2021 Recipients

Dr. Karl Brooks ’90

Outstanding Alumni Award Winner 2021

Karl Brooks, Ed.D ’90, is Vice President for Student Affairs at Oakton Community College, which has campus locations in Des Plaines and Skokie, Illinois. In his executive leadership role, he is an active member of the President's Council and oversee the Division of Student Affairs with a central focus on student success outcomes and improving the Oakton student experience.

Dr. Brooks has a breath of experience that expands over a 30 year career in higher education, working in both public and private institutions. In his current role, his major areas of responsibilities include counseling and health services, student conduct and crisis intervention, advising services, career services, athletics, admission & enrollment services, financial aid, tutoring, testing, disability services, student life & campus inclusion, as well as the office of access, equity and diversity.

Karl has been recognized throughout his career as an empowering educational leader who is committed to social justice and equity-minded educational practices. He has been honored by DePaul University with the Spirit of DePaul Award and the Dr. Barbara Sizemore Social Justice Award. He has also received the Making a Difference Award by the B2B program at the University of St. Francis. In 2017 the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) honored Karl with their major national award, naming him The Outstanding Community College Professional. NASPA also selected him to serve as a faculty member for the 2019 National Institute for Aspiring Vice Presidents for Student Affairs. During the 2017-18 academic year, Karl completed his tenure as President of the Illinois Community College Chief Student Services Officers (ICCCSSO).

Prior to his appointment as Vice President at Oakton, Karl served in important leadership capacities as the Dean of Student Success at Joliet Junior College, Director of the Student Leadership Institute at DePaul University, Associate Dean of Students at North Central College, and Associate Director of Residence Life at Drake University.

After graduating from North Central College, Karl attended Drake University, where he earned his Master’s Degrees in Higher Education Administration. He attended DePaul University, where he earned his Doctoral Degree in Education.

Dr. Deborah Crown ’81

Outstanding Alumni Award Winner 2021

Deborah Crown ’81, Dean and Professor of Management at Rollins College - Crummer Graduate School of Business, Winter Park, Florida

Dr. Deborah F. Crown is the Dean of the Crummer Graduate School of Business at Rollins College, recognized nationally and internationally for its MBA programs and ranked #1 as a leadership development educator by Leadership Excellence magazine. For the 20th consecutive year, U.S. News & World Report has ranked Rollins among the top two regional universities in the South and first in Florida in its annual rankings of Best Colleges.

Formerly, she was the Dean of the College of Business at Hawai'i Pacific University, the largest private University in Hawai'i, where she led the development and implementation of the college's strategic plan; increased net revenue, scholarship funds, and retention and graduation rates; and spearheaded the transition to a comprehensive, student-centered facility. Her previous experience includes serving the Silicon Valley market as Assoc. Dean and Endowed Professor at SJSU, where she reorganized a portfolio of graduate programs that integrated business, engineering, and science. She also served as Director of Grad. Programs and Faculty Director of the Entrepreneurial Group in the College of Bus. & the School for Leadership & PA at OU. She also spent 13 years at the University of Alabama where she was the Miles-Rose Professor of Leadership and Ph.D. Coordinator for Management. Her work has been featured in national press publications such as the Wall Street Journal, CNN, ABC National News, New York Times, USA Weekend, and Entrepreneur, as well as academic journals and books. She is also the recipient of a number of national awards for her research, as well as university and college awards for her teaching, mentoring, and service. Her primary research interests include organizational issues that encompass ethics, sustained performance, high performance teams, and leadership. She received her Ph.D. from the Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado, and a Master’s of Science from the University of Colorado, Denver.

Dr. Dennis Gage ’75 

Outstanding Alumni Award Winner 2021

Dennis Gage ’75 entrepreneur, scientist, musician and producer.

Gage earned his bachelor’s degree in physics and chemistry at North Central College in 1975. His undergraduate research in quantum physics involved computations on the College’s first computer, a PDP-8, under the supervision of Professor Paul Sutton. The research earned Gage an American Chemical Society award.

“The role that my experience at North Central College played in my life cannot be overstated, but if I had to distill it down to a couple things, I’d say that I learned to think more broadly and to be perpetually inquisitive,” said Gage. “I’ve done a lot of things and have had a number of interesting careers, and all of them have been built from the foundation I received here at North Central College.”

Following graduation, Gage taught himself how to play the pedal steel guitar—a pursuit that eventually led him to open for Charlie Daniels and Waylon Jennings. After two years as a successful musician, he returned to academia and earned a doctorate in chemistry at the University of Idaho. Gage’s research there used novel laser techniques to assess the potential health impact of the fallout from the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens in Washington. After graduation, Gage worked as a product development scientist at The Procter & Gamble Company in Cincinnati, where he worked on and created many of the company’s food products, including Pringles potato chips. Gage is well known for his handlebar mustache, which bears a striking resemblance to the character on the product packaging.

