Supporters Like You - Benedictine College

Supporters Like You

Read about supporters who transform students’ lives through a first-class Catholic education at Benedictine.

Drs. Virgil and Holly Jacobs 

One day, Virgil Jacobs’ father and a priest from St. Benedict’s Abbey came across the field where he was plowing. They asked him if he would like to go to college, and perhaps enter the seminary. Virgil loved farming, but he soon boarded the train for Atchison.

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After Virgil graduated from Benedictine College in 1957 with a bachelor’s degree in biology, and he continued his education by completing his master’s degree from St. Louis University and his PhD from the University of Kansas. Though he didn’t know it at the time, his decision to board a train to Benedictine was the start to a lifelong passion for education. 

While Virgil’s love of education might have started in Atchison, it ultimately led him on a journey around the world. In his last year at KU, Virgil taught at the University of Santo Tomas School of Medicine in The Philippines, where he completed his doctoral research. He also studied neuroscience at the Brain Research Institute in Amsterdam, Holland. After returning stateside, he taught at Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit, Mich. before serving in the American Medical Association Vietnam Medical School Project at the University of Saigon in 1968.

In Saigon, he met Holly Harrington, who was also teaching in the AMA Project. They were married in Stratford, Texas in 1970. For more than 35 years, Virgil taught at the University of Hawaii, Texas A&M University, Morehouse School of Medicine, and Georgia State University.

Dr. Holly Jacobs funded the Dr. Virgil L. Jacobs Scholarship to remember the impact that St. Benedict’s College made on her husband and his dedication to medical education. With her generous gift, Dr. Jacobs ensured that her husband’s passion for education will be remembered, and that future Benediction students will also have the opportunity to discover their own passion for learning.  

“Both of us are appreciative of the foundation that Benedictine College provided us and wish to support that foundation for students today.”

—Joe, M.D. and Frankee Wright, Benedictine College Supporters

Dr. Thomas Sheridan

Dr. Sheridan’s life lived well is a prime example of the power of a Catholic, liberal arts education.

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Born in 1954 and orphaned as a young boy, Dr. Sheridan was raised by his aunt and uncle in Minnesota. He went on to graduate from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul. While his degree was in the sciences, it was the influence of his philosophy professors that had the most impact on Dr. Sheridan’s lifelong interest in perennial philosophy and Christian Mysticism.

Dr. Sheridan went on to graduate from medical school and enjoy a long and successful career in anesthesiology in California. His love of country also led him to serve as a civilian physician in Kuwait during the first Gulf War. Exposure to carcinogens during his time in the Gulf may have contributed to his later cancer diagnosis, from which he long suffered until his passing.

What Dr. Sheridan saw in Benedictine College was a commitment to his vision for authentic, Catholic, liberal arts education. Benedictine shares Dr. Sheridan’s passion for the integration of faith and reason, and we will steward his gift to ensure this vision is lived out within a community of learners at a crucial time in their personal formation.

Marjorie Ann Henningsen

Marjorie Ann Henningsen followed in her parents’ footsteps when she used her Benedictine education to change the world. 

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After graduating from Benedictine College and receiving Master and Doctoral Degrees in Curriculum & Instruction in Mathematics Education from the University of Pittsburgh, Marjorie Ann Henningsen traveled the over 6,000 miles from Atchison to Beirut, Lebanon to serve as a faculty member at the American University of Beirut.

In 2007, Marj founded Wellspring Learning Community in Beirut, a non-sectarian bilingual International Baccalaureate School. Her global influence was not solely limited to her work in Lebanon, however. She lectured internationally and co-authored four books on mathematics teacher development, and she and her husband, Ibrahim Jamal, were active proponents of education for social change.

