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Alumni News

We are proud of and interested in our history alumni and thus feature news about them in the SPOTLIGHT section of our homepage. If you are an SIU Carbondale history alum, please fill out the form on our "Keep In Touch" page so we can share your latest news.

Steve Alvin, M.A. 1982
Vice President, Local 1810 AFT. Vice Chair of ICISP (Illinois Consortium of International Studies and Programs), ICISP Teaching Fellow, Chanterbury Christ Church University College, Canterbury, UK.

Gregory S. Beirich, M.A. 1988
I received my Ph.D. in Medieval History from Fordham University in 1999. I am currently a lecturer in the California State University system, teaching at the Los Angeles and Long Beach campuses. While I still seek a tenure-track position, I am reasonably content to coontinue as a "freeway flier" for the immediate future. My wife, Karen, and I have two children: Benjamin (3 years old) and Rebecca (born August 2002).   I would love to hear from any of my fellow SIUC pals ASAP.

Carle G. Blackwell, B.A. 1957
I am originally from Salem, Illinois and earned my BA in history in 1957 after serving with the US Navy.   While at SIU, I was involved with the International Relations Club.   I had a 30-year career with Dean Witter Securities before starting my own asset management firm in 1994--the Blackwell Corporation. When not working in the financial world, I enjoy orienteering, sailing, and flying sailplanes.

My first visit back to SIU since 1957 was this past March when Dean Scott invited me to COLA's Alumni Recognition Day.

Dave Bolger, B.S. 1965
I use 6 novels per year in both the World and American History classes I teach and would like to get in contact with any other teachers who use novels in the class room.   I have used them for over 17 years and feel it is very successful way of teaching history and getting the students to read and thus educate themselves.

Angela Burton, M.A. 1993
I have worked in scholarly publishing since I left school, and I am currently an assistant managing editor for the University of Illinois Press.   I live in Champaign, IL, with my husband, Steve, and our daughter Olivia, who is three.   I'd love to hear from some of my fellow graduate students.

Kelli Dunaway Butler, B.A. 1997
After graduating from SIUC in 1997, I went on to law school at the UCLA School of Law in Los Angeles, CA. I graduated with a JD degree in May 2000.   Since graduation, I have been practicing bankruptcy law at Price Law Group in Los Angeles.

Ricardo Caballero-Aquino, Ph.D. 1981
I spent the last week of January 2003 and first couple of weeks of February as a Visiting Prof. of Latin American affairs at Lee University in TN.   I am still a diplomat in the foreign service of Paraguay. You might have last seen me as the spokesperson for the government of Paraguay when we took the US to the International Court of Justice at the Hague for violations of the 1963 Vienna Consular Convention.   It was great talking to Brokaw, Rather and Jennings the same evening.   That, I am afraid, was my 10 minutes of fame.

Margo Carlock, M.A. 1978
Served in the Foreign Service 1982-1987.   Most recent trips to Eygpt and Mexico. I have lived in the Richmond area and worked for the VA Assoc of Museums for over 10 years.   I am married and have two teenage sons, two dogs, two ferrets and numerous fish.   Travel is a big priority for me, and I try to keep up with world events and culture.   Other hobbies: gardening, golf, cooking.

Rob Cavasher, M.A. 1976
I taught American History in St. Louis for several years and then matriculated to Boston College and earned a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology.

Shao-Kang Chu, M.A. 1992
I spent the best four years of my life at SIU and would love to do it again.   I have a BA and an MA in history from SIU.   In 2000, I received a doctoral degree from the University of British Columbia.   After serving a one-year assistant professorship at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, I am now an assistant professor at Yuda Institute of Business Technology, in Taiwan.

Frank Chua, M.A. 1993
After leaving SIUC in 1993, I received my Ph.D. from Pennsylvania State University in 1999 and have been at Mansfield University since.  Would love to hear from any of my batch members between 1991-1993.

Makela L. Clay, B.A. 1999
Currently in MA doing a graduate certificate in Museum Studies at Harvard.

Nathan Corzine, B.A. 2002
Completed my MA at the University of Missouri-Columbia in May 2004. I'm taking a year away from school and preapring to return to a Ph.D. program somewhere.

