wolfe, Lee, Menifee and Powell counties — all of which yield poverty rates well above the national average. The numbers tell a promising story: Climbers bring a total of $3.8 million to the regional economy each year. Climbing tourism has supported 41 full-time positions in the Red counties, paying an estimated $826,352 in labor wages. It has contributed approximately $200,000 to state and federal taxes. Moreover, some die-hard climbers have bought second homes near the Red River Gorge and relocated there full time. Climbing organizations like Muir Valley and the Red River Gorge Climbers’ Coalition have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars into the region.

Climbers want to spend money in the region, but they don’t want to change it.

That’s a good thing.

Surprisingly, the pair also found that the interests of climbers often line up with the interests of the community. When surveyed on what type of developments they would like to see in the Red, climbers overwhelmingly preferred local establishments to national chains. As Maples put it, they don’t want to turn it into “the next Gatlinburg or the next Dollywood” — areas so focused on tourism the sense of community gets lost. Climbers “want to spend money in the region, but they don’t want to change it. That’s a good thing,” said Maples. Local businesses are beginning to take advantage of the untapped market. Take, for example, the Bear Track grocery store in Lee County. “I remember the first time I went in there, it was a run-of-the-mill country gas station,” recalled Maples. “A couple times after that, I started noticing

at the register they had CLIF bars … and climber hand cream.”

climbers and is a critical step in the “sustainable” part of sustainable tourism. Maples said it was a turning point for the sport.

The Bear Track today offers loads of climbing gear. Businesses have realized climbers want to spend money but had no place to buy their gear outside of big-box sporting good stores in other counties.

“My big hope for Brian is that he can establish some of these formalized LNT measures,” Maples continued. “He’s the LNT guy for outdoor recreation. I think that the door is wide open for that to happen.”

The most surprising finding of the study is the picture it paints of the average Red climber. In short, there is a large population of affluent, educated people — not the unemployed partiers locals expect. One out of five climbers holds a terminal degree in his or her field. “These climbers I’m meeting, they’re professors, accountants, attorneys, engineers,” said Maples. “They’re not the people that are damaging the Red or bad for the community.” LEAVING NO TRACE Clark’s doctoral dissertation functions as a follow-up to the economic impact study. In it, he addresses at a highly personal level the ageold struggle between economic development and environmental conservation. The study seeks to understand conservation behaviors and education in climbers, using Leave No Trace (LNT) as a benchmark. The LNT program is a set of seven principles that help outdoor enthusiasts make decisions that create the least environmental impact. Clark found that climbers who were aware of LNT ethics were more likely to follow those guidelines, and those who weren’t aware of them were eager to learn. Clark’s dissertation is the first major research project to study LNT ethics knowledge among

NEXT STEPS The duo does not plan to slow down their work in the rock climbing community. Maples and Clark recently contributed a collection of 50 interviews documenting the history of climbing in the Red to EKU’s William Berge Oral History Center. The collection outlines the history of the Red River Gorge climbing community back to 1968 and includes

To have a place

in the outdoors we can escape to is a really valuable thing. We have to protect this place.

interviews with early climbers in the area and historic figures in the climbing community, as well as experts and local residents documenting their perspectives on the rich history of the region. They are also continuing Clark’s work by building a better measure of minimum impact behaviors in climbers, using the Red River Gorge’s sister climbing area, West Virginia’s New River Gorge. There, they are also completing another climbing economic impact study with EKU professor Dr. Michael Bradley. The work will keep progressing — at the top of one climb, Maples and Clark find more to be done. But their effort will be invaluable to preserving the Red and other similar areas for years to come, both economically and environmentally. “To have a place in the outdoors we can escape to is a really valuable thing,” said Maples. “We have to protect this place so that these spaces are available for generations.” n


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Heather Howell, ’95, has a complicated relationship with the word “can’t.” You can hear her disdain for it every time she says it. On the flipside, the word is responsible for some of her greatest successes. For example, when she decided she wanted to leave her hometown of London, Ohio, and attend college out of state, her parents told her she’d have to pay her own way. When she told them she planned to get a full ride through volleyball, her father reminded her no female athlete from her school had ever earned a Division I scholarship. “He looked at me, and he said, ‘No way. You can’t go play volleyball on a scholarship.’ And it was that word — can’t — that really fueled me. I quit all my other sports and dedicated all my time to volleyball,” she said. She’s always loved proving people wrong. Of course, her father knew that about her. That’s why he challenged her in the first place — to provoke that defiant spirit. Not only did she earn her scholarship to EKU, playing four years under coach Geri Polvino, but her can-do attitude has helped her shatter every barrier she’s faced in her diverse, successful career. Howell is director of emerging brands for Louisville-based Brown-Forman, the $3 billion spirits company best known as the maker of Jack Daniel’s. She leads a team of young women and men building the newest brands in the company’s portfolio.