“My parents taught us clearly that life has little meaning if we do not endeavor to give our time, talent and treasure to others. We have to go out in the world and make an effort to improve it,” Henningsen remarked at the 2016 Raven Reunion where she received the Offeramus Medal. In receiving the award, Marj followed in the footsteps of her parents, JoAnn Johnson Henningsen ’63, who received the 2012 Offeramus Medal, and John Henningsen ’62, who was posthumously awarded the 2012 Kansas Monk Award. 

The Dr. Marjorie Henningsen Scholarship was created in her memory by her aunts Dr. Kristina M. Johnson and Veronica Meinhard, family members and friends. They wish to nurture aspiring international educators who share Marj’s belief that education provides a bridge to respect for diversity and more prosperous futures for all.

“Life has little meaning if we do not endeavor to give our time, talent and treasure to others. We have to go out in the world and make an effort to improve it.”

—Marjorie Ann Henningsen

Proud Parents Continuing the Tradition

Ever since their daughter graduated from Benedictine College in 1980, Ed and Marlene Gellings have been giving annual gifts. Their support benefitted everything from the football and basketball programs to the campus ministry to student scholarships.

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Then the time came to do even more. So in 2007, the couple gave a legacy gift to create the Ed and Marlene Gellings Endowed Scholarship to provide financial help for Benedictine students. Even with that act of generosity, the time came to do still more. Ed had been thinking about ways to support the College after he and Marlene were gone. So he decided to set up an annuity gift. This special legacy gift benefits the College and pays the Gellingses a fixed income for life, with the remaining value going into the Endowed Scholarship.

“We decided that a gift annuity was a good way to support the college,” Marlene said. “We knew it would be something that could continue to grow for the college and that we could use.”

Through their generosity, Ed and Marlene have made Benedictine College a major part of their life story. And now because of this caring couple, generation after generation of students at Benedictine College will have the chance to experience all that a Benedictine education can provide.

Flying High

Joseph Humphrey ’11 has become Benedictine College’s first Raven Frequent Flyer. He earned his wings by registering to make a monthly gift to the Benedictine College Fund.

 

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While joining the frequent flyer club is his most recent gift, he has been a supporter of Benedictine since his graduation.

It was during Joe’s senior Champagne Brunch that President Minnis challenged each of the graduates of 2011 to consider giving back to Benedictine after they leave. He noted individuals who purposefully gave back enough to pay back the scholarships they had received.

“The idea of paying back scholarships resonated with me,” said Joe. “Attending Benedictine College was definitely made possible for me in part because of scholarships. It’s going to take me a very long time, but I’m going to chip away at it as much as I can.”

During his time at Benedictine, Joe studied Political Science and is currently a government contractor for the Department of Defense. Previously, he worked at the Pentagon Center and was an intern for Terry Gainer ’69, former Sergeant at Arms of the United States Senate. Humphrey attributes his success to the active interest the professors took in his life at Benedictine College. “They wanted to know what my plan was, they wanted to help me develop it, and they did everything they could to get me to
where I needed to be,” he said.

He believes his experience at Benedictine College gave him the confidence to move to a new city after graduation, go to graduate school, and jump into the career he has today. “I definitely don’t think I’d be where I am if I hadn’t gone to Benedictine,” Humphrey said.

Joe understands that giving back right after graduating isn’t for everyone, but believes “that if you value your time at Benedictine as much as I do, then it just makes sense to give back, even a little bit at a time.”

All-American Darryl Jones Receives Top Honor

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Steinway Style

During Homecoming weekend 2015, Benedictine College officially announced its designation as an All-Steinway School. To celebrate the designation and to honor the couple who made it possible, the music department hosted an open house tour Friday, Oct. 23, to view the new pianos in their individual practice rooms in Bishop Fink Hall and a recital was held Sunday, Oct. 25, to showcase the beauty of the new pianos. 

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The All-Steinway School initiative started with the school’s department of music and captured the attention of Benedictine College alumna Kathie Weishar Dalzell ’80, and her husband, Rick Dalzell. They provided for the purchase of 21 new Steinway pianos, making Benedictine College one of only 175 of 2,500 U.S. schools that are All-Steinway.

