Distinguished Alumni

Ildikó Marcus (2016 Recipient)

BA, Latin, 1979 BS, Nursing, 1979

Ildikó Marcus graduated from Wright State University in 1979 with a double major in Latin and Nursing. The child of Hungarian immigrants, she grew up bilingual, and began her college career at The Ohio State University in 1973. When the opportunity arose for her and her former husband to purchase a Domino’s Pizza franchise, Marcus moved with him to Fairborn. As the business prospered, she was mindful of her parents’ advice that “no one can ever take an education from you,” so she transferred to Wright State. Marcus excelled in her academics and soon turned her BSN into a long and varied nursing career, initially working in the ER at Children’s Medical Center, and later working in the outpatient ambulatory center at Greene Memorial Hospital. While her children were young she also volunteered as a nurse in their school.

Marcus has long believed that the pursuit of higher education is of the utmost importance. Her children are evidence of this belief: elder daughter Andrea has a Doctor of Jurisprudence, and younger daughter Lauren has a Master of Business Administration. Marcus strongly feels that the humanities bring the spark that is the essence of a well-lived life. To that end, she is very supportive of Wright State’s College of Liberal Arts, having served on the Dean’s Leadership Board since 2006. Marcus lives with her husband Dan Coughnour and their two cats in Xenia Township, Ohio.

Donald McCrabb (2015 Recipient)

BA, Religion

Don McCrabb has devoted his life to religious education and pastoral ministry. Graduating from Wright State University in 1975, McCrabb subsequently enrolled at the University of Dayton, receiving a master’s degree in Theology. After directing religious education at a parish in Springfield, he became the Catholic campus minister at Central State University. While Executive Director of the Catholic Campus Ministry Association, McCrabb earned a Doctor of Ministry from United Theological Seminary and wrote a dissertation entitled Campus Ministry, Conscience Formation, and the Quest for Environmental Justice. He now lives in Washington, D.C., where he has occupied a variety of positions involving campus ministry, religious education, and development.

McCrabb currently works as Director of Development for Samaritan Ministry of Greater Washington, an organization dedicated to improving the lives of homeless people, coordinating all fund-raising activities. In addition he has served as consultant for numerous educational and religious organizations, written two books, and taught pastoral theology. McCrabb and his wife, Barbara, have three children and three

Eben O. McNair (2014 Recipient)

'06 B.A., Philosophy

Ben McNair was raised in northeast Ohio and joined the Marine Corps after high school. During his six years of service in the Corps he achieved the rank of sergeant and served as section leader and platoon sergeant. He began studying at Wright State University in 2001 while simultaneously serving in the Marine Corps Reserve. He studied philosophy because it was interesting, the professors were enjoyable, and the flexible credit-hour requirements allowed him to pursue other academic interests. He interrupted classwork twice for tours of duty, in Israel in 2004 and Iraq in 2005. While completing his degree he volunteered as an instructor for the Young Marines. After graduating from Wright State in 2006, he worked as a Teamster.

In 2009, he began law school at Case Western Reserve University, choosing law because it allows for--or in his words, arguably demands--a career of service. While a student at Case Western, he was Editor in Chief of the Journal of Law, Technology, and the Internet, and during his tenure, the journal was cited by the Supreme Court of the United States in a landmark patent ruling.

He is currently employed by the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office, where he is responsible for the prosecution of felonies. He co-founded a unit to investigate and prosecute gang-related offenses, which recently charged 43 codefendants with a combined 437 gang-related charges, including racketeering, robbery, extortion, and kidnapping. For this innovative work he won the office’s annual Crime Prevention Award. In his free time, he serves indigent clients as a volunteer attorney with the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland.

Bryan Lakatos (2013 Recipient)

'99 B.A., Latin

Bryan Lakatos began his career as a high school Latin teacher before graduating from WSU in 1999.

As a senior Classics major, he took a part-time position with The Miami Valley School, a local independent K-12 school. After growing that position to full-time, Bryan discovered an outlet at the school for his other lovecomputers and technology.  Eventually overseeing all technology at the school, he recently brought his focus to best practices of using technology to activate teaching and learning, fulfilling a new role for the school: Director of Technology & Innovation.  He currently heads up a major professional development project and is guiding the high school through the first year of its bring-your-own-device program. 

Bryan has not abandoned the Classics thoughhe still teaches Latin and just this past summer co-created the new middle school Latin program at MVS.  He and his wife Robyn Case live in Kettering with their two dogs.

