Millikin University - Decatur, IL
2013 Alumni Award Recipients
Millikin University > Alumni & Friends > Events > Homecoming > 2013 Alumni Award Recipients

The following alumni were recognized at Homecoming 2013.

Couldn't make it to Homecoming? Watch the 2013 Alumni Awards and Athletic Hall of Fame Ceremony video.  


Michael Waller

Michael Edward Waller ’63
Alumnus of the Year

Mike Waller ’63 is recipient of the 2013 Alumnus of the Year award, the highest alumni award presented by the university.

Waller has demonstrated a strong commitment and dedication to Millikin for many years, both through service and generous financial support.

Now an emeritus trustee, Waller served on Millikin’s board of directors from 2000-2010, and continues to serve as co-chair of the “Transform MU” capital campaign steering committee. He was the national Millikin Fund chair in both 2011 and 2012; in 2013, he shared chairmanship duties with trustee, Dr. Steve Huss.

In addition to supporting his alma mater with his time and talents, Waller has financially supported the current capital campaign, “Transform MU,” as well as the previous “Advancing the Vision” capital campaign. He also was a generous supporter of renovations to Albert Taylor Theatre.

Waller’s distinguished career in journalism began at the Decatur Herald newspaper, where he worked as a sports clerk while attending Millikin. He then progressed to reporter, copy editor and finally, wire editor. After leaving the Herald in 1965, he worked for the Cleveland Plain Dealer in copy editing for two years. From 1967 to 1978, he worked for both the Louisville Courier Journal and Louisville Times, where he assisted with two Pulitzer Prize-winning stories, one about riots following school desegregation and one about a fatal fire at the Beverly Hills Supper Club in Covington, Ky.

In 1978, he joined the Kansas City Star as managing editor, where he edited coverage of the 1981 collapse of a skywalk at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, which killed 115 people. After hiring an engineer and studying records and architectural drawings, the newspaper revealed that the collapse was caused by a design flaw. The Star’s coverage of the tragedy earned a Pulitzer Prize. Waller was then named managing editor of the Star’s sister paper, the Kansas City Times, and in 1983, he was promoted to editor of both papers. He is the only journalist in the history of the papers to serve in the top three news positions.

In 1986, Waller was named executive editor of the Hartford Courant, the oldest continuously published newspaper in the country. He became the Courant’s editor in 1990 and was appointed publisher and CEO in 1994. While Waller was the paper’s editor, the Courant won its first Pulitzer Prize.

Waller was named publisher and CEO of The Baltimore Sun and senior vice president of Times Mirror Co. in 1997. During his tenure, The Sun received two Pulitzers. Waller retired from The Baltimore Sun in 2002.

In recognition of his achievements in journalism, Waller received Millikin’s Alumni Merit Award in 1987. In 2002, he received a lifetime achievement award from the Delta Sigma Phi national fraternity.

Waller has authored two books: “Durand’s Marvelous Merchants: A Tale of Small-Town Life and Big-Time Softball,” and “Blood on the Out-Basket: Lessons in Leadership from a Newspaper Junkie.”

In addition to serving on several nonprofit boards while in Hartford and Baltimore, Waller was also chairman of the United Way campaigns in each city, raising a total of nearly $70 million.

Waller and his wife, Donna, live in Hilton Head Island, S.C. He has four children: Eric Waller ’87, Danielle “Dani” Waller ’90, Heather Kean and Katharine Waller. Top

Kathryn Kuddes

Kathryn M. (Springer) Kuddes ’83
Merit-Loyalty Award

Kathryn Springer Kuddes ’83 is the recipient of this year’s Alumni Merit-Loyalty Award for her achievements as a music educator and in recognition of her loyalty and service to Millikin.

Kuddes is the director of fine arts and special academic programs for the Plano (Texas) School District, a position she has held for 12 years. An expert in the Kodály method, she also teaches music education at Southern Methodist University and has taught classes at the University of North Texas. She joined the Plano School District in 1995 as an elementary music specialist and in 1998, was named vocal music coordinator for the district. Before moving to the Plano district, she had served as an elementary music specialist and choral director for the Stafford, Killeen and College Station school districts, all in Texas.

In 2010, she received the OAKE (Organization of American Kodály Educators) Outstanding Administrator Award for her advancement of Kodály-inspired music curriculum in the Plano schools. The elementary music specialists in the Plano district submitted Kuddes’ name for consideration for the award.

