Relive the Excitement of the 2024 Alumni Awards Convocation and Read More About Our 10 Accomplished Honorees

Alumni Weekend 2024 proved to be one of the most celebratory to date, with brand-new activities and faces. Of course, the annual event also included traditional favorites, such as the Old Guard Luncheon and much-anticipated Alumni Awards Convocation. Learn more our Alumni Award honorees, who are featured below, and be sure to view our recording of the ceremony on Westminster’s YouTube page. Finally, watch for our comprehensive Zenfolio of Alumni Weekend photos, which we will share on Westminster’s social media platforms. Congratulations to all, and we can’t wait to see you next year for Alumni Weekend 2025!

2024 Alumni Achievement Award Honorees

The following alumni were honored during the Westminster College Alumni Awards Convocation at 10:30 a.m. on April 13, 2024 in Champ Auditorium.

Brock E. Ayers, ’82 ΔΤΔ ‒ Alumni Achievement Award
Brock Ayers is a member of the Class of 1982 who majored in economics and business administration and was active in the Delta Tau Delta fraternity at Westminster. After graduation, he embarked upon a military education that included the U.S. Army Intelligence School and the National Defense University, which led to Master of Science in strategic intelligence. His assignments included the 25th Infantry Division in Hawaii, the Defense Intelligence Agency – Space and Special Operations Directorate, and the National Security Council – White House Situation Room under two presidents. Ayers also served in the U.S. Transportation Command J2/Intelligence and Crisis Action Team, along with several joint agency roles. He then served in the U.S. Army and Army Reserve for 18 years before medically retiring in 1999. Ayers currently serves as First Vice President – Investments at Wells Fargo Advisors in Chesterfield, Missouri, a position that follows a 31-year career as a certified financial planner.

Ayers is the recipient of numerous professional recognitions, including Premier Advisor and FIVE STAR Wealth Manager, and is noted for his devotion to Westminster. He founded the College’s highly successful Blue Blazers Investment Committee in 1996 and has helped secure internships and employment for numerous students over the years. He is a Churchill Fellow and previous leader of the Alumni Association who also previously on the College’s Board of Trustees for 21 years. In addition, he was a Student Government Association Award recipient in both 1993 and 1995 and earned recognition as a CASE District VI Volunteer of the Year. Additionally, is a member of the Delta Tau Delta Distinguished Service Chapter and is a 2014 recipient of the Jack Marshall Alumni Loyalty Award. Ayers and his wife, Laura, reside in Ballwin, Missouri, and are part of a long legacy of Westminster graduates, including four daughters: Kathryn, ’11 ΚΑΘ, Caroline, ’14 ΚΑΘ, Amelia, ’16 ΚΑΘ, and Sarah, ’21 ΚΑΘ.

Valentina D. Bumbu, PhD, ’05 ‒ Alumni Achievement Award
Dr. Valentina Bumbu is a member of the Class of 2005 who majored in chemistry and business administration at Westminster. After graduation, she worked as a chemist before then taught both chemistry and AP chemistry at the Soldan International Studies High School in St. Louis. After five years in that role, she transitioned to serving as a secondary science curriculum specialist for the district, bringing her expertise and innovative approach to curriculum development. In 2013, Bumbu earned a doctorate in chemistry at Washington University in St. Louis. She then completed the Advanced Education Leadership Program at Harvard University. Currently, Bumbu is pursuing a master’s degree in educational leadership at St. Louis University, where she continues to strive for excellence in her field, which involves a dedication to equipping inner-city students with tools to become agents of social change. This focus led Bumbu to join the Carnahan STEAM team in 2023 as an assistant principal.

A resident of St. Louis, Missouri, Bumbu is originally from the Republic of Moldova. When she is not with her students, Bumbu enjoys spending time with family and friends. She likes reading, dancing, playing volleyball, traveling and practicing martial arts.