Harmon Remmel (Mel) Menker (2012 Recipient)

'85 B.A. Religion

Harmon Remmel (Mel) Menker graduated (magna cum Laude) from WSU in 1985 with a degree in Religion, having completed an associate of Arts degree at Sinclair. He has continued his education at a variety of institutions, including United Theological Seminary, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, the Jerusalem Center for Biblical Studies, and other places. He earned a Masters of Pastoral Counseling degree from Andersonville Theological Seminary and is currently completing a Doctorate in the same program.

He has used his education to serve both church and community, while pastoring at various parishes in Ohio and Maryland for over 30 years. He sees his work as threefold: teaching, preaching, and counseling, and is constantly looking for new ways to help people.

His extensive community service includes: working in mental health, providing hunger relief, counseling for deployed military, and coaching athletics. He has been involved in all levels of mental health, from counselor, to trainer, to supervisor, to board member. He directed a Harvest for the Hungry Program and served on the board of trustees of a regional Food Bank. He has been a soccer coach for school and community teams, from youth soccer to college sports and was named JUCO Region xx Men’s Soccer coach of the year in 2003.

His selection as the outstanding alumnus from the Departments of Religion, Philosophy, and Classics recognizes his extensive service, his commitment to education, his creativity in finding new solutions to old problems, and his considerable talents, both personal and academic.

Jonathan Katz (2010 Recipient)

'72 B.A. Philosophy

Jonathan Katz received a B.A. from Wright State University in Ohio, an M.A. from the University of Manitoba, and a Ph.D. from the University of British Columbia, all in philosophy.

His dissertation addressed some of the philosophical puzzles raised by the indeterminacy of modern physics. Besides the philosophy of science, his interests include metaphysics and the philosophy of religion, with papers published in all three areas. Dr. Katz is Chair of the Department of Philosophy at Kwantlen Polytechnic University.

Victoria Peagler (2010 Recipient)

'93 B.A. Religion

Victoria Peagler graduated with a BA in Religion (Magna Cum Laude) in 1993. She has subsequently earned a Th.D. in Philosophy of Religion and Theology from Grace School of Divinity, Indianapolis, IN, and an MA Cross-cultural and Intercultural Studies from Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, CA, where she is currently a Ph.D. candidate [ABD] in Intercultural Studies.

She has taken a leading role in Holiness circles as a preacher, evangelist, scholar and humanitarian, advocating for the leadership of women and addressing the racial and socio-economic gap in the United States and abroad. She has been active in Habitat for Humanity and was the first African American female invited to speak at one of South Africa’s most celebrated National holidays—“Women’s Day,” a day dedicated to heroines instrumental in the abolishment of Apartheid. She currently directs Women on the Move for God (Victoria Peagler Ministries, Inc.). Among other activities she is a member of the International Association of Mission Studies, the American Society of Missiology (ASM), NAACP, the National Conference of Christians and Jews, The Society for Biblical Equality, The World Council of Churches and is a board member of South Africa Councilor’s Family Forum and the African National Council of Churches.

José de Arimatéia da Cruz (2009 Recipient)

'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.

Judith Springer (2009 Recipient)

'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.

Elli Bambakidis (2008 Recipient)

'79 B.A. Greek, '83 M.A. History

Elli Bambakidis graduated in 1979 with a degree in Classics. She is warmly remembered as an able and active student, one professor praising her love affair with language, her delight in analyzing structures and weighing words.” Shifting toward archival work, she completed a Masters degree in History in 1983 from Wright State and a Master of Library Science degree from Kent State University in 1996.

Elli worked at the WSU Library in special collections before taking a job as an archivist with the Dayton Metro Library. She has managed one of the largest collections of Women's Suffrage materials in the country and has published twenty-four archival collections, including that of Paul Laurence Dunbar. Symposiua proceedings which she has written include Preserving the Wright Brothers' Legacy (2002), and 1913: Preserving the Memories of Dayton's Great Flood (2004). She has taken a leadership role in preserving archival information, both in Dayton and in Ohio.

She has also been very active in the Greek community of Dayton, even running the Greek school for twenty years and regularly superintending the celebration of Greek Independence Day. In 2004, Elli presented an invited talk on America's Team at the 1906 Olympics at an international symposium in Volos, Greece.

Among her other WSU connections, her husband, Gust Bambakidis, is emeritus professor of Physics, and their three sons are all alumni. The oldest, Nicholas, was a 1993 Honors graduate and is now a neurosurgeon practicing in Arizona.

