2021 Recipients

Dr. Karl Brooks 

Class Year: 1990
Outstanding Alumni Award Winner 2021

Dr. Karl Brooks ’90 has built a 30-year career in higher education, working in both public and private institutions. He has been recognized as an empowering educational leader who is committed to social justice and equity-minded educational practices. 

Brooks is currently vice president for student affairs at Oakton Community College, which has campuses in Des Plaines and Skokie, Ill. In his executive leadership role, he serves on the President’s Council and oversees the division of student affairs, with a focus on student success outcomes and improving the student experience.  

Prior to his appointment at Oakton, Brooks was 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.  

In 2017, the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) honored Brooks with the Outstanding Community College Professional award. NASPA also selected him to serve as a faculty member for the 2019 National Institute for Aspiring Vice Presidents for Student Affairs. He has also been honored by DePaul University and by the B2B program at the University of St. Francis. During the 2017-2018 academic year, Brooks completed his tenure as president of the Illinois Community College Chief Student Services Officers.  

After graduating from North Central College, Brooks earned his master’s degree in higher education administration at Drake University and his doctoral degree in education from DePaul University.   

Brooks is married to his college sweetheart, Shanitra Winters ’91 Brooks. 

Dr. Deborah Crown 

Class Year: 1981
Outstanding Alumni Award Winner 2021

Dr. Deborah Crown ’81 is an experienced, accomplished administrator and teacher with a reputation for leading excellent graduate programs in business and related fields. 

Crown is the dean of the Crummer Graduate School of Business at Rollins College. Prior to that she was the dean of the College of Business at Hawai’i Pacific University, 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. 

She has served as associate dean and endowed professor at San Jose State University, where she reorganized a portfolio of graduate programs that integrated business, engineering, and science. She also served as director of graduate programs and faculty director of the Entrepreneurial Group in the College of Business and the School for Leadership and Public Affairs at Ohio University. She spent 13 years at the University of Alabama where she was the Miles-Rose Professor of Leadership and Ph.D. coordinator for management. 

Crown’s primary research interests include organizational issues that encompass ethics, sustained performance, high performance teams, and leadership. Her work has been featured in national media outlets such as the Wall Street Journal, CNN, ABC National News, The New York Times, USA Weekend, and Entrepreneur, as well as academic journals and books. She is the recipient of a number of national awards for her research, as well as university and college awards for her teaching, mentoring, and service. 

After graduating from North Central, Crown 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 at Denver.  


Dr. Dennis Gage 

Class Year: 1975
Outstanding Alumni Award Winner 2021

Dr. Dennis Gage ’75 is an entrepreneur, scientist, musician and producer. He returned to campus to deliver an inspiring Commencement address and he was awarded an honorary degree in 2017.  

“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. 

Gage majored in physics and chemistry and 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. 

Gage first pursued a career as a musician but eventually returned to academia and earned a doctorate in chemistry at the University of Idaho. After graduation, he became a product development scientist at The Procter & Gamble Company in Cincinnati, where he worked on food products, including Pringles potato chips. Gage is well known for his handlebar mustache, which bears a striking resemblance to Pringles packaging. 

In 1995, Gage became co-owner of a video production company, where he hosted a series developed for TNN called “My Classic Car.” The series reflected Gage’s lifelong passions for cars and motorcycles. The program aired in 1996 and has never been off the air since. Along the way, Gage became sole owner of the production company, which he renamed MadStache, Inc.  


Rev. William Wylie-Kellermann 

Class Year: 1971
Outstanding Alumni Award Winner 2021

The Rev. William Wylie-Kellermann ’71 looks to his time at North Central as the starting point for his commitment to non-violent community activism and his career as a pastor (now retired) in the United Methodist Church. Throughout the years, 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. 

Raised as an Evangelical United Brethren pastor’s son, he always anticipated attending North Central College. Wylie-Kellermann arrived on campus in 1967, fresh from Detroit and its summer rebellion. 

At a convocation arranged by College Chaplain Larry Boldin, Wylie-Kellermann listened to William Stringfellow, a Harlem freedom struggle attorney and theologian exposing the powers of white supremacy and militarism. Stringfellow would become a mentor and the subject of several books Wylie-Kellerman authored. His most recent book concerns one of Stringfellow’s friends in nonviolent resistance: “Celebrant’s Flame: Daniel Berrigan in Memory and Reflection.”  

