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175th Events

175th Celebration Faculty Luncheon and Panel

“Perspectives on Teaching and Learning at Olivet College: Then and Now”

Wednesday, April 10
12:15 p.m.

The panel will feature select Olivet College professors from the past and present, moderated by Maria Davis, Ph.D., dean and provost of the College. Panelists will share more about the changes in teaching and learning at Olivet College over the years.

Panelists will include:

John Homer, Ph.D.
John Homer, Ph.D., has worked at Olivet College since 1979, currently serving as professor of economics and director of the Master of Business in Insurance program. His academic areas of specialization are resource economics, international trade and economic development. Dr. Homer has a great passion for helping young minds mature to achieve personal and professional success and has worked as a professor for more than 50 years to do just that. He has been recognized numerous times for excellence in teaching and advising. Each summer, Dr. Homer especially enjoys serving as a caretaker to the football team, ensuring each student-athlete has enough water to drink during practices.

KayDee Perry
Kathryn “KayDee” Perry has worked at Olivet College since 2012, currently serving as assistant professor of health and human performance. She teaches a number of courses in the Health and Human Performance Department as well as mathematics and statistics courses. Her particular areas of expertise include curriculum planning, assessment and instruction, facilitation and data-driven dialogue. Professor Perry also helps facilitate New Faculty Orientation, serves as president of the Faculty Senate, and was recently presented the Faculty Award for Dedication to the Office of Student Life. In pursuing her interest in advocating for individuals with special needs, Professor Perry also coordinates the volunteer efforts for Eaton County’s Special Olympics Field Day with Area 8.

Arthur Stevens, Ph.D.
Arthur Stevens, Ph.D., served at Olivet College from 1956 to 1982, currently renowned as professor emeritus of political science. Dr. Stevens first worked as director of public relations and development before transitioning to teaching in the fall of 1959. His first classes focused on the history of western civilization. Dr. Stevens continued to teach numerous other courses, including a seminar for the entire freshman class. He also helped advise an honor society for history students and especially enjoyed working with students who were eager to learn, including nontraditional students. Since retiring, Dr. Stevens has remained a faithful resident of Olivet and is active in the Olivet Congregational Church.
Donald Walker, Ph.D.
Donald Walker, Ph.D., served at Olivet College from 1965 to 2015 and is currently renowned as professor emeritus of history. During his time on campus, Dr. Walker was chair of the History and Political Science Department from 1982 through the late 1990s. Later, he served as chair of the Social Science Department through his retirement from full-time teaching in 2009. In 1991, Dr. Walker was honored with the Livingston Professorship, the highest teaching honor presented to a full-time, tenured faculty member at Olivet. He was a member of numerous committees, chairing the Rank, Tenure and Promotion Committee for 18 years. Dr. Walker was also an author of the Faculty Senate Constitution and acted as a senator regularly. In addition, Dr. Walker is committed to public service. He previously served on the Olivet City Council for 32 years from 1977 to 2009 and is currently a member of the Olivet Lions.

175th Celebration Alumni & Student Panel

“An oral history of Olivet College through the eyes of eight decades of students.”

To watch the livestream of the Alumni Panel, head over to our Facebook page.

Saudia Santure-Kneffel ’98 will moderate a panel of eight alumni and students who will talk about their experience at Olivet College from the 1940s through today.  Panelists will tell the stories of their experience on OC’s campus through historic national events, key happenings in Olivet’s history, and the day-to-day walk through college life as a young adult.

Saudia Santure ’98, Moderator
Saudia, originally from Farwell, Michigan, graduated from Olivet College in 1998 with a major in environmental science and a minor in interpersonal communications. She went on to obtain a MBA from Baker College and a Program Manager Certification from George Washington University. She is currently the brand manager for Consumers Energy, where she has worked for the last 20 years. She also serves as a volunteer for the United Way Board and the Chelsea Area Players Board in Chelsea, Michigan.


Charles Blackman ’46
Charles graduated from Olivet College in 1946 with a bachelor’s degree in secondary education with a concentration in social science. Right after college, he spent six months in Colombia where his father was serving as an adviser to the College of Agriculture, and then started in North Muskegon as a seventh grade teacher. He went on to get both a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in secondary education and curriculum development from Ohio State University, and had a decades-long career at Michigan State University (MSU) as a professor in the College of Education. Charles’s first assignment at MSU was working with Highland Park Schools. The assistant superintendent at the time was Gorton Riethmiller, who would go on to become an Olivet College president and write “Upon This Hill.”

