North Central College - Naperville, IL

John W. Kalas

Class Year: 
1955

Outstanding Alumni Award Winner 2000

John Kalas began his career as assistant professor of philosophy and religion at Lake Forest College and was later named director of special projects for VISTA/OEO in Washington, D.C. Kalas has also served as director of extension services at Mary Holmes College; vice president at Bacone College; and vice president with Douglas Trout Associates in Washington D.C. He joined the Research Foundation for the State University of New York (SUNY) in 1974 as deputy director of the Washington Office. He became director of the Washington Office and later served as director of research and development and associate vice president for planning. In 1989, Kalas became acting provost and academic vice president at SUNY, Potsdam and served as associate provost for research and development.


Floyd A. Thompson

Class Year: 
1950

Outstanding Alumni Award Winner 2000

Community service has been a large part of Floyd Thompson’s life. He has been a member of the Naperville YMCA board of directors where he served as president for three years. He also volunteered with Wayside Cross Ministries, the American Legion, the College’s Alumni Association and has been part of the Naperville Post Office Citizens Advisory Committee for the past eleven years. He served as director of admission for North Central from 1950-64 and was one of six founders of the Association of College Admissions Counselors. He served as the first and second president of the Illinois Association for College Admission Counseling (IACAC) and was a national parliamentarian of the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC). He has received service awards from the Mayor of Naperville and the YMCA, a Citizen Award from the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce, and a Citizen of the Year Award from the American Legion.

Deceased.


Dwight L. Freshley

Class Year: 
1950

Outstanding Alumni Award Winner 2000

Dwight L. Freshley is professor of speech emeritus at the University of Georgia. In 1995, he traveled to Beijing, China, to serve as a visiting professor at Renmin University. He was the first person to serve in all three top positions in the Southern Speech Association—editor of The Southern Speech Journal, executive director of the Association, and later president. Over the years he has received numerous awards for his outstanding service and was featured on Spotlight Program as the former president of Southern States Communication Association in 2004. He has co-authored and co-edited five books and book chapters and over 20 articles. Freshley still serves as chair of the past presidents of Southern States Communication and co-chair of the placement center for the National Communication Association.


Robert "Bob" E. Koehler

Class Year: 
1940

Outstanding Alumni Award Winner 2000

Robert “Bob” E. Koehler ’40 grew up in Naperville and graduated summa cum laude from North Central College in 1940 at the age of 19 with degrees in sociology and commerce. He passed the CPA exam and began his career with Arthur Andersen and Company. In 1962 Koehler became the chief financial officer for Marriott Corporation where he remained until his retirement as senior vice-president in 1984. He has been active in local and national community service, having served on the Mayor’s Committee on Economic Development in Washington, D.C.; as a school board member in Bensenville and Naperville; as a village trustee for Bensenville; and as a member of the Naperville Planning Commission from 1957-1962.


Esther T. Benjamin

Class Year: 
1990

Alumni Recognition Award Winner 2000

Esther Benjamin was appointed White House Fellow In 1999.  She has focused on international priorities and worked with Secretary of Labor Alexis Herman. During the humanitarian crisis in Somalia, Benjamin was appointed United Nations humanitarian affairs officer, the youngest person ever named to this position. After returning from Somalia, she worked on a joint project of the World Bank and the Brookings Institution, contributing macroeconomic analysis of the World Bank’s policies over the past 50 years. The outcome was The World Bank: Its First Half Century (Brookings Institution, 1997). Benjamin has served on the board of directors of the National Urban Coalition since 1995 and on the board of the Society for International Development. She is a founding member of the Good Samaritan Fund and a member of the Council in Foreign Relations.


Barbara Wildemuth

Class Year: 
1971

Outstanding Alumni Award Winner 2001

Barbara Wildemuth is currently an assistant professor for the School of Information and Library Services at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, N.C. She has been awarded many special honors, such as a Certificate of Appreciation for service. She received five research grants, wrote numerous articles and spoke at several presentations. In 2002, Wildemuth was named associate dean for undergraduate programs at the School of Information and Library Science at Chapel Hill and was appointed to the honorary advisory board of the University’s Health Information Project in 2003. Wildemuth was a recipient of the Vannevar Bush Award for Best Paper at the Joint Conference on Digital Libraries that same year. Most recently, she was named the University of North Carolina’s Frances Carroll McColl Professor.


William "Bill" Davis

Class Year: 
1971

Outstanding Alumni Award Winner 2001

Bill Davis graduated from North Central College with degrees in psychology, sociology and anthropology. He is the north region director for the Department of Licensing and Adoptions for ChildServ. The agency is affiliated with the United Methodist Church and matches foster homes with foster children. His drive for understanding has taken him to International Conferences of the National Association of Black Social Workers held in Brazil (1986), Venezuela (1988) and Puerto Rico (1995). He received the Social Action Award from the Chicago Chapter of the National Association of Black Social Workers in 1992 for his role in facilitating public discourse on the potential harmful consequences of trans-racial adoption as well as the discrimination faced by African-American families wanting to foster and adopt African–American children.


Janice Van Den Berg Byrne

Class Year: 
1966

Outstanding Alumni Award Winner 2001

Janice Van Den Berg Byrne has educated and mentored students all over the world. Since receiving the Outstanding Alumni award in 2001, she has continued her work teaching English composition and developmental reading part time at the College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn. She also serves on the Study Abroad Scholarship Committee at COD and mentors foreign students. She continues to lead all-day professional development workshops at Pioneer Sholes School, a one-room schoolhouse museum in St. Charles, Ill., and also serves as secretary to the Advisory Board of the Tri-Cities Corps of the Salvation Army.


Leota Buss Ester

Class Year: 
1951

Outstanding Alumni Award Winner 2001

In 1986, entrepreneur Leota Bus Ester founded Landmark Temporary Services (later Landmark, The Staffing Resource) in Appleton, Wisc., and subsequently, opened Landmark offices in Oshkosh, Neenah, and Green Bay. On its 10th Anniversary in 1996, Landmark employed more than 700 women and men in office positions throughout the area and more than 50 in-house staffers. Ester has been a member of the Fox Valley Chapter, Women in Management; the National Association of Staffing Services; the Independent Professional Staffing Services (TIPSS); Fox Cities Chamber of Commerce; and the Rotary Club. She has been an elder in the Presbyterian Church (USA); a trustee of North Central College since 1999; and interim executive director of the Children’s Museum of the Fox Valley. She has earned numerous sales awards from Management Recruiters International and the Mentor-of-the-Year award from the Fox Valley chapter of Women in Management.


Rolland "Rollie" Ferch

Class Year: 
1941

Outstanding Alumni Award Winner 2001

Rolland “Rollie” Ferch has served a total of 60 years as a minister in the Wisconsin Conference of the United Methodist Church, which included 10 pastorates and a chaplaincy for United Methodists for Madison Hospitals. During his pastoral tenure, he served many leadership roles. His service to the community includes membership in the Wisconsin Conference Board of Missions, the Boy Scouts of America, Kiwanis Clubs throughout Wisconsin, the Lions Club of Menomonie, Wisc., and the Optimist Club of Sauk City, Wis.


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