2011 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.


Steven M. Abshire

'95 Urban Affairs

Steven M. Abshire graduated from Wright State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Urban Affairs in 1995. He continued his graduate education at Wright State and earned his Master’s Degree in Applied Behavioral Science in 1996. Steven then went on to attend law school at the University of Toledo.  He earned his license to practice law in Ohio in 2001. Steven currently works in the Criminal Division of the Montgomery County (Ohio) Prosecutor’s Office. In 2003 he was named the Outstanding Assistant Prosecuting Attorney of the Year by CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates), for his exceptional work with children and families here in Montgomery County. Moreover, Steven has also recently been recognized for his continued work and dedication to CARE House of Montgomery County. CARE House is a community advocacy center for child victims of abuse and neglect.

Andréa Bendewald

B.F.A. Theatre

Andréa Bendewald is best known for playing Maddy Piper on the hit TV series Suddenly Susan starring Brooke Shields. She originated the role of Lisa in the critically acclaimed play D Girl, written by Roger Kumble, and enjoyed taking her one woman show, Above and Beyond to the Aspen Comedy Festival and runs both in NY and LA. Andrea is also getting ready to star in the highly anticipated new play Girls Talk by Roger  Kumble, opening this March in Los Angeles.

Television credits include:  Without a Trace, The Game, According to Jim, Two and a Half Men, House, Entourage, CSI Miami, Center of the Universe, Men Behaving Badly, That 70’S Show, Providence, Ellen, Friends, Seinfeld, That's Life, and Secret Lives of Men to name a few.

Andréa is a graduate of the School of Performing Arts and holds a B.F.A. in Theatre from Wright State University where she performed in Les Liasons Dangereuse, Stepping Out, and Laura in Tennessee Williams’ Glass Menagerie, which went to the regional semi-finals of the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival.

In addition to her acting career Andréa is founder of MyEnchantedCircle.com where she brings the power of celebration to many Angelenos through creating sacred ceremonies and facilitating transformational circles. She is married to actor/writer Mitch Rouse and mother to two beautiful children, Tennessee Louise and Strummer James.  

David Bignell


David Bignell was selected as the outstanding Geography alumnus because  of his service to our security and nation and the service he provides to our Geography program. While attending Wright State, Mr. Bignell became one of the first co-op intern students at the Foreign Technology Division (FTD) located within the National Air and Space Intelligence Center (NASIC), headquartered at Wright Patterson Air Force Base.  After graduation, Mr. Bignell worked many jobs at NASIC, including  lead imagery analyst, team leader, branch chief, commercial imagery manager, digital production manager, lead photogrammetrist and image scientist.  He built a photogrammetric program that is now used across the Federal government and worldwide allied partners.  The key to this program was a detailed chain of analysis that would manage data from the point of collection to final report.

Throughout his career, Mr Bignell's primary area of research has been in developing tools and methodologies to disseminate intelligence.  He has conducted photogram-metric seminars at all of DoD’s intelligence centers, CIA, FBI, NGA, NASA and allied partners.  His work for NASA on the Space Shuttle foam loss was especially critical to the program and safety of astronauts.  His method for measuring protective foam loss was eventually published in the Journal of Geospatial Intelligence Review.  Mr. Bignell was also a guest lecturer at the 2005 Remote Sensing Forum and was awarded the 2005 Air Force Outstanding Scientist and Engineer Educator Award.

In addition to his DoD efforts, Mr Bignell for many years taught Remote Sensing as   an adjunct professor in the Geography Department at Wright State University.  The faculty congratulate Mr. Bignell for his many accomplishments and we thank him for paving the way for future NASIC interns from Wright State and for the many years of support and instruction he has provided to our department and students.

Marla Butke


Dr. Marla Butke is Associate Professor of Music at Ashland University and serves as the Coordinator of Music Education. She received a bachelor’s degree in music education from Miami University, a master’s degree in music education from Wright State University and a doctorate in music education from The Ohio State University. Dr. Butke has taught general and choral music in public and private schools in Dayton and served as the music education specialist at Ohio Wesleyan University. She is a frequent clinician throughout the United States with research interests focusing on reflective practice and Dalcroze Eurhythmics. Dr. Butke was a contributing author to Women and Music  in America Since 1900, an award-winning reference encyclopedia, and has been published in TRIAD, Update, and Enrollment Management.