Her professional and civic affiliations include the PEO Sisterhood Chapter IH, where she is a founding member; Daughters of the American Revolution; Kodály Educators of Texas, where she served as vice president from 1994-98; Organization of American Kodály Educators, where she served as Southern Division president from 1997-2001, administrative liaison from 2000-2004, and on the conference planning committee in 2002 and 2004; and the Texas Music Administrators Association, where she is currently serving as secretary/treasurer.

A loyal ambassador for Millikin, Kuddes was instrumental in the Plano district’s hiring of a 2007 MU graduate. Kuddes also organized a University Choir performance in Plano last January, when the choir performed with 200 high school students and also provided a workshop for another high school. In 2001, she helped Guy Forbes, associate conductor of choirs and chair of music education, arrange a Chamber Chorale tour throughout Texas.

Kuddes has served as her class agent for fundraising and has also volunteered for the Millikin Admissions Support Team (MAST). At Homecoming 2008, she served as a career connections panelist for the School of Music.

In addition to giving of her time and talents to her alma mater, Kuddes has donated to The Millikin Fund and is a member of the Patrons Society, which supports Millikin fine arts.

In 2007, Kuddes’ husband, Kent, established the Kathryn Springer Kuddes Endowed Scholarship for Music Education as a birthday gift for her.

A double major in instrumental and vocal music education at MU, Kuddes was a member of the concert band, marching band and University Choir. She was also a James Millikin scholar and a member of several honorary and professional societies. Kuddes earned a master’s degree in music education in 1995 from the University of North Texas.

Although she has given more than 40 professional conference presentations and conducted 20 school district professional development sessions for music specialists around the country, her Texas school district is the primary beneficiary of her expertise. The Plano Independent School District serves more than 54,000 students in pre-K through grade 12, and employs approximately 160 music educators. More than 70 percent of the student population is involved in the district’s award- winning fine arts activities.

Kuddes and her husband live in Allen, Texas. Top

Janet Clark

Janet Renee (Heinie) Clark, Ph.D., ’91
Merit Award

Janet Heinie Clark ’91 of Terre Haute, Ind., is the recipient of an Alumni Merit Award for her outstanding work in the fields of chemistry and higher education.

After earning a doctorate in chemistry from Purdue University in 1996, Clark accepted a position as a research chemist with Exxon Research and Development Laboratories in Baton Rouge, La. In 2002, she was a member of ExxonMobil’s Process Research 2002 Innovator of the Year research team. She worked for ExxonMobil until 2003, receiving 13 U.S. patents in the areas of gas conversion and low-sulfur fuels.

Clark left ExxonMobil to begin her teaching career at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College (SMWC) in Terre Haute, Ind. Joining SMWC as an assistant professor of chemistry and physics in 2003, Clark has served as president of the college’s faculty assembly and also received one of the highest teaching honors at SMWC — the Sister Mary Joseph Pomeroy Award for Faculty Excellence in Service. In 2008, she was named chair of the department of sciences and mathematics, and in 2011, she was named vice president for academic affairs (VPAA) after serving as interim VPAA since July 2010.

The author of 15 publications and numerous presentations, Clark was also co-coordinator of the Expanding Your Horizons in Math and Science Conference, which encourages young women to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Clark is a founding member of the Wabash Valley Women of Influence committee, which was established last year. She also served as national president (2005-08) of Iota Sigma Pi honor society for women in chemistry. She served 12 years on the organization’s national council and as president of two local chapters, one at Purdue University and the other in Baton Rouge.

She is a member of the American Chemical Society, served as the financial adviser for the Purdue chapter of Alpha Chi Omega from 1994-96, was an executive board member of Teach for America’s South Louisiana Corps from 1999-2003, and was co-director of the Indiana Junior Science and Humanities Symposium at SMWC from 2009-11.

Clark and her husband, Daniel Clark ’90, are generous financial supporters of Millikin, contributing to the campaign for science in the “Advancing the Vision” capital campaign and supporting football through the Big Blue Club, as well as giving regularly to The Millikin Fund.

In 2008, Clark delivered the Sixth Annual American Chemical Society Alumni Lecture during Career Connections at Homecoming.

As a Millikin student, Clark was a member of Alpha Chi Omega, the symphonic wind ensemble and four honorary societies. Named Outstanding Greek Senior in 1991, she also served as secretary of the Panhellenic Council and as a counselor during Greek Rush. After earning Millikin’s Senior Leadership Award in 1991, Clark graduated cum laude with a degree in chemistry.

