Alumni Notes 


Robert Hess ’53, Columbus, Ohio, is a retired neurosurgeon.


Dr. Arnold RampersadRampersad feted for literary achievements

Dr. Arnold Rampersad ’67, ’68, ‘95 (Hon.) has received myriad honors over the years, including the MacArthur Foundation Fellowship in 1991 and National Humanities Medal from President Barack Obama in 2011. In May 2016, Rampersad received two additional honors during the same week: an honorary Doctor of Laws from Harvard University and an honorary Doctor of Humanities from Yale University.

A biographer, a literary critic and a professor emeritus of English and humanities at Stanford University, Rampersad received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English from Bowling Green State University. He was named a BGSU Distinguished Alumnus in 1992 and one of the Prominent Alumni in 2010. The University also granted him an honorary doctorate in 1995.

Rampersad is a native of Trinidad and Tobago who moved to the United States in 1965 to attend BGSU. He is best known for his award-winning biographies and has received the National Book Critics Circle Award, the National Humanities Medal and fellowships from the J.S. Guggenheim Foundation and Rockefeller Foundation.

William Kraus ’61, Sandusky, Ohio, directed his final concert in April 2016 after serving 40 years as director of the Sandusky Choral Society. During his career he also served as a music teacher for Sandusky Public Schools and choral director at BGSU Firelands.

Anthony Tarasenko ’65, Summit, N.J., was elected by the Union County Medical Society as secretary/treasurer for 2016-17. He also serves as a public health representative for the Medical Society
of New Jersey.


Dr. Alene DuerkDuerk was Navy’s first
female admiral

When she received a Doctor of Human Relations degree from BGSU in 1973, Dr. Alene Duerk occupied a prominent place in the national spotlight as the first female admiral in the history of the U.S. Navy. Duerk was recognized as a pioneer in the Navy nursing corps, where she spent most of her time in the military, but the promotion to the rank of admiral dramatically raised her profile.

Duerk was featured in magazines and on radio and television, but the swirl of media that followed her appointment as the U.S. Navy’s first female admiral
did not distract her from what she saw as a key part of her mission — to encourage the women in the service to push for excellence.

Duerk’s journey to the top tier of the Navy started in 1943. She was born in Defiance, Ohio, went to school in nearby Holgate, and then attended nursing school in Toledo, graduating just as World War II broke out. After working at Tiedtke’s department store in Toledo, she entered the Navy and served as a nurse at the entry-level commissioned officer rank of ensign. She served in World War II and the Korean War as well as many other assignments on the way to her history-making appointment as admiral.

Now 96 years old, Duerk has lived in Florida since 1981, and said friends still refer to her as “Admiral.”

Joseph Ivan ’71, Lakewood, Ohio, retired after a 41-year career in accounting. Many of those years were spent with the Cleveland Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority.

Donald Scherzer ’71, Shaker Heights, Ohio, is a partner in the law firm of Roetzel & Andress and has been named to the 2017 edition of The Best Lawyers in America.

Janet Schroer ’78, Portland, Ore., has been named the Portland area Lawyer of the Year for Professional Malpractice Law – Defendants in the 2017 edition of The Best Lawyers in America. She is a partner with the law firm of Hart Wagner LLP.

Ronald Lauck ’79, New Concord, Ohio, has been a faculty member at Muskingum University since 1986. He received the University’s Cora I. Orr Faculty Service Award, named in honor of a former faculty member and administrator who served the university for four decades.

Linda A. WattersWatters elected to John
Hancock Board

Linda A. Watters ’75 was elected to the Board of Directors of the John Hancock Life Insurance Company (U.S.A.) in September 2016. Watters has served since 2009 as John Hancock’s vice president for government relations, responsible for state legislative and regulatory relations as well as John Hancock’s relationship with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, and she will continue in that role.

Before joining John Hancock, Watters was a managing director for financial risk management with KPMG LLP in Chicago. From 2003 to 2007, she served as commissioner of the Office of Financial and Insurance Services for the state of Michigan. She was appointed to the post by Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm and unanimously confirmed by the Michigan State Senate. She was also the founder, president and chief executive officer of Detroit Commerce Bank from 1998 to 2003.

In 2014, Watters was appointed by Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick to the Successful Women, Successful Families Task Force, part of the state’s Women
in the Workforce initiative. She also serves on the board of the U.S. National Archives Foundation and is a member of the BGSU Academy of Distinguished Alumni.


Linda (Braun) Novotny ’82, Shabbona, Ill., realized her dream of bicycling cross country in August 2016. Along with her daughter and a friend, she cycled 3,550 miles from Oregon to Delaware during a two-month journey.

Charles Pona ’82, Chesterland, Ohio, is a shareholder, member of the management committee and oversees the firm-wide consumer collection practice for Weltman, Weinberg & Reis Co., LPA. He is serving on the newly created Collections Advisory Board for TransUnion.

Ronald Ciancutti ’83, Lakewood, Ohio, has been with the Cleveland Metropolitan Park District for 33 years, where he currently serves as director of procurement. His team earned the Achievement of Excellence Award from the National Purchasing Institute recognizing innovation, technology advancements and financial integrity.

Adrian Thompson ’83, Highland Heights, Ohio, is partner and chief diversity officer for the firm of Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP. He introduced the firm’s inaugural Taft Diversity & Inclusion Fellowship Program to foster the development of future lawyers from diverse backgrounds.

Richard Wallack ’85
, Mentor, Ohio, is regional vice president for Medical Mutual of Ohio’s northeast region. As a 24-year employee of the company he is responsible for retaining and growing business in the five-county region where Medical Mutual is headquartered.

