2009 Program Distinguished Alumni

College of Liberal Arts graduates exhibit many fascinating paths to success. Each year we celebrate the accomplishments of our alumni at an Outstanding Alumni Awards Ceremony.


Tom Alig

'06 B.A. Social Science Education

Tom Alig graduated from Wright State University in 2006.

He currently teaches 8th grade social studies and reading and 6th grade religion at St. Albert the Great School in Kettering. He is also the defensive coordinator for the Archbishop Alter High School football team, which in 2008 won the Division 4 State Championship.

Prior to entering WSU, he was a chef and a stay-at-home father. Born and reared in Dayton, Tom attended St. Albert the Great School and graduated in 1988 from Archbishop Alter High School. He is married to Laura, and they are the parents of three boys: Thomas, 12; Robert, 10; and Michael, 8. He is proud to be a Raider and looks forward to coaching football someday for Wright State!

Michael Bard

'91 B.M. Music Performance

Michael Bard earned his Bachelor’s degree in music from Wright State University and holds a Masters degree in music from Arizona State University.

Michael is an active musician, composer and teacher who resides near Washington, D.C. He has performed as a soloist and with various musical ensembles throughout the United States, Europe, Japan, North Africa, South America, and the Middle East. He has also been featured on various radio and television programs around the world. Michael has performed for many luminaries and dignitaries including former President Bill Clinton, former Vice President Al Gore, United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, former Joint Chief of Staff and former Secretary of State Colin Powell, Mexican president Vicente Fox, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Senator John Kerry (D-MA), Teresa Heinz, Henry Kissinger and former Senator Bob Dole (R-KS), as well as various members of royalty throughout the Middle East.

His first recorded solo effort, Illumination, features original compositions for guitar and solo piano, blending a soothing mix of Spanish, Latin and adult contemporary instrumental styles. His composition “Mediterranean Beauty” for two guitars is published by Lathkill Music Publishers, England.

Stephanie Corcoran

'98 M.A. English, Composition & Rhetoric

Stephanie Corcoran is a 1983 graduate of Northmont High School; a 1987 graduate of Miami University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Public Administration; a 1989 graduate of the University of Nevada Las Vegas, where she earned her teacher certification; and a 1997 graduate of Wright State University, where she earned a Master of Arts in Composition and Rhetoric. She holds a permanent certificate to teach secondary English in the state of Ohio.

This is her 19th year of teaching secondary English. In addition to teaching at Northmont, she has taught undergraduate and graduate-level English and education courses for the past 11 years.

Stephanie and her family have lived in the Northmont community since moving back from Nevada in 1991 because they believe in this school district and in this community. Her husband, Mike, is an administrator in the Northmont school district. She has two daughters, Taylor, a senior at Northmont High School, and Chrissy, an 8th grader at Northmont Middle School.

Tess Cortés

'97 B.F.A. Art

Tess Cortés began her formal training in art at Wright State University where she graduated with a BFA in drawing and painting in 1997. She earned her MFA in electronic art from the University of Cincinnati in 2003, and also worked as the Gallery Manager for UC’s DAAP Galleries Downtown. That experience made her the perfect choice for the position of gallery coordinator for the Robert and Elaine Stein Galleries at Wright State, a position she has held since 2003.

Tess’s job is multifaceted. She is in charge of the galleries’ permanent collection of over 400 works of contemporary art, making sure that these works are properly stored, cataloged, and displayed. She must resolve the problems caused by the galleries’ aging physical plant. She works with the curators of the galleries’ four temporary exhibitions each year, responding to a series of very different personalities and working methods. Tess coordinates shipping of artwork, artist visits, publicity, security, hanging, lighting and labeling exhibitions, and details of any show-related publication and programming. She manages the (much too small) budget and writes grants to make it larger. Tess was the co-curator of the very successful Andy Warhol exhibition in the fall of 2008, and in fact, it was Tess who wrote the request that resulted in a gift to the University of 155 original Andy Warhol photographs. Her job requires that she is an expert in many fields and that she multitask almost minute by minute.

Not only does Tess excel at a more than full time job, she also finds time to pursue and exhibit her own artwork. In 2008 alone she had work in exhibitions in Dayton, Georgia, Michigan, and Serbia. In addition, she served as an expert juror for shows in other galleries. The art department is proud to recognize Tess Cortés as our outstanding alumna.