On that Friday afternoon, the sounds of piano music filled the air in Bishop Fink Hall. In each practice room, students demonstrated why Steinway pianos, handcrafted in New York, set the world standard for pianos. Benedictine College now uses Steinway pianos exclusively, after the Dalzells’ donation led to the school being officially designated an All-Steinway School.

The featured event of the open house was a composition for two pianos played by Kathie Dalzell and Dr. Ruth Krusemark, D.M.A. ’73. A crowd gathered in the main reception room, including Benedictine College Board of Directors chairman Jack Newman and many other board members, who were thrilled and impressed with the exciting piece, “Malaguena” by Ernesto Lecuona.

The following Sunday recital featured Steinway Artist and world-renowned concert pianist, Dr. Jane Solose, whose active career as a featured concerto soloist, recitalist, chamber musician, duo pianist and master teacher has taken her to Korea, Japan, Austria, Hungary, Russia, Canada, and around the United States. She has released several CDs and is currently teaching at the Conservatory of Music and Dance, University of Missouri – Kansas City.

Before Dr. Solose’s performance, President Stephen D. Minnis thanked the Dalzells for their gift.

“Kathie has shared her love of Benedictine College with her husband, Rick, former Chief Information Officer and Senior Vice President of Amazon.com,” he said. “The two of them have a special place in their hearts for the music program here at Benedictine.”

With Rick and Kathie Dalzell on the stage, Steinway & Sons National Higher Education Director Sally Coveleskie presented the college with a plaque commemorating the college’s new designation. Several Steinway staff attended the concert on Sunday to celebrate Benedictine becoming an All-Steinway school. In the spring of 2016, Kathie and Rick received the prestigious Cross of the Order of Saint Benedict award at the 45th Benedictine College Scholarship Ball.

Maria Starrs accompanied the Benedictine College Chamber Singers in a rendition of the Alma Mater to end the recital. She is a senior music major and the recipient of the Dalzell Scholarship, which Rick and Kathie endowed in 2006.

Dr. Dan and Terri Carey Receive the Cross of the Order of St. Benedict

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The Robert J. Dehaemers Endowed Chair of Nursing

Robert Dehaemers had close ties to the Benedictines through his cousin, Sister Janelle Maes, OSB, who was a member of Mount St. Scholastica Monastery. He had longed to go to Benedictine College, but Benedictine did not have a nursing program at the time, so he had to go elsewhere.

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After earning his Registered Nursing degree from St. Margaret School of Nursing and his Bachelor of Science and Master’s degrees from Avila University, he entered the U.S. Air Force as a 2nd Lt. and combat nurse. He rose to the rank of Captain during several tours in Vietnam and went into nursing at Providence Medical Center in Kansas City, Kan., after the war. He eventually went into healthcare administration and served for many years as vice president of compliance at Sun Health in Dallas.

Dehaemers never forgot about that missed opportunity and maintained a lifelong desire to bring a nursing program to Benedictine College. He went on to will his estate to Benedictine College and its nursing program and upon his passing in 2014, those funds went into the endowment. The college awarded its first nursing degrees in 2012.

During the college’s annual Scholarship Ball, February 28, 2015, Benedictine College President Stephen D. Minnis announced the creation of a new endowed position, the Robert J. Dehaemers Endowed Chair of Nursing.

Lynne M. Connelly, Ph.D., RN, is the first recipient of the Robert J. Dehaemers Chair of Nursing. She is the current head of the Benedictine College Nursing program.

Dr. Connelly joined Benedictine College in 2010 to help create and launch the new Nursing program. She has a tremendous amount of clinical and academic teaching experience throughout her career in the U.S. Army and as a member of the faculty at the University of Kansas School of Nursing.

“Education has been a deep commitment of mine for a long time,” Connelly said, explaining that her Master’s degree was focused on nursing education and her minor in the Nursing Ph.D. program was educational psychology.