Catherine Cosimi, B.A. 2001
I am currently entering my third year of law school at St. Louis University.   I plan to practice law in the St. Louis area and hope to practice Labor and Employment law.

Janel (Brink) Cox, B.S. 1996
I graduated in Spring of 1996 and was a substitute teacher in southern Illinois for a year before starting full time in St. Louis. I taught World History and Civics for two years at Riverview Gardens High School in North County, St. Louis.   I left the "big city" in 1999 to work as a middle school teacher in Rolla.   During my two year at Rolla Middle School, I met my husband, Tim, who is a social worker.

In October 2001, I started a new career as an admissions rep for the University of Missouri in Rolla.   I have been traveling all over Southern Illinois and Southeast Missouri recruiting high school students for the past six months.   This summer, I will start my masters through a coop program between UMR and UMSL.

Michael N. Cripps, B.S. 1979
I am the President and CEO of The First Bank and Trust Company of Murphysboro.   I am also the President and CEO of the bank's parent corporation, First of Murphysboro, Corp.

Gregory Culver, Ph.D. 2000
Currently teaching American history, American government, and the History of Science and Medicine at the University of Southern Indiana.   Nominated for Who's Who Among America's Teachers in spring 2002.

Brian Scot Deason, Ph.D. 2001
I have been appointed to a position as an assistant professor at Oakton Community College, beginning Fall 2002.

Michelle Denbeste, Ph.D. 1997
I have finally gotten out of Arkansas and have a new job at California State University Fresno where I get to teach Russian history and World History.   My son Saul is now 7 yrs. old and is interested in Ancient Egypt and hieroglyphics.

Kendra Dennis-Firek, B.A. 2003
I am recently married and now work as an articulation coordinator "degree planner" for Colorado Technical University Online.   I live in Schaumburg, a suburb of Chicago.

Jared H. Dorn, M.A. 1966
Currently direct International Programs and Services (IPS) at SIUC.   Directed SIUC branch campus in Japan for first ten years; it continues to report to me through IPS.   Worked overseas teaching history in foreign universities upon completion of MA. Taught history at SIUC branch campus in Japan while Director there.   Married to Maryann.   One daughter, Mary Frances.

Dan Feldhaus, M.A. 2003
Doing well in PA.   Teaching social studies at an online high school ( We have a new baby, Kai Jakob born 9/25/03.

Stephen L. Fisher, B.A. 1989
After many years searching for the right person, I am married to my best friend, Cheryl. We have a son who is attending college majoring in Geography and a daughter who is in the USAF currently serving overseas.   We are also blessed to have a 3 years old granddaughter.   I am a cancer survivor, after a stem cell transplant at University of Nebraska in 2000.   I am currently working for the National Park Service in wildland fire GIS mapping and technical data.   I also am involved with teaching national fire courses to employees.

Jason Friedman, M.A. 2003
I am currently working on my Ph.D. at Michigan State University.

Dale Gardner, B.A. 1968
Self-employed lawyer with an M.A. in History from St. Mary's University, San Antonio, TX.

Elizabeth George, Ph.D. 1996
From 1996-1999, I taught as a term-lecturer in the history department at SIUC.   From 1999 on, I have taught French, Latin, World History, and a combination Western Civ/Church History course at Trinity High School in Carbondale.   I have also directed the Latin program for Grades 4-8 at Covenant Christian School in Carbondale.   In 2001 I completed the writing of 47 articles of medieval European history for a secondary-school level encyclopaedia entiled Medieval World, published by Brown Partworks, London.   At the end of 2003, I will finish a 4-year term as Vice-President of the regional women's organization of the Presbyterian church in America.

James Gill, B.A. 1996

After getting my BA in History, I went on to get an MFA in fiction from SIUC where I studied with Kent Haruf, Beth Lordan, and Rodney Jones.   I am currently a lecturer in the English Dept at SIUC, and my fiction has appeared in several literary journals including The Colorado Review, The Crab Orchard Review and Sou'wester.   I live in Herrin, IL with my wife, Catricia, and my two boys, Cormac and Connor.

