Lisle, Illinois ~ Benedictine University celebrated the people – past and present -- who contribute to the University with their time, talent and treasure at the annual Founders Day Celebration on Friday, March 4, in the Goodwin Hall Auditorium.
Among those who spoke at the event was Benedictine University alumna Amania Drane, a past recipient of the University's Alumni Service Award in recognition of service to Benedictine with her time and talent.
After earning an undergraduate degree in African Studies and Economics at another university, Drane began her career in the auto claims division and later moved into human resources at State Farm Insurance, where she has worked for more than 25 years. Drane returned to the Chicago area in 1997 and began taking classes at Benedictine in 2008.
Drane earned a Master of Science (M.S.) in Management and Organizational Behavior in December 2011. The experience left an impression on Drane, who has since helped to set up a mentorship program, worked with students from the Black Student Union and founded the Celebrating Success Scholarship for African-American students.
James Pelech, Ed.D., associate professor of Education at Benedictine, was named the recipient of the Kevin Doyle Award for Leadership in Mission and Catholic Identity. In addition to his work at Benedictine, Pelech is a member of the board at St. Ethelreda Elementary School in Chicago, where he has helped to increase enrollment, improve math and reading scores, and create service opportunities.
"Jim continuously strives for excellence, working with students and the larger Catholic community to cultivate integrity and competence in the workplace and in education," said presenter Alicia Tait, D.M.A., assistant to the president for Mission Integration. "His work links Catholic social teaching to issues of dignity, community, and solidarity, particularly with those who are most vulnerable."
Pelech was recently selected for a Fulbright Specialist Project and will travel to the Czech Republic in April to lecture, teach seminars and work with faculty at Charles University in Prague.
"I am really surprised and humbled by this award as there are many deserving people here at Benedictine," Pelech said. "I see this award as a tremendous challenge. I now must work harder to live up to the expectations and standards of this award and the example of Dr. Kevin Doyle."
Beginning in 2003, Doyle, former College of Science dean Ralph Meeker, Ph.D., Philosophy professor Martin Tracey, Ph.D., Abbot Hugh Anderson, O.S.B., and Fr. David Turner, O.S.B., conducted a review of how Benedictine University complied with the expectations for Catholic universities in the Apostolic Constitution Ex Corde Ecclesiae. The work was later incorporated into the framework of the University's Center for Mission and Identity.
In March 2012, Doyle was awarded the University's inaugural Kevin Doyle Award for Leadership in Mission and Catholic Identity. The award recognizes a faculty member who has most worked to advance the Catholic mission and Benedictine heritage. Fr. Turner was the recipient in 2013, Meeker was honored in 2014 and Sandra Gill, Ph.D., dean of the College of Business, was named in 2015.
The University also recognized 10 faculty and staff who exhibit commitment to the value of academic excellence and who serve as role models for all staff and faculty members.
Those recognized for their commitment were Kevin Broeckling (associate vice president for Student Life, Mesa branch campus), Karen Campana (director, New Student Advising), Kent Carrico (Business Outreach Librarian), Rita George-Tvrtkovic (associate professor, Theology), Cheryl Heinz (associate professor, Biological Sciences; director, Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence), Matt Jones (assistant director, Athletics), Dianne Moran (associate professor, Psychology, Sociology, Criminal Justice, and Clinical Psychology), Jeffrey Mueller (professor, Social and Behavioral Sciences, Springfield branch campus), Robin Rylaarsdam (professor, Biological Sciences) and Mary Werries (registrar, Springfield branch campus).
Benedictine University is located in Lisle, Illinois just 25 miles west of Chicago, and has branch campuses in Springfield, Illinois and Mesa, Arizona. Founded as a Catholic university in 1887, Benedictine enrolls nearly 10,000 students in 56 undergraduate and 19 graduate programs. Forbes magazine named Benedictine among "America's Top Colleges" for the fifth consecutive year in 2015. Benedictine University's Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) program is listed by Crain's Chicago Business as the fifth largest in the Chicago area in 2015.