Connelly served in the U.S. Army Nurse Corps for 20 years, retiring as Chief, Department of Nursing Science at the United States Army Medical Department Center and School. During her time in the Army Nurse Corps she also served as a consultant to the (Army) Surgeon General for Nursing Education and Enlisted Training.

She was awarded the “A” Proficiency Designator for Nursing Education while on active duty and was an active member of the Army Nurse Corps senior leadership strategic planning group. Connelly has published over 30 articles in national journals and presented at numerous research conferences. She currently is a manuscript reviewer for Nursing Research and the Journal of Nursing Scholarship. In addition, Dr. Connelly sits on the editorial board of MedSurg Nursing.

“She is a great fit within our mission and is an outstanding leader heading this important department at the college,” said Kimberly

Parents Match Richards’ First Gift

Buying dad a Christmas present each year was pretty simple. He would always lose or break his coffee mug and ask for a new one. It had almost become a tradition until last Christmas, when dad had something different in mind.

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Patrick Richards, ’10, said when he asked his dad what he wanted for Christmas this year, he was surprised by the answer. His dad didn’t need a new coffee mug and he suggested they could switch gifts. Dad said he wanted Patrick to make a gift to Benedictine College and he would match the donation on a 10-to-1 basis.

Patrick wrote a check for $50 and his dad sent a gift of $500 to Benedictine College, which was also matched by his Mom’s employer, Occidental Petroleum Corporation, for another $500. In the end, Patrick’s $50 gift became a $1,050 gift to his alma mater.

“My dad saw how much I enjoyed my time at Benedictine and he saw this gift as a way to continue my relationship with the college,” said Patrick. “He gives back to his college and he wanted to cultivate that same interest in giving back to Benedictine College.”

Patrick grew up in Tulsa, Okla., in an Oklahoma State University family. His parents, Michael and Suzy Richards, are OSU alumni, “bleed orange” and support the Cowboys. Patrick always assumed he would follow in his parents’ footsteps and go to OSU.

However, a week after Bishop Kelley High School won the 2006 State High School Baseball Championship game, Patrick, the team’s catcher, got a call from the Benedictine College Baseball Coach asking him to visit Atchison. That visit won his family over and they began sporting the Raven black and red gear for the next four years.

“My Dad really liked Benedictine College. He was seeing the same things I saw during our visit — we liked the people and the campus,” said Patrick. Patrick was also impressed with Benedictine College President Stephen Minnis. “He would come in and sit down with me and know my name. I wasn’t an outstanding student — just a normal kid on campus, but the president knew my name.”

After graduation, Patrick was still amazed that President Minnis would care about them as alumni just as much as when they were students.

“One of my roommates sent him an email telling him that the four of us were living together in Kansas City, so he sent us a Benedictine flag that we hung in our living room,” said Patrick.

Patrick, who works as a Velocity Analyst at Cerner, lives with Ravens Matt Stillwell, ’09; Bryan Moore, ’09; and Nick Schneider, ’09. The friends attended the recent Benedictine College Alumni Christmas party in Kansas City.

“I had always thought about giving back to Benedictine College before, but just trying to pay rent and bills would get in the way,” said Patrick. “I am glad my dad suggested I make this gift. It is something I hope I can do every year.”

Deacon Dana and Debbie Nearmyer Demonstrate a Deep, Active Faith

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Jim and Katie O’Brien maintain Benedictine’s giving spirit

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Kevin and Mary McNicholas receive the Cross of the Order of St. Benedict

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Larry and Linda Kaminsky – Honorary recipients of the Cross of the Order of St. Benedict

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‘Legendary Ravens’ Given Family Award

On Family Weekend during halftime of the football game, the Jim and Rosie Schaefer family headed to the middle of the field to receive the Benedictine College Family Award. Jim and Rosie never attended Benedictine College, but they are responsible for sending many people to the college. Jim passed away in 1991.