Dr. Butke holds certifications in the Orff methodology from The Ohio State University and the Dalcroze methodology from Carnegie-Mellon University. Dr. Butke serves as the head of research for the Dalcroze Society of America. Dr. Butke is a member of OMEA’s Curriculum and Assessment Committee and is the General Music Co-Chair for the 2012 state conference.

Colonel Keith Donahoe

'86 B.A. Anthropology

Keith Donahoe graduated from Wright State with a B.A. in Anthropology in 1986. Since graduating from Wright State he has earned an M.B.A. from the University of Phoenix, a Masters in Strategic Studies from the US Army War College, and a Master of Arts in History from the University of Louisville. He was commissioned as an Army officer while he was at Wright State and after graduation he spent the next 8 and half years on active duty. After 1995 he continued to serve in the National Guard and after 2000 in the Army Reserves. He is currently a colonel serving as the Chief Current Operations with the 84th Training Command.

As a civilian he has worked with the US Army Cadet Command at the University of Louisville and Fort Knox since 2000. He deployed to Iraq in 2004, returning in 2005. His awards include the Bronze Star Medal, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal with two oak leaf clusters, the Army Commendation Medal with one oak l eaf cluster, the Army Achievement Medal, the Army Reserve Components Achievement Medal, the National Defense Service Medal with 1 Service Star, the Armed Forces Reserve Medal, the Army Service Ribbon and the Overseas Service Ribbon 4th Award. He and his wife Jan have two children.

Nancy Grieshop

Nancy Grieshop has worked in nearly 40 nursing home facilities and a dialysis center under different capacities including: social service consultant, education director, admission director, director of social services, discharge planner, inspector for insurance certification, insurance verification specialist, and social worker. Her accomplishments in the past 22 years as an Ohio Licensed Social Worker include: designing and presenting educational programs to people with End Stage Renal Disease, diabetes, and heart disease; developing and facilitating diabetic, and Alzheimer’s support groups; developing documentation forms which streamlined the social service assessment process, which are used in nearly 30 facilities statewide; training multiple staff members to be effective social service designees; developing and managing a sub-acute unit; presenting in-service training to staff on residents rights, dementia, mood/behavior issues and interventions; working closely with Ombudsman staff to assure that all residents’ rights are protected; supervising field education for social work students form Wright State, Sinclair, Cedarville College, and Capitol University.  All of these accomplishments are in addition to her daily social work responsibilities.  Nancy has served on the Greene County Council on Aging in an advisory capacity for over 20 years and she has been a member of the Miami Valley Long Term Care Association for over 20 years, where she spearheaded an initiative to give social work students scholarships along with nursing and NHA students.  Nancy was nominated by Dr. Beth Kinsel, Assistant Professor of Social Work at WSU and Karen Puterbaugh, director of Greene County Council on Aging based on long-term advocacy for older adults and their families.

Jeff Hoagland


Jeff Hoagland is the standing alumnus from the Master of Public Administration (MPA) program. He is the new Executive Vice President of Operations at the Dayton Development Coalition (DDC).  The Coalition is the Dayton Region’s economic development organization and principle public advocate. 

After graduating from the University of Dayton in 1991, Mr. Hoagland entered the workforce and worked in the Montgomery County Community and Economic Development office for six (6) years. In 1995, he left Montgomery County and joined the City of Kettering where he served in various roles including Community Development Administrator, Economic Development Manager and finally as Assistant City Manager. In 2004, he was hired by the City of Vandalia as its City Manager, a role he held until joining the DDC in 2010.

Mr. Hoagland is actively involved in the Dayton Region. He serves on the Board of Directors of the United States Air and Trade Show, the Montgomery County Arts and Cultural District (President), NAIOP Commercial Real Estate Development Association, the Vandalia-Butler Chamber of Commerce and Wright State University MPA Advisory Board. He is also a member of the Dayton Rotary, International City/County Management Association, the Dayton Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Dayton Mayors and Managers Association. Mr. Hoagland is frequently a guest lecturer in government classes at the University of Dayton and Wright State University. He and his wife are also very active with Catholic Social Services. With this award, the faculty recognize Mr. Hoagland’s many achievements and outstanding service to our region. We are very proud that we have been able to play a part in his career and contributions to government and economic development.