Walter “Walt” Parker ‘58
Walt is originally from Vandalia, Michigan and came to Olivet College in 1954. He graduated in 1958 with a major in history and a minor in English. While on campus, Walt was a member of Adelphic Alpha Pi, ran track, and played football and basketball. He is a 1984 Distinguished Alumni Award recipient. After college, Walt went on to obtain a Master of Arts in teaching from MSU and completed courses in administration and supervision at Loyola University of Chicago. He worked in the Chicago public school system for 32 years, positively impacting thousands of young people. Walt is now retired and lives in Dunnellon, Florida, with his wife, Teri. Together, they host an alumni gathering every year.

Linwood “Woody” Wiley ‘68
Woody is originally from Wenham, Massachusetts, before he called Olivet home from 1964-1968. He studied English, education and history at OC and graduated in 1968. After graduation, Woody taught seventh grade English for a year in Bellevue, which he counts as one of several high points of his life. He went on to obtain amaster’s degree in education from Salem State University, Massachusetts. He spent 42 years with the Boy Scouts of Americabeforeretiring from his position as assistant regional director for the northeast region. Woody now lives in Collegedale, Tennessee, with his wife, Susan, and is an active member of the Kappa Sigma Alpha Alumni Board.

Tala J. Welch ‘77, CAPT, USN (Ret)
Captain Welch graduated from Olivet College in 1977 with a major in music and a minor in English. She was very active during her time on campus as a member of the choir and Sigma Beta Society and is a 2006 Distinguished Alumni Award recipient. Captain Welch retired after 27 years of serving in the United States Navy and returned to her hometown of Niles, Michigan. She served her country in various locations and naval commands in the United States and overseas that include Washington, D.C.; Norfolk, Virginia; San Antonio, Texas; Newport, Rhode Island; and Diego Garcia, British Indian Ocean Territory. She received a Master of Arts in national security and strategic studies from the United States Naval War College, and her areas of expertise include training, personnel, data processing, traffic management and facilities management. Captain Welch currently volunteers as a moderator of the Board of Deacons at the First Presbyterian Church of Niles and pursues her hobbies of cooking, reading and weaving.

Audra Carson ’87
Audra is a native of Detroit, Michigan, and graduated from Olivet College in 1987 with a major in liberal arts and business administration. While on campus, Audra volunteered as a peer adviser for incoming freshmen and served as a tutor in the accounting lab. She believes her experience at OC ignited a burning desire to make an impact. After graduation, Audra began her professional career as a business analyst for MetLife. She later spent 15 years as a business analyst for another health care provider before making a total career change to found De-Tread and Izzie LLC, two nonprofits in Detroit which improve and beautify the community. Audra currently serves on the College’s 175th Commemoration Committee.

Jeff Bell ‘99
Jeff is a native of Quincy, Michigan, and graduated in 1999 with bachelor’s degrees in both business and insurance and risk management. While at Olivet, he was a member of Gamma Iota Sigma and played on the men’s basketball team. He’s a member of the Olivet College Athletic Hall of Fame. After graduation, Jeff worked at Chubb for 11 years in three different roles, ending as senior underwriter — commercial lines, followed by three years at The Hanover Insurance Group. Jeff is now AVP, commercial officer, for CNA Insurance in Washington, D.C.

Mauricio “Moe” Palli ‘07
Moe is a Chicago native. He received a bachelor’s degree in secondary education with a major in social studies and a minor in biology. While at Olivet, Moe was active on campus and was a part of various student organizations and sports, including The Society of Hosford Scholars, the Gay Straight Alliance, Earthbound, Phi Alpha Pi fraternity, cross country and track. After graduation, Moe worked as an academic adviser for Robert Morris University in Chicago. During this time, he graduated with a Master of Arts in training and development from Roosevelt University. Moe has worked in training and development for H&M and GrubHub, and he currently serves as the senior instructional designer for Roti Modern Mediterranean at their headquarters in Chicago, responsible for all training and education for the company, which has restaurants in Chicago, Dallas, New York and Minneapolis.

Ayren Parrish ‘18
Ayren, a Charlotte, Michigan, native, is a 2018 graduate of Olivet College in exercise science and was very active while on campus. She was a member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, played women’s basketball and served as the captain of the team. She also served as a tour guide for football team recruits, was a member of the Black Student Union, and participated in Phi Epsilon Kappa, the honors seminar for exercise science students. Ayren is a fellow of the President’s Leadership Institute and graduated cum laude. She is currently a graduate student at Andrews University, working on a Doctor of Physical Therapy.

Brittany McDuffie, Class of 2020
Brittany, a native of Toledo, Ohio, is a junior at Olivet College studying biology with a pre-medical concentration and minoring in mental and physical health. She has a career goal to become a physician’s assistant. Brittany is very active on campus. She is a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, Alpha Pi Upsilon Medical Honor Society, Black Student Union and Nu Gamma Xi, currently serving as the sorority’s chaplain. She is also a senior resident adviser and Hiram Archer Scholar. Brittany has strong passions for building relationships and leadership, and is a member of the President’s Leadership Institute and ATHENA International Women’s Leadership Institute.