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They were known as the “Raven Host Family” in their hometown of Jefferson City, Mo. They would invite entire Raven football teams over to their home for dinner when the team was playing nearby. The couple would also hold recruitment parties for potential students and their families. They also sent four of their five children to Benedictine, including Joseph ’84, Carla Schaefer ’85, Pam Schaefer Kramer ’88, who married Kevin Kramer ’89, and Susie Schaefer Hinds ’91. Their oldest son, Patrick, also sent his daughters, Elaina Schaefer Sedlacek ’08, and Michelle Schaefer Smith-Vandergriff ’07, who married Mark Smith-Vandergriff ’08, to Benedictine College. In addition, Rosie Schaefer’s nieces, Kristen Bexten ’93 and Sister Mary Mediatrix Bexten, F.S.G.M. ’97, are also Benedictine College graduates.

In later years, Rosie and her children were instrumental in helping organize the local Mid-Mo Ravens Alumni Club and would host summer send-off picnics for the families of new students from their area who would be attending Benedictine College in the fall. The family also helped the club create a Mid-Mo Ravens Scholarship to be awarded to local students. They often followed this up with care ‘Legendary Ravens’ Given Family Award packages to the new students once they arrived in Atchison, letting them know the Raven alumni from their home area were thinking of them. Jim and Rosie’s support for the school was so strong they received the first Benedictine College Honorary Alumni Award in 1992. Their children have all continued that support.

Their daughter, Pam, has served on the Benedictine College Board of Directors and was honored with the 2009 Offeramus Medal. Susie went on to establish The Schaefer House Home Furnishings in downtown Jefferson City and her success as president and CEO of that company brought her to the Benedictine College School of Business for the Cray Lecture in 2010. Joe, who played football while at Benedictine, has maintained a leadership position with the Mid-Mo Ravens and gives monthly to the college. Carla began giving back to the college very early in her career and was part of the Class of ’85 gift that renovated the renowned Raven Walk. And Patrick, the only child who did not attend Benedictine,picked up the tradition by sending his two daughters to the college. And now, the children have found a way to continue to support the Raven student body as well as honor the sacrifices their parents made to educate them. They have established a new endowed scholarship in their parents’ name. The Jim and
Rosie Schaefer Family Scholarship was created October 10, 2015, and was announced at the football game.

Grateful Raven Gives Back

Brianna (Sluder) Rich, ’15 was a classic example of the driven, faith-filled students coming to and graduating from Benedictine College. A Mass Communications major, she was one of the first Gregorian Fellows on campus and cofounded the Marian organization, FIAT, at Benedictine.

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She didn’t rest while she was back home in New Mexico, either. Her summer internship was in the Albuquerque Mayor’s office and she worked hard to raise $10,000 to air public service announcements in New Mexico.

Her first impression of the Atchison campus sold her on the school. “When my parents and I drove onto campus, we said, ‘Wow. This place is incredible. This is it.’”

Everything about Benedictine impressed her, from the facilities to her professors.

“The campus is beautiful, the people are incredibly friendly, and after interacting with the professors, I knew I’d get a first-rate education,” she said. “I was so glad the scholarship made it possible for me to come here. In addition to the great education, I really feel like I’ve made a family here. The professors don’t just do their jobs and then go home—they care about you. They spend time with you.”

And Brianna is spending time with Benedictine. After graduation, she accepted a job as the executive assistant to the president.

Giving from the Brain

When the young K-State doctoral student stood in front of a classroom of Raven scientists in Westerman Hall, his lecture was a long time in the making. Jeffrey Powell ’10, decided it was time to fulfill the longstanding offer Dr. Doug Brothers, Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, had for him: “Come back to campus and give a lecture.”

