Class of 1960
John Kekec (BSE ’60, MS ’66), has published a historical fiction novel entitled “Fire in the Hole,” set in and around Pittsburg. The novel’s central characters are two Austrian brothers who come to southeast Kansas in the 1880s to mine coal. For his novel, Kekec relied on his experience growing up in Pittsburg and his family’s rich mining heritage. Kekec is a retired Mineral Area College instructor. He and his wife live in Bonne Terre, Mo. “Fire in the Hole” is available through Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other online bookstores.
Class of 1970
Gregory Alan Schell (BSEd, ’70) retired from teaching in 2011 and has been inducted into the Kansas Teachers’ Hall of Fame. At PSU, Schell majored in history and minored in biology. He received a Presidential Award for Excellence in Science Teaching in 1986 and worked as science consultant for the Kansas Department of Education from 1993 to 2004.
Class of 1971
Larry Freeze (BA ’71), editor of Kansas Country Living magazine in Topeka, received the George W. Haggard Memorial Journalism Award for 2014 from the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. The award recognizes and publicly commends the editor and electric co-op publication that demonstrates the most lucid, forthright, and effective presentation of ideas advancing the objectives of electric cooperatives and issues that affect them and their consumer-owners. Freeze, who was editor of The Collegio in 1970-71, has served as the magazine’s editor since 1979 and has presided over a circulation increase from 75,000 to 122,000 monthly.
Class of 1973
Diane Bohling Wahto (MA in English, ’73), has had two poems, “Leap of Faith” and “After,” published in “Kansas Time + Place,” former Kansas poet laureate Caryn Mirriam Goldberg’s new web project. Wahto also had poems in Goldberg’s anthologies, “To the Stars Through Difficulty: A Kansas Renga in 150 Voices” and “Begin Again: 150 Kansas Poems.” Wahto participated in the readings around the state that took place after the two anthologies were published.
Class of 1981
Catherine Morrell (BSE ’81, MS ’86) retired from USD 413 after teaching for 30 years in Chanute, Kan. Morrell received the Outstanding Educator Award in 2006 and was nominated for Kansas Teacher of the Year Award in 2007.
Class of 1983
Rex Babcock (MS ’83) has retired from USD 413 in Chanute, Kan., after teaching math and science in the district for 35 years. Babcock was awarded the USD 413 Oustanding Young Educator of the year in 1982, the National Milken Educator Award in 1993, the Kansas Second Congressional District Teacher of the Year award in 1994, the Kansas Teacher Hall of Fame in 2009 and the Kansas North Central Association Excellence In Education Award in 2002.
Dann Brown (BS ‘83, MS ‘85), dean of University College and director of the PACE Center at Texas State University, was recognized as a ‘Leader of Change’ by the Network for Change and Continuous Innovation (NCCI) at the organization’s annual meeting on July 18. Brown was nominated for the ‘Leader of Change’ award based upon his leadership for the redesign of the first-year experience at Texas State and implementation of an innovative one-stop shop process designed to help students clarify their career goals while developing plans for graduating from college in a timely manner. Since its inception in June 2012, the Texas State PACE Center has served more than 12,000 freshmen with academic advising, career exploration, peer mentoring, and academic coaching services.
Class of 1986
Ronda Fincher (BM ’86, MM ’87) has been named assistant superintendent for USD 250 in Pittsburg, Kan. Fincher is a 1981 graduate of Pittsburg High School. She has served in education since 1987 in the roles of teacher, principal, curriculum coordinator, and superintendent. Most recently, she has been the director of alternative learning for Southeast Kansas Education Service Center at Greenbush.
Class of 1988
Alan D. Marble, Ph.D., (MS ’88) was named president of Missouri Southern State University in June after serving as the institution’s interim president for nearly a year. Previously, Marble served Crowder College for 27 years, the last seven as its president.
Class of 2002
Lucas Hunziger (BSE, technology education, ’02) has been named director of technical education at Highland Community College. He will be located in the HCC Technical Center in Atchison, Kan. Previously, Hunziger was the industrial technology instructor at Easton USD 449.
Class of 2005
Margaret Bideau (MS, educational leadership, ’05) has retired from the Chanute, Kan., school district, where she taught kindergarten, first grade, fourth grade and fifth grade at Chanute elementary schools. She has also been a coordinator for Youth Friends for USD 413.
Class of 2007
Kelly (Livingston) Shaer (BBA ’07, MBA ’09), a certified public accountant with James Moore, Certified Public Accountants and Consultants in Gainsville, Fla., has been promoted to senior accountant. As a senior accountant, Shaer will perform audit and accounting procedures necessary to complete financial statement audits. She will participate in various phases of audit, compilation and review engagements, including budgeting and planning. Shaer will also be responsible for directing and reviewing the audit work of associate accountants and staff accountants. She joined the firm in December 2013.
Class of 2009
Rob Lundien (EdS Counseling, ‘09), Counseling Department chair at Staley High School, North Kansas City School District, was selected as the Greater Kansas City School Counseling Association (GKCSA) Secondary Counselor of the Year. Lundien was recognized earlier this spring at the GKCSA annual spring banquet in Independence, Mo. He is now in the running for the Missouri School Counselor Association (MSCA) Secondary School Counselor of the Year Award, which will be announced at this fall’s annual MSCA conference at Tan-Tar-A. In addition, Lundien also completed his 25th half marathon this past June by running the Hospital Hill Half Marathon in Kansas City.
Class of 2012
Kelly Fincher (BS Sociology ’12) has been named director of community relations and development for CLASS, a nonprofit organization that provides services for individuals with intellectual or other developmental disabilities in Southeast Kansas. Fincher is responsible for planning, coordination, and support of CLASS’ community relations and development activities, including special events and fundraising campaigns.