Honored Alumni Recognized at 2021 Reunion

Honored Alumni Recognized at 2021 Reunion

Participants at Raven Reunion 2021

See photos from the 2021 Raven Reunion!

Several hundred alumni of Benedictine College and its founding institutions, Mount St. Scholastica College and St. Benedict’s College, returned to Atchison for the annual Alumni Reunion June 11 – 13. The weekend featured the presentation of the Benet Awards, which date back to the founding institutions and honor prominent female and male alumni. This year, S. Diana Seago, OSB ’71 received the 2021 Offeramus Medal while Jack Newman’70 received the delayed 2020 Kansas Monk Award and Deacon Charles Adams ’71 received the 2021 Kansas Monk Award. 

“Fifty-two years ago, I came to Mount St. Scholastica College as a clueless junior after completing my first two years at Donnelly (College) in Kansas City, Kansas,” said S. Diana. “I was a bit nervous about being able to fit in, since everyone in my class would already have known each other. Then I met the women of 2nd floor Hemmen Hall and I had my first lesson in Benedictine hospitality. They were experts.”

Diana was introduced via video by S. Esther Fangman, OSB, prioress at Mount St. Scholastica Monastery. S. Diana talked about how much those “Mounties” present at the Reunion had meant to her back then and what a difference their hospitality and acceptance made. She said all the students and Sisters of Mount St. Scholastica were gracious and willing to go the extra mile to help.

“I believe the most important part of my education was learning the value of lasting relationships,” she concluded. “For me, Benedictine hospitality became Benedictine stability. And so, I am most grateful to the Sisters of Mount St. Scholastica, my community members, whose daily prayer, example and patience helped to keep me on the way to everlasting life.”

Diana graduated from Mount St. Scholastica College in 1971 with a BA in English and minors in History and Theology. She completed a Certificate in Pastoral Theology at St. Norbert University in DePere, Wisconsin, in 1980 and served on the summer staff of the college there for seven years as liturgist.

Before entering Mount St. Scholastica Monastery, she taught 7th-8th Grade English and religion at St. Joseph Grade School in Shawnee, Kansas, served as Asst. Director of Admissions at Donnelly College, Residence Hall Director of Hemmen Hall at Benedictine College, and Director of RCIA and Evangelization at St. Mary’s Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She also served as the Director of Planned Giving and Associate Vice President for Development at Benedictine College until 2003. She currently serves as Director of Computer Services at Mount St. Scholastica, where she builds and troubleshoots the computers for the community and maintains the network for both The Mount and Dooley Center.

Sister Diana is a member of the Board of Advisors of Keeler Center in Kansas City, Kansas, a member of the Board of Directors of KanREN, (The Kansas Regional Educational Network) and a member of the Board of Directors of Benedictine College.

Abbot James Albers, OSB, introduced both Kansas Monk Award recipients, starting with Deacon Charles Adams from the Class of 1971.

“I’m deeply moved and so inspired by what we got to do when we were here. And I notice it more by looking in the rear-view mirror of my life,” Adams said.

He remembered the Monks of St. Benedict’s Abbey, who were the predominance of professors at St. Benedict’s College at the time. He said it was sad to return and not see any of the monks who had been at the college when he was a student, but he has a special place in his heart for all of them.

“They taught us how to think, how to be in relationship with one another, how to be in relationship with our God, how to reason, how to judge, how to search for the truth, because we all know now it’s the truth that sets us free,” he said.

“We have so much that we’ve been given over our lifetime. We’re sitting pretty well off now. We had good Midwest values. We learned how to work. We learned how to make money. And now we need to know how to give.”

“Let’s remember how to build the pillars and let the young kids come because we have a great tradition here,” he concluded. “This is a wonderful place for young people to be and let’s keep them coming so they, too, can have the joys that we had.”

Charles “Chuck” Adams earned a Bachelor of Arts in Economics at Benedictine College in 1971. After that, he enjoyed a 37-year career with the Union Pacific Railroad. In that time, he held many leadership positions, including in marketing and sales, billing accuracy and pricing, and interline revenue management. He was ordained to the permanent deaconate for the Archdiocese of Omaha, Nebraska, in 2005 and he retired into fulltime ministry in 2010. He is at the altar each Sunday at St. Margaret Mary Parish.

Adams and his wife, Susan, served for seven years as hosts to six high school exchange students from Germany, whom they consider to be close family to this day. Those six German students now have a combined 7 children of their own, and Chuck considers them grandkids!

