Val Demings and Simone Cummings

2022 Distinguished Alumni recipient Val Demings with Dean Simone Cummings

Roslyn Grant and partner

2022 Mary Elizabeth Newell Loyalty Award recipient Roslyn Grant

Eric Rothenbuhler and Courtney Stewart

2022 Loretto Award recipient Courtney Stewart with Dean Eric Rothenbuhler

Beth Stroble, Leah Latham, Alex McCuien

2021 Young Alumni Award recipient Leah Latham with Chancellor Beth Stroble and Alumni President Alex McCuien

Vanessa Davis, Beth Stroble, Nancy Hightshoe

2019 Distinguished Alumni Award recipient Nancy Hightshoe with Chancellor Beth Stroble and Alumni Director Vanessa Davis

Eve Coulson, Beth Stoble, Joan Marie Godoy Liere, and Chris Whitmore

2018 Award recipients Eve Coulson (Mary Elizabeth Newell), Joan Marie Godoy Liere (Loretto) and Chris Whitmore (Young Alumni) with Chancellor Beth Stroble

Distinguished Alumni Award

The Distinguished Alumni Award is the highest alumni award given. The Webster University Alumni Association annually recognizes an alumna or alumnus who has made specific, meritorious contributions to society through their profession and involvement in civic, cultural or charitable activities. This award recognizes high achievement that reflects credit upon the individual and Webster University. As part of the selection process, the Alumni Board Awards Committee considers the influence and impact the individual has had beyond their local community (regionally, nationally, internationally) in their profession or service, and whether or not the alum has been the “first” to accomplish something.

Jacqueline Dace

Jacqueline Dace, BS ’05
Executive Director, St. Louis ArtWorks

Jacqueline Dace is a nonprofit executive who has used the arts to enrich the world with her ability to develop innovative and creative programs, documentaries and exhibitions. She is dedicated to community outreach and building collaborations and has a life passion to leave a legacy with a positive impact.

Starting as a receptionist and security guard, Dace soared through the ranks in museums across the country. She devoted over 30 years to the arts, culminating as the deputy director of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. Dace spent time developing the National Blues Museum, Mississippi Civil Rights Museum, DuSable Museum of African American History and the Missouri Historical Society. She was a recipient of the Hollywood Black Film Festival and Kansas City Film Festival Awards.

The museum connoisseur believes art provides invaluable opportunities, is universally accepted and appreciated, and tells stories that wouldn’t otherwise be told. As the executive director at St. Louis ArtWorks, Dace utilizes art to serve children and assist them in translating thoughts to canvas instead of bottling them up inside.

  • Val Demings, MA ’96 (2022)
  • Awele, BFA ’82 (2021)
  • Michelle Esswein, MBA ’93 (2020)
  • Nancy Hightshoe, MA ’77 (2019)
  • Manal Fakhoury, MBA ’12 (2018)
  • Alan O. Freeman, MBA ’93 (2017)
  • Maarten de Boer, BA ’00 (2016)
  • Nancy Hernreich Bowen, BA ’68 (2014)
  • Kathleen Mazzarella, MBA ’02 (2013)
  • General Lloyd J. Austin III, MA ’89 (2012)
  • Nelda K. Lee, MA ’99 (2011)
  • General Carroll H. Chandler, MA ’78 (2010)
  • Leyna Nguyen, BA ’92 (2009)
  • Jane Robert, BA ’69 (2008)
  • Barbara Krzewinski, MA ’81 (2007)
  • Nancy Edmonds Paull, BA ’80 (2006)
  • Mike Jackson, MA ’81 (2005)
  • Mary Pat Seurkamp, BA ’68 (2004)
  • Jane Hodges, MA ’97 (2003)
  • Mary Ann Wyrsch, BA ’65 (2002)
  • Mary Alice Dwyer-Dobbin, BA ’63 (2001)
  • Eileen Collins, MA ’89 (2000)
  • Norma Lee Speckhard, MAT ’79 (1999)
  • Terri Williams, BA ’85 (1998)
  • Marsha Mason, BA ’64 (1996)
  • Marilyn Morheuser, BA ’46* (1995)
  • Ann Manganaro S.L., BA ’69* (1994)
  • Pearline Motley, MA ’89* (1994)
  • Franz Pruller, BA ’86 (1994)
  • James A. Barnes, MA ’82 (1993)
  • Elizabeth Donegan, BA ’68 (1992)
  • Clarence Harmon, MA ’79 (1991)
  • Mary Clare Geerling, BA ’47 (1990)
  • Joseph Noelker, BA ’74 (1989)
  • Jean Crowley Antonmattei, BS ’39* (1988)
  • David Morton, BA ’76* (1987)
  • Jan Greenberg, MAT ’73 (1986)
  • Jacqueline Grennan Wexler, BA ’48* (1985)
  • Eva Kirkpatrick, MA ’70* (1984)
  • Lynn Rubright, MAT ’71 (1983)
  • Betty Espinosa, BA ’37* (1982)
  • Mary Mangan S.L., BA ’35* (1981)
  • John Doglione, MA ’77 (1980)

