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Alumni Awards

Each year Anderson University recognizes alumni & friends who have truly exemplified the call to live a life of faith and service. These awards are aimed at recognizing the accomplishments of alumni & friends and their service to humanity and society. These awards are given every year and each has different selection criteria. Nominations are encouraged by all alumni, parents, and friends of the University. To learn more about Alumni awards, you are invited to contact the Alumni Office at



Kristian Andersen - Distinguished Alumni Award Kristian Andersen, ’96

Kristian Andersen (BA '96) is a co-founder and partner at High Alpha, an Indianapolis-based venture studio that conceives, launches, and scales enterprise technology companies. He has co-founded several different start-ups, sits on many start-up and non-profit boards, and he co-founded The Speak Easy, a collaborative workspace in Indianapolis. He describes himself as an “entrepreneur, venture capitalist, and designer.”

Andersen came to Anderson University because a friend of the family encouraged him to visit. “I fell in love with the campus and community,” he said. One of his favorite memories from his time at AU is playing for an extremely successful rugby program. Andersen earned his bachelor’s degree from AU in design. After graduating, he went to Harvard Business School and became an executive education graduate in 2005.

Since graduation, he has continued to promote the university to others. “I rarely miss an opportunity to reference AU, whenever I’m interviewed or discussing my professional and personal journey,” he said. “Additionally, I proactively look for opportunities to support AU alumni.”

When asked what he would say to a student considering attending AU, he said, “It defies the traditional small, Midwestern, Christian, private school archetype (yes that is a thing). You can cultivate your sense of self there – lean into your uniqueness and do it in an environment that is equally supportive and challenging.”

He is married to Brandi, and they have 6 children: Scout, Daisy, Indiana, Dixie, Dolly and Violet.


Award Recipients


Kristian Andersen, BA ’96


Tim Hobbs, BA ’73

2014 Lawrence Brownlee, BA '96
2013 Rudolph “Rudy” Reginald Pyle III, BA '92
2012 Dr. Peter Beckman, BA '85


Kara Carlisle - Distinguished Young Alumni AwardKara Carlisle, '99

Kara Carlisle is the vice president of programs with the McKnight Foundation. Carlisle is the third vice president overseeing McKnight’s program areas since 1975, when the Foundation began hiring staff. In this position, she provides leadership, management, and oversight for all grant program–related activities of the Foundation. She works closely with the McKnight board and other senior staff to pursue the organization’s mission of improving the quality of life for present and future generations.

Carlisle came to AU having been raised in the Church of God community and visiting AU for camp meetings, youth conventions, and camps. “I was looking for a sense of community within which to learn,” said Carlisle. She spoke of many warm memories from her time at AU, but one spring break bike trip stood out in particular. “One day I rode 88 miles,” she said. “It was a wonderful expression of endurance, team building and generosity from hosts along the way.”

Carlisle earned her bachelor’s degree with honors in religious studies, and with minors in political science and philosophy. After graduating, she earned her Master of Divinity in urban studies and education from Claremont School of Theology, Claremont, Calif. and her Master of Business Administration degree from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management in Evanston, Ill.

An active participant in civic engagement, Carlisle served as president of the City of Los Angeles’ Human Relations Commission in 2007 and 2008 and recent past chair of the 26th Senate District Empowerment Congress which largely serves the city of Los Angeles. She has also served as a board member for the National Association for Community Mediation, Washington, D.C.

When asked what she would say to a student considering attending AU, she said, “It is a supportive community, filled with people who sincerely want to invest in your development. I found the religion and political science departments to be thoughtful spaces for all kinds of questions about the human experience, world religion, and meaning making rooted in values. I left with an expansive worldview and a greater capacity for critical consciousness - both serving me well far beyond the college years.”