Launching a new label presents a unique challenge in an industry with as much history as Kentucky bourbon. Imagine a group of bourbon drinkers, and you may picture a group of Southern gentlemen sitting in a smoky room discussing classic cars and sharing tips on improving their golf swings. Brand loyalty is rampant — “new” can be viewed as a sort of curse word. “We are creatures of habit. Think about your everyday life: You know where your clothes are; you know where your toothbrush is; you know what you like to eat; you do mostly the same things day in and day out,” Howell said. “To get anyone to switch a brand that they love is very challenging.” However, more and more women and millennials are enjoying America’s favorite caramel-colored spirit, a trend Howell’s team both capitalizes on and influences through brands like Cooper’s Craft, a new Brown-Forman bourbon aged in specially toasted white oak barrels handcrafted by Louisville’s skilled coopers. The gentle spirit is made for beginning bourbon aficionados and experienced drinkers alike — “a gateway bourbon,” as Howell called it. “There is this deluxe, luxury feel that goes along with these brands that more people want to be a part of,” she said. “Instead of just walking by the brown spirits aisle, women are starting to stop. They’re getting more entrenched in learning how it’s made.” For Howell, it’s a dream job that combines her passions for workplace equality and disrupting the status quo. She pairs that passion with an appreciation for teamwork she learned captaining her Colonels volleyball team and a strong work ethic forged at an early age. Her father owned a pharmacy, and her mother owned three Crown Hallmark stores — if she wanted any spending money, she had to put in a day’s work dusting countertops and stocking card racks.

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ABOVE, LEFT: Some of Brown-Forman’s emerging brands of spirits. RIGHT: Howell’s team, from left: Lindsay Engle, Jack Muldoon,

Heather Howell, Ben Brown and Kelli Bauman. (Not pictured: Suzanne Brown, Andrea Duvall and Sean Wachsman)

“I never got anything handed to me. My parents never said, ‘Here’s $20, go and have a great time,’” she said. However, “the whole time I was begrudgingly going to work, I was actually getting an MBA at a very young age.” After graduating from EKU with a degree in human resources and a minor in marketing, she worked for a talent agency, rising through the ranks to vice president. She then worked for Humana in a management position before 15 years of corporate life took their toll. “Everybody at some point has to do the old check of, Do I love what I do, and am I passionate about it?” she said. Her job didn’t pass that check. She took a leap, going into business with the founder of Rooibee Red Tea, an organic tea startup. Under her leadership, the company grew more than 1,400 percent in just five years. That’s what caught the attention of Brown-Forman, which was seeking someone experienced in startup culture and emerging beverage brands. What she finds most fulfilling, she said, is helping others succeed — sometimes by using the same sort of reverse psychology her father pulled on her. Watching her son and daughter achieve whatever they set their minds to, or helping a young team member develop a winning communications strategy, means more to Howell than any personal achievement. “If you put up the winning numbers, it’s a reflection on all of us,” she said. “We all get the same gold ring at the end of the day. We all create emerging brands that blow up here at Brown-Forman. We all prosper.” n




There it was, sitting on a tree branch at eye level barely 2 feet away, “just as curious about what I was doing there as I was with what she was doing.” That’s how Nathanael (Knate) Bartosch recalls his up-close introduction to a wild crowned lemur in the forests of Madagascar. The senior anthropology major and Honors Program member at EKU spent 10 weeks in Summer 2017 in the island nation off the east coast of Africa documenting the ecology and social behavior of two rare and endangered species of primates, crowned lemurs and Sanford’s lemurs, and their interactions with local farmers.


TOP: Knate Bartosch enjoys the scenery in Madagascar. MIDDLE: Bartosch spots a lemur. BOTTOM: Bartosch with Malagasy project manager

Louis-Philippe d’Arvisenet.

Bartosch’s project, titled “Lemurs Living Near Farmers (Year 2): Behavioral Study of Endangered Primates,” so impressed judges that he was named one of two winners nationally of the 2017 Award for Academic Achievement Abroad presented by The Forum on Education Abroad. Bartosch, whose experience was funded by the Laura R. Kennamer Endowed Scholarship, is the first college student from a Kentucky institution to earn the award and only the second student from a regional university since the Forum began in 2004 to recognize two students annually.

i He ate Malagasy, learned Malagasy and lived Malagasy. It is this sort of experience that anthropologists seek. You cannot learn about people’s perspectives unless you live with them day after day. “I have never before had a student gather so much data in such a short time, let alone have a student accomplish so many tasks, seize on so many opportunities and emerge so well-rounded,” said his faculty mentor, Dr. Benjamin Freed, who accompanied Bartosch to Madagascar. “He entered the study as an undergraduate, and he emerged a colleague.”

The two camped beside a remote forest in northern Madagascar, conducting dawn-to-dusk observations. “For nearly six weeks, we’d wake up, eat, hike a mile, find our groups, follow our groups until the evening, hike back, wash, eat, write up notes and, finally, sleep in our tents,” Freed noted. Bartosch, an Honors Program member and Virginia native who had never traveled outside the U.S., learned Malagasy culture and language from shop owners, local farmers, children and, especially, from Louis-Philippe d’Arvisenet, the Malagasy project manager and cultural guide who also mentored him. According to Freed, Bartosch’s attempts to learn the native language endeared him to the local population. “He ate Malagasy, learned Malagasy and lived Malagasy. It is this sort of experience that anthropologists seek. You cannot learn about people’s perspectives unless you live with them day after day.” Bartosch presented his project at the annual conference of the Forum on Education Abroad, which approximately 1,400 international education professionals attended in March 2018. EKU President Michael Benson was on hand and exclaimed afterward: “I don’t know if I’ve ever been more proud of a student in my nearly 25 years in public education! It was absolutely incredible!” Even now, Bartosch’s mind can’t help but wander back to that life-changing moment when he came eye to eye with a lemur. “We live in a wide, wide world that is full of experiences and people that you can learn so much from,” Bartosch said. “When you leave your comfort zone and what you know, the comparisons you gain are incredible.” n