Wylie-Kellermann’s path was also influenced by faculty members Richard Eastman, John Reist, Dick Thurston, Bill Naumann, John Cerovski, Marc Karson, Jay Sackmann, and Don Shanower 

He attributes the shaping of his vocation to campus activism, like those who formed the Black Student Association, fostered the student movement and traveled to anti-war moratoriums and Chicago neighborhoods organizing, and the seminarians across campus who renounced draft cardsall active to this day. Thanks be, he says, for them all. The late Honorable John Lewis urged followers to “get in good trouble.” As such, Wylie-Kellerman has been engaged in action for justice and peace for five decades, serving his most recent jailtime in 2019 with the Michigan Poor Peoples Campaign.  


Dr. Robert Keohane 

Class Year: Shimer 1961
Outstanding Alumni Award Winner 2021

Dr. Robert Keohane S ’61 is a proud graduate of the Shimer Great Books School and today is a renowned educator, scholar and author in the field of international affairs. Keohane is professor of international affairs at Princeton University and 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 coauthored ”Power and Interdependence” and ”Designing Social Inquiry.”  

Keohane has served as the editor of the journal International Organization and as president of the International Studies Association and American Political Science Association. He won the Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order in 1989, and the Johan Skytte Prize in Political Science in 2005. He has received honorary degrees from the University of Aarhus, Denmark, and Science Po in Paris, and was the Harold Lasswell Fellow (2007-2008) of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. 

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

Over the years, the Shimer Great Books School has greatly benefited from Keohane’s leadership and vision as a trustee and from his generous financial support. 


Paul & Jacquelyn Mochel Rewerts

Class Years: 1971 & 1972
Outstanding Alumni Award Winners 2021

Paul ’71 & Jacquelyn Mochel ’72 Rewerts have passed along the ”family” tradition they’ve cultivated and enjoyed over their years as alumni and campus neighbors.  

The couple met as North Central students and after graduating and marrying, the newlyweds moved to Rockford, Ill., where both served as teachers. But they soon returned to their Naperville roots. Paul taught mathematics and coached girls’ tennis at Harlem High School and Downers Grove High School before retiring in 2003. After teaching second grade for a time, Jacqueline changed careers and served as a secretary and account coordinator for Allendale Insurance before moving on and retiring from FM Global Insurance Company.  

After returning to Naperville the couple bought a house near campus, then a second home for Paul’s mother right next door. When she moved away, they decided to rent out the home—but only to women from North Central’s cross country team. “Our NCC girls” were like family to the Rewerts, and some of them continued renting after graduating from North Central.  

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 Don Deetjen Memorial Scoreboard, and more. They also established the Paul and Jacquelyn Rewerts Endowed Scholarship for upperclass students who would otherwise need to leave the College for financial reasons. They are in the process of making an estate gift of the home they formerly rented to students. 


Laurie Spiegel 

Class Year: Shimer 1967
Outstanding Alumni Award Winner 2021

Laurie Spiegel S ’67 is a distinguished composer whose music draws on her classical training as well as her pre-classical lute and folk banjo roots. In addition, she is a computer programmer, software designer, and visual and video artist, as well as an often-published theorist. Spiegel is known worldwide for her pioneering work with several early electronic and computer music systems. She was recognized for her numerous contributions with induction into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 2019. 

Spiegel’s best-known work includes her 1970s music, created on computers at Bell Telephone Labs, early work in digital music as an alternative to physical media, a recording of Kepler’s “Harmony of the World” included on a golden record that went into space aboard the Voyager spacecraft, and “Music Mouse—An Intelligent Instrument,” an algorithmic musical composition software released in 1986 for Macintosh, Amiga, and Atari computers. Spiegel’s most celebrated albums include “The Expanding Universe,” “Unseen Worlds” and “Obsolete Systems.”  

Her writings have been published by MIT, Cambridge, and Oxford University Presses, and her visual art has been shown in various galleries in the United States and abroad. She is also among the very first women to have composed soundtracks for films, including “The Hunger Games” in 2012. 

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

After graduating from Shimer College, Spiegel studied composition at the Julliard School from 1969 to 1972, and received her master of arts degree in music composition from Brooklyn College in 1975. 

John Stolz 

Class Year: Masters 1990
Outstanding Alumni Award Winner 2021

John Stolz M ’90, a former senior vice president with experience in human resources, operations, and career management and transition, has generously shared his professional expertise, supported veterans’ programs and provided financial resources in his years of dedicated service to the College.  

The generosity of John and his wife Karen helps 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.  

Stolz is himself a military veteran, having served six years in the U.S. Navy. He’s been the guest speaker at North Central’s annual Hail & Farewell Banquet where he gave each graduating veteran a challenge coin, which is a military tradition. He told the veterans, “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 explained. “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.” 