Zachary E. Imel, PhD, ’01 ΔΤΔ ‒ Alumni Achievement Award
Zachary Imel, PhD, majored in religious studies and psychology at Westminster, where he was also a member of the Delta Tau Delta fraternity. While at the College, he was a Churchill Scholar; a member the Alpha Chi Honor Society; a resident advisor; and served on the Chapel Leadership Council; the Social Judiciary Board; and the Skulls of Seven. After graduating from Westminster in 2001, Imel entered graduate school at the University of Missouri-Columbia, where he earned a Master of Counseling Psychology. He then earned a PhD in counseling psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Originally from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Imel today is a professor and the director of clinical training in the Counseling Psychology Program in the Department of Educational Psychology as well as an adjunct professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. He is the co-founder and chief science officer at, a technology company focused on using artificial intelligence to assess and improve psychotherapeutic practices. The author of more than 100 scientific publications and the co-author of The Great Psychotherapy Debate, Imels’s work has been funded by a variety of prestigious organizations, including the John Templeton Foundation and Casey Foundation. He is also an Early Career Award recipient from the American Psychological Foundation. During the 2024 Alumni Awards Convocation, Imel also received the 2024 Alpha Chi Distinguished Alumni Award. He is the third member of the Missouri Delta chapter to receive such an honor.

Charles “Gus” Kurrus III, ’56 ΦΔΘ – Alumni Achievement Award
Charles Kurrus III from Belleville, Illinois, is a member of the Class of 1956 and Phi Delta Theta fraternity. Kurrus graduated from Signal Hill School in 1948 and Belleville Township High School in 1952. He received a bachelor’s degree in economics from Westminster as well as a degree in mortuary science from Worsham College in Wheeling, Illinois. After graduation, Kurrus accepted responsibility for his family’s now sixth-generation business, Kurrus Funeral Home, in Belleville.  As a licensed funeral director and the owner of Kurrus Funeral Home for more than a half a century, he has served, supported and strengthened countless families across the St. Louis region during their greatest time of need. Over the years, Kurrus has also demonstrated great dedication to his community and country: He was an active member of the U.S. Army Reserves for five years, he was a board member of Signal Hill School from 1965 to 1977 and he was a trustee of the Signal Hill Volunteer Fire Department for 12 years.

Kurrus also served his neighbors as the director of Bankers Trust Company and the Bank of Belleville. He was a founding director of West Pointe Bank & Trust and has served as a president to the Boys Club of East St. Louis, chairperson of the United Fund of Greater East St. Louis and president of the Belle-Clair Rotary club. In addition, Kurrus is a 60-year member of the Freemasonry at East Lodge #504 AF & AM and has served as treasurer for Scottish Rite Bodies. He has received the Honorary 33 degree and is also a member of York Rite Bodies, the Red Cross of Constantine, Ainad Shrine and Royal Order of Jesters.

Harold “Hal” B. Oakley, ’90 ΣΧ ‒ Alumni Achievement Award
Hal Oakley of Quincy, Illinois, graduated in 1990 and was a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity at Westminster. During the 2024 Alumni Awards Convocation, Oakley received both an Alumni Achievement Award and Doctor of Laws honorary degree. Oakley studied at Albert Ludwigs Universität in Freiburg im Breisgau in 1989 and soon after graduated cum laude from Westminster after majoring in economics with emphases in German, history and political science. In 1993, he earned a JD from the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law. He currently is a candidate for a Master of Laws in tax law at Washington University in St. Louis. His degree conferral is expected to take place in 2024.

Oakley began practicing law in St. Louis, Missouri, and then returned to Quincy to raise a family. He is a partner and immediate past chairperson of Schmiedeskamp Robertson Neu & Mitchell LLP in Quincy. His practice focuses on general corporate law and estate planning and administration. Oakley is active in a variety of organizations, including the Moorman Foundation, the International Churchill Society, America’s National Churchill Museum, the Lincoln Academy of Illinois and the Illinois Equal Justice Foundation. He also previously served for many years as corporate secretary and as a director of Quincy Media, Inc. ― a multimedia, family owned company ― until its sale in 2021 to Gray Television. Oakley is an emeritus trustee of Westminster College, where he served as an active trustee from 1996 through 2020. From 2015 through 2017, he was also board chairperson. Oakley is married to Kathy Bennett Oakley, a civic volunteer and former elementary school teacher. They have three children: Ben, Abigail, and Allen.


Richard “Rich” Walton, ’70 ΒΘΠ ‒ Alumni Achievement Award
Rich Walton from Houston, Texas, is a member of the Class of 1970 the Beta Theta Pi fraternity. Following his graduation with BA in economics and business administration, Walton served two years as an officer in the U.S. Army. Today, he is a retired senior financial executive who spent more than 30 years with the international accounting firm KPMG, LLP, in public accounting, including 20 years as an audit partner. He served clients primarily in the health care and life sciences industries. Following retirement from KPMG, he did financial consulting for public companies with SEC reporting, which led to becoming the executive vice president and chief financial officer at an energy chemistries and oilfield products public company in Houston.