Ten years later, Gage left Procter & Gamble to become director of global product development at a Bristol-Myers Squibb company in Evansville, Ind. There he led the development of the Boost nutritional energy drink and other products.

In 1995, Gage became co-owner of a video production company, where he hosted a new pilot series “My Classic Car” developed for TNN. This built on Gage’s lifelong passions for cars and motorcycles. The program earned strong ratings when it aired in 1996. The following year, the program premiered as a weekly series on TNN and has never been off the air since. Now in production for its 26th year, “My Classic Car” is the longest running show of its kind in television history. It airs on a number of major cable networks, reaching more than 100 million households in the US and many times that worldwide via a number of streaming platforms.

Gage has served on a number of academic and industry advisory boards. Along with his business partner, Gage received the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award in 2000. Gage received the Lee Iacocca Award in 2014 and was inducted in the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Hall of Fame in 2015. Along the way, he became sole owner of the production company, which he renamed MadStache, Inc. Gage is married with three children and seven grandchildren.

Rev. william wylie-kellermann ’71

Outstanding Alumni Award Winner 2021

Bill Wylie-Kellermann ’71, is a non-violent community activist and a retired United Methodist pastor. Raised as an EUB (Evangelical United Brethren) pastor’s kid, he always anticipated attending North Central College. It was simply church and family, history and future. However, recruited by several ivy league schools, he ended up facing a fierce decision, one he never regretted.

It was at NCC, at a required convocation arranged by Chaplain Larry Boldin, that Bill first heard speak William Stringfellow, Harlem freedom struggle attorney and theologian exposing the powers of white supremacy and militarism. In the providence of time, Stringfellow would become a mentor and subject of several books Bill authored. His most recent concerns a friend of Stringfellow’s in nonviolent resistance, Celebrant’s Flame: Daniel Berrigan in Memory and Reflection, (Cascade 2021).

Wylie-Kellermann arrived on the NCC campus in the fall of 1967, fresh from Detroit and its summer rebellion, having accepted the “Outstanding Freshman Award.” (Hence the big decision). It was a heady and lively era. During Bill’s North Central time, his path was influenced by faculty members (notably male and of blessed memory): Richard Eastman, John Reist, Dick Thurston, Bill Naumann, John Cerovski, Marc Karson, Jay Sackmann, and Don Shanower (under whose direction he appeared variously in the Archibald McLeish play, J.B.). He, in turn, followed to become a seminary and graduate professor, as well as a writer essaying the moment. Hearing Julian Bond speak, the poetry of Gwendolyn Brooks and W.D Snodgrass, or the music Ravi Sankar and Ramsey Lewis in Pfeiffer Hall altered, for that effort, his heart and vision.

But above all the attentiveness and commitment of his friends in common study shaped his vocation. Friends and roommates who formed the emergent Black Student Association, standup women of nascent feminism, RA’s who fostered the student movement, compatriots travelling to anti-war moratoriums or Chicago neighborhood organizing, seminarians across campus renouncing draft cards – all blessedly active to this day. Thanks be, he says, for them all. The late Honorable John Lewis urged us to “get in good trouble.” As such, Bill himself has been engaged in direct action for justice and peace some five decades, his most recent jailtime with the Michigan Poor Peoples Campaign in 2019. Starting at North Central and throughout his ministry, Wylie-Kellermann has made “good trouble” betting his life on the gospel of non-violence, good news to the poor, beloved community, and freedom from the power of death (in other words, an ethic of resurrection).

Dr. Robert Keohane s’61

Outstanding Alumni Award Winner 2021

Robert O. Keohane S’61 is Professor of International Affairs, Princeton University. He is the author of After Hegemony: Cooperation and Discord in the World Political Economy (1984) and Power and Governance in a Partially Globalized World (2002). He is co-author (with Joseph S. Nye, Jr.) of Power and Interdependence (third edition 2001), and (with Gary King and Sidney Verba) of Designing Social Inquiry (1994).

He has served as the editor of the journal International Organization and as president of the International Studies Association and the American Political Science Association. He won the Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order, 1989, and the Johan Skytte Prize in Political Science, 2005. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, and the National Academy of Sciences. He has received honorary degrees from the University of Aarhus, Denmark, and Science Po in Paris, and is the Harold Lasswell Fellow (2007-08) of the American Academy of Political and Social Science.

