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Program for the 2021 OU Alumni Banquet

Special Recognition


Outstanding Achievement Award

This award, established in 2005, recognizes individuals who have made an impact in their chosen field of endeavor, whether over a span of many years or in a relatively short time frame. Recipients’ life stories demonstrate what one can do with an OU education. The number of awards given annually varies.


  • A graduate of the University
  • Has made accomplishments in the context of their paid career, or for a civic personal interest which they have pursued, with or without pay
  • Accomplishments have had an impact on the world, nation, state, or community (e.g. volunteer community leadership roles, lobbying for important legislation, humanitarian accomplishments, help filling gaps in the social safety net, etc.)
  • Demonstrates a strong sense of ethics consistent with the values of a Christian education, and will be admired for both their accomplishments and their personal values
  • Exemplifies the best of the Ottawa spirit and serves as a meaningful role model

Award Winners:

  • 2021 - Mitch Barnhart '81
  • 2019 - Timothy Stone '90
  • 2017 - Lori Peek '97
  • 2016 - Dexter Benedict '66
  • 2016 - W. Robert Binns '62
  • 2015 - Douglas Knight '65
  • 2014 - Patricia (Lane) Volland '64
  • 2013 - John C. Goodwin '63
  • 2012 - Dr. James Gwartney '62

Distinguished Service Award

This award recognizes individuals or couples who have demonstrated exceptional service in the church and/or community over a span of time. Established in 1974, the Distinguished Service Award is the cornerstone of the OUAA award system. No more than one or two awards are granted each year.


  • Alumni or friend of the University (individual or couple)
  • Has demonstrated professional competence, accomplishment and/or service within their church or community
  • Exhibits abiding loyalty to Ottawa University

Award Winners:

  • 2021 - Dr. Harold Popp '59
  • 2019 - Arlys Carter '62
  • 2018 - Harold '51 and Mary (DeFries) Monroe
  • 2017 - Royce L. Jones '56
  • 2016 - Ronald D. Chronister '76
  • 2015 - Wayne Duderstadt '79
  • 2014 - Sharon (Mueller) Farral '60
  • 2013 - Robert Tiller '62
  • 2012 - Stephen Tybor III '84

Esther Ruth Award

This award recognizes individuals for their volunteer service that has enhanced student life at The College and benefited Ottawa University as a whole. Established in 1987, recipients are named in honor of Esther Ruth Bemmels, who provided loyal and steadfast service to OU students for more than 30 years.


  • Alumni or friend of the University
  • Has given a significant amount of time to volunteer service for the benefit of Ottawa University
  • Shows initiative, understanding and leadership
  • Promotes the University’s mission and purpose

Award Winners:

  • 2021 - Dr. John Holtzhuter
  • 2019 - Robert Innes '71
  • 2014 - Trish Dowd Keine
  • 2014 - Travier Chair
  • 2013 - Mary Alice (Edwards) Geise '54

Recent Alumni Award

The Recent Alumni Award was established by the OUAA Board of Directors in 2013 and is designed to recognize recent graduates who have attained a significant level of achievement and potential for accomplishment in the early years following graduation.


  • A graduate of the University within the last ten years
  • Meeting significant challenges in pursuit of professional goals
  • Service to community and others
  • Service to church
  • Significant alumni participation and support

Award Winners:

  • 2021 - Michael '16 and Regan '16 (Aeschliman) Jones
  • 2019 - Laurie (White) Tyner '13
  • 2018 - Jennifer Johnson '08 '13 
  • 2017 - Abel Frederic, Jr. '07
  • 2016 - Robert M. Hall '06
  • 2015 - William Allison '09
  • 2013 - Nick Scott '05


Honorary Membership in OUAA

This award is designed to be a prestigious honor granted by the Ottawa University Alumni Association (OUAA). Once recognized, honorary members hold alumni status throughout their lifetimes, and are entitled to all the rights, privileges and benefits of any member of the OUAA. A limited number of memberships are granted in any given year, and some years it may not be awarded. Nominations for this award must come from an officially recognized OUAA Board of Directors. A campus OUAA Board may only nominate one candidate or couple per year for membership. Nominees are taken to the OU Board of Trustees Committee on Advancement for approval.


  • Friend of Ottawa University (individual or couple)
  • Distinguished themselves over a considerable period of time by devoting a significant amount of time, energy and talent toward promoting the mission of the University
  • Service to OU in regards to enhancing activities at a particular campus, or promoting and supporting the University-wide structure, or both

Award Winners:

2017 - Anne Jones Mills
2015 - John Boyd Martin
2014 - Eldon Rader
2013 - Glenda (Melson) Schmidt
2012 - Dr. Murle Mordy

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