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EIU Alumni Services

2014 Guests of Honor

Outstanding Young Alumnus Award

Kristofer Howard '00

Kristofer Howard '00 is the chief financial officer for Medline Industries, Inc. Based in Mundelein, Medline is the largest privately held manufacturer and distributor of health care supplies in the United States and in his position he is responsible for the financial management and operational practices of Medline’s global finance function. Additionally, he participates on Medline’s Board of Directors, overseeing the company's rapid expansion and building on its 48-year history of consecutive sales growth. Prior to joining Medline, he worked in a variety of finance and commercial leadership roles at Baxter International, most recently as vice president global planning and analysis. At Baxter, Howard worked in a variety of settings from corporate to country-level assignments, including several years living internationally, after beginning his career at KPMG in Chicago. An Illinois certified public accountant, he earned his MBA with a focus on finance and strategic management from the University of Chicago and currently resides in Libertyville with his wife, Liz '00.

Louis V. Hencken Alumni Service Award

Jerry Zachary '61, '88

Having maintained his involvement with EIU since first arriving on campus more than 55 years ago, Jerry Zachary ’61, ’88 is an active volunteer and supporter of EIU. A retired school administrator who devoted 45 years to the field of education, he served as superintendent for four school districts and principal at two other schools. He is active in the EIU Greek community and also a member of the boards of directors for Panther Club and the College of Education and Professional Studies Philanthropy Board, volunteering his time to assist in raising funds to support EIU students. A member of Tau Kappa Epsilon as an undergraduate, Zachary served as the fraternity’s advisor for 20 years and earlier this summer helped organize a reunion which brought many of his fraternity brothers back to campus. He was also an integral part of working with his friend, the late Dr. Paul Ward, in facilitating a gift of more than $3.8 million which was designated for scholarships for students in the College of Education and Professional Studies. A member of the EIU Alumni Association, as well, he resides in Champaign with his wife, Monica ’79.

Distinguished Educator Award

Eric Bright ’12

Eric Bright ’12, who teaches 8th grade math at Charleston Middle School, received the Middle School Mathematics Teaching Award from the Illinois Council of Teachers of Mathematics in 2012. The award is only given to one middle school teacher each year who demonstrates excellence in the classroom. An avid user of assessments in teaching and with a thorough knowledge of common core state standards in math, he regularly shares his enthusiasm and expertise by serving as a presenter at teacher workshops throughout Illinois. As a professional educator, Bright works with students and faculty to improve the teaching and learning of the subject and has been recognized for his ongoing use of new technologies to assist with this. Having been named the Outstanding Graduate Student by EIU’s math department in 2012 while obtaining his master’s degree, he resides in Charleston with his wife, Amanda ‘06.

Distinguished Alumna/us Award

Dr. Suzanne Barchers ‘67

An accomplished educator and author, Dr. Suzanne Barchers ’67 has written more than 200 books while also holding leadership roles at several major publishing companies. After teaching for fifteen years, she served as education director and deputy director of the Children’s Museum of Denver before her first book was published in 1990. She began her career in publishing shortly thereafter, building Teacher Ideas Press and later developing a line of books for teachers, parents and children for Fulcrum Publishing. The former managing editor of the Weekly Reader in Stamford, Connecticut, she served as editor-in-chief and vice president at LeapFrog, as well. For 10 years, Barchers, who earned a master’s degree from Oregon State University and a doctorate from the University of Colorado, Boulder, also taught graduate classes in curriculum development, children’s literature, language arts, and expressive arts at the University of Colorado, Denver. A member of the PBS Next Generation Kids Media Advisory Board and past president of the Association of Educational Publishers, she continues to consult while writing from her home in Stanford, California.

