Outstanding alumni honored on Commencement and Reunion weekends

President Janet Morgan Riggs '77 with the Distinguished Alumni Award winners that were able to make it back to campus for the May 18 Spring Honors Day. Photo credit: Jason Minick
Distinguished Alumni Award winners on campus

In recent weeks Gettysburg College recognized ten of its alumni for their extraordinary personal accomplishments, professional achievements, or humanitarian service. Each exemplifies the College’s promise to prepare graduates to be leaders and active citizens in their professions, communities, nation, and the world.

At the Spring Honors Day program on May 18, four Gettysburgians were presented the Distinguished Alumni Award, the highest honor given by the Alumni Association.

Allison Campbell ’85, Michael A. Chagares ’84, and Jeffrey C. Oak ’81 were on campus to accept their awards and Allison Caras ’08 accepted on behalf of Henry W. Wedaa ’49.

Allison A. Campbell ’85
Director of the Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

 Allison CampbellAllison is Director of the Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory (EMSL) of the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Washington. Her work in biomedical research led to the development of a coating that helps artificial joints adhere to bone and other discoveries in biomaterials. She was elected as a Fellow to the prestigious American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the world’s largest general scientific society and publisher of the well-known journal Science.

While at Gettysburg College, Allison was a chemistry major, lettered in softball, and was a member of the Sceptical Chymists. She earned her doctorate in physical chemistry from State University of New York at Buffalo in 1990. She received Gettysburg College’s Young Alumni Achievement-Career Award in 2000. An accomplished equestrian, backpacker, mountaineer, and community activist, Allison and her partner Julie Elmenhurst make their home in Kennewick, Washington.

Michael A. Chagares ’84
Federal Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Philadelphia

Michael ChagaresMichael majored in political science at Gettysburg College and earned his juris doctor degree from Seton Hall University Law School. He began his distinguished law career as a clerk for Judge Morton Greenberg on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Philadelphia, a seat that he holds himself today. He has been an appellate litigator in private practice and worked in the U.S. Attorney’s Office, serving as, among other positions, Chief of the Civil Division. Also an accomplished law professor, he was recently named Adjunct Professor of the Year at Seton Hall. He has authored many scholarly legal publications and held numerous leadership positions in professional associations.

President of his senior class and a member of Tau Kappa Epsilon, Michael continues to support his College and classmates by leading reunion committees, recommending Gettysburg to prospective students, and as a Key Alumni Resource Effort (K.A.R.E) volunteer. He and his wife Margaret live in Wyckoff, New Jersey, with their four children.

Jeffrey C. Oak ’81
Senior Vice President, Corporate Responsibility and Development, Bon Secours Health System, Inc.

Jeffrey OakJeffrey has devoted his career to establishing the highest standards of ethics and transforming organizations through sustainable culture change. He is the chief corporate responsibility officer for Bon Secours, a nonprofit health system, and is credited with creating a culture of integrity, a Code of Conduct, and administrative infrastructure to reduce and address conflict of interest, fraud, and other misconduct. Prior to joining Bon Secours, Jeffrey was a principal advisor to the Undersecretary for Health at the Veterans Health Administration, senior vice president for the national Council of Ethical Organizations, and vice president for ethics and corporate integrity for Arden Hill.

At Gettysburg, Jeffrey served as chair of the Student Conduct Review Board and cochair of the Middle Atlantic Colleges Values Symposium. He earned his master of divinity, master of philosophy, and doctor of philosophy degrees from Yale University. Oak and his wife Carol live in Maryland. They have two children.

Henry W. Wedaa ’49
Environmental and Energy Engineer

Hank WedaaHank is founder and president of Valley Environmental Associates, which specializes in aviation-related environmental impact and air quality issues. A bombardier and aerial gunner who completed thirty missions over northern Europe during World War II, Hank completed his Air Force career as a captain and enrolled at Gettysburg College. He completed majors in physics and chemistry and was awarded membership in the Sigma Pi Sigma honor society, and then studied physics in graduate school at the University of Arizona. He worked in the aeronautics defense industry and, in addition to Valley Environmental Associates, he founded California School Book Fairs, a firm later acquired by Scholastic, Inc.

Hank served on the city council of Yorba Linda (Cal.) thirty years, including five as mayor, and was recognized by the city as a dedicated and tenacious public servant. His particular concern over southern California’s air quality led to his involvement in regional and national governing and advisory boards, as well as memberships in scientific and technical organizations. He was cofounder and president of the California Hydrogen Business Council and was named Director Emeritus in 2012. Hank lives in Anaheim, California and has four children.

Gettysburg College alumni returned to campus from far and wide for Reunion Weekend festivities May 30-June 2. Six alumni were recognized at the annual awards ceremony on Saturday, June 1.

Receiving the Meritorious Service Award for service to the College:

Brian E. Bennett ’63
Retired partner of the firm, Davis, Spiess, & Livingood, LLC

Brian BennettBrian majored in political science and graduated cum laude and with Phi Beta Kappa honors from Gettysburg. He was president of the Student Senate, a member of the Mercury and the Gettysburgian staffs, and an orientation leader. He earned his doctor of laws degree from Harvard Law School and is a retired partner of the firm, Davis, Spiess, & Livingood, LLC, based in Wayne, Pennsylvania.