Loretto Award

The Loretto Award is presented annually to an alumna or alumnus who has given significantly of themselves in service to humanity and social justice. The Award is intended to continue the recognition of the community service and social justice values of the Sisters of Loretto who founded Webster College in 1915. The Alumni Board Awards Committee makes the selection of this recipient.

Carlita Vasser

Carlita Vasser, MA ’15
Director of Nursing/CEO of At Home Care

Carlita Vasser has served over 25 years in the healthcare industry and has created programs for charitable organizations, churches and nonprofits. Inspired by her mother, Vasser aspires to live by her values in her day-to-day life, with a desire to leave the world better than she found it. After facing adversity and dealing with a sickness of her own for a long period of time, Vasser decided she wanted to be someone that made other people feel good, a healer. The Director of Nursing/CEO of At Home Care found that education is the key for any elevation.

Pursuing her third degree at Webster in the Doctor of Management Program, Vasser is proving the importance of education and setting an example for her children. As an advocate and public voice for healthcare education and access for all, she works to provide knowledge and resources to minority and underserved populations. In addition to co-founding the first St. Louis City branch of the national Medical Reserve Corps local unit, Gateway St. Louis Medical Reserve Corps, Vasser also developed a radio and digitally aired health news and education program, Returning to Eden-Keeping God’s Temple Healthy.

  • Courtney Stewart, MA ’05 (2022)
  • Kim Bouldin-Jones, BA ’87 (2021)
  • Terry Gorski, MA ’74* (2020)
  • Jane Peckham Stoever, BA ’66 (2019)
  • Joan Marie Godoy Liere, MA ’12 (2018)
  • Tracey Jeffries, MA ’10 (2017)
  • Mary Ann Wyrsch, BA ’65 (2016)
  • Eileen Schneider Edelman, BA ’85 (2014)
  • Jane Ellen Ibur, BA ’73 (2013)
  • Amy Lorenz-Moser, BA ’97 (2011)
  • Maureen McCormack S.L., BA ’54 (2010)
  • Grace Akumu Adhiambo, BA ’86 (2009)
  • Roswitha Weinrich, BA ’85 (2008)
  • Magdalen Seaman, BA ’47* (2007)
  • Wilhelmina Matern, MA ’01 (2006)
  • Kwan li Kladstrup, BA ’94 (2005)
  • James L. Rhodes, MA ’81 (2004)
  • Mary Ann McGivern S.L., BA ’64 (2003)

The Mary Elizabeth Newell Loyalty Award

The Mary Elizabeth Newell Loyalty Award is presented to an alumna or alumnus who has demonstrated a high degree of loyalty, commitment and concern for Webster University over a span of many years. This award is presented in memory of Mary Newell, a graduate from the class of 1926, who was a loyal supporter of Webster and dedicated member of the Alumni Association. The Alumni Board Awards Committee makes the selection of this recipient.

Richard Fox

Richard Fox, BA ’76

Richard Fox chose to attend Webster University having no idea he would create a lasting bond with a community that would feel like family for the rest of his life. He immersed himself in an exciting and lively culture, one he would devote himself to for over the next 50 years, full of others who embodied the same deep passions for learning and the arts. The poet believes art is enriched by community, and he found that notion to ring true during his time at Webster.

Since his graduation from Webster, Fox has shown a high commitment to the University and his peers, often referred to as "the glue that has kept many classmates from the 1970s together." His unending love for Webster led him to creating and maintaining a website (, managing a Facebook group, setting up list bots and email chains, and hosting a Zoom during the pandemic, all dedicated to his 1970s classmates and friends. The loyalty to each other became even more clear following Fox's cancer diagnosis. Classmates from all over the country have been coming to visit him, making the trip from Michigan and Florida, to just name a few.

Many alumni and Webster community members also recently participated in a Richard Fox Tribute Reading, hosted earlier this summer. His work to create an ever-lasting bond with his Webster family is one that will benefit many forever.

