Exceptional Bluffton University alumni who have reached milestones of achievement, service and giving, are honored each year during Homecoming weekend at the President’s Banquet.
Two awards are given each year, selected from Award of Merit, Lifetime Service, Professional Achievement, Outstanding Young Alumni or Faculty/Staff Service.
2023 Award of Merit
Gregory Wannemacher ’77
Greg Wannemacher ’77 and his wife, Donna ’78, were served as co-chairs for the Simply Innovate Campaign. When Bluffton needed a “construction manager” for the Knowlton Science Center, Wannemacher worked alongside Phill Talavinia, vice president of student affairs and athletics, to oversee it from the contractors’ bidding process clear through its completion.
2023 Professional Achievement Award
Dr. Ruth Abaya ’07
In her role as a pediatric emergency physician at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Abaya is often able to “fix” problems in the short term.
However, after completing a stint in the emergency department where the same young
man was treated twice for gunshot wounds in the span of a month, Abaya began working
in public health and violence prevention, as well.
A feature story about Dr. Ruth Abaya >
2022 Lifetime Service Award
Kathy (Gaines ’78) Carr
Over the course of her 40-plus-year career in education, Kathy (Gaines ’78) Carr estimates
she touched the lives of roughly 6,000 children. During her career, Carr was active
on many boards and service organizations ranging from the Indiana Black Expo to the
National Education Association to the board of directors for the Fort Wayne Rescue
Elementary education >
2022 Outstanding Young Alumni Award
Brandon Freytag ’08
Brandon Freytag founded Loaded, a gaming management and advisory firm, in 2016. The
Santa Monica-based company has more than 50 employees who work across the country,
and the team exclusively manages over 30 content creators. Today, Freytag maintains
a position on Loaded’s executive team but has stepped aside from the CEO role. Instead,
he focuses on his favorite part of the business – platform and content deals.
Business administration >
2019 Faculty/Staff Service Award
Jean Szabo served as a faculty member of the music department for 27 years, from 1965 through 1992. Szabo received tenure in 1974 and completed sabbaticals in Vienna, England and at selected universities in Canada and the United States.
A committed teacher and mentor, she was a member of several professional organizations, accompanied countless recitals and “Messiah” performances, and served as the chair of the Artist Series Committee for ten years.