– ATHLETICS HIGHLIGHTS – KENTUCKY NATIVE NAMED MEN’S BASKETBALL HEAD COACH A.W. Hamilton was hired as EKU’s 21st men’s basketball head coach on March 23. A native of Georgetown, Kentucky, and a former prep star at Scott County High School, Hamilton spent the 2017-18 season as an assistant coach under Kevin Keatts at North Carolina State University. He helped lead the Wolfpack to the NCAA Tournament with a 21-12 record, including wins over No. 2 Arizona, No. 2 Duke and No. 10 North Carolina. Before joining Keatts in Raleigh, Hamilton was the head coach of one of the top prep basketball programs in the country, Hargrave Military Academy, from 2011 to 2017. Hargrave reached unprecedented levels of success during Hamilton’s six-year tenure, compiling a record of 237-22, averaging 40 wins per season and winning the 2016 National Prep Championship. Hamilton was introduced to Colonel fans at a press conference on March 28. He promised his team would play an exciting, up-tempo brand of basketball: “I’m not going to stand up here and promise that we’re going to win the OVC Championship next year. But what I will promise … these guys will play harder and

with more passion than anybody in the country, and they’re going to make you so proud.” He followed that up by saying: “When I was a kid, they always told me ‘dream big,’ and because of that, days like this are possible. I want to thank you all so much. Thank you for bringing me home. Go Colonels.”

MURPHY, SOFTBALL TEAM BREAK RECORDS In 2018, the EKU softball team won 45 games to set a new program record for victories in a single season, a record that had been in place for 14 years. The Colonels also hosted their first home tournament since 2009. Jane Worthington and the program reached 700 career wins, making her just the 32nd active head coach to reach that milestone at one institution. The squad set a new team home run record of 87, breaking the previous record by 40. The stout lineup garnered national attention, ranking as high as first in the nation in home runs per game. EKU won its first OVC regular-season championship since 2004. After falling in the championship game of the OVC Tournament, the Colonels hosted their first-ever postseason tournament in the National Invitational Softball Championships. After winning the regional in dramatic fashion, EKU advanced to the championships in Los Angeles, California. Senior Paige Murphy etched her name in the record books after breaking 15 program records, being named to the NFCA All-Region First Team and as the OVC Player of the Year, the OVC Female Athlete of the Year (the first-ever EKU softball player to claim the title) and the first All-American in program history.

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COLEMAN NAMED ALL-AMERICAN Jamaine Coleman capped an incredible 2017-18 EKU athletics year by becoming the NCAA runner-up in the men’s 3,000-meter steeplechase at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships at Historic Hayward Field in June. Racing live on ESPN, Coleman overcame rainy conditions to capture second place in the finals of the event with a personal-best time of 8 minutes, 33.5 seconds. That time just missed Ole Hesselbjerg’s school-record time of 8 minutes, 33.2 seconds. Minnesota’s Obsa Ali edged Coleman for the national title with a time of 8 minutes, 32.2 seconds. His silver-medal finish is tied for the best national finish ever by an EKU student-athlete. Ken Glover (1981 men’s outdoor high jump), Jackie Humphrey (1987 women’s outdoor 100-meter hurdles) and Jacob Korir (2008 men’s indoor 5,000 meters) also won NCAA silver medals for the Colonels. Coleman was named first team All-American following the meet, and his performance helped the EKU men’s track and field team finish 35th at the NCAA Championships. The Colonels finished the championships tied with host Oregon, North Carolina, South Carolina and Maryland, and ahead of the likes of Arizona, BYU, Virginia, Michigan State, Louisville and Tennessee.

HOLDERBACH FOURTH COLONEL DRAFT PICK IN THREE YEARS The 2018 season was full of amazing accomplishments for Eastern Kentucky baseball catcher Alex Holderbach.

catcher in the nation. He was the first player from the Ohio Valley Conference to be chosen as a finalist for the award.

It was all capped off in June when Holderbach was drafted in the 16th round by the Houston Astros in the 2018 MLB Draft. The Fairfield, Ohio, native was the fourth draft pick for the Colonels in the last three years. He is the highest drafted Colonel since Richie Rodriguez was picked in the ninth round in 2012.

Holderbach hit .352 (81-for-230) with 12 doubles, two triples, 18 home runs, 55 runs scored and 79 RBIs in 2018.

In addition to being drafted, Holderbach earned All-America honors from three organizations. He also received the highest academic/athletic honor in college athletics when he was chosen to the Academic All-America® Baseball Team. Holderbach was one of just 11 players, and the only catcher, from all NCAA Division I teams chosen to the Academic All-America® first team. Holderbach concluded his junior year with a 3.89 cumulative grade point average while majoring in physical education. Holderbach was one of three finalists from across the nation for the 2018 Johnny Bench Award. The award recognizes the top


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Before he was a legendary coach — before all the championships, awards and protégés, Rick Erdmann was a paperboy. The son of a grade-school teacher and a steel mill worker, Erdmann pedaled the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette to residents of Ligonier, Pennsylvania, a rural hamlet nestled in the state’s mountainous southwest. The rugged, blue-collar region taught Erdmann the values of hard work and perseverance. It also taught him to love football. Erdmann grew up in Ligonier but was born 20 miles west in Latrobe, the birthplace of Arnold Palmer, the banana split, Rolling Rock beer and — legend has it — professional American football. At that time, the best football players in the world came from the steel towns of western Pennsylvania.


