June 14, 2010
WOOSTER, Ohio - The College of Wooster honored three of its most esteemed graduates by presenting them with Distinguished Alumni Awards (DAA) on Saturday morning in Gault Recital Hall of Scheide Music Center. The recipients were chosen on the basis of their lifetime achievements as well as their service to others and to the College. The ceremony, one of the highlights of Alumni Weekend festivities at the College, drew a standing-room-only crowd. Andrew Weaver, a 1997 Wooster
graduate and chair of the DAA committee, served as master of ceremonies.
Al Van Wie, longtime coach, administrator, and instructor in the department of physical education and athletics at Wooster, was recognized for his leadership role in intercollegiate athletics as well as his devotion to a number of area agencies, including the Wayne County Committee for Crippled Children. Affectionately known as "The Dutchman," Van Wie graduated from
Wooster in 1952 and returned in 1960 to serve as an assistant coach for football, basketball, and track. He went on to lead the Scot basketball team to more than 300 victories in his 21 years as head coach. In 1974, he was named director of athletics and proceeded to guide the program through a period of remarkable growth. His many achievements include his leadership role in the formation of the North Coast Athletic Conference, which brought unprecedented opportunities for female athletes and a comprehensive championship structure for all sports. He also played a major role at the national level through his involvement with the NCAA, and was inducted into four athletic Halls of Fame. In reflecting on his career, Van Wie, who was introduced by his son, Paul, expressed his gratitude to the many people he met at Wooster, particularly legendary coaches "Mose" Hole, Johnny Swigart, Carl Munson, L.C. Boles, and Phil Shipe, and former President Howard Lowry. "I owe so much
to so many," he said. "Life is about timing, and I was definitely here at the right time."
Joining Van Wie on stage were two doctors: Jane Morley Kotchen, a 1960 graduate, who was celebrating her 50th reunion, and Dale Swift, a 1980 graduate, who was marking the 30th anniversary of his graduation.
Kotchen, who teaches at the Medical College of Wisconsin, received her M.D. degree from Case Western Reserve University. She is known for her research on women's health and high blood pressure in African Americans, as well as her study of the relationship of diet, vitamin supplementation, and hormone replacement to such diseases as cancer, cardiovascular disease, fractures, and dementia. In her acceptance remarks, Kotchen talked about the dramatic gains made by women during the past 50 years. "When I came to Wooster in the late 1950s, there were not many women going into medicine, but everyone on campus was very supportive (of my intentions)," said Kotchen, who was introduced by her son Daniel, a 1993 Wooster graduate. "We have experienced a time of great change, and we have made great strides in the process."
Swift, a pediatric neurosurgeon, drew national attention and acclaim for his role in the separation of Egyptian conjoined twins at Children's Medical Center in Dallas in 2003. Despite the recognition, Swift prefers to stay out the spotlight, so he can concentrate on his practice. A chemistry major at Wooster, Swift, whose good friend and fellow neurosurgeon, R. Dean Martz (a 1979 Wooster graduate), introduced him at the ceremony, reminisced about one of his mentors, Ted Williams, who appropriately referred to him as a maverick. He also talked about the value of his education at Wooster. "When I came here, I was told, 'we don't really have pre-med,'" he said. "I liked that because it enabled me to learn in other areas as well." In closing, Swift expressed gratitude to his family, including his mother and father who taught him to "work hard and help those less privileged."
Also recognized earlier in the day on Saturday, was Matthew Long, a 2005 graduate, who grew up in Wooster. He was named Outstanding Young Alumnus for his noteworthy volunteer service to the College. In addition, Charles and Lillian Richeson Templeton (both of the class of 1965) received the John D. McKee Alumni Volunteer Award for their energy, enthusiasm, and unselfish devotion to
Erika Poethig, a 1993 Wooster graduate and the new president of the Alumni Association, concluded the ceremony by thanking the attendees and offering one final tribute to the award winners by saying, "We are proud to claim you as one of our own."
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