The couple has been loyal supporters of Benedictine College and St. Benedict’s Abbey through the years. They have established two permanent endowed scholarships, one for economics majors with a minor in English, Journalism or Mass Communications, and the other for Nursing students. As part of their continuing support for the Nursing Department, they gave to help purchase a Neonatal Birthing Simulator. They have also given generously to Benedictine College campaigns, the annual fund, and special projects like the Ferrell Academic Center and Raven Memorial Park.

Since the 2020 Alumni Reunion was canceled due to the pandemic, many members of the Class of 1970, celebrating their 50th reunion, attended the 2021 event. One of their classmates, Jack Newman, also received the Kansas Monk Award.

“It would be hard to find someone who has served his alma mater so admirably and has had as much influence on the success of this college other than Jack Newman,” Abbot James said in his introduction.

“I will tell you, I think the current-day Benedictine College is a truly outstanding, nationally renowned institution that is the envy of private small colleges around the country,” Newman said, noting his bias as the long-serving chair of the Board of Directors of Benedictine College. He noted that the school has always had a strong reputation, which was what had attracted them there more than 50 years ago.

He talked about the sustained enrollment growth, new facilities, and new academic programs at the college and recognized how strong the faith component was at the school. He said that it is a known fact that many students lose their faith while at college.

“At Benedictine College, surveys show that 90% of seniors say their faith was strengthened while they were here!” he said.

While he said he was not academically gifted or athletically inclined, he did have one important accomplishment while in school. He was the “E-I-O guy.” It was his responsibility to lead the E-I-O cheer, and he concluded with a rousing rendition that brought the house down.

Newman earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology here at Benedictine and went on to earn a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. He is also a Certified Public Accountant and worked for KPMG, one of the big four accounting firms, for 22 years, 14 as a partner. After that, he joined Cerner Corporation, serving as Executive Vice President.

In 2008, he retired from Cerner and established Jack Newman Advisory Services, providing facilitation and advisory services to companies in all sectors. He has recently served or is currently serving as a board member for many organizations, including Enterprise Bank and Trust, Entertainment Properties Trust Corporation, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas City, the University of Kansas Health System, Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas, and many others.

As Chair of the Benedictine College Board of Directors, he not only oversaw the implementation of the Benedictine 2020 strategic plan, but also spearheaded the development process for the next strategic plan to Transform Culture in America. He was the leading force behind the far-reaching $75 million Investing in Excellence campaign which actually brought in over $90 million.

The success of that fundraising effort combined with the success of the Benedictine 2020 plan led to a dramatic expansion of facilities on the Atchison campus with the construction of 9 new residence halls, 3 new chapels, the new Dining Hall, the Murphy Recreation Center, new athletic facilities, and 5 new academic buildings – including the renovation and expansion of Westerman Hall into one of the finest small-college STEM buildings in America.

“Under Jack’s guidance, the college more than doubled its endowment and saw record enrollment, even this past year in the midst of the pandemic. His strong and steady hand put Benedictine in a position to not only weather the storm of COVID-19 but be prepared to move forward as the pandemic ends,” said Abbot James.

In addition to his time and talent as board chair, Newman has also given generously from a financial perspective. He and his wife, Kathy, created the Newman Family Scholarship, which not only funds students’ education, but also provides for funding after graduation if they start a viable new business and establish a pattern of giving to Benedictine College. The couple has given to the Scholarship Ball Fund-A-Raven, the Benedictine College Fund, the Investing in Excellence campaign, and many other funds and projects.

The 2021 Reunion also featured gatherings of class years and a Golden Raven event for those celebrating their 50th Reunion. There was a Friday evening “Dance around the Fountain” in the Academic Quad with the music of Soca Jukebox. Rain moved that event into the Murphy Recreation Center. On Saturday, there was plenty of reminiscing. The evening included the Alumni Reunion Banquet in the McAllister Board Room as well as “Wine Under the Stars” in the Daglen Observatory.

Founded in 1858, Benedictine College is a Catholic, Benedictine, residential, liberal arts college located on the bluffs above the Missouri River in Atchison, Kansas.  The school is proud to have been named one of America’s Best Colleges by U.S. News & World Report as well as one of the top Catholic colleges in the nation by First Things magazine and the Newman Guide.  It prides itself on outstanding academics, extraordinary faith life, strong athletic programs, and an exceptional sense of community and belonging.  It has a mission to educate men and women within a community of faith and scholarship.