WHEELING, W.Va., May 16, 2017 - Four alumni will be recognized for contributions made to their profession, society or to Wheeling Jesuit during the university's annual Alumni Weekend set for June 23-25.
“We look forward to welcoming hundreds of alumni back to campus in June to reconnect with friends, faculty and their alma mater,” said Kelly Klubert '85, executive director of alumni and communications. “The awards presented during Alumni Weekend by the university and the alumni association are just one way that we recognize our graduates and employees who make a difference at our university and in their communities.”
During the president's dinner Saturday, June 23, WJU President, Dr. Debra Townsley will present the 2017 Distinguished Alumni Awards to two individuals for their contributions at work and in service to others.
The St. Ignatius Distinguished Alumni Award recognizes a graduate who exemplifies the Jesuit ideals of extraordinary competence and personal compassion in one's chosen profession. Dr. Don Benson, class of 1992 has been chosen to receive this year's award.
Benson is a medical doctor and researcher at The Ohio State University, James Cancer Center where he specializes in Hematology/Oncology. He also serves as the education coordinator for the Division of Hematology at OSU's College of Medicine and is co-medical director of the Cell Therapy Laboratory Blood and Marrow Transplant Program.
The Rev. Pedro Arrupe, S.J. Distinguished Alumni Award will be given this year to a member of the 50th anniversary class, Jim DiPiero class of 1967. The award recognizes a graduate who embodies the ideals of Ignatian spirituality and someone who is living a life committed to serving others.
DiPiero is president of the U.S. Board of Hekima Place - an orphanage in Kenya that offers a loving, faith-based home for orphaned or vulnerable girls. He has served on the Board since its founding in 2005 and during that time has helped to raise funds for the purchase of land and construction of a permanent home for the orphanage. In the past 12 years, through DiPiero's work, the orphanage has educated hundreds of young women.
The Alumni Council president will give the Rev. Clifford M. Lewis, S.J. Award, the highest honor presented by the alumni association, to a member of the Wheeling Jesuit community, Erin Ball, athletic department secretary. The award recognizes extraordinary service, contribution and dedication to Wheeling Jesuit University in the spirit of one of the university's founding Jesuits, Fr. Lewis.
Ball is the heart and soul of the athletic department - meeting and greeting most every visitor to the facility - including visiting athletic teams. She works hand in hand with the Cardinal Athletic Club to raise funds for WJU sports teams and handles much of the logistics for major events such as the Undos and CRC basketball tournaments. And when Ball isn't working, she's often serving the community as one of the Wheeling Jesuit volunteers who delivers left over food from local grocery stores to Catholic Charities.
The final award to be presented at Alumni Weekend 2017 will be the Rev. James O'Brien, S.J. Award, which will be given to Kelly Swan, class of 2004. The award recognizes young alumni who manifest a growing competence and personal compassion in ones chosen field and who exhibit strength and promise in areas reflecting WJU's mission.
Swan has dedicated her career working in the areas of parish social ministry, child and family advocacy, community education, and magazine writing/publishing. After several years as a writer and editor for InWheeling Magazine, Swan relocated to Cleveland in August 2016, to join the Ignatian Solidarity Network, which provides social justice education and advocacy resources.
This year, alumni from the class of 1962, 1967, 1972, 1977, 1982, 1987, 1992, 1997, 2002, 2007 and 2012 will mark reunions.