Barry McNamara  |   Published September 22, 2022

Homecoming Honorees

Monmouth College to recognize several individuals, one family during Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 Homecoming ceremonies.

MONMOUTH, Ill. – In addition to inducting two new members into its Hall of Achievement, Monmouth College will recognize several other individuals and one family during its Alumni Impact Awards and two other graduates during a ceremony for the Fraternity and Sorority Alumni Hall of Fame.

AWARD CEREMONIES: The Alumni Impact Awards will be held at 5 p.m. Sept. 30 in Mellinger Commons. ... AWARD CEREMONIES: The Alumni Impact Awards will be held at 5 p.m. Sept. 30 in Mellinger Commons. The Fraternity and Sorority Life Hall of Fame induction ceremony will be held at 11:30 a.m. Oct. 1 in the Huff Athletic Center fieldhouse.Both ceremonies will be part of Homecoming weekend festivities at the College, Sept. 30 through Oct. 2. The Alumni Impact Awards will begin at 5 p.m. Sept. 30, while the Greek life event will begin at 11:30 a.m. Oct. 1.

In between the ceremonies will be two athletic recognition events. The Fighting Scots’ undefeated 1972 football team will be honored as the inaugural members of the College’s Fighting Scots Champions Club at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 30, and three new members will be inducted into the College’s M Club Hall of Fame at 8:30 a.m. Oct. 1.

The Alumni Impact Awards ceremony will be held in Mellinger Commons on the lower level of the Center for Science and Business. The other three ceremonies will be held in the Huff Athletic Center fieldhouse. All four events are free and open to the public.

Following are recipients of honors at the Alumni Impact Awards:


Joel Hillison ’83 – Distinguished Alumnus Award

The Gen. Colin Powell Chair of Military and Strategic Studies at the United States Army War College, Hillison serves as the director for its “National Security Policy and Strategy” course. In that role, he is responsible for the development of more than two dozen faculty members. He has also taught courses on strategic leadership, war and military strategy, and regional issues and interests.

Prior to becoming an award-winning teacher, Hillison was comptroller and deputy chief of staff of resource management for multinational forces in Iraq for one year. He also held a three-year post as comptroller for NATO’s Combined Joint Planning Staff in Belgium, overseeing a $118 million budget as he worked with all 19 NATO countries.

Hillison holds a doctorate in international relations from Temple University. He’s earned two master’s degrees – one in strategic studies from the United States Army War College and the other in economics from the University of Oklahoma.


Ed Wimp – Distinguished Young Alumnus Award

Wimp earned a master’s degree in business and a law degree, both with the goal of being the “go-to” entertainment attorney. He has worked as road manager for the legendary R&B group Earth Wind and Fire and also traveled as part of A$AP Rocky’s management team.

Wimp is the author of Building Fans, Fame and Wealth: The 18 Revenue Streams of Music, which has been used as a textbook in high schools. He speaks annually at the Self Employment in the Arts (SEA) conference in Chicago, encouraging young artists to have the courage to pursue their dreams and showing them how to build their careers.

An active community volunteer, Wimp speaks to underprivileged individuals, helping them understand how to set up a business. He also mentors adolescent and teenage boys – many of whom do not have positive male influences in their lives – helping them to get on track toward furthering their education and preparing themselves for success.


Joan Wertz – Distinguished Service Award

Called the “pillar of the institution” by her nominator, Wertz has been a member of the College’s psychology faculty since 2001, helping her department grow and being a driving force behind the creation of the global public health minor.

Another example of Wertz’s behind-the-scenes contributions to the College is her appointment to the COVID-19 campus leadership task force, which was established to formulate and execute the College’s response to the pandemic. On a related note, she played an active role in the Fall 2020 Planning Committee, devoting her time and energy to ensuring that as many classes as possible would be held in-person on campus.

Previously the chair of Faculty Senate for multiple terms, as well as the longtime chair of her department, Wertz was recently appointed associate dean of academic success.

Wertz has also led several student trips, regularly spending her breaks accompanying students on international short-term study abroad experiences.


The Mary Ann Thome Johnson Family – Family of the Year

Less than a year ago, the matriarch of the family, Mary Ann Thome Johnson, died at the age of 97. Mary Ann followed her father, the Rev. James Thome – a Presbyterian minister – to Monmouth. A 1945 graduate, she met her husband, Roger Johnson ’44, at Monmouth.

Together, the couple had two children, Hall of Achievement inductee Maj. Gen. Stephen Johnson and Emily Johnson, who graduated from Monmouth in 1972 and 1976, respectively. Both of their children married Monmouth students. Steve married another member of the Class of 1972, Lucy Hyde, and Emily’s husband is 1974 graduate and former Monmouth Board of Trustees member Grant Minor. Their daughter, Katie Minor, is a 2004 Monmouth grad.

Mary Ann and her aunt, 1917 graduate Mary Thome Love, were teachers. The accomplishments of Mary Ann’s children, their spouses, and her grandchildren are many. They all speak of what Mary Ann instilled in them – to value education and to give back when you are able.


Michelle Holschuh Simmons – Hatch Award for Excellence in Teaching

Since joining Monmouth’s educational studies faculty in 2015, Simmons’ guiding hand has helped prospective teachers find their way through the complexities of certification and the challenges of classroom management. She is routinely cited for her rigor and her empathy, qualities which help her students succeed in the Monmouth classroom, as well as when they are teaching students themselves.

As a longtime first-year experience teacher and a member the College’s Faculty Senate, Simmons “has found ways to influence the campus beyond her disciplinary bound,” wrote her nominator. “She is a force on campus, and her contributions to the lives of Monmouth College students, and the College overall, are striking.”

The holder of a doctorate in language, literacy and culture from the University of Iowa, Simmons has examined the learning processes of undergraduate students, using the framework of threshold concepts to understand the points of struggle that students encounter while they move from novices to experts in their chosen fields.

Following are the two graduates who will be recognized at the Fraternity and Sorority Hall of Fame ceremony:


Mary Grable McLeod ’87

As the quality manager in the laboratory at Stanford Health Care Center in Palo Alto, California, McLeod draws on the education she received at Monmouth and at one of its academic partners, Rush University in Chicago, where she earned a degree in medical technology.

But McLeod was also significantly influenced at Monmouth by her involvement with Pi Beta Phi, an association she continues as an active alumnae member. At the time of her induction, she served as the membership coordinator for Palo Alto’s Pi Beta Phi Alumnae Club and as the social media chair for the San Mateo (California) Alumnae Panhellenic Club.

In 2021, McLeod received the Carolyn Helman Lichtenberg Crest Award, which recognizes Pi Beta Phi alumnae for community service or professional achievement.


Mary Ann Larsen Zimmerman ’88

The organizational and leadership skills that Zimmerman developed as a member of Kappa Delta have served her well. Immediately following the completion of her Monmouth business degree, she began work as an HR professional. She has been a human resources business partner at Always Designing for People in Tempe, Arizona, since 1997.

Her leadership roles with Kappa Delta grew from serving as pledge class secretary and chapter secretary to president of the Monmouth chapter her senior year. As an alumna, Zimmerman has stayed active as a Kappa Delta leader. At the time of her induction, she was chapter adviser for Arizona State University. In 2019, she served as a delegate for Kappa Delta’s national convention.

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