Yulander Wells Jr. 

Class Year: 2001/Masters 2005
Outstanding Alumni Award Winner 2021

Yulander Wells Jr. ’01 / M ’05 was named Harvard University’s deputy athletic director for external operations and relations in 2021. Wells’s position provides strategic leadership and broad supervision of athletic communications, business development, ticketing, marketing, multimedia, alumni relations and development. 

 Wells was a respected leader in the University of South Florida athletic department and greater campus community, where his former title was senior associate athletics director for administration and development. Wells helped USF reach all-time highs in fundraising while overseeing the department’s financial and business operations strategy, with a focus on football and men’s and women’s basketball. Under his leadership, the department transitioned from the Big East to the American Athletic Conference.  

Previously, Wells was the assistant controller for the University Athletic Association at the University of Florida from 2008-2013. 

He has 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.  

Prior to working at Florida, Wells was accounting manager for Angie’s List in Indianapolis, Ind., and spent six-years with Enterprise Rent-A-Car. He served two years as an assistant coach for the men’s basketball team at North Central. 

A native of Chicago, Ill., Wells majored in business administration and finance and earned a master of business administration from North Central. He was a member of the basketball and track teams, serving as basketball captain and earning All-College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin honors. 


Michelle Maves ’05 Delgenio

Class Year: 2005
Alumni Recognition Award Winner 2021

Michelle Maves ’05 Delgenio tapped her North Central College preparation in musical theatre and communication to start a successful business in New York City—Take Note Lessons.  

Bringing teaching experience from Los Angeles and Chicago, Delgenio moved to New York to create her company and to 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. They 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.   

Delgenio has amassed an impressive résumé 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. While at North Central, she competed in the Miss Illinois scholarship program, placing in the top 10 two years in a row as Miss Freeport and Miss Tinley Park. She is a member of SAG-AFTRA and Actors’ Equity Association.  


Alexandria Rios Taylor

Class Year: 2007
Alumni Recognition Award Winner 2021

Alexandria Rios ’07 Taylor is already an accomplished leader in education. She is assistant principal of student services at Glenbard East High School in Lombard, Ill., and has built an impressive résumé of teaching and leadership experience.  

Taylor began her career as a teacher at Neuqua Valley High School (2007-2018) after graduating from North Central College with a degree in organizational communication and Spanish. She became dean of students for Glenbard West High School in 2018 and served in that role until 2020.  

Her experiences as a bilingual high school administrator and with community partnerships, curriculum assessment and educational equity means she is destined to continue her career trajectory in educational leadership. Taylor is earning a doctorate in educational leadership and administration with superintendent endorsement from Aurora University. 

Taylor is also committed to mentoring and has co-authored books about Latinx women.  

She and her husband, Eugentri Taylor ’06, are Presidents Club members and leaders in campus philanthropy. In 2015-2016, the couple established a scholarship for a North Central College student studying abroad. A generous alum helped fund Alex Taylor’s travel abroad experience in Costa Rica when she was a junior and she vowed to pay that generosity forward when she was able. 


Rev. Dr. Paul Stiffler 

Class Year: 1950
Wall of Witness Award Winner 2021

Rev. Dr. Paul Stiffler ’50 served a wide range of congregations over his career and continued providing pastoral care until his death in 2016.  

In 1951, he was assigned to the First Evangelical United Brethren Church in Downers Grove, Ill., while a student at the Evangelical Theology Seminary. He then moved on to Faith United Church of Christ on the South side of Chicago, serving as both an associate and senior minister until 1963; First Congregational United Church of Christ in Kankakee; and Community Congregational Church (United Church of Christ) of Villa Park, where he served as a full-time pastor for 24 years. Along the way, he earned a doctor of ministry degree from Bethany Theological Seminary in Oak Brook.  

He “retired” in 1994, then served as a part-time minister at First Congregational Church of Dwight; Peace Memorial Church in Palos Park; and First Congregational Church of Western Springs where he served as part-time minister of pastoral care until his death. In 2015, First Congregational Church dedicated The Stiffler Labyrinth.  

Over the years, Stiffler enjoyed writing poetry and short stories. In 2009, he published a book called “Spiritual Pathways.” He stayed connected to his alma mater, serving on the North Central College Alumni Board of Directors and its Awards and Recognition Committee for six years. 

Stiffler and his college sweetheart, Elsie Marshall ‘52 Stiffler, were married for 66 years and generously supported their alma mater as members of the Presidents Club. Their two children, Cheryl Stiffler ’76 Nelson and Jonathan Stiffler ’80, are also proud North Central alumni.