Legacy of Leadership 2009

State Farm Insurance Company

Selected as a State Farm Priority School, WCU currently has more than 60 alumni employed by State Farm. To date, they have provided over $225,000 toward the partnership.

The existing funding focuses on a process known as the State Farm Leadership Experience, consisting of five components: the Spring Leadership Experience, Students Actively Involved in Leadership (SAIL), the Executive Leadership Series, the Executive Leadership off-site retreat, and the New Student Leadership off-site retreat.

State Farm's financial commitment to the Leadership Experience demonstrates its support of education excellence by providing the resources of people and equipment. The proximity of the Concordville operations center and the University make for an ideal opportunity to include associates and agents in a partnership that is close to where they work and live. In April 2005, a 43-member State Farm WCU Alumni group was formed. They have continued to work with WCU on projects specifically tied to priority school funding. Alumni employees participate as workshop leaders and all employees can participate in jointly sponsored State Farm/WCU functions (Child Safety Day, United Way Day of Caring, and the annual teddy bear collection coordinated by WCU to benefit children with pediatric AIDS).

In 2007, State Farm also entered into a partnership with the University's 3E Institute through the College of Education and joined their advisory council. The Institute for Educational Excellence and Entrepreneurship (3E) is focused on identifying, supporting and mentoring entrepreneurial educators who collaborate with colleagues, parents, business and the community to meet the needs of all students. In April of 2008, State Farm was recognized by the 3E Institute for their education and business efforts at the annual award ceremony.

Dr. Kevin Dean

Kevin began his career at WCU in 1991 as an assistant professor of communication studies as well as the director of forensics. During his tenure as the forensics coach, the students won over 200 state, regional and national awards. In 1995, Kevin was appointed director of the University honors program and created an interdisciplinary community-based service learning curriculum around the theme of leadership development and civic engagement, which was redesignated as the Honors College in 2006.

Kevin holds a B.S. Ed. from Bowling Green State University with a major in communication studies and biological studies. He earned a M.A. from Miami University of Ohio in rhetoric and public address and a Ph.D. from University of Maryland in rhetoric and public communication.

Kevin has chaired the University Curriculum and Academic Policies Council and the General Education Committee. He is the parliamentarian of the WCU Council of Trustees, as well as the advisor to the Honors Student Association, Omicron Delta Kappa (national scholarship honor society) and the National Forensics Honor Society. Kevin has created an opportunity for students and faculty to travel to South Africa for community service research projects and is the advisor for an annual fundraising project, Aid to South Africa.

Kevin has been recognized in many ways for his personal and professional accomplishments. He has been awarded the "People's Choice Award" at the annual student leadership awards ceremony, membership in the Who's Who Among America's Teachers, recognized as "Outstanding Faculty" by the Honors Association, named "Outstanding Leader: Faculty/Administrator of the Year" by SGA, and presented with WCU Council of Trustee's citation for service to student leadership development through forensics.

Kevin makes his home in Princeton, NJ with his wife, Kenda, and their two children.

Dr. Paul Arsenault

Paul came to WCU in 1996 and is currently a full professor and chair of the Department of Marketing. Prior to that time, Paul taught at numerous institutions including Thomas Jefferson University, Tiffin University at the University of Bucharest, University of Delaware, Stockton State College, Widener University and Neumann College. Paul also was employed by a variety of companies as a marketing manager and consultant.

Paul earned a B.A. in psychology and sociology from Marietta College, an M.S. in psychology from Vanderbilt University, an M.B.A. from Wake Forest University and a Ph.D. in educational psychology from Temple University. Following his undergraduate degree, Paul worked as a VISTA volunteer in Pueblo, CO.

While at WCU, Paul has served as the co-facilitator of the Leadership Seminar, a workshop on radical change for WCU employees. He has also created and directed the Summer Academy for Gifted Children and has served on the APSCUF Sabbatical and Global Development Collaborative Committees. Paul has helped to create and facilitate the Executive Leadership Series (workshops for students serving on executive boards of student organizations), served on the Student Leadership Development Committee, the Service-Learning Workgroup, and was the faculty associate for service-learning.

Paul has been honored for his many personal and professional accomplishments, receiving the James McGregor Burns Scholarship for the Advanced Study of Leadership at the University of Maryland, the IFC and Panhellenic Council Outstanding Faculty Award, the Babcock Fellowship to attend Wake Forest University, and Adoptive Parents of the Year Award. Paul makes his home in Westmont, NJ and has two children.

Mr. Ted Blankenship, Class of 1992

Ted graduated Magna Cum Laude from WCU with a B.A. in communication studies and a minor in social work. Ted is currently employed as the director of development for Moveable Feast, a non-profit organization that provides meals to those struggling with HIV/AIDS and breast cancer. Working in the fight against HIV/AIDS was a goal that Ted formed in college. Ted has organized the Ride for the Feast, a 2-day, 140- mile bike ride to raise funds for Moveable Feast, which raised over $200,000 in 2008. He has also worked as the ticket services manager for the Baltimore Opera Company and as the subscription associate for the Baltimore Center for the Performing Arts.

As a student at WCU, Ted was very involved in co-curricular programs. He was appointed by Governor Robert Casey to serve as a student trustee on the WCU Council of Trustees. Ted also was the president of the Gay and Lesbian Student Union for three years and a member of the Student Government Association. Ted was one of the first openly gay members to serve on SGA. His story was an inspiration to SGA president, Tony D'Angelo, who went on to tell Ted's story in the book Chicken Soup for the College Student's Soul.