Pat McClelland

'89 B.F.A. Painting and Printmaking Concentrations

Pat McClelland was born in Dayton, Ohio in 1952. He has a wife, Aileen and two sons, Benjamin and Jonathan. He graduated from Wright State in 1989, earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with concentrations in painting and printmaking. In 1992 he received a Master of Fine Arts from The University of Cincinnati with a concentration in printmaking. He currently teaches in The Art Department at Sinclair Community College and holds the position of Gallery Coordinator and Collections Curator.

Despite his many duties at Sinclair, Pat remains an active, exhibiting artist with work in many public and private collections including: The University of Cincinnati, Sinclair Community College, Indiana University East, and The Montgomery County Office of Management and Budget.

Caress Rene Schenk

'05 M.A. International and Comparative Politics

The Master of Arts Program in International and Comparative Politics is pleased to name Caress (Abercrombie) Schenk as the 2011 outstanding alum from our program. A 2005 graduate of the ICP program, Caress is the first graduate of our M.A. program (which began in 2001) to complete her doctoral degree.

Originally from Yakima Washington, Caress defended her M.A. thesis, “The Contributions  of NATO to the Institutionalization of Humanitarian Intervention: The Cases of Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo,” in November 2005. She then went on to Miami University, where she completed comprehensive exams in International Relations (globalization and foreign policy) and Comparative Politics (nationalism, post-communist hybrid regimes, resource politics, and political economy). Her dissertation, which she defended in the spring of 2010, is titled: A Typical Country of Immigration? Russia in Comparative Perspective. In this research, she examines the complex informal processes connected to immigrant life in Russia, the second largest immigrant-receiving country in the world. She examines the processes by which migrants are confined to the informal sector of the Russian economy, serving as an ever-increasing pool of cheap illegal labor. Her research was funded by numerous grants, including from the American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies, American Councils Title VIII Combined Research and Language Training Fellowship, and a US Department of Education Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowship. Caress has published her research in Demokratizatsiya (“Democratization”) and Russia: Behind the Headlines, and has presented at numerous academic conferences, including the Association for the Study of Nationalities, the Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies, and the Midwest Slavic Conference. She has also been invited to present her research on nationalism in Moscow in October 2011. Caress is currently a lecturer in the Department of Political Science and Criminal Justice at Northern Kentucky University, where she teaches courses on Comparative Politics, Russian Politics, International Law, and European Politics.

Leigh A. Sempeles

B.A .History

Leigh Sempeles: A Dayton native, Leigh Sempeles graduated from Wright State University in 1979 with a B.A. in History.  After earning a J.D. from the University of Dayton Law School, she practiced law for several years before moving to Mead Data Central to work on a project that eventually became LexisNexis.  There she held management positions in strategy, marketing, and product development.  In 1992, she earned an M.A. in Business Administration from Antioch University McGregor.  From 2006- 2011 she served as the Executive Director of St. Vincent de Paul – Dayton.  She is now the head of the Law School program for Bloomberg Law, part of Bloomberg, L.P.  in New York City.

Lt. Colonel Anthony A. Shaffer

B.A. Political Science and Environmental Studies

LtCol Tony Shaffer is a highly experienced intelligence officer and  recipient of the Bronze Star with 25 years of field experience.  He has commanded and directed several key operational intelligence organizations including STRATUS IVY, a Special Mission Task Force that provided direct support to the Department of Defense compartmented activities focused on offensive information operations.

Directly following the attacks of September 11 he was in charge of Field Operating Base (FOB) Alpha, a joint DIA/CIA unit conducting classified collection and special operations support on terrorists.  During his two undercover combat tours LtCol Shaffer participated in the search for senior Al Qaeda leadership in Afghanistan, experiences that imparted him with a unique viewpoint on terrorism and its roots in southwest Asia.  LtCol Shaffer’s recent book “Operation Dark Heart” provides an unprecedented look at intelligence operations during a period in the war where a small number of operators were able to effectively control the nation.

