Anderson University honored several distinguished alumni during the Homecoming chapel/convocation on Thursday, October 8, at 10 a.m. in Reardon Auditorium. Persons honored were Christine Densmore Young (Distinguished Alumni Award); Jon McLaughlin (Distinguished Young Alumni Award); Ray Freer (Distinguished Service Award); Ken and Grada Lockhart (John H. Kane Loyalty Award); Becky Archibald (Outstanding Music Award); and Jyllian Kumfer (Alumni Council Scholarship). Anderson University’s 2009 Homecoming celebration is scheduled for October 9-10.
The Distinguished Alumni Award was presented to Christine Densmore Young, from Detroit, Mich. Christine Young enrolled in Anderson University after viewing many Christian colleges across the country with her father. During her time as an AU student, she joined a mission in Willemsburg, N.Y., focusing on helping children from Puerto Rico. She also spent time studying in Mexico City. After graduating from AU in 1976, Christine taught preschoolers and worked with mentally handicapped children around Anderson. She also filled various directive and creative roles in her husband, Jerry’s, church in Alexandria.
Currently the director of Bethany Pointe Health Campus in Anderson, Christine has greatly enhanced the lives of the aged through various programs, specifically utilizing her abilities in the teaching of sign language, Spanish, and other forms of cognitive strengthening. Along with teaching, she also founded the Bethany Pointe Choir and continues to work alongside her husband at The Christian Congregation. Christine believes that through her efforts with Bethany Pointe, she is sharing the same enthusiasm, encouragement, and care she experienced as an AU student.
The Distinguished Young Alumni Award was presented to Jon McLaughlin, from Anderson, Ind. He attended Anderson University to study music, graduating in 2005. While at AU, he was the first artist signed to student-run Orangehaus Records and recorded a self-titled album in 2004. The album led to a tour throughout the Midwest, where he began to gather a grassroots following. In 2006, McLaughlin signed with Island Def Jam Records. His public image increased when his song "Human" was used in the television sit-com Scrubs and again in the television drama The Ghost Whisperer. His song "Another Layer" landed on the soundtrack of the movie The Bridge to Terebithia, and his hit "Beautiful Disaster" was used in the film Georgia Rule. He then made a big-screen appearance on Disney’s Enchanted singing "So Close," written by Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz. In 2007, he opened for Kelly Clarkson and also appeared on The Tonight Show starring Jay Leno. His latest album is OK Now, featuring the song "Beating My Heart." He has spent the last few months touring and working on songs for his next album.
The Distinguished Service Award was presented to Ray Freer. He believes his decision to join AU came "shortly after birth" since his father was a Church of God preacher in Port Huron, Mich. From a young age, Ray had a passion for art and utilized this fervor while working his way through college at Warner Press. His student job, coupled with his appreciation of art, inspired him to study graphic design independently, though at the time, Anderson College did not have such a specialized degree.
After graduating from AU in 1965, he moved to Southern California with his wife, Kathy, and began his long-standing teaching career. Six years later— and after receiving his master’s degree — Ray moved back to Anderson and, at the age of 29, took the position of art department chair. He enacted many changes to the art department, specifically the inclusion of specialized fields — such as graphic design — within the fine arts major. He also designed the current Fine Arts building. After 12 years as the department chair, he stepped down in order to give himself more time as an independent artist. He continued teaching a variety of art classes at AU until his retirement in the spring of 2009.
Currently, Ray works on independent projects, volunteers with the Church of God Food Pantry, and serves as an event coordinator for the Anderson Center for the Arts. He also enjoys teaching young children about the virtues of art and observing how they speak in deep levels through non-verbal communication.
Ken and Grada Lockhart are the 2009 recipients of the John H. Kane Loyalty Award. For both Ken BS ’57 and Grada ’55 Lockhart, the decision to join AU was simple, yet deeply rooted within their Church of God upbringings. From early ages, the church influenced the Lockhart's; Ken’s grandfather was a preacher, and Grada’s parents were ordained ministers.
During their attendance at Anderson College, the Lockhart's majored in business—Ken focused on accounting while Grada experienced a more general business field with an emphasis on secretarial work. The two were married in 1955 and over the years,moved around the Midwest, depending on Ken’s job, but stayed close to the Church of God. Imbued with experience shared by Glen Falls, Ken worked with and founded several insurance companies during a near 40-year span. Grada switched her focus from business to teaching and taught as a substitute for 11 years in Covington, Ky., and Indianapolis. Later, she worked for Duke Associates as an administrative assistant.
Although they have retired, the Lockhart's are still heavily involved with the growth and development of their alma mater. Ken served as a Church of God board member from 1981-1996 and returned briefly from 2005-2007. He also founded a church scholarship fund in the 1970’s, later named the Lockhart Scholarship Fund. Hundreds of AU students have benefited from this generosity. Grada is currently involved with several projects throughout Anderson. For several years, she has been a member of the Town and Gown Steering Committee, a bridge between the college and city which helps develop promotional information. She is also involved with the Paramount Theatre and teaches Sunday school lessons.
In their leisure time, Ken is an avid golfer, and Grada enjoys traveling. The husband and wife currently live in Anderson and attend Church of The Crossing in Indianapolis.
The Outstanding Music Award this year went to Becky Archibald. An Anderson, Indiana native, and a graduate of Anderson University, Becky received her master’s in piano performance from California State University at Long Beach. An award winning pianist, her music weaves the improvisational style of jazz with classical piano. Archibald’s solo piano CDs, Searching, The Long Ride Home, The Light At the End of the Blues, and The Christmas One have been played on radio stations around the country and overseas. She has performed at Carnegie Hall and the Renaissance Center in Nashville and has been a guest artist at many universities in Indiana.
This year’s Alumni Council Scholarship Recipient is Jyllian Kumfer. She is the daughter of the Rev. Timothy BA ’82 and Cynthia (Franklin) BA ’81, AA ’81 Kumfer. She is a graduate of Columbia City High School in Columbia City, Ind. Jyllian grew up coming to Anderson University for Homecoming and Lil’ Sibs Weekends, as well as the Church of God National Conventions. She is confident that her experiences at AU will help her discover God’s direction for her life.
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.