Previous Recipients


2016 Kara Carlisle, BA '99
2015 Travis Taflinger, BA '04, Casey Cline, BA '03
2014 Paul Mumaw, BA '97
2013 Ryan Daniel, BA '07
2012 Amanda Scott, BA '07

Merle Strege - Distinguished Service AwardDr. Merle Strege

Professor Emeritus Dr. Merle Strege (BA ‘69, M.Div ‘72) taught at AU for 36 years. During his career, he served in the School of Theology, Religious Studies department, Liberal Arts Seminar Program, and Honors Program. He also served as a mentor and was part of the development of the idea of faculty mentors for freshman students. For several years he also served as the advisor to the Avanti Booster Club.

Strege came to AU on the encouragement of his home church in St. Paul Park, Minnesota. He was also encouraged by President Robert Nicholson’s parents, who had grown up in that church. Strege earned his bachelor’s degree in history, with minors in English and Bible, as well as his M. Div. from the AU School of Theology.

Instead of a specific moment or event, Strege feels that his favorite memories of his undergrad years are the relationships. “I’d have to say the relationships that I formed during my student years – classmates and fellow students, of course, but also friendships with staff members like H. L. Baker and Cleda Anderson, and professors like Tom Pappas, Frederick Shoot, and George Ramsey.”

“It sounds rather saccharine, but coming to school every day was a highlight,” said Strege. “There never was a day I didn’t want to come to the campus. I had the opportunity to interact daily with some of the finest young people anyone could ever want to know.”

Strege has written several books on the Church of God and recently published The Desk as Altar: The Centennial History of Anderson University. The book narrates the story of AU and explains the origins and development of the university’s enduring characteristics. “The book’s arc concerns the challenges and rewards that stem from AU’s relationship with its sponsoring church, the Church of God, because that relationship has not always been easy,” said Strege. “But it is also the case that a college or university is an ongoing project, especially when it maintains a vital relationship with its sponsoring church.”

Strege has been married to his wife, Fran, for 47 years. They are the parents of two sons who reside with their families in the greater Indianapolis area, and they have seven grandchildren, ages 15 to 7. “With only one exception, my generation is the first in either my mother’s or father’s family to attend college. My sister, Karen, graduated from Anderson in 1971, as did my wife, Fran,” said Strege. Their sons, Ike and Pete, are also AU alumni, as are their daughters-in-law, Anissa and Kris.

Award Recipients


Dr. Merle Strege, BA '69, M.Div '72


Greg Heberling

2014 Tom Bruce, BA '71
2013 Dr. William Farmen, BA ’58
2012 Dr. Stanley Stephens, BA '65


Rev. Dr. Diana Swoope - John H. Kane Loyalty AwardRev. Dr. Diana Swoope 

Rev. Dr. Diana Swoope (Master of Religious Education ’81) is the senior pastor at Arlington Church of God in Akron, Ohio. She began her tenure on the staff of the Arlington Church of God in 1981 and was named senior pastor in 2009. Swoope is the only female to serve in that capacity since the church was established in 1917.

Swoope came to AU after meeting a student of Gulf Coast Bible College (now Mid-America Christian University). When she returned home from her visit at Gulf Coast, she called Dr. James Earl Massey, the dean of the School of Theology at the time, and a friend of her family, to inquire about the possibilities of enrollment. She also expressed her concerns about having inadequate financial resources. “He encouraged me to apply and to trust God for the resources,” she said. “I applied. I was accepted and God did indeed provide the resources.”

Swoope earned her master of religious education degree from Anderson with the designation of “Professional Distinction.” Since then, she has also obtained a doctor of ministry from Ashland School of Theology in Ashland, Ohio and an honorary doctor of theology from Asbury Theological Seminary in Lexington, Ky.

Some of the highlights of her career at Arlington Church of God include establishing a private, Christian school, Arlington Christian Academy, for students enrolled in Kindergarten through 8th grade. She was the founding principal and served in that role for 20 years. She also worked to establish the Summer Educational Employment Program for teens and college students in the greater Akron area, which provided summer employment for more than 1,000 young people in such venues as medical, law, and large corporate offices.

She has been married to Lawrence Allen Swoope for nearly 34 years. He currently serves as the principal of Arlington Christian Academy. They have three adult children, Alecia, Allen, Andreco, and four grandchildren from Allen and his wife Imani: Nyemah, Sophia, Jeremiah, and Micah.