She and her husband Dan have two daughters: Betsy, 11, and Abby, 7. Top

Sunny Hull

Sunny Elwin Hull ’69
Merit Award

Sunny E. Hull ’69 of El Paso, Texas, is the recipient of an Alumni Merit Award for his outstanding career in business, particularly in textile recycling.

While attending night classes at Millikin, Hull worked as a materials handling engineer at Allis-Chalmers in Springfield. After earning his degree in industrial engineering, Hull accepted a position as a consulting engineer for Booz Allen Hamilton in Chicago. In 1971, Lozier Corp., a client of Booz Allen Hamilton based in Omaha, Neb., hired Hull as a manufacturing executive.

In 1981, Hull and an Omaha neighbor formed Mid-West Textile Co., a textile recycling firm. Although most of the company’s operations are located in El Paso, where Mid-West employs nearly 350 people, the company recently opened a facility in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, just across the border from El Paso. The company sorts and sells textiles for several different uses, including clothing for third-world countries, vintage clothing, recycled fibers, industrial cleanup and more, with the added benefit of increasing the textiles’ useful life and keeping them out of landfills. Now one of the largest clothing recycling centers in the world, Mid-West reports annual sales of nearly $50 million.

Since 1982, Hull has been a member of the Secondary Materials and Recycled Textile Association (SMART), a recycling-based international trade association, and has served on SMART’s nominating committee, which submits nominations for officers and directors.

A member of the El Paso Downtown Lions Club, Hull is also a supporter of the local United Way, with Mid-West Textile leading the corporate donor board each year. He and his wife, Linda, also support local Christmas aid programs and the Wounded Warriors Foundation.

Originally from Payson, Ill., near Quincy, Hull has established a scholarship at Seymour High School in Payson and also donates to a Quincy-area charity.

Hull is a faithful and generous donor to The Millikin Fund, and his unrestricted gifts to the annual fund continue to support areas of need throughout the university.

Sunny and Linda Hull have four grown daughters. Top

Charles Yurieci

Charles Joseph Yurieci ’68
Loyalty Award

Charles J. Yurieci ’68 of Bloomington, Ill., is recipient of an Alumni Loyalty Award in recognition of his dedicated and faithful service to Millikin.

A devoted alumnus and former student-athlete, Yurieci is an avid MU football fan and attends many games. He also attends many other campus events, including Vespers and Kirkland performances.

Through more than 40 years of giving, Yurieci has provided generous support for Millikin through The Millikin Fund, the Big Blue Club and Friends of Kirkland. He supported the “New Horizons” capital campaign and contributed to the ADM-Scovill building project in the “Advancing the Vision” capital campaign. During the current capital campaign, “Transform MU,” he has contributed toward football field enhancements and equipment for the Exercise Science and Sport program.

A member of the U.S. Army Reserve from 1968-74, Yurieci also completed a master’s degree in business administration at Illinois State University in 1972.

After more than 33 years of service, Yurieci retired in 2002 as crops division operations manager for Growmark Inc., a North American cooperative serving farmers with agricultural supplies and grain marketing services.

As a Millikin student and accounting major, Yurieci was the recipient of several scholarships and awards, including the Mueller Co. Scholarship all four years; the Murphey, Jenne and Jones Accounting Excellence Award and the Steagall-Sarran Scholarship in 1967; and the Millikin National Bank Outstanding Business Student award in 1968. A four-year letterwinner in football and baseball, he also played junior-varsity basketball his freshman year.

Yurieci and his wife, Gwendolyn, are also members of Millikin’s Investors Society. Top

Jay Schleppenbach

John Robert “Jay” Schleppenbach ’00
Young Alumnus Award

John Robert “Jay” Schleppenbach ’00 of Chicago is receiving the Young Alumnus Award in recognition of his outstanding legal career.

As an assistant attorney general in the criminal appeals division of the Illinois Attorney General’s office, he prepares briefs and argues appeals before the Illinois Supreme and Appellate courts and the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.

Schleppenbach graduated summa cum laude from the University of Illinois School of Law in 2003, and was chosen by his fellow students to give the commencement address.