39 seasons






OHIO valley conference coach of the year


former athletes WENT ON TO become olympians

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Erdmann was not one of the best football players in the world. But he was a football player — a strong, speedy halfback who, in 1960, earned a partial scholarship to play at Ashland College (now Ashland University) in northern Ohio. College, as it often does, broadened Erdmann’s horizons. Specifically, other sports existed beyond football! In Ligonier, football was life. What were all these newfangled games? One sport, in particular, captured Erdmann’s attention — track and field. So he joined Ashland’s track squad as a sprinter and was a member of several record-breaking relay teams. He also discovered a knack for distance running. “Every year, around Thanksgiving, our track coach made the sprinters run a 6-mile race, and I always won it,” Erdmann said. “One year, as a prize, he gave me a live turkey.” This was one lucky turkey, as Erdmann is a renowned champion of defenseless animals. “I let it go in the woods,” he said, proudly. When he was a senior at Ashland, Erdmann and a few buddies drove down Interstate 75 to Daytona Beach, Florida, for spring break. Along the way, they stopped in Richmond so that Erdmann could apply for a graduate assistantship in EKU’s physical education department.

He got the position. From 1965 to 1966, Erdmann lived in since-demolished Dupree Hall and earned a master’s in education. His fellow graduate assistants were Jim Ward, who won 628 games as EKU’s head baseball coach from 1980 to 2001, and Joe Blankenship, who won two national titles as an EKU assistant football coach under Roy Kidd from 1977 to 1995. Erdmann left EKU in 1966. After bouncing around as a high school football coach, in 1970 he became the first-ever track and field and cross country coach at Hagerstown (Maryland) Junior College. You know you’re old-school in 2018 when you were considered old-school in the 1970s. The Baltimore Evening Sun wrote of Erdman: “Obviously, he’s a throwback ... to the days when the two most important things to a coach were teaching and competing, not a limitless recruiting budget and a TV show.” Erdmann’s budget at Hagerstown was comically limited. A TV show? Inconceivable. He had no scholarships or dormitories to offer recruits. With his back against the wall, Erdmann went to work, meticulously building Hagerstown into a JUCO juggernaut. When Erdmann was named the 1978 National Junior College Cross Country Coach of the Year, EKU came calling. The Erdmann magic arrived in Richmond in September 1979 and was unwavering for

nearly 40 years: 73 Ohio Valley Conference titles, 70 Ohio Valley Conference Coach of the Year awards, and more than 40 All-Americans and three Olympians. Erdmann arrived at the twilight of his career a legend. But numbers are just numbers. Medals rust. Trophies eventually collect dust in a glass case. Erdmann’s greatest legacy — and his greatest source of pride — will always be his student-athletes.




“I love seeing kids improve and develop as individuals. To me, the most gratifying part about coaching is watching my kids be successful in life, not just financially, but in whatever their interests are.

Erdmann finds it increasingly difficult to keep up with all of his former athletes. “I don’t do the internet very well,” he admitted. That might be an understatement, but he can still rattle off, with great pride, where most of them are now. Educators, doctors, lawyers, soldiers, business executives — Erdmann is proud of them all. “I don’t get too hung up on all the awards,” Erdmann said. “I just love seeing kids be successful.” Out of all of Erdmann’s championships, only one had eluded him — OVC men’s outdoor track and field. On May 12, the Colonels sent their beloved coach out on top, stunning the conference by winning the men’s outdoor title by more than 30 points.

Get your EKU apparel online or in person. Visit shopeku.com or stop by our pop-up shops at EKU home football games.

Two days later, Erdmann announced his retirement. It was a storybook ending to a storybook career. n


All alumni are welcome! Join us as we gather for food, fun, laughter and shared memories here at The Campus Beautiful. We are rolling out the maroon carpet with a weekend full of exciting events and celebrations. Reconnect with your Colonel family at EKU.


Cruise to your official starting point for the 2018 EKU Homecoming and

Reunion Weekend! Simply pull up to the curb in front of Keen Johnson to receive a campus map, schedule of events, parking directions and a special

EKU Alumni window decal to show your Colonel pride. For a full list of Friday events, visit homecoming.eku.edu.

Campus Tours 1 p.m. – 5 p.m. | Alumni Center at Blanton House

SPECIAL RECOGNITION FOR CLASSES: Celebrate the classes of 1943, 1948, 1953, 1958 and 1963, the Pioneer Class of 1968, the classes of 1973, 1978, 1983, 1988, 1993, 1998, 2003 and 2008, and the Distinguished Alumni Award recipients.

Visit the revitalized Campus Beautiful with a guide during a one-hour walk/

ride tour. See the memories being made in our new spaces while reminiscing about many of the iconic spaces you grew to love. Visit the Homecoming website to reserve your preferred tour departure time.