Award Recipients

2016 Rev. Dr. Diana Swoope, Master of Religious Education '81
2015 Deanna Edwards, BA '65
2014 Dr. David Sebastian, MA '77
2013 Dr. Fred Shively, BA ’61
2012 Connie Graham, BA '75

Valerie Maze - Outstanding Music Alumni AwardValerie Maze, BA '88

Valerie Maze is a music director, pianist, and vocal coach residing in Chicago and a proud alumna of Anderson University and the Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music. Her most recent credits include conductor with projects at Drury Lane Theatre, Goodman Theatre, and Chicago Shakespeare Theatre. In September, she will serve as the conductor of Follies at Repertory Theatre of St. Louis. She is an integral part of the Music Theater Initiative at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.

She has been an adjunct professor at Loyola University in Chicago, as well as an accompanist and coach at Northwestern University and DePaul University. Maze has performed on WFMT as part of the Dame Myra Hess Series and on WGN TV, playing for artists such as Kate Baldwin, Paolo Montalban, Billy Zane, and Steven Pasqual. She is a proud member of the Chicago Federation of Musicians and the Chicago Chapter of the Theatre Musicians Association, where she serves as a director on the board of the TMA Chicago Chapter.

Award Recipients

2016 Valerie Maze, BA '88
2015 Jay Rouse
2014 Dr. Rebecca Chappell, BA '76
2013 Gloria Gaither, BS ’63, Doctor of Humane Letters '89
2012 Bill Gaither, BA '59, Doctor of Music '73

Micah Bryan - Legacy Scholarship RecipientMicah Bryan

Micah Bryan graduated from Lapel High School in 2016, where she participated in show choir, drama club, National Honors Society, and cross country. She is majoring in youth ministry and is involved with intramurals here at AU. Her mother, Angela Combs, and stepfather, Daniel Combs, both graduated from Anderson in 1993, and she has five siblings.

Bryan chose to attend AU because it has always felt like a second home to her. After her father, Darin Bryan, passed away when she was less than a year old, her mother moved back to Indiana from Illinois. The family was able to rely on friends, coaches, and others she had met as a student at AU. “I don't know where I would be today without the helping hands of the Anderson University community,” said Bryan.

Bryan has spent many hours on AU’s campus, because of her parents’ involvement with fellow alumni and with the track program. “They would always tell me about all the friendships and transformations they encountered here,” she said. “And that only made my excitement to come here even greater.”

When asked what she would say to a student considering attending AU, she said, “You will never feel alone at AU. The friendships you make and the spiritual journey you will embark on is something you can’t find anywhere else.”

2014 Recipients 

Lifetime Achievement Award: Beverly Travis
Friend of Nursing Award: Keith Trent
Distinguished Alumni Award: Todd Mossoney

2013 Recipient: Paige Dooley, MSN-MBA '01

2012 Recipients
Lifetime Achievement: Beth Leavell
Service to the Community: Becky Bartle
Distinguished Alumni: Mike Fights, MBA '07
Friend of Nursing: Janet Brewer, BA '77

2011 Recipients
Service to the Community: Heather Sheets, BS '02
Friend of Nursing: Dr. Frank Campbell

2010 Recipients
Lifetime Achievement: Matilda Barber
Service to the Community: Jeff Glover, AS '81, BA '86
Distinguished Alumni: Lori Keith
Friend of Nursing: Jan Bingle


The Rev. Curtiss Paul DeYoung, Doctor of Humane Letters
Regina Troutman Snowden, Doctor of Humane Letters

2016 Leonard Sweet, Doctor of Divinity
Rev. Arnetta McNeese Bailey, Doctor of Divinity
2015 Dr. James L. Edwards, Doctor of Humane Letters
2014 Susan Ellsperman, Doctor of Laws
Esther K. Augsburger, Doctor in Fine Arts
Rev. Arlene Hall, Doctor of Divinity
Dr. Kenneth F. Hall, Doctor of Divinity
2013 Andrea Morehead, Doctor of Humane Letters
Dr. Robert McCurdy, Doctor of Science