Keohane has taught at Swarthmore, Stanford, Brandeis, Harvard, and Duke. At Harvard he was the Stanfield Professor of International Peace, and at Duke he was the James B. Duke Professor of Political Science.

Paul ’71 & Jacquelyn Mochel ’72 Rewerts

Outstanding Alumni Award Winner 2021

Paul ’71 and Jacqueline Mochel Rewerts ’72 still remember the day they met in 1969. “I was at Kroehler North visiting ‘Mom Rits,’ the housemother,” Paul says. “I saw Jackie walking down the hall—she was the ‘new girl’ then—and that was it. I just had to ask her out.”

“That’s a big reason why we love the College so much!” says Jackie, adding that they recently celebrated their 46th wedding anniversary.

As students, Paul introduced Jackie to the joys of tennis, leading her ultimately to start playing under legendary coach Cleo Tanner. She also started running with Paul, who was a member of both the track and cross country teams. “Al Carius and

I were freshmen together,” Paul recalls, explaining that Carius was a first-year coach when Paul was a first-year student. They’ve remained friends over the years, and the Rewerts often attend Carius’s annual picnic.

After graduating, the newlyweds moved to Rockford, Ill., where both were teachers. But they soon returned to their Naperville roots.

They bought a house near campus, then a second home right next door for Paul’s mother. When she moved away, the Rewerts decided to rent out the home— but only to women from North Central’s cross country team. “We wanted to give students a break by making it a little easier for them to pay for college,” explains Paul. “Here they could live close to campus and save on living expenses.”

“Our NCC girls” were like family to the Rewerts, and some of them continued renting after graduating from North Central. “We never had kids of our own, but at the same time we did have kids, a lot of different ones,” says Jackie.

The Rewerts’ generosity has helped North Central’s students in other ways, as well. Donors since the day they graduated, Paul and Jackie eventually magnified their giving through a matching gift program with Jackie’s employer, FM Global.

They’ve supported the men’s and women’s running programs, Wentz Science Center Fund, Res/Rec Center Fund, North Central College Fund, the scoreboard video display, and more . They established the Paul and Jacquelyn Rewerts Endowed Scholarship for upperclass students who would otherwise need to leave the College for financial reasons. And they are in the process of making an estate gift of the home they formerly rented to students.

“When I look back on my life, I realize that people have always donated their time and money to help me,” says Paul. “Scoutmasters, little league coaches, College donors … whether I knew it or not, they all reached out a hand to help.

In 2015, Paul received the George Lazansky Distinguished Service Award from the Naperville Noon Lions Club for service to the Club and the community.

Laurie Spiegel S’67

Outstanding Alumni Award Winner 2021

Composer Laurie Spiegel’s S’67 music draws on her classical training, and her pre-classical lute and folk banjo roots, but she is also a computer programmer, software designer, and visual and video artist, as well as an often-published theorist. She is known worldwide for her pioneering work with several early electronic and computer music systems. Her focus with these systems has largely been on interactive software that uses algorithmic logic as a supplement to human abilities—facilitating creative expression for far more people than traditional elite musical training previously allowed—and on the aesthetics of musical structure and cognitive process.

Her best known works include her 1970s music, created on computers at Bell Telephone Labs, early work (c. 1980)in the dissemination of music by digital means instead of via physical media, a realization of Kepler’s Harmony of the World that went up on the Voyager spacecraft’s golden record, and Music Mouse—An Intelligent Instrument for Macintosh, Amiga, and Atari computers. Although she is often grouped with the Minimalists due to the modal, drone, and rhythmic aspects of her early LP record The Expanding Universe, her recent music is often considerably darker and more complex, as her later CDs Unseen Worlds and Obsolete Systems and her works for traditional acoustic instruments show.

She has lived and worked in Lower Manhattan since the mid-1970s, and has taught at Cooper Union and NYU, where she founded their first computer music studio in 1981.

Her writings, have been published by MIT, Cambridge, and Oxford University Presses, and her visual art has been shown in various galleries in the US and abroad. She is also among the very first women to have composed soundtracks for films.

In addition to her work in the arts, Spiegel is also a licensed wildlife rehabilitator, caring for animals who otherwise face the difficulties humanity is increasingly creating.

Laurie was inducted in the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 2019.

John Stoltz M’90

Outstanding Alumni Award Winner 2021

John L. Stolz M ’90, a former senior vice president with experience in human resources, operations and career management and transition, Stolz is well qualified to offer coaching and résumé reviews. And he can relate to the perspective of a military veteran because he served six years in the U.S. Navy.

Stolz has been as guest speaker at North Central’s annual Hail & Farewell Banquet and personally gave each graduating veteran a challenge coin, which is a military tradition. "These are inscribed with three words: honor, commitment and courage. If one lives by these words across their career they cannot help but be successful."