Town and Gown Tailgate 5 p.m. – 8 p.m. | Courthouse Square

Join the Richmond Chamber of Commerce as it hosts their annual Town and

Gown Tailgate. With the excitement of the parade now being held on Friday night, the Chamber will be hosting a party with free food, family activities, music entertainment and more. This will be a great way to welcome in the parade and celebrate EKU Homecoming like never before!

Homecoming Parade Presented by Bluegrass Hearing Clinic 6 p.m. | Lancaster Avenue and Main Street Admire the floats and catch candy as you watch Eastern students and

community members come together for the Annual Homecoming Parade. If you have a group that wants to participate in the parade, please contact Sarah.Baker@eku.edu.


Young Alumni After-Party 9 p.m. – Midnight | Paddy Wagon

Join us at the Paddy Wagon on Main Street for a special gathering of

Colonel graduates from the past 15 years. The Paddy Wagon will collect the standard cover charge. 42 FALL 2018

OCTOBER 19-20, 2018 To RSVP, visit homecoming.eku.edu

and check the up-to-date event listings for affinity gatherings, rain locations and more!

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 20 Homecoming 5K Presented by Soft Shoe 8 a.m. | Fitness and Wellness Center

Start your morning off right by running the 41st Annual Homecoming

5K through The Campus Beautiful. Online registration is available through October 15 with the early bird rate ending on October 1. Race day registration will be available. View rates and register at campusrec.eku.edu/eku-homecoming-5k-2018.

Homecoming Tailgate 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. | Alumni Coliseum Parking Lot

Enjoy connecting with friends at the Homecoming Tailgate. Be on the

lookout for the Colonel Walk at 1 p.m. when you can cheer on the football team as they head to Roy Kidd Stadium to take on the Racers.

J. W. Spider Thurman Alumni Awards and Pioneer Brunch Presented by Richmond Tourism

9:30 a.m. – Noon | Keen Johnson Building

Come celebrate EKU’s 2018 Alumni Award recipients and the Pioneer Class

of 1968. Enjoy the camaraderie of fellow Colonels and a festive celebration of

EKU’s finest graduates over brunch. Guests are welcome to arrive by 9:30 a.m. with the program starting at 10 a.m.

Homecoming Football Game 3 p.m. | Roy Kidd Stadium

Cheer on our Colonels to victory over the Murray State Racers. Enjoy the

halftime festivities as we introduce the 2018 Homecoming Court and crown this year’s Queen and King.

But wait, there’s more!

Stay Connected as a #ForeverColonel

Check out the complete schedule of events as we continue to add to your Homecoming and Reunion Weekend experience at homecoming.eku.edu. See what your department or college has planned for you, and find details on affinity gatherings. such as the Biannual African American Reunion and Honors Program breakfast.

@EKUalums EKU Alums @ekualums alumni.eku.edu EKU MAGAZINE 43

– ALUMNI NEWS – In this

issue Class Notes Alumni Profiles Johannah Leake and Logan Cambron Luke and Kaelyn Prince Sonya Begay

In Memoriam

Dear Fellow Alumni, I was asked recently why I continue to stay engaged with Eastern. After thinking for a second, I responded with something along the lines of “because I have to keep trying to give back to this place as much as it gave me.” I am so thankful for Eastern. For the professors that shaped me. The friends that taught me. The confidence I gained. The world that was shared. What did Eastern give to you? How were you changed by your time as a Colonel? I challenge you to take some time to reflect on these questions. Personally, in my reflection, I am taken back to July 4, 2002. On this day, I boarded a flight bound for London, England, for a five-week study-abroad trip. Flying. On a major U.S. holiday. To another country. Less than a year after 9/11. My mom didn’t let my stepdad turn on the radio or TV until I called to say I made it safely. This is what I reflect on because that trip changed me. I discovered a love for travel, lost shyness in meeting new people, found confidence and bravery. That is what education

does for people. It exposes you to new experiences, expands your personal growth and challenges your understanding. I am so incredibly proud of my Eastern education, and I am proud of the education our Eastern continues to provide to students today. I hope that you are, too. When beloved Alma Mater Memory recalls Other days of youth and laughter In thy gracious halls; When thy sons and daughters scattered Turn again to thee, Still thy lamp is brightly lighting Us afar, that we may see. — Eastern Alma Mater With Colonel Pride,

Amy Jo Gabel Classes of ’05 and ’08

For a comprehensive list of Class Notes or to share your good news with fellow alums, visit

alumni.eku.edu/ Class-Notes. We want to hear from you!

Amy Jo Gabel ’05 ’08 ( LEFT ) and Jacqueline (Schulz) Hawkins ’03 ( THIRD FROM LEFT ) at Stonehenge during their study abroad travels in July 2002.