Prior to joining the Attorney General’s office last June, Schleppenbach was a partner and associate at the Chicago law firm, Jenner & Block LLP, from 2005-2012. His accomplishments with Jenner & Block include obtaining rescission of a $56 million contract as part of a trial team for a week-long Illinois state court proceeding; preparing five expert witnesses and reports for a hearing in an International Chamber of Commerce arbitration involving a $140 million commercial contract dispute in Geneva, Switzerland; prevailing on a motion to dismiss a $40 million claim for breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty and constructive fraud; and successfully pursuing an asylum application for a persecuted Cameroonian citizen before the U.S. Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Schleppenbach has had more than a dozen articles published in various legal journals, and has assisted with instruction of an international arbitration course at Northwestern University College of Law. He also coached Northwestern’s award-winning international arbitration Moot Court team in Vienna, Austria.

He has served as a volunteer with the Constitutional Rights Foundation Chicago’s “Lawyers in the Classroom” program, which helps second- through eighth-grade students better understand the Constitution and our legal system. He has also volunteered with the “Saturday School” program at KIPP Ascend Charter School, a tuition-free college preparatory middle school on Chicago’s west side.

A loyal Millikin supporter, Schleppenbach has served as his class agent for fundraising since 2006. He has been a regular contributor to The Millikin Fund and has assisted with numerous other fundraising efforts, including providing funding for Millikin’s Outstanding Journalism Award and helping to solicit former James Millikin and presidential scholars. A career connections volunteer, he also attends Millikin events in the Chicago area and hosted University Choir members at his home during the group’s 2008 tour.

A presidential scholar and Scovill Prize recipient, Schleppenbach earned two degrees at Millikin: a bachelor of science in music business and a bachelor of arts in English writing. He performed with the Millikin-Decatur Symphony Orchestra, University Choir, Millikin Men, Concert Choir and Vocal Jazz Ensemble, and wrote for “The Decaturian” and “Collage.” He was active with WJMU, Millikin’s student-run radio station, and was a member of the Student Senate, Student Homecoming Committee, Student Ambassador Corps, Newman Catholic Community, and honorary societies Phi Kappa Phi, Alpha Lambda Delta and Sigma Tau Delta. A four-year member of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia music fraternity, he served as the organization’s president in 1998-99. He was also the service learning program’s volunteer coordinator for Dennis Elementary School during all four of his years at MU.

Schleppenbach is a graduate of Chicago’s famed Second City Conservatory programs in improvisation and writing, and writes and performs sketch shows at the Second City Skybox Theater and other Chicago venues. Top

Carol Dodson

Carol Dodson ’99/MSN ’07
School of Nursing Alumnus of the Year

Carol Dodson ’99/MSN ’07 is the recipient of Millikin’s School of Nursing 2013 Alumnus of the Year award in recognition of her distinguished nursing career.

The chief nursing officer at St. Mary’s Hospital in Decatur, Dodson was named to that position after serving in nursing leadership roles at the hospital for nearly 30 years.

Dodson began her nursing career in 1981 as a staff nurse at St. John’s Hospital in Springfield, Ill. In 1984, she joined St. Mary’s Hospital in Decatur as a staff nurse and from 1988-1995, she served in nursing supervisory positions at St. Mary’s, including nursing supervisor of the orthopaedics unit and the general surgical care department. In June 1995, she was named director of inpatient/ambulatory surgical care; her position was later expanded to include management of the cardiac rehabilitation unit. In 1996, as director of ambulatory and rehabilitative services, she was responsible for management of multiple patient care departments. In 1998, she was named director, then clinical director, of emergency services, where she was responsible for the hospital’s 15-bed emergency department, emergency medical services, Lifeline, and the cardiovascular, intensive care and immediate care units. Beginning in 2008, she served as executive director of critical care services, nursing practice and emergency services before being named chief nursing officer in 2012.

Dodson is a registered professional nurse with certification as a clinical nurse leader. In 1998, she was recipient of an Excellence in Nursing Award in management/leadership from the Decatur Area Nursing Task Force, and in 2013, was recognized at the YWCA Women of Excellence Awards, receiving the Sue Hagaman and Dr. Clare Garber Science and Medicine Award.

A 1983 graduate of St. John’s Hospital School of Nursing, she received her bachelor’s degree in nursing from Millikin in 1999, and earned a master’s degree in nursing from the university in 2007. She is currently enrolled in MU’s Tabor School of Business MBA program.

Dodson lives in Macon, Ill. She and her husband, Leland, have three children: daughters Keighty, 28, and Billie, 26, and son Casey, 21. Top

Millikin University - Decatur, IL
Millikin University - Decatur, IL
Millikin University - Decatur, IL
Millikin University - Decatur, IL
Millikin University - Decatur, IL
Millikin University - Decatur, IL