Anderson University will honor distinguished alumni during the Homecoming chapel/convocation on Thursday, October 16, at 10 a.m. in Reardon Auditorium. Persons to be honored are Phyllis Newby (Distinguished Alumni Award); Michelle Bitler Kourouma (Distinguished Young Alumni Award); Judy Matas (Distinguished Service Award); Phil M. Fair (John H. Kane Loyalty Award); Barbara Douglas (Outstanding Music Award); and Sarah Zehner (Alumni Council Scholarship). Anderson University’s 2008 Homecoming celebration is scheduled for October 17-18.
Photo: Judy Matas, Phil M. Fair, Phyllis Newby, Pastor Jerry Graham (of Midland, Mich. receiving the award on behalf of Michelle Kourouma), Sarah Zehner
The Distinguished Alumni Award will be presented to Phyllis Newby. Newby was attending the School of Theology in Jamaica before a visit to Haiti convinced her to redirect her life toward missions. After graduation, she enrolled in Anderson College, graduating in 1972 with majors in theology and English. While at Anderson, she was an Alphi Chi scholar, an Ambassador for Christ, and served on Tri-S visits to the Caribbean. After graduating, she returned to Haiti to begin her calling as a missionary.
Newby has had a critical hand in the development of over 200 church-schools, accounting for the education of nearly 40,000 children. During the summer, Phyllis travels throughout Haiti, directing vacation Bible school programs for local children. She also holds a yearly summer camp, which serves as a source of ministry to the children, their parents, and their communities.
Currently, Phyllis is attempting to better the living conditions of many of the villages she supports. Some of her current projects are programs to provide each school child with three meals a week; collect funds to help families pay for funerals and weddings; set up health clinics; discourage out-of-wedlock unions by providing the clothes, locations and finances for weddings; distribute clothing; drill uncontaminated wells; house pastors; educate locals about personal hygiene; and offer classes that teach sewing. Her passion for the Haitian people has provided them with physical as well as spiritual needs, and her influence in their midst has bettered humanity.
The Distinguished Young Alumni Award will be presented to Michelle Bitler Kourouma. Bitler Kourouma is an intercultural living exchange assistant at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County, where she assists teaching mentors to schedule cultural and social events; facilitates communication between students, mentors, resident assistants, and faculty; and serves as a liaison between the Intercultural Living Exchange and Study Abroad.
Having graduated from AU in 1999 with a BA in French, she went on to get her secondary teacher certification in French and history at the Saginaw Valley State University in Michigan. Currently, she is pursuing her MA in intercultural communication at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County. Other work experience includes being a teacher training specialist in Mali, an educational consultant in the Peace Corps Guinea, an English/French teacher in the Peace Corps Guinea, a private French teacher in the United States, a private English teacher in France, and a home health-care worker in the United States.
Bitler Kourouma is a certified and internationally experienced language teacher who has made great strides in the education field.
The Distinguished Service Award will be presented to Judy Matas. Judy Matas came in the fall of 1964 to Anderson University, where she was an elementary education major. While a student at AU, she was president of Sourettes, a freshmen girls’ social club at the time. She was also involved with Arete Pep, AU Chorale, and Campus Singers.
AU is also where Judy met her husband, Ron. After they were married and had their first son, Judy was a stay-at-home mom until their youngest child entered kindergarten. During those years, she and Ron fostered more than 20 children along with raising their three children: James, Andrew, and Sarah.
Matas was also extremely involved with the North Anderson Church and wrote children’s Sunday school curriculum for Warner Press. When Judy went back to work full time, she worked at East Side Church of God as a secretary, office manager, and business coordinator.
She came to AU in July 1988 as secretary for Jerry Grubbs, vice-president for Student Life. Then in 1992, she moved to the Office of the President where she has worked for the last sixteen years as executive secretary to the president, managing his calendar, working with the Board of Trustees as well as the president’s executive staff. After working at AU for more than 20 years, Judy retired this last year. She and Ron plan to travel, spend more time with their children, grandchildren, and her parents.
Phil M. Fair is recipients of the John H. Kane Loyalty Award. Phil M. Fair has been a servant of the Anderson community for nearly 38 years. A 1961 Anderson University graduate with degrees in business administration and sacred music, Phil has served as the executive director of the Mass Communication Board of the Church of God, and has held posts in worship ministry at both East Side Church of God and North Anderson Church of God.
Those who know him personally say that Phil is a helpful friend who supports them during the most difficult of times, displaying both kindness and wisdom. He carries the powerful ability to recognize strengths in his friends and colleagues and dedicates himself as a hardworking behind-the-scenes-man to ignite and encourage the development of those talents and gifts that he sees in others. Phil was recently described by a very close friend as a humble man, “who never toots his own horn, eager to witness the betterment of others, never asking for recognition or appreciation.”
It is with this same selfless dedication that he served Anderson University for nearly 27 years. He began his service in March 1981 as assistant director of admissions, assuming the role of director in 1985. After enthusiastically welcoming new students into the Anderson family for more than 10 years, Phil was asked to fill a new position of capital campaign manager and director of special advancement projects in 1991.
Until his retirement in 2008 as the executive director of advancement and church relations, Phil was a loyal member of the advancement team. After his retirement from AU, Phil and his wife, Betty, moved to Oklahoma City, where they have renewed connections with friends in the area. Phil is working part time for SandRidge Energy Co. as manager of community relations and special projects.
The Outstanding Music Award this year will go to Barbara Douglas. Barbara Douglas, lyric soprano, is professor emerita of music at Anderson University, where she taught voice and music history for 36 years. She has performed in opera, oratorio, recital, and sacred concert. She was a co-director of the Tri-S European Chamber Choir in 1978 and was a member of the Clarion Trio. In recent years, Barbara has sung with the Shenandoah Valley Bach Festival in Virginia, the Louisville Bach Society and Chamber Arts Society in Kentucky, and Masterworks Chorale in Muncie, Ind.
This year’s Alumni Council Scholarship Recipient is Sarah Zehner. Zehner is the daughter of Kathy Holbrook BA ’84 and August Zehner MBA ’04, graduated from Anderson High School in Anderson, Indiana. She was involved in the National Honor Society as well as the Student Executive Council. She is also an active member of her church, having traveled with her youth group on missions trips. Most recently, she went to Mexico to help with a vacation Bible study. While at AU, Sarah plans to major in elementary education.
Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,800 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson continues to be recognized as a top Christian college: in 2008, U.S. News and World Report ranked Anderson University among the best colleges and universities in the Midwest for the fourth consecutive year. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing and theology.