Bruce Cromer

'82 B.F.A. Acting

Bruce Cromer is a professional stage actor, with over thirty years of regional theatre credits on his resume. He has acted, directed, and/or choreographed fights for the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Milwaukee Repertory Theater, Santa Fe Stages International Theatre Festival, Clarence Brown Theatre, Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati, Cincinnati Playhouse, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, Seattle Children’s Theatre, Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, etc. Favorite roles include Prospero, King Lear, Macbeth, Prior Walter in Angels in America, Scrooge and Bob Cratchit in A Christmas Carol, Morgan in The Drawer Boy, and The Librarian in Underneath the Lintel.

Bruce is a proud Actors’ Equity Association member, resident artist with the Human Race Theatre, a certified teacher with the Society of American Fight Directors, and a full professor of theatre at Wright State University. He lives in Yellow Springs with his wife, Carol Allin, and sons, Charlie, Toby, and Elliot.

R. Greggory Cross

'72 B.A. Sociology

After graduating from Xenia H.S., Gregg Cross received a football scholarship to attend Central State University. After attending his freshman year, he transferred to Wright State University, majoring in anthropology. He later transferred to Indiana University, but once again returned to WSU on a basketball scholarship, majoring in sociology and playing on the first varsity basketball team.

Gregg returned to WSU in 1974 to earn his teaching degree in social studies. He was hired by the Beavercreek school district in 1975, and in 1988 became the high school head football coach. In his 34 years teaching, he has served as a department chair, the chairperson of numerous committees, served as the registrar and registered approximately 8,500 students with the Board of Elections, and also served as the advisor to the Young Democrats and Young Republicans at the high school.

Gregg has been fortunate to have taught over 6,000 students in the school system. The valedictorians and salutatorians have honored him by selecting him as their most influential teacher through the Greene County Educational Services “Excellence in Education Awards” in nine different years.

He has been married for 34 years to Linda, who retired from the Beavercreek School District after 35 years of teaching. They proudly shared the excellence in teaching award in 1998 and 2005.

José de Arimatéia da Cruz

'91 B.A. Philosophy

José de Arimatéia da Cruz came to us from Brazil to study Political Science and Philosophy. After earning his B. A. in Philosophy in 1991 from Wright State University, he went on to study Political Science at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, earning a Ph.D. He is currently associate professor of political science/comparative politics at Armstrong Atlantic State University, Savannah, Georgia. He does research and teaches in the areas of international politics, human rights, and economic and moral issues, focusing on Latin America and Africa. He has published five books and numerous articles and has traveled widely in Africa and Latin America.

José is currently the chairperson of the Americas Council, an organization that provides a venue in which faculty from the University System of Georgia can engage and share their interest and expertise regarding Latin America and Canada.

He was independently nominated for this award by both the departments of Philosophy and Political Science.

Deb Downing

'81 B.A. Social Work

After receiving her BASW from WSU, Deb Downing completed her MS in Education Social Agency Counseling from the University of Dayton in 1989 and her MSW from the University of Cincinnati in 2000. Deb has over 28 years experience in social services, primarily working with children, adolescents, and their families. She has worked for Shelby County Children’s Services; Specialized Alternatives for Youth in Delphos, Ohio; Montgomery County Children’s Services; and currently for Montgomery County Jobs and Family Services.

Deb is the assistant director of Montgomery County Department of Job and Family Services. In this capacity she manages the Social Services and Income Support Division which includes a staff of over 300 employees who provide the following services: Ohio Works First which is time limited cash assistance to needy families and work activities to promote self sufficiency, food assistance, Medicaid health care, senior services, and child care services.

Deb’s devotion to the WSU social work department includes serving on the professional advisory board for over six years, serving on the University Partnership Program Advisory Board, and teaching one of the required child welfare classes for six years. Deb helped found the social work alumni society with help from the WSU alumni association. She is the society’s first president. She was also an active member of the social work alumni committee and has helped coordinate alumni activities with the social work club. The social work alumni society is organizing a fund raiser for social work scholarships. The Social Work Department is indebted to the energy, time, and support Deb has given back to her alma mater.

Rebecca Gaytko

'90 B.A. Urban Affairs, '02 M.P.A. Urban Administration

Rebecca Gaytko graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Urban Affairs in 1990 and a Master of Public Administration (MPA) in 2002. Becky was selected for the outstanding Alumnus award for her commitment to community service and her ability to take on tough problems.

Soon after becoming a city of Dayton employee in 1996, her uplifting personality and “can do” attitude made her an executive on loan and a special projects administrator. Becky served as a special administrator to both the Dayton Aviation Heritage Commission and the Wright-Dunbar Village Main Street Program during critical stages of development. Her work on these projects earned her Top Flight Award and the Joseph T. Cline Award for city employees who have made outstanding professional and civic contributions. In 2004, the American Planning Association declared the Wright-Dunbar Village winner of the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Opportunity and Empowerment Award; and in 2005, Becky was selected by Sinclair Community College as an Appalachian Unsung Hero for Outstanding Public Service.