Chuck Bell ’67, ‘69

A 2010 inductee into the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) Hall of Fame, Chuck Bell ’67, ’69 served as the director of athletics at Utah State, San Jose State, Delaware State and Colorado State (interim) among other positions during his career in intercollegiate athletics. Upon his hiring at Delaware State, he became the first Caucasian athletic director at one of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the United States. Recognized for his ability to raise private funds in support of student-athletes, he was also successful in building and renovating facilities for their use. The Utah State women’s soccer program was established under Bell’s leadership and, in 2002, four years after he left the university, the soccer stadium was renamed the “Chuck and Gloria Bell Soccer Field.” His teams captured dozens of conference titles and competed in numerous post-season tournaments and football bowl games during his career, as well. Bell also served on NACDA’s executive committee, the Directors’ Cup Committee, the National Football Foundation board of directors and the Division 1A Athletic Directors’ Association executive committee. He and his wife, Gloria ’67, ’71, reside in Scottsdale, Arizona, and spend part of the year in Wyoming, where they own the Brooklyn Lodge Bed & Breakfast in Centennial.

Dr. Nancy Elwess ‘76

Dr. Nancy Elwess ‘76, a molecular biologist at State University of New York-Plattsburgh, has received national acclaim for her teaching and research. Current areas of focus within her undergraduate research laboratory include the isolation and analysis of ancient DNA extracted from 588 Maya skeletons found in Tipu, Belize, and the investigation of both the androgen receptor gene and DRD4 gene (also known as the 'thrill seeking' gene) in humans. Her numerous awards include the Outstanding Undergraduate Science Teacher Award sponsored by the Society for College Science Teachers, the National Association of Biology Teachers National Biotechnology Teaching Award, the National Association of Biology Teachers National College Researcher/Teaching Award and the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring, which she received from President Obama in a White House ceremony. Elwess, a resident of North Hero, Vermont, who earned masters’ degrees from both Governors State and Purdue and a doctorate in molecular biology from the University of Vermont, has also completed scores of marathons, including running the Boston Marathon 28 times. In addition, she is a former president of the EIU Alumni Association board of directors.

Dr. Michelle Hanlon ‘93

Dr. Michelle Hanlon ’93, who received the EIU Alumni Association’s Outstanding Young Alumna award in 1998, is a professor of accounting and the Howard W. Johnson Professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She has received several awards during her career including the 2013 Jamieson Prize for Excellence in Teaching at Sloan. Specializing in empirical research related to taxation and financial accounting and having been published extensively, she currently serves as an editor of The Journal of Accounting and Economics and has served on the editorial boards of several other journals, as well. Hanlon has testified before committees from both houses of Congress regarding federal tax policy and is a frequent speaker at numerous conferences, forums and consortiums. In addition, in 2010 she was selected as a US delegate to the Young Leaders Conference in Basel, Switzerland. Before arriving at MIT, she was member of the accounting faculty at the University of Michigan and also worked as a tax manager for KPMG in St. Louis and Phoenix. A resident of Acton, Massachusetts, she holds a master’s from the University of Missouri-St. Louis and a doctorate in accounting from the University of Washington.

Dr. Mary Anne Hanner ’72, ‘74

After beginning her career as a speech-language pathologist for the Altamont and Beecher City school districts and later in Arcola, Dr. Mary Anne Hanner ’72, ‘74 joined the EIU faculty in 1981 and later served as dean of the College of Sciences until her retirement in 2011. Initially returning to the university as an assistant professor in speech pathology and audiology and student teaching coordinator, she moved into an administrative role in 1985 when she was named director of EIU's Speech-Language-Hearing Clinic. She became chair of the communication disorders and sciences department in 1997 and began her service as dean in 2000. Hanner has been actively engaged in the Illinois Speech-Language-Hearing Association and the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) for many years and was named a Fellow in both organizations. Having earned her doctorate from Indiana State University, she served on the Council on Academic Accreditation of ASHA and, in retirement, has continued to be involved professionally by serving as a public member of the Commission on Accreditation of the American Psychological Association. Currently, she is the managing partner of Academy Solutions LLC, a consulting group that specializes in academic accreditation. Residing in Oakland with her husband, Dale ’74, she is active in numerous community-related organizations, including serving on the boards of CASA, Catholic Charities and the Oakland-Hindsboro Charitable Foundation.

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Contact Information

By Mail:

EIU Alumni Services
600 Lincoln Ave.
Charleston, IL 61920
Fax: 217-581-7206

In Person/Physical Address:

Brainard House
1548 4th St. Charleston, IL

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