Gary Norris Gray, B.A. 1978
Everybody on campus use to call me Norris.   Pledge for Alpha Phi Alpha.   I'm currently working with other minority disabled people to help them make a better life for themselves. I'm now working for Gibbs Magazine , a local black internet magazine, writing stories on black disabled Americans.   Please feel free to read our stories.  Also trying to get first book published entitled BLACK AND SILVER Life in America Living in a Wheelchair .   I just bought a new home, have a new girlfriend (maybe), and want to come back for 25 year reunion.

John Gulley, B.A. 2000
I am currently a campaign staff person for State Representative Larry D. Woolard. Rep. Woolard is seeking election to the 59th District Illinois State Senate seat.   I did an internship with Rep. Woolard through SIUC, and was hired by him full time after graduation.

Steve Hancock, B.S. 1969
I am the editor of the national publication, The Road Beacon. Our publication promotes, on a national state and local level, motor vehicle, highway and driving safety.   The Road Beacon publishes articles from experts within the areas of transportation and traffic enforcement.   We also publish interviews with national leaders, write editorials, and, on occasions, we publish our research about driving and motor vehicle safety.   My history classes at SIU helped me become interested in research, writing, evaluating, editing, and applying critical thought to history, historical perspective, how history affects us today, and how we can affect the future.   As a result of my studies at the SIU History department, I also gained an invaluable appreciation of the written word. This knowledge helped me as I developed our publication, The Road Beacon.   I apply this knowledge as we go through the process of writing, evaluating and editing articles, interviews and research for each and every publication.

Christopher Handy, B.A. 2002
I am currently completing the Master of Eastern Classics at St. John's College in Sante Fe, New Mexico.

Bill Hanrahan, M.A. 1990
After teaching English for a number of years at universities in Turkey and Oman, my wife and I returned to the U.S. and settled in Austin, Texas.  My job with the Texas Legislative Council allows me a lot of time for freelance writing and editing of secondary school educational materials.  I have worked extensively on teacher and pupil editions of both history and literature textbooks.  My wife, Anne, who is also an SIU grad, freelances full time.

Paul Harrison, M.A. 1994
Currently in language training. Will depart DC for Berlin, Germany 8/04

Bonnie Heidinger, M.A. 1970
After graduating from SIU with a Master's in History in 1970, I taught a year at Cairo High School, did part time teaching at Shawnee Junior College, and then accepted a teaching job at Anna-Jonesboro High School, where I remain. I am currently teaching American History and getting students to participate in the regional history fair at SIU sponsored by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency.   Recently, I was asked to serve as the high school representative on the advisory committee for the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library in Springfield.

Jacqueline Horsey, M.A. 1993
I am teaching World History and World Geography to 8th and 9th grade students in Suffolk, Virginia. I work at an academic alternative school and truly like the challenge. I have a work in progress, dealing with the educational system of Virginia, its establishment, and the first Superintendent of Public Instruction for the Commonwealth of Virginia, Dr. William Henry Ruffner.

James Hurst, B.S. 1956
I came to SIU in 1950 and returned in 1953 after two years (Navy) for the Korean War. I continued with my history major on the GI Bill and graduated 1956.   I taught history at Hurst-Bush CHS while in graduate school (1956-60); MS ED (History/
Education '60); Joliet THS 1960-63; Joliet Junior College 1964-91.   I taught Western Civ, Modern Europe, Modern Britain at JJC and retired Professor Emeritus 1991.   Moved to New Mexico in 1993 where I take advantage of nearby New Mexico State University for reading and research.   My book The Villista Prisoners of 1916-17 was published in 2000 and won the Southwest Book Award in 2001.   I am currently writing a book on the Punitive Expedition of 1916-17. The History Department during my years was a great collection of scholar/teachers.   Classes were small (often 10 or 12), and opportunities to connect with professors one-on-one were numerous.   Few of us realized how fortunate we were to have been associated with a genuine gem of a department.   Looking back with the perspective of fifty-plus years a major in history is a solid foundation for many endeavors, but perhaps most important of all is that it is a great preparation for life itself. And isn't that what education is really all about?

Robert Johnson, B.A. 1980
While earning degrees in history and education, I held a student work job in the University Museum.  Upon graduating I was hired as the Exhibits Specialist at the 1st Cavalry Division Museum at Fort Hood, TX.  In 1987 I was hired as the Director of the Fort George G. Meade Museum in Maryland.