K. Stuart Goldberg (2008 Recipient)

'74 B.A. Religion

K. Stuart Goldberg is a Dayton area (Beavercreek) native who graduated magna cum laude with majors in Religion and Political Science in 1974. He was the founding editor of the Religion department newsletter. Stuart went on to study law at The Ohio State University, obtaining his Juris Doctor degree in 1978. He practiced civil rights law with the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission and the Dayton Legal Aid Society until he relocated to Palm Beach, Florida in 1984.

Stuart is a partner at Marlow, Connell, Abrams, Adler, Newman & Lewis, a Miami-based civil litigation law firm, where he specializes in professional malpractice & premises liability and commercial insurance trial practice. He is also a Supreme Court certified civil mediator and arbitrator.

He is married to Rebeca, who is from Havana, Cuba, and has two children, Jay Brandon and Robin Joy, who are both students at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Florida.

Diana Dickinson (2006 Recipient)

'86 B.A. Philosophy

Diana Dickinson returned to school after a 14-year career in corporate accounting and graduated from Wright State in 1986. She went on to the University of Dayton , where she earned her J.D. in 1989.

She is now a senior trial attorney and chief, Eastern Trial Division, in the Office of the Chief Trial Attorney, U.S. Air Force Base, at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. There Diana practices complex civil litigation involving Air Force contracts and appears before the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals. In 1999, she was named Federal Employee of the Year in the Dayton Metropolitan Area in the Scientific/Engineering/Medical/Legal category and was the first attorney to win in that category. Diana is a member of the Ohio State Bar Association and the American Bar Association and is an adjunct professor of Law at UD.

Diana is a board member and legal advisor for Fisher/Nightingale Houses, Inc., an Ohio non-profit corporation that almost completely supports the Fisher Houses compassionate care facilities for current and retired active duty military and their dependents, who are being treated at the Wright-Patterson AFB Medical Center. She is also a board member, treasurer, and member of the strategic planning committee for Rhythm in Shoes, a national touring dance company based in Dayton.

Susan Valiquette (2006 Recipient)

'92 B.A. Religion

Reverend Susan Valiquette graduated from Wright State in 1992 and attended United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities ( Minnesota ), where she earned the Master of Divinity degree.

Susan then served as pastor of a United Church of Christ congregation in Battle Creek, Michigan for five years. She met her husband, Scott Couper, when they were both volunteers at Jubilee Partners (a Christian commune started by Mennonites) in Comer, Georgia. Her husband also earned his Master of Divinity degree (Chicago Theological Seminary, 1999), and both were appointed as missionaries through the UCC and are currently serving in Durban, South Africa. Susan is chaplain at Inanda Seminary, a hundred year-old boarding school for girls (grades 7-12), with a current enrollment of 245. As chaplain, she has a captivated teenage congregation and currently teaches Christian Education and Life Orientation. Her greatest joy and challenge is counseling, as she values the one-on-one conversations with the students. Susan hopes that she will have the opportunity to one day further her education in the area of psychology.

She and her husband have two children, Micah (6) and Madeline (4). Micah was born in Michigan and Madeline was adopted in South Africa.

David Vesely (2006 Recipient)

'87 B.A. Classics

David Vesely came to Wright State in 1984 while still on active duty in the United States Air Force, stationed at WPAFB. He intended to major in Philosophy, but fell in love with Classical Humanities and eventually graduated (summa cum laude and with Departmental Honor) with a degree in Classics in 1987. After further study of Latin at Wright State, David earned a Master's Degree in Latin from Kent State in 1992. He was hired by Kettering Fairmont High School and has since directed their Latin program.

David took an already successful Latin program and made it outstanding. It is a large program and very active in statewide and national organizations. His program won the Hildesheim Award for best high school Latin program in Ohio in 2003. David has taken his students on study trips to Italy most years. The thought of traipsing around Rome, Naples, Florence, with 40 teenagers in tow boggles the mind, but he does it with aplomb, and his students love him. Some of them have come to Wright State after graduation and, whatever their major, stop by the Classics department to remind us of their wonderful high school Latin teacher!

Mark T. Conrad, Ph.D. (2005 Recipient)

'88 B.A. Philosophy

Dr. Mark T. Conrad, a native of Troy, Ohio, graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. in philosophy from Wright State in 1988. He received an M.A. in philosophy from Miami University in 1990 and a Ph.D. in philosophy from Temple University in 1995. Mark is currently an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Marymount Manhattan College in New York City. He is co-editor of and a contributor to “Woody Allen and Philosophy” and “The Philosophy of Film Noir.” Mark is the author of several scholarly essays in recent Continental Philosophy; he is also the author of a novel entitled Dark as Night and his second novel is forthcoming.