Stolz was working at SAFECO Insurance Co. and living in Wheaton in the late 1980s when “it became apparent that I needed an advanced degree for senior management roles,” he explains. “My M.B.A. from North Central positioned me to achieve my vice presidency in human resources for Commercial Union Insurance Company and later, a senior vice presidency in operations for Lee Hecht Harrison.” The generosity of John and his wife, Karen, is helping ensure that student-veterans finish their degrees and succeed in the workplace, through scholarship support and his personal job counseling. The couple have also established a major estate gift that will benefit the School of Business and Entrepreneurship.

Yulander Wells, Jr. ’01 M’05

Outstanding Alumni Award Winner 2021

Yulander Wells ’01 M’05 has been named Harvard's Deputy Athletic Director for External Operations and Relations, Erin McDermott, The John D. Nichols '53 Family Director of Athletics, announced today.

In his role, Wells will provide strategic leadership and be responsible for broad supervision of the athletic department's external units, which includes athletic communications, business development, ticketing, marketing, multimedia, alumni relations and development.

"Yulander is a proven leader with the talent, presence and vision to align our external efforts and execute mission-driven priorities and strategies," McDermott said. "I am thrilled to welcome Yulander and his family to Harvard and look forward to them joining the Crimson community."

Wells will be charged with developing and executing strategies to help strengthen the Harvard Athletics brand, while also looking to maximize revenue potential and increase opportunities for engagement among the many external constituencies.

"I am humbled and excited to be given this opportunity to work with Erin McDermott and the Harvard University community," Wells said. "The chance to be part of a world-class institution whose values align with my own, and partner with a great group of coaches and staff that will serve tirelessly to provide an unrivaled experience for all Harvard University scholar-athletes is such an honor. My family and I are delighted to join the Harvard University family."

With more than 12 years of athletic administration experience, Wells is set to arrive in Cambridge from Tampa. A former two-sport athlete, Wells was USF's Senior Associate Athletics Director for Business and Finance/Chief Financial Officer for three years before being elevated in September 2017 to Senior Associate Athletics Director for Administration. Then in 2018, Wells added development to his title and list of duties.

In his most recent role as South Florida's Senior Associate Athletics Director for Administration and Development, Wells helped USF reach all-time highs for total dollars raised in a single year ($14+ million) and number of Bulls Club donors (3,800+), while assisting the department in surpassing for the first time the 100 Iron Bull mark, which represents the highest annual giving donor level. He additionally managed all football scheduling and led metric tracking, meetings and implementation of the department's strategic plan.

During his time at USF, Wells served on the senior leadership team, overseeing all aspects of the department's financial and business operations strategy, with a specific focus on football, men's basketball and women's basketball. He also oversaw human resources, game contracts for all sports, South Florida's facility master calendar, information technology and equipment management, while serving as a sport administrator for programs that routinely won conference titles and earned NCAA berths (baseball, men's soccer, softball). Under his leadership, the department successfully transitioned from the Big East to the American Athletic Conference, and oversaw a budget growth from $43 million to $49 million.

Additionally, Wells managed ticket operations, and served as the direct management liaison for several third-party partners for ticket sales, corporate sponsorships, food and beverage services, and arena management. During his stint in Tampa, Wells helped secure several revenue-generating contracts, including multi-year deals with Adidas, the Aspire Group, Coca-Cola, Fanatics and the groundbreaking, 10-year multimedia rights partnership with Tampa Bay Entertainment Properties, which also included an arena naming-rights partnership for the Yuengling Center.

A respected leader in the USF athletic department and the greater campus community at large, Wells served as the co-advisor for the Bulls' Black Student-Athlete Council and on the USF President's Black Employee Steering Committee.

Before joining the Bulls, Wells was the Assistant Controller for the University Athletic Association, Inc., at Florida from 2008-13. Wells was responsible for the overall financial management specifically related to the athletic department's fundraising arm, Gator Boosters, Inc. He served as the primary contact for Gator Boosters, Inc., in regards to financial reporting, tax filings, internal and external audit engagements, budgeting, forecasting, cash management and internal controls with also a limited role in soliciting and cultivating donors. In addition to financial management responsibilities, Wells was also a liaison to the University of Florida Foundation, Inc., assisting with the review of gift agreements and gift processing, endowment requests, disbursements and tax related issues.

Wells serves on multiple committees, including being elected 2019 President for the Collegiate Athletic Business Manager Association (CABMA), serving on the College Football 150th Anniversary Finance Committee, and various boards for local organizations. He has also presented at several college athletics conventions and NCAA events, has experience as a lecturer, and co-founded WellsQuest, a client-centric firm that offers an array of services and is focused on fostering an innovative workplace that is proactive, measurement-based and conscientious.

