Scholarship Ball Success

Event Honors Leaders, Mount Sesquicentennial and Unveils Science Vision

  • Monday, February 25, 2013

A record crowd danced the night away Feb. 23 to celebrate the achievements of Benedictine College, recognize the college’s honorees and raise money for student scholarships.

Nearly 800 friends of the Atchison, Kan., college registered for the 42nd annual Scholarship Ball held at the Sheraton Kansas City Hotel at Crown Center in Kansas City, Mo. The event highlighted the college’s two sponsoring communities, naming a professorship in honor of the sesquicentennial anniversary of Mount St. Scholastica Monastery and featuring the new abbot of St. Benedict’s Abbey.  The co-chairs for the event were Lené Westerman, ’85 and Stephen, ’91 and Joan (Koechner), ’90 Charbonneau.

Students played key roles, serving as hosts and guides, speaking from the dias, and providing the entertainment. The Benedictine College Brass Ensemble, Drum Corps, Dance Squad and student singers entertained the crowd. Benedictine student Kristen Adlhoch inspired attendees with the story, previously featured on the Today show, of how she battled back from near-paralysis in her freshman year. She credited the prayers and encouragement of Benedictine College with speeding her recovery. “That is worth so much more than any other kind of therapy,” she said.

At the event, two couples received the Cross of the Order of St. Benedict: Archdiocese of Kansas City-Kan. youth ministry leaders Dana and Debbie Nearmyer, and former Benedictine College president Dan and Terri Carey.  Earlier in the 2012-2013 school year, legendary football coach Lou Holtz and Rwanda genocide survivor Immaculee Ilibagiza also received the same honor. Attendees cheered a video presentation of their awards.

Deborah Nearmyer is the Director of Catholic Faith Formation at St. James Academy in Lenexa, one of four original staff members who founded the school.  Dana is a deacon and the Lead Consultant for Evangelization and Catholic Formation of Youth in the Archdiocese. Deacon Dana and Deborah were instrumental in the development of the national recognized youth program at Church of the Nativity in Leawood, Kansas, and the couple founded Camp Tekakwitha and the Prairie Star Ranch under the Direction of Archbishop James Keleher and Msgr. Thomas Tank 15 years ago.

They brought their five children on stage to receive their award – including their oldest daughter, Madison, a first-year student at Benedictine College.

Dana thanked the Archbishops and others within the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas.

“We get to encourage children to imagine, to dream, to speak to God, and we get to teach them to hear God’s voice,” he said.  “We get to walk with them as they jump head-long into the adventure of finding out what they are created to be.  But we are simply running backs with some of the greatest linemen to ever play the game…wearing collars and giving their lives totally to the mission of Christ.”

Deborah thanked their families for standing with them and giving them the foundation to do what they do.

“Dana and I were blessed with families who taught both of us the love of Jesus Christ,” she said.  “Our shared stories of struggles, of loss, of triumph and wonder, they bind us.  They bind us in this mission to pass on the faith to the next generation.  Benedictine College has done this very important work since before the Civil War.  We are humbled and we are grateful for this moment.”

Dan and Terri Carey are Scholarship Ball veterans. The former Benedictine College president told the audience that he and his wife have attended 18 of the events consecutively.

A 1968 grad, Dan, who now serves as president of Edgewood College in Madison, Wis., returned to his alma mater in 1995 as president. Terri, with a Master’s degree in Reading, was the beloved librarian at Atchison Catholic Elementary School. The two were instrumental in the turnaround that saw Benedictine College grow from a struggling institution with less than 700 students to the nationally recognized Catholic college with more than 1,700 students it is today.

In his remarks, Carey shared three stories from his time as president. He recalled how Mary Kay McAllister’s contribution was crucial to the construction of the Student Union, how Jim and Zibbie Ferrell’s contributions were pivotal in the renovation of the long-abandoned Freshman Hall into the state-of-the-art residence facility now known as Elizabeth Hall; and how Mike and Marlys Haverty renovated the Raven Roost on campus.

“If you are an alum of St. Benedict’s College, Mount St. Scholastica College, or Benedictine College; if you are a current or a past employee of Benedictine College; if you are a benefactor that believes in this special college, Terri and I accept this honor only on your behalf.  You are the ones who made it happen.  Thank you,” Dan said.

The couple’s two sons, Christopher and Matthew, joined them on stage and brought levity to the evening in a video presentation about the two honorees.

“Before accepting this award, I would like to say it is my belief there should be two more names on this plaque,” said Terri Carey.  “Christopher Carey and Matthew Carey, this was a family effort.  They inspired us then as they inspire us today.  Chris and Matt are graduates of Maur Hill (Mount Academy) and Benedictine College and I believe they are typical of the outstanding young men and young women who have earned their degrees from Benedictine with majors in subjects like history, finance and English and minors in faith, hope and love.”


A highlight of the evening was the naming of Benedictine College music department chair Ruth Krusemark as the first ever Mother Evangelista Kremmeter Professor of Benedictine Traditions and Values. The endowed professorship at the college also serves to celebrate one of the college’s two sponsoring institutions, the sisters of Mount St. Scholastica in Atchison, Kan. The sisters are celebrating their sesquicentennial anniversary this year.

“Dr. Krusemark is a leader in the field of music and has selflessly enhanced the musical experience for our students for over 30 years,” said President Stephen D. Minnis. “She has had our students perform for the Pope and put on countless excellent programs. She epitomizes what the Mother Evangelista Professorship of Benedictine Tradition and Values is meant to represent.”

The evening began with Mass celebrated by newly appointed Abbot James Albers of St. Benedict’s Abbey in Atchison, Kan., and ended with energetic dancing to the music of the Michael Beers Band. President Stephen D. Minnis announced that more than $500,000 was raised at the ball.

In his address on the state of the college, Minnis described how key buildings served as launching pads for the school to reach national impact with its mission of community, faith and scholarship. Elizabeth Hall launched a nationally recognized student life program, and Mary’s Grotto launched a nationally known program of faith ministry.

Likewise, he said, the construction of the multi-million-dollar Ferrell Academic Center, now in its first year of operation, will be a launching pad for a new focus on academics.

The next step? He sketched possible plans for growth in the school’s mission areas: in community, centers for recreation, baseball, softball and soccer; in faith life, endowments for missionaries and new programs; and in the scholarship area he unveiled a significant vision for the sciences.

He said the mission of Benedictine College in the sciences was “To be the Catholic, liberal arts college that recruits and develops aspiring doctors, engineers, scientists, and health care professionals for the 21st Century,” and shared images of a multimillion dollar science center the school is interested in building.