More recently, Becky has been on loan to the Dayton Police Department and now manages the Community Initiative to Reduce Gun Violence. In addition to this program with the Dayton Police Department, she coordinates community efforts to reduce prostitution and develops partnerships between neighborhoods and the Police Department to implement “problem oriented policing.” Becky willingly shares her stories with our students, and thanks to Becky our tough problems have become more manageable.

Travis Greenwood

'84 B.A. Communication

Travis Greenwood graduated from Wright State University in 1984 with a B.A. in Communication. He earned his Master of Science in Administration degree from Central Michigan University in 1991.

Travis put his degree right to work managing a key – but troubled – relationship between a large jet engine corporation and the U.S. Air Force. By 1993, Travis had worked for two Fortune 500 companies before starting a family business called The Greentree Group. Greentree provides comprehensive solutions for public/private clients and earns yearly revenues of approximately $20 million. As an owner and Greentree’s Chief Executive Officer, Travis ensures the company’s goals are met without sacrificing its values and ethics. He also develops strategies designed to improve Greentree’s image and relations with its clients, employees and the public. Travis says, “The most important thing I do is motivate our people to do great things for our clients. Good communication skills are an absolute must in today’s business world. They are first and foremost. Without them, you will fail.”

His service on numerous boards includes Wright State’s Institute of Defense Studies and Education as well as the Greater Dayton Public Television (ThinkTV) Board of Trustees where he serves as treasurer. Travis is also a founding board member of the Clark County Mental Retardation & Developmental Disabilities Housing Connection in Springfield. He was elected to two, four-year terms as a council member in the Village of Enon and served as its President. Travis is also a lifetime member of WSU’s Alumni Association.

Travis has been married to his wife, Lisa, for 25 years. They have two children—Tyler (21) and Caitlyn (18). He and his family reside in Dayton.

Robert Hunkeler III

'87 B.A. Anthropology

Robert L. Hunkeler III was commissioned as a second lieutenant through Air Force ROTC Detachment 643 at Wright State University and earned a B.A. in Anthropology from Wright State University in 1987. Bob was awarded a Master’s degree in Forensic Science from The George Washington University in 1994.

Bob is a forensic investigator with the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office. He previously served in the United States Air Force for 20 years as a special agent with the Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI) before retiring as a lieutenant colonel in 2008. Bob completed a fellowship in forensic medicine with the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology in Washington DC and an internship with the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office in Chicago in 1994. He served as a field forensic science officer from 1994-1998 and as the chief of death investigations at Headquarters AFOSI from 1999-2002. Bob has over 20 years of felony criminal investigative experience, working major criminal investigations, including the Pentagon crime scene of 9/11/01. He has trained hundreds of law enforcement and medical personnel. Bob served as adjunct faculty at the AFOSI Special Investigations Academy teaching advanced homicide investigative techniques and currently serves as adjunct faculty at Wright State University teaching Methods of Human Identification.

Bob credits his success in criminal investigations and crime scene processing to the WSU department of anthropology, specifically Dr. Robert Riordan’s field school at the Pollock Works and his instruction in archaeology, Dr. John Thatcher’s instruction in cultural anthropology, and Dr. Anna Bellisari’s instruction in physical anthropology.

Becky Kohler da Cruz

'92 B.A. Political Science

José de Arimatéia da Cruz and Becky Kohler da Cruz are co-nominees for the 2009 Political Science outstanding alumni. José’s story may be found on the previous page, as he was also nominated for this award by the department of Philosophy.

In addition to her B.A. in Political Science, Becky holds a J.D. from the University of Dayton and expects to receive her Ph.D. in Criminal Justice from Capella University in December, 2008. Becky and José met at Wright State, got married in the Student Union, and are doing some neat work at Armstrong Atlantic University.

Becky joined Armstrong Atlantic State University as a faculty member for the Criminal Justice, Social & Political Science Department in August, 2003. Prior to teaching for AASU, she was employed in both the academia and the legal profession. She served on the faculty of Ozarks Technical Community College in Springfield, Missouri for six years and taught for Edison Community College in Piqua, Ohio. She was also an associate attorney for O’Loughlin & Gudorf law firm in Dayton, Ohio; a night court hearing officer and weekend intake review for the City of Dayton Prosecutor’s Office; a law clerk for Stephen E. Klein Law Office in Vandalia, Ohio and the Piqua City Prosecutor’s Office in Piqua, Ohio; and a senior legal researcher for Lexis-Nexis.