Mark Jones, Ph.D. 1977
In my 25 years with the City of Cincinnati, I have been involved in housing rehabilitation, historic renovation, new housing construction, and small business development.   This work has little to do with my studies at SIU in American policy towards Japan between 1921-31, but I only have a few more years to go to retirement. Past SIU history grads that I keep up with are Stan Harris, retired teacher in Evansville, IN and Wayne Wiegand, an Assoc Prof of Library Science at UW Madison.

Melissa R. Jordine, Ph.D. 1998
I have a wonderful visiting lecturer position in the History Department at Hendrix College, which is a private liberal arts college.  In addition to teaching their survey course for freshman I am also teaching a 400-level course on art, literature, and the role of women in Germany during the Weimar Rebuplic and National Socialist Regime (1918-1939).  I am also a member of the Gender Studies Committee and I play walleyball with other faculty members.

Daniel Kane, B.A. 1991
I graduated with my BA in history in 1991 and returned to graduate school in 1997 after time in the military.   Received my MA in Korean history from the University of Hawaii in 1999 and currently in the doctoral program for the same.

Donna Kurtz, B.A. 1981
I still find history one of the most fascinating aspects of life.   My husband & I have toured most of the major Civil War battle sites, and I continue to pursue readings on Lincoln, Russian history, and American politics.   The best thing about life is that there is always plenty to learn.

Robert L. Livingston, B.A. 1973, M.A. 1976
I received B.A. in History from SIUC in 1973, then obtained M.A. in 1976.   Employed in the newspaper business in January 1978 at Flora, IL, Daily News Record; continued with Daily Clay County Advocate Press before moving to the Sidney, Nebraska Telegraph in 1980. Came to Mt. Carmel in 1982 and have been here since. Married Mt. Carmel High School math teacher Ruth Veihman in 1988.

John A. Lupton, B.A. 1988
Married to SIU Radio & TV graduate. Currently working for Lincoln Legal Papers as assistant director/assistant editor.

Marc Magers, B.A. 1999
I am currently teaching high school in Iowa. Life is good.

Kenneth A. Millard, B.A. 2000
I graduated cum laude in May, 2000.  I am now working on a Masters Degree here in the department, with a second major in Higher Education.

Barbara Moburg, M.A. 1977
After completing my Masters I went on to earn a Doctorate in Educational Psychology at SIU.   I taught for five years at a small, private liberal arts college in Ohio.   Then I moved to Whidbey Island outside of Seattle to become Social Sciences Department Chair at a Community College.   I've been teaching there (both History and Psychology) ever since. In addition, every two years I organize and lead a history tour of Europe.   So far we've toured Greece, Italy and France.   In 2004 we'll be going to Spain and Portugal.   I have two grown kids, a son who is a researcher at the Brookings Institute in D.C. and a daughter who is living in Seattle.

Jacqueline Moore, M.A. 1988
I graduated from U. Md-College Park in 1994 with a Ph.D. in history.   Since then I have been teaching at Austin College in Sherman, TX; a highly selective liberal arts college about an hour north of Dallas.   I have thus given up my social life, but I became Associate Prof. and Chair of my department in 1999 and Director of Asian Studies in 2000 (fond memories of Dr. Wu).   My first book Leading the Race (about the black elite in Washington D. C. in the Progressive Era) was published in 1999, and my second Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. Dubois and the Struggle for Racial Uplift comes out in February 2003.   I am co-editor of the African American History Series for SR Books.   I would also love to hear from other alums from the halcyon days at SIU.

Al Moyers, M.A. 1995
I have been Chief of the Air Force Weather History Office at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska since September 2001.   Received the 2001 Air Force Heritage Project Award for my work promoting the heritage of Air Force communications. Historical consultant for 2002 Weather Channel production, "Weather and War."