Prior to working at Florida, Wells was the Accounting Manager for Angie's List in Indianapolis, Ind. His previous work experience also includes a six-year career with Enterprise Rent-A-Car, starting out as a Management Trainee in Chicago, Ill., and rising through the company, ultimately becoming the Group Accounting Supervisor for the state of Indiana's Enterprise Rent-A-Car division. For two years, he also served as the Men's Basketball Assistant Coach at his alma mater, North Central College.

A native of Chicago, Ill., Wells earned his Bachelor of Business Administration-Finance Degree in 2001, and his Master of Business Administration-Management Degree from North Central College in Naperville, Ill., in 2005. While at NCC, Wells was a member of the basketball and track teams, serving as a three-year basketball captain and earning all-conference honors each year. Yulander and his wife, Dr. Janelle Wells, have three sons.

Michelle Maves ’05 Delgenio

Alumni Recognition Award Winner 2021

Michelle Maves ’05 Delgenio lives in New York City and owns and manages her own business. She has been teaching music to students of all ages for over 15 years. Michelle graduated valedictorian from both North Central College and Freeport High School. She holds a double major in Musical Theater and Communication.

Michelle has been featured all over the country as a singer, musician, and actress. Some of her performance highlights include singing with Shania Twain and performing the national anthem for the Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox. During her time at NCC, she competed in the Miss Illinois scholarship program, where she placed in the top ten two years in a row as Miss Freeport and Miss Tinley Park. She is a member of SAG-AFTRA and Actors’ Equity Association.

Michelle founded Take Note Lessons in New York City. Bringing teaching experience from Los Angeles and Chicago, Michelle moved to New York to create her company and help hundreds of students discover a love of music and learning. She maintains a full teaching roster and manages the day-to-day operations of Take Note with her husband, James. Together, they work to provide in-home music lessons and academic tutoring throughout New York and worldwide via the internet. Over time, Take Note has grown to include a team of talented instructors covering a full range of academic and artistic subjects.

Michelle is also a game show fan and was a winner on ABC's $100,000 Pyramid. As a couple, Michelle and James are avid Broadway patrons and proud pet parents of two rescue dogs, Barkley and Every. You can visit www.takenotelessons.com to find out more about her company and the services it offers.

Alexandria Rios ’07 Taylor

Alumni Recognition Award Winner 2021

Alexandria 'Alex' Rios ’07 Taylor is the Assistant Principal of Student Services at Glenbard East High School.

Bilingual High School Administrator, Experienced Teacher with a demonstrated history of working in the education management industry. Skilled in Community Partnerships, Educational Assessment, Equity, and Curriculum Development. Strong community leader with a Type 75 Principalship Certificate focused in Educational Leadership and Administration, General from Benedictine University, a bachelor of arts degrees in Organizational Communication and Spanish Language and Literation from North Central College.

Her work experiences include Dean of Students for Glenbard West High School from 2018-2020, teacher at Neuqua Valley High School from 2007-2018.

Currently Alex is earning a doctorate in education in the field of Educational Leadership and Administration with Superintendent Endorsement from Aurora University. Alex, and her husband, Eugentri Taylor ’06, provide a scholarship for North Central College studying abroad.

Rev. Paul Stiffler ’50

Wall of Witness Award Winner 2021

Rev. Paul E. Stiffler ’50, was assigned to the First Evangelical United Brethren Church in Downers Grove while he was a student at the Evangelical Theology Seminary in 1951. He continued serving there for four year, then moved to Faith United Church of Christ on the South side of Chicago, serving as both an associate and senior minister until 1963. The next seven years were given to First Congregational United Church of Christ in Kankakee. For the next 24 years he was a full-time pastor at Community Congregational Church (United Church of Christ) of Villa Park and retired in 1994.

He received a Doctor of Ministry degree from Bethany Theological Seminary in Oak Brook. While in retirement, Paul served as a part-time minster at First Congregational Church of Dwight, Peace Memorial Church in Palos Park and up to his death in 2016, a part-time minister of Pastoral Care at First Congregational Church in Western Springs. In 2015, First Congregational Church dedicated The Stiffler Labyrinth.

Over the years, Paul wrote poetry and short stories. In 2009, he published a book called “Spiritual Pathways” He also served on the North Central College Alumni Board of Directors and served on the Awards and Recognition Committee for six years.

Paul and his college sweetheart, Elsie Marshall ’52 Stiffler were married for 66 years and members of the Presidents Club.