  • Roslyn Grant, MA ’97 (2022)
  • Vanessa Davis, MA ’04, DMGT ’15 (2021)
  • Darrell Yates, MA ’00 (2020)
  • V. Diane McGee, MBA ’98 (2019)
  • Eve Coulson, BA ’73 (2018)
  • Dr. Ann Harbeson, MA ’03 (2017)
  • Stefano Cantini, BA ’92, MA ’94 (2016)
  • John Nickel, BA ’75 (2014)
  • Mary Alice Dwyer-Dobbin, BA ’63 (2013)
  • Doris Federhofer, BA ’38* (2013)
  • Timothy Noelker, BA ’73 (2012)
  • Dr. Karen M. Luebbert, BA ’64 (2011)
  • Shirley Broz, MA ’93 (2010)
  • Irma Jacobs Tirro, MA ’94 (2009)
  • Keith Lanier, BA ’91 (2008)
  • David P. Weiss, BA ’75 (2007)
  • Jackie Hellman Sontag, BA ’50* (2006)
  • Peggy Jostedt Czufin, BA ’47* (2005)
  • Emil Mezgolits, MA ’82 (2004)
  • Ilissa Staadeker, BA ’77 (2003)
  • Ellen Livingston, MA ’75 (2002)
  • Ann Washle O’Connell, BA ’60 (2001)
  • Christopher A. Thomas, BA ’84 (2000)
  • Bette Rae Karst Wilbers, BA ’60 (1999)
  • Betty Compton Mueller, BA ’52, MAT ’83 (1998)
  • Adelyn Reinheimer Cline, BA ’49* (1997)
  • Barbara Luechtefeld Fraser, BA ’48* (1996)
  • Marianne Dickhaus Knaup, BA ’66* (1995)
  • Mary Lois Flippin Hall, MAT ’73 (1994)
  • Gabriel Mary Hoare S.L., MA ’83 (1993)
  • Mary Clare Kline Heller, BA ’36* (1992)
  • Clare Heyne, BA ’59* (1991)
  • Ione Vatterott Berry, BA ’47 (1990)
  • Carol Colligan, BA ’70, MA ’77 (1989)
  • Mary Mangan S.L., BA ’35* (1988)
  • Mary Louise Hyde, BA ’40* (1987)
  • Ceil Golden Reh, BA ’35* (1986)
  • Marie Vlatkovich Markowski, BA ’45* (1985)
  • Elizabeth Halpin, BA ’36* (1984)
  • Margaret Bihss, BA ’33* (1983)
  • Audrey Effinger Dietrich, BA ’45* (1982)

Young Alumni Award

The Young Alumni Award recognizes an alum who promotes the values and elevates the profile of Webster University through leadership in their profession, contributions to society through public service, and ongoing support of the University. This person must be an alumna/alumnus of Webster University who received their undergraduate degree within the last 10 years of being nominated and is 35 years of age or younger. The Alumni Board Awards Committee makes the selection of this recipient.


Elliot Laurence

Elliot Laurence, BA ’21
Writer and Advocate

Elliot Laurence is a young, gifted writer who works to utilize his talents to advocate for underrepresented populations. As a transgender man and an Air Force veteran, he strives to use the experiences and hardships he encountered on his journey to educate others. Laurence learned at an early age how to look out for himself and his loved ones, as he was one of five children raised by a single mother. His five-month suspension for his “medical condition,” being transgender, didn’t bring him down — it gave him more encouragement to fight for what is right. Laurence has lobbied face-to-face with politicians in Jefferson City, Missouri, for trans rights.

He found a community that he says genuinely and authentically cared about him at Webster University. The Webster community helped Laurence navigate through tough times, and he hopes to provide that for others. After serving as editor of the Office of Communications at Saint Louis University’s Law School, Laurence is pursuing his Master of Fine Arts degree at Oregon State.

  • Kevin Miles, BFA ’12 (2022)
  • Leah Latham, BA ’10 (2021)
  • Cody Renard Richard BFA ’10 (2020)
  • Kayla Thompson, BA ’13 (2019)
  • Chris Whitmore, BA ’14 (2018)
  • Loren Rahman, BA ’12, MA ’12 & Wakeel Rahman, BA ’13 (2017)
  • Kacey Hampton, BA ’11 (2016)
  • Ricardo Falla, BA ’09, MA ’11 (2014)
  • Jessica Butler, BA ’04 (2013)
  • Taran Hercules, BA ’03 (2012)
  • Kathleen Sullivan, BFA ’02 (2011)
  • Eric Madkins, MA ’05, MA ’08 (2010)
  • Khiang-Kay Soe, BA ’03, MA ’06 (2009)
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