Wayland to honor alums, supporters at Centennial Homecoming

Release Date: February 12, 2009    

PLAINVIEW – Wayland Baptist University will honor several former students, athletes and a generous supporter at the annual chapel event during Centennial Homecoming, slated Feb. 19-22 on the Plainview campus.

The chapel service, which is held at 11 a.m. in Harral Memorial Auditorium, will also include recognition of the Golden Anniversary Class of 1959 and the Homecoming Queen candidates.

The highlight of the chapel is the presentation of the Distinguished Alumni Awards to former students who have exhibited exemplary leadership, service or support.

The Distinguished Alumni Award will be given to Dr. Ted Sanders, a 1964 graduate of Wayland. Sanders is a Friona native who earned master’s degree from Washington State University and a doctorate in education from the University of Nevada at Reno. He served as a classroom teacher and chief state school officer in Nevada, Illinois and Ohio before being named U.S. Deputy Secretary of Education in the George H.W. Bush administration. He also served as acting Secretary of Education.

Sanders has been an administrator in the state Departments of Education in Ohio, Illinois, New Mexico and Nevada, and was president of Southern Illinois University before being named president of the Education Commission of the States. He was recently named chancellor at Ellis University in Chicago. He serves on numerous boards and has received many honors during his career. He and wife Beverly, a Plainview native, have four children and eight grandchildren.

The Distinguished Leadership Alumni Award will be presented to Col. Michael Keller of Plainview, who earned a master’s degree at Wayland in 1987. A native of San Diego, Calif., and graduate of West Texas A&M University, Keller is program director and assistant professor with Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, where he leads and teaches an undergraduate program in healthcare administration. He is also the Battalion Commander of the 413th Civil Affairs Battalion in Lubbock. He has helped train more than 100 service members for support of missions in Iraq and Afghanistan and he served an 18-month tour of Iraq.

Keller was appointed by Gov. Rick Perry to serve on an advisory committee overseeing licensed nursing home administrators in Texas, and he serves on the Texas Hospital Association Governing Board, the American College of Healthcare Executives among others. He and his wife, Dr. Candace Keller, professor of art at WBU, have a daughter, Meredith.

Eddie Owens of Lubbock, a 1975 graduate, is slated to receive the Distinguished Service Alumni Award. An active undergraduate who served on several organizations and was a writer for both the yearbook and campus newspaper, Owens worked in city newspapers before serving as PR director and mass communications instructor at Wayland. He then spent 15 years in public relations with St. Mary Hospital and Covenant Health System before moving into a corporate communications role with United Supermarkets in 2004. 

Owens was active in Plainview civic organizations and continues that pattern in Lubbock, active with the American Red Cross, American Heart Association, South Plains Food Bank, Meals on Wheels and in several roles at his church, First United Methodist in Lubbock. He has been honored by the Volunteer Center of Lubbock, United Supermarkets and the AHA for his service efforts. He and wife Lynn have a daughter, Kami Bedford.

A 1998 graduate, Jacob Reed will receive the Distinguished Young Alumni Award. With a master’s degree from Kansas State University, his experience in agronomy led to a position with the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station in Lubbock. Having a long-time desire to serve on the mission field, Reed took that opportunity in 2005, moving to Uganda and working with the Karamajong people. While there, he did church planting and agricultural research, sharing the gospel with a highly illiterate population. 

Reed and his wife, Georgia, returned to Lubbock in May 2008 to work as a senior research associate in weed science for Texas AgriLife Research, conducting research in pre- and early post-market testing for herbicides as well as systems agronomy. He plans to pursue the doctorate degree in plant and soil science in the fall and maintains an interest in missions endeavors and awareness of ministry in Karamoja.

Longtime donors to the scholarship efforts at Wayland, the Leroy and Merle Weir Charitable Trust will be honored with the Distinguished Benefactor Award. Established in 1984 by Mrs. Weir and activated in 2000, the trust has helped several Baptist-affiliated institutions in the form of scholarships and building funds. Wayland has received more than $1 million in support, including scholarships and donations to the Pete and Nelda Laney Center and the Second Century Campaign’s new Bible building.

Janice Torgeson, an employee of Frost Bank, administers the trust.

The Association of Former Students is also presenting a Distinguished Lifetime Service Award to Christa Smith, a 1963 graduate and longtime associate professor of languages and English. A native of Germany, Smith earned two master’s degrees from Texas Tech University and joined the WBU faculty in 1969. She has also taught at Wayland’s Kenya extension and in Alaska. She is a Sunday school teacher and volunteers in the community with her class and with Soroptimist International of Plainview, of which she has been a member for several years. 

Smith is an active volunteer with the Lions Club International Children’s Camp in Kerrville and speaks regularly to various groups about her vast experiences. She and husband Don, a WBU graduate and retired coach, have three children and three grandchildren.

At a Saturday night dinner, nine former WBU athletes will be recognized with induction into the Athletic Hall of Honor and the top 50 athletic teams in Wayland’s first 100 years will be honored as well.

Inductees include Glyna Masten Harrison, a member of the Flying Queens squad from 1959-63 and three-time AAU All-American. The Queens won one AAU championship and placed second three times during her time at WBU, and she was selected for the U.S. team in the 1963 Pan American Games, winning a gold medal. Fellow Queen Carolyn Bush Roddy, who played from 1973-75, will also be honored for helping lead the team to two straight AAU championships. A two-time AAU and NWIT All-American, she led the team in scoring and rebounding her two years on the team and was Most Valuable Player in 15 tournaments.

Lisa Kolodziejczyk Robinson, a member of the 1989-93 Flying Queens teams, was named Freshman All-American and Freshman Player of the Year in her first season. She later would be named to All-American teams and was a Kodak All-American her final season. Robinson’s coach, Sheryl Estes, is also among the inductees. During her years coaching the Queens – 1989-96 – Estes had a record of 183-62 and her teams appeared in six NAIA women’s championships tournaments, finishing second in 1992.

From the track and field ranks, Althea Thomas (1984-88) and Alrick Munroe (1984-88) will be inducted, along with their coach, John Creer (1983-88). Thomas was an 18-time NAIA All-American and won three relay national championships with WBU. She was on the first women’s team in WBU history to win an indoor track championships and she holds six school records. Munroe was the most valuable athlete for the 1987 NAIA indoor and outdoor seasons, won seven individuals NAIA championships and was on four national championship teams. He was an 11-time All-American and a Scholar Athlete. 

Creer won a national-record four straight men’s national indoor titles and two women’s titles during his six years at Wayland. His men’s team also finished as national runner-up four times, and the women finished as runner-up five times.

Pioneer baseballer Michael Reyes, who played on the team from 1992-94, will be inducted as well. Reyes is the only first-team NAIA All-American in WBU history and was chosen in both the 1993 and 1994 Major League Baseball drafts. He continues to hold school records, including highest batting average in a season, most runs scored in a season and career, and most career stolen bases.

Dr. Greg Feris, athletic director at Wayland since 1990, is the final inductee. In his time at WBU, Feris initiated and administered the move from independent status to Sooner Athletic Conference membership and established new varsity programs in volleyball, baseball, golf and soccer. He was inducted into the NAIA Hall of Fame in 2007.

Tickets to athletic recognition dinner are $10 per person and are available by calling the Athletics Office at 291-1155.

For information on additional homecoming events, see the schedule online at www.wbu.edu, past students, or call the Office of Alumni Services at (806) 291-3600.