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It hasn’t been all that long since Jeff was sitting in the same classroom
in Westerman Hall where he recently gave his lecture. He is a current Ph.D. candidate in the Physics Department at Kansas State University and wanted to offer a lecture as an educational opportunity and a chance for students to gain a better understanding of graduate school. He presented a talk entitled, “Nanoparticles: Exploration in Physics and Chemistry.” Nanotechnology is a wonder of revolutionary technology and has the potential to bring many new advances in almost every branch of science. By investigating both their chemical and physical properties, valuable and intriguing research can be done.

Currently, Jeff is studying gold nanoparticles. Remarkably, a fine powder, or dust, can be 1,000 times larger than the nanoparticles Jeff makes. K-State’s website features his article, “Measuring the Solubility of Ligated Gold Nanoparticles in Hydrocarbon Solvents.” Freshman year, inspired and directed by Dr. Brothers, Jeff decided to try a few physics classes. After meeting his lab partner and now wife (Jacqueline Garvey Powell ’10) in a chemistry class and enjoying the hands-on classroom approach, he chose to major in chemistry as well as physics. “Basically, Dr. Brothers got me started in science and I have never looked back.”

Jeff made lifelong best friends at Benedictine. From living at Third and Laramie to playing rugby, the experiences he had were priceless. He remembers moments with the Benedictine College community, including the Abbey and especially Fr. Meinrad and Br. Leven. He was also part of the Newman bed-race championship team of 2007. It wasn’t until his senior year that he decided to apply to graduate school for his doctorate in Physics. “Benedictine College definitely made an impact in the direction that I have gone,” Jeff said. “Without the professors at Benedictine, I would not be successful in graduate school. Coming from a small liberal arts college certainly does have advantages.”

After earning his doctorate, Jeff aims to work either in private sector for an industry or continue in government-funded research. “The lecture was a great way to give back to the school that gave me so much,” he said.

Wholey Family Provides Campus Landmark

The sound of bells can be heard on campuses from the venerable Ivy League schools to small private colleges throughout America. In every case, clock towers signify the presence of a treasured campus landmark. Alumnus Bob Wholey ’72 and his wife, Janet, had always dreamed that Benedictine College should have a clock tower as a majestic signature like so many college campuses.

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“When Steve Minnis became president and I was on the board, I continued to tell him that Benedictine needed a clock tower somewhere. It could be a freestanding one or one that was connected to something. Janet and I wanted something that would be distinctive on campus, something great that would be a gathering place for students,” said Wholey.

After nearly a decade, Wholey’s dream was not forgotten as President Minnis had been waiting for the perfect place. The clock tower had to identify with Benedictine College and be a symbol of history and pride as well as an activity center for students and community members alike. When plans were drawn up for renovations to be made to the campus cafeteria, President Minnis recognized the ideal location for the campus clock in the new Dining Hall’s tower.

“The original design was to have the Dining Hall and Our Lady of Guadalupe Hall designed like a turn-of-the-20th-century building with a tower reminiscent of Elizabeth Hall,” explained Minnis. “The circles on the four sides of the tower were going to hold seals of the college, but the more I looked at it, I thought it would be a great place to put a clock, so we went to the Wholeys.”

With artists’ renditions of the tower and the Verdin Company selected to build and install the tower clock, Vice President of Advancement Kelly J. Vowels called Bob to talk to him about his original idea.

“When Kelly Vowels calls you and says, ‘I have an opportunity for you and your family to consider’ be careful,” joked Wholey. Bob talked to his wife Janet and their four daughters, Amy, Erin, Katie and Molly, about making this gift to Benedictine College. What they found interesting was that the Verdin Company that was selected to manufacture and install the clock was the same one that had placed a clock at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, from where the Wholey’s daughters had graduated.

“They saw the connection and thought it was a great idea. We do things like this as a family,” said Wholey. As the sentinel leading the way to the dining hall, the Wholey clock will soon keep schedules while enhancing the beauty of the campus. “Meet me at the clock tower” will become a commonly heard phrase shared by generation after generation of Benedictine Ravens.

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