Claire O'Brien, M.A. 1993
I started out in the news business as a rookie reporter for the Piatt County Journal-Republican in central Illinois.   Six months later I was the editor, photographer and layout person.   Next, I headed west to work as a general assignment reporter for the Las Cruces Sun-News.   I was sent on assignment to northern Mexico several times.   I moved to the Southern Illinoisan newspaper where I covered SIUC and Jackson county.   I've just completed a stint in North Carolina--the highlight of my journalistic career was my award-winning coverage of the Brasstown, North Carolina Ninth Annual New Year's Eve Possum Drop.   Now I'm hard at work on a novel for adolescents, involving orphans and revolution. I'm also doing freelance work to pay the rent, and am planning to return to my rock and roll roots--am playing drums again!

Philip Orr, B.A. 1972
Distance Learning Librarian at the University of Southern Indiana, 307A, David L. Rice Library, 8600 University Blvd., Evansville, IN 47712

Karen Plummer, M.A. 1981
After earning my M.A. in history, I continued my education at Kent State University and received my Master of Library Science degree in 1984.   I have been working full-time as a librarian since 1980. I currently serve as Audiovisual/Special Materials Cataloger at University Libraries, The University of Akron.   This position is a tenure-track faculty position and my rank is Assistant Professor.   As of 1 July 2003, I was appointed Interim Head of the Cataloging Department.

Edgar Frank Raines, Jr., M.A. 1968
I have been a historian at the U.S. Army Center of Military History in Washington, D.C., since November 1980. The Center published my book, Eyes of Artillery: The Origins of Modern U.S. Army Aviation during World War II, last year as a volume in the Army Historical Series.   I recently gave a paper at the annual conference of Society for Military History entitled "Disaster Off Casablanca: Air Observation Posts in the North African Landings and the Role of Failure in Institutional Reform."   I am currently working on a manuscript tentatively titled "The Rucksack War: U.S. Army Operational Logistics in Grenada, October-December 1983."

Jeremy D. Rowan, M.A. 1995

Jeremy Rowan is teaching AP European history and honors World history at Cardinal Gibbons High School in Ft. Lauderdale.   He has just successfully defended his dissertation "Imagining Corporate Culture: The Industrial Paternalism of William Hesketh Lever at Port Sunlight, 1888-1925" at Louisiana State University. He will receive his doctorate in May 2003.

Paul M. Sawtell, M.A. 1976
I am President of Dominion Title Corporation, a real estate settlement company and title insurance agency located in Great Falls, VA.   I also own a title search company, which provides the title search information for Dominion Title and other title companies doing business in Northern VA.   Over the years I have met many history majors who have become title examiners, or abstracters.   The job requires a sense of time, and a basic "nuts and bolts" knowledge of real estate law.

Erik S. Schmeller, Ph.D. 1999
As of fall semester 2000, I will begin teaching at Tennessee State University in Nashville.   I will be directing the secondary social studies teaching program as well as teaching a variety of history courses.

Karl Schneiter, M.A. 1990
Just happy and busy in St. Louis with my partner and wife Kamie, and our 4 year old Kordell.   Still talk with Dr. John Simon on a regular basis and attempt to keep up with happenings in Carbondale.   Like some/most of you, I never found a niche within History, but use the lessons I learned within the department everyday in my work.

Rocky L. Sexton, B.A. 1988
After graduating from SIU with a double major in history and anthropology, I earned an M.A. in anthropology at Louisiana State University and a Ph.D. in Cultural/Historical anthropology at the University of Iowa.   My primary research interest is in ethnicity and popular celebrations among Cajuns and Creoles in Louisiana.  I am currently an assistant professor at Augustana College in Rock Island, Ill.

Dan Shao, M.A. 1996
Awarded a Wang Postdoc Fellowship at Harvard University's Fairbank Center, starting summer 2003.   Will start a tenure track position at Ohio University in fall 2004.

Satomi Shinozaki, B.A. 1997
I am just proud of graduating from this University and this major.

John Shull, B.A. 1995
Graduated from Marquette University Law School in 1998. Married Beth Olund in August 2003.   Am currently practicing law at Terwilliger, Wakeen, Piehler & Conway, S.C. in Wausau, Wisconsin, with emphasis on insurance defense.

Brad Skelcher, Ph.D. 1990
Professor of History and Associate Provost, Delaware State University. Published several articles, chapters in books, and books on Historic Preservation and African American history. Commentary on "Whispers of Angels" historic film documentary on the UGRR.   Partnership to make a film titled "With All Deliberate Speed" about Brown v. Board of Education.   Go to for more information on the above films. Appears on Book TV and C-SPAN.