Ted and his partner, Tom Kazmierczak, make their home in Baltimore, MD and enjoy traveling to the Jersey shore, Las Vegas, and Southern California. Ted has family in Philadelphia and enjoys the company of his 7 nieces and nephews.

Mr. Ryan Lombardi, Class of 1997

Ryan earned a B.S. in music education from WCU and continued his education at the University of Kansas, earning a master's degree in higher education in 1999. While in graduate school, Ryan held assistantships in residence life, new student orientation and institutional research.

Following graduate school, Ryan served as the assistant to the dean of students and residence hall director at Colorado College. He then accepted a position as the assistant dean of student development and residential education at Duke University and was soon promoted to assistant dean of students and then associate dean of students. In May 2008, Ryan moved to Ohio University and is currently serving as the associate vice president for student affairs and dean of students. He is active in both ACPA and NASPA, two higher education professional organizations.

While at WCU, Ryan was actively involved in campus life. He was a member of the Golden Rams marching band as the drill instructor, drum major and student director. He was also a member of the Friars Society and inducted into Who's Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges. Ryan worked as a resident assistant in Schmidt and Ramsey Halls, a Sykes Student Union student director and the assistant to the director for New Student Programs.

Ryan and his wife, Kara, also in student affairs, live in Athens, OH with daughter, Anna, born September 2007.

Ms. Vonetta Rector, Class of 1998

After receiving her B.S. in political science in 1998 from WCU, Vonnie went on to complete her M.A. in educational leadership and policy studies with a concentration in higher education and student development from Virginia Tech. While there, Vonnie served as a recruitment coordinator for graduate studies and program coordinator for academic enrichment.

Upon graduation, Vonnie started her career as a coordinator for commuter services at the University of Maryland, Eastern Shore, then went on to work as the assistant director of admissions at Towson University. Following Towson, she served first as the director of enrollment programs at Bowie State and then as a functional analyst/consultant with PeopleSoft. Vonnie is currently the lead consultant of the PeopleSoft team at Signature Consultants, LLC. Her client is IBM-GoArmyED which serves to create a central educational student record for army veterans.

As a WCU student, Vonnie joined Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and served as the president for two years. She also was a member of Sanderson RHA, the Black Greek Council and the Black Student Union. She was a peer mentor for the Office of Multicultural Affairs and a university ambassador. Vonnie was also recognized in Who's Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges and was part of the honors program.

Vonnie continues to give back to her community through her involvement in her sorority, as a member of the national Association of Female Executives, and as a Hoops for Dreams scholarship fund mentor. She has also served on the board of directors of SOS Youth, Inc., the Coalition of Financial Educators of America, and the WCU Black Alumni Caucus. She has received many awards for her work and service including Outstanding Service and Leadership Award at the University of Maryland, Eastern Shore and the Resolution of High Recognition from the PA Legislative Black Caucus. Vonnie makes her home in Greenbelt, Maryland and continues to stay in close touch with many of her classmates from WCU.

Ms. Dawn Pfeifer Reitz, Class of 1991, Master's 1993

Dawn received her B.A. in speech communication and her M.S. in higher education from WCU. Following graduate school, Dawn took a position at Kutztown University as a residence coordinator. In July of 1998, Dawn came back to her alma mater and worked as the assistant director of housing until 2006 when she moved to a part-time position as the divisional grant writer and web designer. She is currently working as an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Communication Studies.

As a student, Dawn was a Tyson Hall resident assistant and desk assistant, the president of the Abbe Society, a member of the Law Society, communications club and RHA. Dawn also worked as a graduate assistant at WCU and was recognized by Who's Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges. Dawn has served her profession well, taking an active role in MACUHO (Mid-Atlantic College and University Housing Officers) and PCPA (Pennsylvania College Personnel Association) in addition to volunteering in her community and in her children's schools.

Dawn and her husband Matt, also an alumnus, live in Pottstown with their children, Emily, Grant and Olivia.

Mr. Dwayne Wharton, Class of 1993

Dwayne received his B.A. in history with minors in African-American and Latin-American studies. Upon graduating from WCU, Dwayne continued his education at Temple University earning a master's degree in educational administration. He is also a fellow of Bryn Mawr College's non-profit Executive Leadership Institute.

Currently, Dwayne is the national deputy director for Friends of the Children, a mentoring program serving over 700 vulnerable children from K-12 graduation across seven U.S. cities. Dwayne is the former director of residential and homeless programs at Project H.O.M.E, a nationally recognized non-profit organization that serves the city of Philadelphia's homeless population. Dwayne has worked for the American Red Cross where he headed the recovery efforts for thousands of local disasters, including 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina. He also served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Mozambique.At WCU, Dwayne was a student director at the PRIDE (wellness) Center, part of the minority student recruitment team in the Office of Admissions, a desk assistant, resident assistant and a peer counselor for the ADP program. He was a member of the Black Student Union and holds membership in Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity.

Dwayne has been recognized by WCU as a Drum Major for Justice and has also received the National Urban League Young Leaders Award in 2007. Dwayne and his wife, Shawne, live in the Mt. Airy section of Philadelphia with their two children, Zola and Maya.

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