Lt. Colonel Shaffer currently serves as the Reserve G6 Assistant Chief of Staff, Communications and Technology of an Army Reserve division.  He is also a senior advisor to multiple organizations on terrorism and counterinsurgency issues and a member of the U.S. Nuclear Strategy Forum.  Tony earned a B.A. from Wright State University in Political Science and Environmental Studies.

Ernest (Jack) Smith

'78 English, '80 M.A. English

Ernest (Jack) Smith, WSU Honors in English 1978 and M.A. in English 1980, is Director of the Honors Program at Northern Kentucky University. Dr Smith  has also taught at the University of Central Florida for nineteen years, and researches and writes about twentieth century poetry and culture.  He holds a Ph.D. in English from New York University.

He was an Honors student at WSU as an undergraduate, and began his teaching career as a teaching assistant at WSU in the English department.

Dr. Smith is passionate about poetry and music, and enjoys travel, the visual arts, cooking, and parenting. He and his wife, Mel Woods, have a daughter named Lily and a son named Dylan. When they were married, they decided to do it abroad, and chose Florence, Italy, as the site of their wedding.

Pete Spriggs

WSB-AM750 TALK and now 95.5 FM NEWS Cox Radio in Atlanta, Georgia are recognized for being cutting-edge.  Pete Spriggs is recognized as the person behind this national reputation for innovation at these stations.  In fact radio professionals point out that Pete is the   personality behind the star radio show personalities at Cox Enterprises’ Cox Radio headquarters in Sandy Springs, Georgia. These personalities range from Neal Boortz to Clark Howard.

Working with successful  syndicated talent is no small achievement and Spriggs is recognized by his peers as being among the best.  Radio Ink, radio’s premier management and marketing magazine, ranked Pete Spriggs as 12th in the major markets category thanks to Pete’s dedication to excellence. This dedication was apparent to Pete’s peers at WWSU 106.9 FM in the early 1980s as well.

Travis Greenwood, the College of Liberal Arts 2010 Outstanding Alumnus and 1984 organizational communication graduate, said "Pete was always the guy at the station (WWSU) that everyone wanted to be around.  He was the glue that bonded the different facets of the radio station – he had that special ability to connect us all together as a team of misfits.  He was a leader without even knowing he was leading."

Pete was selected as the 2011 outstanding role model for the communication studies, organizational communication and mass communication majors because of Pete’s national reputation for making an ongoing substantial contribution to talk radio while balancing his commitment to his family and to his community.

“Mr. Spriggs has the balance of work and ethics while being dedicated to his friends and family. That makes him an inspiration to our students,” said Melissa Spirek, communication professor and communication department chair. "The first time I heard about his radio work was made in reference to how he was not present at a meeting because he promised his son he would watch him play baseball.  And the professional was quick to point out that Pete always keeps his word."

Wendy Stiver

'06 B.A. Sociology

Wendy Stiver graduated with her BA in Sociology in 2006.  She currently serves as a Lieutenant in the Dayton Police Department and is the Night Watch Commander for the East Patrol Division.  Lieutenant Stiver was honored with the Award of Merit in 2001, and was also recognized as Officer of the Month in October of 2004.  She has received numerous letters of commendation for her outstanding work with the Dayton Police Department and was recently appointed as the Department’s liaison to the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender community.

As a daughter of career Air Force father, Wendy lived in Germany and many locations across the U.S. until settling in Dayton.  A 1990 graduate of Berlin American High School in Berlin, Germany, Wendy served in the Army as part of the Military Police Corps.  A convert to both Wright State and sociology, she began her academic pursuits at Ohio State University as an engineering major.  She came to Wright State in 1997 and after a few elective sociology classes, she was hooked.  Wendy worked part time as a dispatcher for the Fairborn Police Department to support herself through school and was hired by the City of Dayton as a police officer in 1999.  She returned to Wright State in 2005 to complete her Bachelor’s degree.  Lt. Stiver feels her degree in Sociology has been central to her success as a supervisor and has found the focus on critical analysis, writing, and statistics emphasized by the major to be particularly beneficial.