Susan Mitchell Sommers, B.A. 1982, M.A. 1984
Received Ph.D. 1992 Washington University, St. Louis. Currently tenured at St. Vincent College, Latrobe, PA. Fields:   Early Modern & Modern Britain, Colonial Latin America.   I am married to Dallas Sommers and have two children, Alexander and Sophia.   My first book A County and its Town:  Politics in Suffolk and Ipswich in the 18th Century was published by Greenwood Press, 2001.

Jason Spaetti, B.A. 1999
I work and have classes in Faner, so come by and say hi if you can.

Bomani Spell, M.A. 2004
I graduated SIUC in August of 2004 with a dual Masters in History (Latin American Studies) and Higher Education.   I am currently the Director of Academic Enhancement Program at Shawnee Community College.   I am taking classes at SIUC for my doctorate in Higher Education.

Dennis Stark, B.S. 2000
Extended campus graduate from San Diego. MAS degree fre ERAU extended campus. Now working in the Airport Operations Noise Abatement/Monitoring Department at San Antonio International Airport.

Randall Strunk, B.S. 2000
I graduated from SIU in the spring of 2000 with a BS in Social Studies and a minor in History from the College of Education.   I entered the workforce this fall as the administrator of an alternative high school at Shawnee Community College.   Since my teaching experience is limited and I only have an undergraduate degree for a position that would normally require a graduate degree, I had to depend on my years of work experience that I incurred before returning to SIU two years ago as a non-traditional student.  I do hope to begin work on my Master's degree in History at SIU, next fall.

Katheriine Tosa, M.A. 1972
I am using my history degree to teach Western Civilization at Muskegon Community College.   It is wonderful.

Andy Volpert, M.A. 2000
I am a member of the Social Studies Department at Southeast High School in Springfield, IL.   My current teaching assignments include American History, American Government, and Cultural Geography courses.

Kristi Weaver-Halfond, M.A. 2001
I am presently teaching Latin American history and 20th century U.S. history at McKendree College in Lebanon, IL.   By day, I am working as an Academic Advisor at SIUE.

Laura Wheaton, M.A. 1994

I have been Director of Education at the McLean County Museum of History since November 1998.   Before that I was Program Coordinator for the Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana, at their property, the Huddleston Farmhouse Inn Museum.   I also served as Executive Director of the French Icarian Museum in Nauvoo, Illinois for two years.  My favorite part of working in the museum is that I get to use my training as a historian every day, but I don't have to grade papers!!   One of the projects I've worked on this year is developing a local history curriculum for the 3rd grade classes of McLean County School District #5, serving 1,000 children.   I also coordinate the annual Evergreen Cemetery Discovery Walk, which presents the lives of eight McLean County citizens buried there.   We research their lives, then actors write scripts from the research and perform a 6-7 minute vignette by each person's grave, as we take visitors through the cemetery.   It lasts eight days, and 3,000 people attend.   Currently, I am engaged to be married to a wonderful man, Jim Harrod.   We plan to make our home in central Illinois.

Wayne Wiegand, Ph.D. 1974
In January 2003, I became F. William Summers Professor of Library and Information Studies and Professor of American Studies at the Florida State University.   In July, I became co-editor of Library Quarterly.   I am also working on editing a textbook of world library history, writing a book on the history of the American small public library, and coauthoring two books---one with Sarah Wadsworth on the 1893 Woman's Library at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair, the other with Shirley Wiegand entitled "Books on Trial: Case Study of Oklahoma Censorship in the 1940s.

Robyn Williams, M.A. 1994
Currently serving on Awards Committee for the Illinois Historical Society as well as a recent appointment to the Advisory Board of the Illinois Historical Society.   Also a member of the board for the Saline County Historical Society.   Teaching AP US history at Harrisburg High School.

Ambar Zobairi, B.A. 1996
I am currently working at the United Nations Foundation.   Prior to that, I worked at the Centre for Development and Population Activities as a finance associate.   I graduated with my Masters in International Relations/International Economics in May, 1999 from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) and spent one academic year on SAIS' Bologna, Italy campus.