Julie (Long) Miavez ’86
, Palm City, Fla., retired after a 26-year career with the U.S. Navy. At the time of her retirement, Captain Miavez served as optometrist and head of the Optometry Department at Naval Health Clinic Charleston.

Daniel Carter ’89, Bethel, Conn., is serving his third term as a State Representative. He is currently the Republican nominee for the Connecticut U.S. Senate seat.

George McPheeNHL franchise bets on McPhee

George McPhee ’82 has been named general manager of NHL’s newest expansion team in Las Vegas. The team will begin play starting the 2017-18 NHL season. McPhee previously held the general manager position with the Washington Capitals for 16 seasons, where the team made the playoffs six consecutive seasons.

McPhee won the Hobey Baker Award as college hockey’s best player with BGSU during his senior season. When he graduated from BGSU, he held the school scoring record with 267 points on 114 goals and 153 assists in 153 games. His jersey, No. 9, was the first in BGSU hockey history to be retired.

McPhee, a member of BGSU’s Academy of Distinguished Alumni, played seven seasons in the NHL, six with the New York Rangers. He received a law degree from Rutgers University in 1992 before earning a position as vice president and director of hockey operations for the Vancouver Canucks. He was the general manager of the Capitals from 1997 to 2014, turning them into one of the league’s top teams. In Las Vegas, he will be in charge of building the new team to succeed in the competitive NHL.


Gary Davis ’92, Orlando, Fla., is the senior go-to market manager for Advanced Micro Devices. His primary focus is to deep dive into the ecosystems of photorealistic computer-generated imagery rendering and interactive virtual reality solutions for the design visualization and engineering industries.

Dianne (Malbone) Dillon ’92, Travelers Rest, S.C., received the 2016 Woman of Achievement Award from the Miss South Carolina/Miss America Scholarship Organization. The award recognizes and honors women who have significantly improved the lives of women in South Carolina.

Scott Gongos ’96, North Ridgeville, Ohio, is director of mission advancement for the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament (Saint Ann Province). He manages the Provincial Mission Advancement Department to identify prospects, solicit donor support and cultivate relationships.

Steve Wright ’96, Stow, Ohio, is director of business intelligence for the Cuyahoga County Office of the County Executive.

Kayla Williams ’97, Arlington, Va., is director of the Center for Women Veterans at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in Washington, D.C. She is a combat veteran of the Iraq War and has written two books, “Love My Rifle More than You: Young and Female in the U.S. Army” and “Plenty of Time When We Get Home: Love and Recovery in the Aftermath of War.”

Christopher Bernheise ’98, Cincinnati, was named the 2016 Family Medicine Educator of the Year by the Ohio Academy of Family Physicians. He is program director at the Christ Hospital/University of Cincinnati Family Medicine Residency Program.


James Siegel ’00, San Francisco, published his first poetry collection, “How Ghosts Travel.” The book explores the departures of people, places and times in ghostly ways.

Katherine Nowak ’03, ’04, Hilliard, Ohio, was named Ohio’s 2016 National Distinguished Principal at the Middle Level by the Ohio Association of Elementary School Administrators.

Lindsey Schuster ’04, Cincinnati,
is lead partnership manager for 84.51° where she is responsible for client engagement.

Kevin Minnick ’05, Los Angeles, is counsel with the firm of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP. His practice focuses on large-scale class action defense involving consumer protection and securities laws.

Nicole Dulle ’06, Columbus, Ohio, is a certified public accountant and senior manager for GBQ Partners’ tax practice. She serves on the Finance Committee for Ruling our eXperiences and is a member of NAIOP.

Steven Petrolewicz ’08, Willowick, Ohio, received a Master of Business Administration from Cleveland State University in May 2016.


James Crawford ’10, Jarrell, Texas, is a policy specialist for the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services.

BGSU studentsFalcon Fast and Furious 10

BGSU students and alumni work together on popular film franchise.
Three undergraduates and seven alumni were involved in the production of “Fast and Furious 8” in Cleveland in summer 2016.

The opportunity came for most of them through alumna Allie Toman ’07. Toman, a film major, has worked with the “Fast and Furious” crew several times, and was asked to make a list of production assistants. She immediately contacted telecommunications faculty Jose Cardenas about the opportunity.

“It’s almost impossible to get your foot into this industry without already knowing someone,” Toman said, “and I eagerly accept the opportunities to be that someone and pay it forward.”

The filming focused on stunt work such as car explosions and provided students with vital industry contacts. While most of the BGSU crew worked as production assistants, senior film production major Jacob Peake also had the chance to work on the visual effects side.

The other Falcons involved on the film were alumni Emily Dick ‘16, Kevin Taylor ‘08, Chrissy Butcher ‘06, Drew Jackson ‘09, Brittany Shank ‘16 and Rob Stephans ‘16, current students David Bratnick and Conor Mutter, and former student Trevor O’Neal. “Fast and Furious 8” opens in theaters April 14, 2017.

James E. DunlapDunlap tells graduates to be fearless in taking on the unknown

Banking executive and community leader James E. Dunlap offered BGSU graduates keys to success during summer 2016 commencement. Dunlap is senior executive vice president of Huntington Bancshares Inc., a $73 billion asset regional bank holding company based in Columbus, Ohio. He also serves as director of regional banking and The Huntington Private Client Group and oversees Huntington’s 10 regional presidents. He attended BGSU, and has been with Huntington, formerly known as Huntington National Bank, for 36 years.

Dunlap offered the graduates some universal advice that never goes out of style, even in today’s fast-paced world. He said communication and vision are vital.

“You have to deliver your message with passion, make people feel what you feel and see what you see,” he said. “Your great idea will never be great until you make others believe in it — and in you.”

Updated: 07/10/2020 03:24PM