44 FALL 2018

Class Notes Janet Brown, ’61, retired after a 34-year career in education. Norma Meek, ’64, has announced her retirement as the executive director of the Paramount Arts Center in Ashland. Meek plans to spend more time watching her grandchildren play tennis. She also enjoys golfing and playing bridge. J. Dudley Goodlette, ’70, joined Henderson, Franklin, Starnes & Holt, P.A., the largest, locally based law firm between Tampa and Miami. Sue Stout Tamme, ’72, was elected to the Baptist Health Foundation of Greater Louisville board for a four-year term. Connie Freking, ’74, is the new executive director for Holly Hill Child and Family Solutions. Deputy Chief Charles Lowery Jr., ’75, retired after 41 years of service to the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office and was awarded the Exceptional Service Medal, the first time this medal has been issued in the history of the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office. Betty White, ’76, changed the lives of hundreds of northern Kentucky children as a kindergarten teacher from 1959 to 1979. The Behringer-Crawford Museum has dedicated part of its fourth floor to a new exhibit titled “Mrs. Betty White’s Kindergarten,” funded in part by White’s family and the Northern Kentucky Heritage League. Brian Cornish, ’77, retired on June 23, 2017, after more than 38 years of service as a security police officer at the Department of Energy Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Site. He worked a total of 40 years in public safety, including 15 concurrent years as a volunteer firefighter/EMT/fire investigator. Harvey Hodak, ’79, was inducted into the Defense Logistics Agency Land and Maritime Hall of Fame. Timmy McDaniel, ’82, recently competed in his first Boston Marathon with a time of 3:26:55, despite challenging conditions. Walter Palmer, ’86, a leading expert in the retail loss prevention industry, was interviewed for a Lexington Herald-Leader podcast about managing risk. He also appeared on WEKU’s Eastern Standard “Focus on Business” program. Palmer’s business, PCG Solutions, was recently purchased by a national risk management company. Murray Robinson, ’86, retired from the federal government after 24 years of service, first with the Federal Bureau of Prisons and then with the U.S. Probation office. He served in the Middle District of Alabama and the Eastern District of Kentucky. Prior to his civilian service, he served in the U.S. military as a field artillery officer after receiving a commission through the ROTC program at EKU. He is employed currently as the state coordinator for education, programs and re-entry for the Alabama Department of Corrections. Dr. Caroline Atkins, ’87, has been named as an assistant professor and assistant to the Office of the President to specifically lead diversity efforts at Morehead State University. Sandra Fraley, ’87, has joined the Steptoe & Johnson PLLC energy team. Fraley joins the firm after a career with Chesapeake Energy Corporation, where she served as assistant general counsel, lead counsel and Eastern Division managing attorney. Celie Niehaus, ’87, was named the new chief compliance officer for BBVA Compass. Niehaus has more than 30 years’ experience in risk management and oversees compliance activities, including the bank’s retail, commercial and wealth units. David Raleigh, ’87, was named the new superintendent of LaRue County Schools.

JohannaH Leake, ’17, and Logan Cambron

No-BAKED IDEA TAKES OFF Eating raw cookie dough is one of life’s greatest guilty pleasures. Thankfully, a young EKU alumna is removing “guilt” from the equation. Johannah Leake recently co-founded The Dough Bug, a business that makes cookie dough. What’s special about this cookie dough — aside from the wide variety of delicious flavors — is that it’s completely safe to eat raw. Leake co-founded the business with her partner Logan Cambron, a University of Kentucky graduate. While on a post-graduation trip to Peru, the two foodies discovered a shared entrepreneurial spirit. They initially planned to open a gourmet popsicle shop after seeing similar businesses in the South American country. However, when they returned home to Lexington, Kentucky, they learned a popsicle business had already opened in a high-end shopping center. They regrouped and came up with another idea — edible cookie dough, made with pasteurized eggs and heat-treated flour so it poses no health risk. Leake and Cambron distribute their delicious treats at pop-up shops across Kentucky and through local businesses. Interested in trying it out? Simply look for The Dough Bug’s iconic 1978 Volkswagen Beetle and teal tent at pop-up sites, or visit thedoughbug.com for more information. n



Mike Jones, ’88, was named head coach of boys basketball at Easley High School in Easley, South Carolina. Gregory F. Simpson, ’88, was elected to serve as 2018 president of the board of directors for the Association for Talent Development New York City, the leading association of workplace learning and performance professionals in the world. As a volunteer, he leads a team of nine vice presidents as well as an extended leadership team of 14. Tony Hatton, ’90, has been appointed Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection commissioner and the Energy and Environment Cabinet secretary. Ken Armstrong, ’91, has been named public safety commissioner for Lexington by Mayor Jim Gray. Armstrong has been director of code enforcement since 2015. He retired from the police department as an assistant chief in 2015, after almost 25 years. Armstrong is a certified instructor with the Kentucky Law Enforcement Council and is an adjunct professor at EKU, teaching community policing, safe-by-design, crime prevention through environmental design, problem solving and law enforcement leadership.

Luke, ’18, and Kaelyn Prince, ’18

James Evans Jr., ’92, was named 2017 Superintendent of the Year by the Kentucky Association of School Administrators. After leaving EKU, he went home to teach in Lee County and has been there 24 years.


Bobby Bowling, ’93, was named coach of the Somerset High School girls basketball team.

Sometimes it’s a blessing when life doesn’t go quite according to plan. Just ask Luke, ’18, and Kaelyn (Herrin) Prince, ’18.

After more than 20 years away, Joe Asher, ’95, found his way back to his hometown as a news reporter at the Harlan Daily Enterprise. He graduated from Harlan High School in 1987.

Their first child, Samuel, was due on May 9, 2018, in the middle of finals week and the day of a critical group presentation for Kaelyn, two days before she was scheduled to graduate summa cum laude, three days before Luke was to do the same, and four days before Mother’s Day. As if he sensed the big weekend for mom and dad, the little Colonel delayed his debut until 1:02 a.m. the following Tuesday, May 15. It all made for a memorable week.