For fifty years he has remained connected to Gettysburg College through his past service on the Board of Trustees, the Board of Fellows, the National Campaign Steering Committee, the Cupola Executive Committee, maintaining ties with members of his class as an officer, and participating in leadership events with current students and young alumni. He has been a long-time volunteer for the Boy Scouts of America and served on the executive boards of the Samuels Public Library, the Friends of Shenandoah River State Park, and the Virginia Master Naturalist, Shenandoah Chapter. Brian and his wife, Mary, live in Front Royal, Virginia.

Neil O. Bryant ’82
Vice president of sales development at Carestream Health, Inc.

Neil O. BryantNeil was a business administration major and Spanish minor at Gettysburg College, where he was active in Lambda Chi Alpha, the Interfraternity Council, Pi Lambda Sigma, and the men’s soccer and swimming teams. He received his master’s degree in leadership development from the Pennsylvania State University Great Valley School of Graduate Professional Studies and has held several leadership roles throughout his professional career, including his current position as vice president of sales development at Carestream Health, Inc.

He is a valued mentor and resource for Gettysburg College students and regularly recruits other leadership mentors for programs in the Garthwait Leadership Center. He served as the chair of the Orange & Blue Advisory Council from 2007 to 2011, overseeing a significant era of growth and influence for the O&B Council, and has spoken at several colleges and universities throughout Pennsylvania on topics including communication and leadership. Neil and his wife, Jennifer Fischer Bryant ’82, live in Glenmoore, Pennsylvania.

Receiving the Young Alumni Achievement Award for Service to the College:

Kelly Keegan Blavatt ’03
Baltimore County State’s Attorney’s Office

Kelly Keegan BlavattKelly has remained an engaged and dedicated part of the campus community since her graduation in 2003. She was part of the initial BOLD Council executive team, helping steer that organization on the path to the success it enjoys today. Additionally, she has been an active member of KARE, the Baltimore Alumni Club, the Cupola Society, and the Blavatt Lecture Series Committee, in addition to serving as the Young Alumni Chair for the Gettysburg Fund.

After graduating from Gettysburg with majors in political science and sociology, she earned her doctor of laws degree from the University of Baltimore School of Law and has worked in the Baltimore County State’s Attorney’s Office since 2005. She and her husband, Jeffrey Blavatt ’88, live in Reisterstown, Maryland.

Cassandra Pickens Jewell ’04
Mathematica Policy Research, Inc.

Cassandra Pickens JewellCassie has served as a devoted volunteer for Gettysburg College since her time as an extremely engaged student, where her activities ranged from Student Senate to Alpha Phi Omega. She was the inaugural chair of the BOLD Council, investing the time, energy and talent to help develop that group into the highly functioning board it is today. In addition, she was the co-chair of her class’s 5th Reunion Committee, and currently serves as the president of the Central New Jersey Alumni Club.

As a political science major, Cassie graduated magna cum laude and was a member of Phi Beta Kappa. After Gettysburg, she received her master’s degree in educational policy from the University of Pennsylvania and has worked for Mathematica Policy Research, Inc. since 2007. Jewell lives in Lawrence, New Jersey, with her husband Michael.

Receiving the Young Alumni Achievement Award for Professional Development:

Brent A.R. Hege ’98
Instructor of Philosophy and Religion at Butler University

Brent A.R. HegeBrent is an Instructor of Philosophy and Religion at Butler University. After majoring in History and Religion at Gettysburg - with a Classics minor - he earned his Master of Arts in Religion from the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg and his Doctor of Philosophy from the Union Theological Seminary and Presbyterian School of Christian Education in Richmond, Virginia.

He has written numerous academic articles and a book entitled Faith at the Intersection of History and Experience: The Theology of Georg Wobbermin, which is the first study in English of the theology of the German Lutheran theologian, Georg Wobbermin. His outstanding teaching has been recognized by students and faculty members through five Butler University teaching awards in the past three years, and he was recently named director of the Butler Summer Religion Institute. Brent resides in Indianapolis, Indiana and serves as a board member for the Indianapolis Lutheran-Episcopal Campus Ministry.

Joseph R. Tucker ’03
Visiting Fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy

Joseph R. TuckerJoe is a Visiting Fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy. He graduated with a major in History and received his Master of Arts in Comparative Ethnic Conflict from Queen’s University in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

He began working at the National Endowment for Democracy in 2004. In 2008 he became an assistant program officer for Africa (Sudan) in Joba, South Sudan with the International Republican Institute. He later worked with the U.S. Department of State on the staff of the U.S. Special Envoy for Sudan and South Sudan, and was appointed Negotiations Team Leader in 2011, leading negotiations following South Sudan’s independence. Joe’s work has also earned three prestigious awards from the U. S. Department of State, including the Superior Honor Award in 2013. He lives in Washington, D.C. and is currently serving in a four-month position at the National Endowment for Democracy, where he is studying the history of political parties in South Sudan.

Founded in 1832, Gettysburg College is a highly selective four-year residential college of liberal arts and sciences with a strong academic tradition. Alumni include Rhodes Scholars, a Nobel laureate, and other distinguished scholars. The college enrolls 2,600 undergraduate students and is located on a 200-acre campus adjacent to the Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania.

Contact: Nikki Rhoads, senior assistant director of communications, 717.337.6803

Posted: Wed, 5 Jun 2013

Read more news