Janice Gabbert, Ph.D. (2005 Recipient)

'70 B.A. Classics

Dr. Janice J. Gabbert graduated summa cum laude from Wright State with a B.A. in Classics in 1970. She received her M.A. in Ancient History in 1972 and her Ph.D. in ancient History in 1982 from the University of Cincinnati. Jan started teaching at Wright State in the Department of Classics in 1978 and retired from full-time teaching in December 2003 having risen to the rank of Professor of Classics. She also served as Chair of the Department of Classics from 1986 until her retirement. Dr. Gabbert is the author of a scholarly monograph on Anigonus II Gonatus (a political biography), a textbook on classical antiquity, numerous journal articles and encyclopedia entries. She continues to teach in the department as Professor Emerita.

Darrell Gill, M.D. (2004 Recipient)

'85 B.A. Philosophy

Darrell Gill completed an M.A. in philosophy at the University of Cincinnati and then completed his medical studies at the Iowa College of Osteopathic Medicine and Surgery.

Since completing his residency training in family medicine and emergency room medicine in Cleveland, he has been working as an emergency room physician and clinical instructor at University Hospital in Cleveland. He plays jazz and blues piano, holds a patent on a medical instrument and plans to open his own medical clinic.

David Pettegrew (2004 Recipient)

'98 B.A. Greek and Anthropology

David has been involved in archaeological projects in Greece since 1998, including the Ohio State University Excavations at Isthmia, the Eastern Korinthia Archaeology Survey, the Australian Paliochora-Kythera Survey and a project near Larnaka in Cyprus. He has delivered conference papers and published articles about rural farmsteads and country life in Greece during the Classical and Roman periods.

David Manley (2003 Recipient)

'91 B.A. Philosophy, '92 M.Hum.

After earning a M.Hum in 1992, David began teaching Philosophy, Religion and Humanities courses at local higher education institutions including WSU, University of Dayton, and Sinclair Community College. David was hired into a full time position with teaching and administrative responsibilities at the University of Dayton in 1995. At that time, he also began doctoral level studies in Theology at the Pontifical Theological Faculty Marianum and accepted an administrative appointment with Antioch University in 1997 and currently serves as the Director of Information Technology Services.

Brian Ruppert (2003 Recipient)

'84 B.A. Religion, '86 M.Hum.

After receiving his degrees at WSU, Brian pursued doctoral studies in Asian Religion in the University of Iowa and eventually earned his Ph.D. from Princeton University. Brain has taught Asian Religion at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and is now associate professor of Religion at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Brian specializes in medieval Japanese religion.

Lora Williams (2003 Recipient)

'95 B.A. Classics, '99 M.Hum.

In addition to Wright State degrees, Lora also holds an A.S. in Computer Science from Sinclair Community College. In 2002, she was promoted to Principal Consultant with Keane, Inc. in Cincinnati and received the company's “Dare to Soar” award in recognition of her outstanding performance in dual roles as Project Manager and Lead Programmer/Analyst for an application migration project for the Department of Energy. Lora has also volunteered for a number of years with the Victim/Witness division of the Montgomery County Prosecutor's Office as a hospital counselor for rape victims.

Kathryn A. Sanford (2002 Recipient)

'81 B.A. Philosophy

Since receiving her B.A. in 1981, Kathryn has pursued a long career in health care. She studied nursing at Wright State and then worked as a neurophysiology technician. She entered medical school at Michigan State and completed her residency at Providence Hospital in Michigan.

Judith M. Thompson (2002 Recipient)

'99 B.A. Classical Humanities

Judith Thompson began her degree in 1989, studying part time while working at The Dayton Foundation; she graduated summa cum laude and in November 1999 was promoted to executive vice president. In December 2000, she was named one of the Top Ten Women in Dayton. Judith was a superb student, active in her community and has made trips to Greece and Italy with the Classics Department.

Mark T. Willis (2002 Recipient)

'89 B.A. Religion, '01 M.A. English

Mark Willis is currently Research Coordinator in Wright State University 's School of Medicine. Mark's work as a legislative advocate for passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act was recognized in 1990 by an invitation to the White House for the ADA signing ceremony. His creative writing was supported in 2002 by an Individual Artist Fellowship from the Ohio Arts Council.