Kelly Marcum, ’93, is recognized for using an innovative approach to teaching math in her classroom at North Laurel Middle School.

Molly McDermott, ’95, has been named the new head volleyball coach at Notre Dame Academy in Park Hills, Kentucky. Kerri L. Leininger, ’96, was appointed vice president of government relations by CalPortland. She will be located in Washington, D.C., and will monitor and lobby advocacy issues at the state and federal levels. Neil Thornbury, ’96, was appointed interim CEO of T.J. Regional Health. Rob Kepperling, ’99, was named the Illinois branch manager of Erie Insurance Group based in Erie, Pennsylvania. Eric Rannenberg, ’99, graduated as part of the first cohort of the new master’s of applied statistics online professional graduate program.

“We’ve both always been the type of people who like to challenge ourselves, and we certainly created a ... challenging weekend,” Luke said. “As much as we wanted to meet Samuel, God planned his birth perfectly so that we were not only able to complete finals week, but also walk at graduation and celebrate Mother’s Day with our (out-of-town) families. We were certainly blessed.”

Tim Gibbs, ’00, is the CEO of Ashland Alliance, which is 101 years old this year. Over the past century, this full-service Chamber of Commerce and economic development organization has served the business community of northeast Kentucky.

Luke is now a social studies teacher at Madison Central High School, while Kaelyn serves as a human resources and marketing manager at Chick-fil-A. n

Kyle Veach, ’05, has been promoted to lieutenant for the Owensboro Fire Department. He started his career at the department in January 2010 after previously serving the City of Richmond fire department as an EKU cooperative education student firefighter, a firefighter and a lieutenant.

46 FALL 2018

Thomas Hall, ’01, married Brooke Daniel on June 4, 2018. Jessica Fletcher, ’02, was named the chief communications officer for the Kentucky Department of Education. She will focus on internal and external communication strategies. Daniel Roberts, ’05, served as assistant athletic trainer/physical therapist for the 2017 World Series Champion Houston Astros.

Dr. Ursel Boyd, retired professor of German language and culture Dr. Kenneth Hansson, retired dean, College of Applied Arts and Technology Don Hisle, retired, EKU Police/Parking and Transportation John Hines, former head golf professional, University Club at Arlington Sarah Johnson, retired professor of history Dr. Augustine Kofi Maison, retired professor of mathematics and statistics Mildred “Millie” Maupin, retired professor of physical education and health Dr. Kim Naugle, retired associate dean, College of Education Dale Patrick, retired professor of applied engineering and technology


Michael Carter, longtime radio personality at WEKU and its sister station, WKYL, passed away on January 31. He was 71. Mr. Carter joined WEKU in 2006 as music director and quickly became a beloved figure with listeners and colleagues alike. He retired in 2013 but came back to work part time at the station as its “Morning Classics” host. Colleagues recalled his sense of humor and his love of jokes and puns and remember him as a well-read individual who was very down to earth and approachable. He often ended his programs by saying, “Thanks again for the loan of your ears, and good-bye.” In an interview with the Lexington Herald-Leader in 2013, Mr. Carter said his career was the realization of a boyhood dream and had amounted to “the best job in the world.” Mr. Carter, who had previously presented classical music for appreciative radio audiences in New York, Philadelphia and his native Alabama, served as producer and host for Kentucky Center Stage, which aired on WEKU and WKYL. n

Dr. Bertee Adkins, professor emeritus of business communications at EKU, passed away on Wednesday, August 1. He was 87. After serving 20 years in the U.S. Air Force, the Floyd County native earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Eastern and served on his alma mater’s faculty from 1973 until his retirement in 1998. Dr. Adkins is remembered as a demanding but caring professor, often drawing from his own experiences to offer real-life lessons to his students. He was also admired for always encouraging his students and helping many financially, never asking for repayment beyond his exhortation to “pay it forward” at some point. With the establishment of the Dr. Bertee (Bert T.) and Retta Faye (Jett) Adkins Endowed Scholarship, he helped ensure that future generations of EKU students, many also from rural eastern Kentucky, would better be able to pursue their own educational dreams. In 2016, Dr. Adkins received a Distinguished Service Award from the EKU International Alumni Association. n

Earl Neal Boyd, ’48

Dr. George Gumbert, ’49

Richard Sivulich, ’67

Jay Chanley, ’71

Hobart Clay Johnson, ’52

Stanley Stanford, ’53

Dale Dawson, ’87

Rose Austin Jones, ’49

Martin M. Tracy, ’70

Charlene Akers (Irwin) Dix, ’52

Karen Sue (Green) Moran, ’82

Timothy J. Wernery, ’84

Lt. Col (Ret.) Harry Elliott, ’53

Paul Elder Muncy, ’87

Calvin L. Whitt, ’54



Nathan Vinson, ’06, became a partner at ELPO, where he handles tax law, estate and probate cases and corporate transactions. In 2010, he earned an LL.M., an advanced degree beyond a law degree that indicates additional study and training in the area of tax law. Dale Wellman, ’06, finished his fourth season as the head men’s basketball coach at Nebraska Wesleyan, where his team is 83-32. The Prairie Wolves (30-3) set a school record for wins this season. Wellman started his coaching career in 2002 as an assistant at Kenyon College in Ohio, opting to stay in sports instead of becoming an architectural historian. Jillian Brinegar, ’07, an early childhood education teacher in the Clark County public school system, was featured in a story in the Winchester Sun newspaper. Justin Carroll, ’07, has been hired by United Bank & Capital Trust Company as vice president. He had joined the Versailles office as a commercial lender.