Judy Mott

'77 B.A. Urban Affairs

Judy Mott graduated with an Urban Studies Bachelor of Arts degree in 1977 and then quickly began a successful career in the public service.

Judy first took a position as project director with the City of Dayton. Within five years, she served as a project director for the American Society for Public Administration and completed a Masters of Public Administration at the University of Dayton (1982). Judy went to work for Montgomery County in 1980, where she still serves as manager of community development and as executive director of the Montgomery County Arts and Cultural District. In her positions, Judy has helped make Montgomery County one of the most progressive counties in the country. Her efforts to create programs that rebuild declining neighborhoods and serve low income families and develop and support arts and cultural programs have been recognized as models in the state and across the country.

The Urban Affairs Outstanding Alumnus Award tonight is a small token of appreciation for all of her good work to raise our quality of life and to support those less fortunate in our communities. We are happy Wright State University could play a role in her successful public service career.

Lisa Pasquinelli Rickey

'05 B.A. Latin History, '08 M.A. Public History

A superlative Latinist, Lisa Pasquinelli Rickey graduated summa cum laude and as a University honors scholar with a BA in History and Latin from Wright State University in June of 2005. In 2008, she also completed an MA in Public History at Wright State.

Professor emeritus William King says of Rickey: “I recall Lisa well: calm, quiet, intelligent, diligent, interested and interesting. I recall lecturing her about her name and associating it with pasquinade, the exact opposite of Lisa’s demeanor. She will certainly be an honor to any Public History program she gets involved in.” Lisa is currently pursuing a career as an archivist. Luckily for our community, she has chosen to keep her expertise local by working first at the Greene Country Room of the Xenia Public Library, and most recently by accepting a position as Reference Librarian in the archives at the Dayton Metro Library; she will take up her new post in August.

In May, she married former honors student Matt Rickey (B.S. ‘05 Electrical Engineering), and the couple now resides in Vandalia.

Judith Springer

'92 B.A. Religious Studies

Judy Springer began her higher education at the University of Dayton in the field of Elementary Education. Her schooling was put on hold while she raised her children and worked as the secretary of the Dayton Area Campus Ministry Board and then as the security officer for an aerospace company. When she returned to school she chose Wright State University, where she made her mark as a student, eventually graduating summa cum laude with a Bachelor’s Degree in Religious Studies and certification in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages).

Immediately upon graduation from Wright State, she and her husband left for the People’s Republic of China where they taught English at Huaiyin Teachers’ College in Jiangsu Province through the Amity Foundation and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). Upon returning to the United States, the Springers moved to the mountains, and later to the piedmont of North Carolina.

Judy has pursued her interest in multiculturalism and ecumenism in a number of ways. She was one of 12 women from the U.S. and Canada selected to participate in a cultural exchange program in Zimbabwe and Kenya. She took part in a study trip to Palestine/Israel as well as in the Bold Women of the Reformation tour of Germany. Judy has served on numerous committees, including serving as National Secretary of Church Women United (CWU) and as the Coordinator of the Continuing Fellowship Task Force and member of the Personnel Committee; as the NC Secretary of CWU; and as President and newsletter editor of CWU in Henderson County NC. She received the CWU Valiant Woman award in 2003.

Nicole Wall

'98 B.S.Ed. K-12 Education-Language

Nicole Wall (Niki) was born in 1963 in Thessaloniki, Greece, and moved to the United States in 1982. She graduated from the Wright State University College of Education and Human Services with a BSed, K-12 Ed--Language in 1998.

After graduation she began teaching German at Springfield High School, building a program of about 20 students into one of up to 120 students! She developed the German program course of study in the district and created an Advanced Placement curriculum for German levels III and IV. For two years she was the chairperson of the foreign language department and also served on and chaired the high school’s faculty advisory council. Currently Niki is the student council advisor for the class of 2009 and the advisor for German club, which is becoming very active in the Springfield community, particularly in promoting environmental responsibility. For several years, Niki has also been organizing student exchange programs in Germany and in Austria, hosting a total of 16 students from abroad. She has been invited to teach English in Austria next school year for English immersion week, and will also be taking several of her American students so that they can attend the school in Austria and stay in the students’ homes. Niki has organized eight student educational trips to Europe, traveling with over 75 students to various countries like Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Greece, and France. Niki is a member of the American Association of Teachers of German and a certified International Baccalaureate teacher; as a future graduate of the Ohio State University’s Master’s program in German, she intends to continue to grow professionally.

Niki says: “Wright State has instilled in me a passion for foreign languages and for teaching!”