Sonya Begay, ’98

SOCIOLogy ALUM DELIVERS TED TALK While a sociology student in the 1990s at EKU, Sonya Begay composed a senior paper in Dr. Stephanie McSpirit’s class on uranium contamination, specifically radioactive particles in the water on the Navajo and Hopi reservations in Arizona. Little did she know then that her work would become a lifetime obsession and eventually become the subject of a TED Talk, the prestigious lecture series. Her presentation was recorded at Penn State University on February 11 of this year. Begay, who earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology from EKU in 1998, serves today in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in Washington, D.C., as the management and program analyst for the Administration for Native Americans. A member of the Navajo Nation (Diné), Begay has been speaking out about the severe health consequences that have plagued her nation since the Manhattan Project, which developed the nuclear weapons that ended World War II. Begay recalled the time she visited her grandmother, who seemed to grow sicker with each visit. “Even though we didn’t have the rapport of speaking the same language, we had a connection,” she said. n View Begay’s TED Talk youtube.com/watch?v=YAk9rT-FRtg

48 FALL 2018

Allison Helsinger, ’07, was named secretary of the Rotaract Club of Lexington’s executive committee. The club is committed to service, leadership and professional development. Kentucky Secretary of Labor Derrick Ramsey, ’07, spoke at the Madisonville Hopkins County Economic Development Corporation workforce luncheon. Ramsey discussed apprenticeships and the Kentucky Work Ready Skills Initiative. Christina Helm Woehlke, ’07, was hired as supervisor of case therapists at Presbyterian Children’s Homes & Services (PCHAS). She oversees an in-home therapy program for children and families in the St. Louis area. Watson studied mental health/counseling at EKU and is a licensed professional counselor. Jonathan Kneisley, ’09, was recognized at the annual 32nd Excellence in Teaching Ceremony at Campbellsville University, which recognized 169 teachers from 60 school districts. Joshua Reichert, ’10, an international speaker on fire rescue, presented his research and findings at the 2018 Fire-Rescue International conference in Dallas. Reichert gave his insight into why firefighters should preplan their strategies based on how people react during a fire. Uriah Tolbert, ’10, has returned to Ashland as principal of Crabbe Elementary School. Meocha Williams, ’12, was selected as principal of Scott County High School by the Scott County High School Site Based Decision Making Council. Pryde Athletics owner Ivan Ankwatsa, ’13, explained his passion for helping people believe in themselves in an article for Hometown Life. He trains athletes of all ages to achieve top performance. Brooke Powers, ’13, earned a $25,000 Milken Educator Award from the Milken Family Foundation. She is the only Milken Award winner from Kentucky this year and is among 44 honorees for 2017-18. Shelby Willis, ’16, is moving to Utah to serve as deputy fire chief of the Ogden City fire department. Her fire service career began as a volunteer for the 1-square-mile town of Redington Beach, Florida. She joined the Largo, Florida, fire rescue a few years later, making history in the male-dominated field as the agency’s first female SWAT paramedic, then division chief and then, in 2013, fire chief. Jessica Casebolt, ’17, was hired by the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce as the membership development manager in Western Kentucky. Casebolt is a former Miss Kentucky who has been involved with organizations like CASA of South Central Kentucky, the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, the American Heart Association and Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Owen Mercer, ’17, shared his story during Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month in an interview with WDRB Louisville. He described how he turned his life around through education.

Pay it forward...

Donald E. Steele, ’72, paid for college by working full time each summer. His junior year, he had an opportunity to participate in a summer research program — but doing so meant he wouldn’t have money to pay for his upcoming senior year. His parents, neither of whom had graduated high school but always pushed Steele to go to college, stepped in and paid for his final semester. That’s why Don chose to honor his parents by establishing the Richard and Mary Steele Memorial Endowed Scholarship for the EKU College of Science. “I like to think there will always be money available for Kentucky high school graduates. They will know it’s because of my parents, who made my education possible.”

HONOR THOSE WHO HELPED YOU SUCCEED An EKU planned or estate gift can be your legacy, or it can be the legacy of those who saw your potential and pushed you to excel — you decide. Planned gifts provide financial flexibility and tax benefits, and they’re a great use for funds that might otherwise be lost to estate, capital gains or income taxes.

WAYS TO GIVE • Bequests from wills • Life insurance and annuity contracts • Charitable gift annuities

• Retained life estates • Qualified retirement plans • Stocks and securities

• Charitable remainder trusts

Learn more at go.eku .edu/plannedgiving


Or contact Melinda A. Murphy DIRECTOR of GIFT and ESTATE PLANNING melinda . murphy@eku.edu | 859-622 -8090

Nonprofit Organization U.S. POSTAGE


Lexington Ky Permit #879

Office of Alumni Engagement Alumni Center at Blanton House Eastern Kentucky University 521 Lancaster Ave. Richmond, KY 40475-3102 EKU.EDU

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EKU Magazine Fall 2018