Throughout his career, Walton spent significant time leading and assisting charitable organizations in Houston. Now in retirement, he continues to volunteer in leadership positions on the boards of four charities.

Danielle Bauer Harrison, ’09 ‒ Young Alumni Achievement Award
Danielle Harrison from Columbia, Missouri, graduated from Westminster in 2005 with a BA in economics and business administration and a minor in English. During her time at Westminster, she was involved in a variety of activities, including the Finance Committee, the Blue Blazers Investment Committee and a faculty search committee. She was also recognized with the Wall Street Journal Award. After graduating from Westminster, Harrison pursued her master’s degree in business administration at the University of Missouri-Columbia, where she excelled and received accolades, including the MBA Leadership Award and Top Management Department Student Award.

Harrison is the founder of Harrison Financial Planning, an independent, fee-only financial-planning firm that serves clients across the country. Holding the Certified Financial Planner® and Certified Financial Therapist-I™ designations, she has made significant contributions to the financial industry and been recognized as one of the 2021 Rising Stars by Financial Planning magazine. Her expertise has been sought-after by numerous media outlets, including the New York Times, Barron’s, Investment News, Yahoo Finance and CNBC, among others. Beyond her professional achievements, Harrison has been actively involved in non-profit organizations such as Rotaract, Girls on the Run, the Alzheimer’s Association and Mobility Worldwide. Her dedication and leadership have both been evident in her roles, including her service for three years as the board president of Mobility Worldwide. Harrison’s commitment to service extends to her role as a member of the University of Missouri Robert J., Sr., Trulaske College of Business Graduate Programs advisory board. Harrison is devoted to her family and  cherishes spending time with her husband, Jonathan, and their two boys, William and Alexander.

Misty F. Todd, MD, ’13 IND ‒ Young Alumni Achievement Award
Misty Todd, MD, of Sedalia, Missouri, graduated from Westminster in 2013 with a BA in biology. She wen ton to earn a degree in medicine from the University of Missouri, where she also served as president of the Family Medicine Interest Group, which won numerous national awards under her leadership. Todd was inducted into Gold’s Humanism Honor society: one of only two honor societies in medical education. The society is known for demonstrating exceptional compassion, commitment to patient care and leadership among its peers. After graduating from medical school, Todd completed her residency in family medicine at the University of Missouri as chief resident. She was later selected as the Resident of the Year by the Missouri Academy of Family Physicians.

Originally from LaGrange, Missouri, Todd has translated her upbringing on a family farm into a medical practice devoted to rural medicine. As such, she has received awards from the University of Missouri School of Medicine’s Departments of Family Medicine and Pediatrics for her advocacy efforts at the local, state and national levels. Throughout the past four years, she has implemented Missouri’s first Rural Training Track Residency in family medicine in Sedalia, where she currently serves as program director in addition to maintaining her full-scope family medicine practice, including surgical obstetrics. Todd was selected as a recipient of Sedalia’s Top 20 under 40 in the fall of 2023. She and her husband,  Matthew Roehrs, OD, ‘13 ΔΤΔ, enjoy operating their 75-acre cattle farm, snow- and waterskiing, and horseback riding in their free time.

Adam B. Mallette, ’11 KA – Jack Marshall Loyalty Award (Posthumously)
Adam Mallette was a member of both the Class of 2011 and Kappa Alpha Order who sadly passed away on June 17, 2023, at the age of 34. At Westminster, Mallette studied business communication and played on the men’s basketball team for four years. He was well-known both during college and afterwards as an enthusiastic supporter of Westminster ― a kind-hearted individual who remained actively involved on campus after graduation, serving as an admissions counselor from 2011 to 2013. Mallette’s upbeat attitude translated into the fitting nickname “Ziggy,” which many were familiar with through his ongoing connections to the College.

A resident of Columbia, Missouri, Mallette was born in Independence, Missouri, and grew up in Webster Groves, Missouri. At his passing, he worked as a digital advertising manager for the marketing agency Woodruff. He previously worked for Bucket Agency in Columbia. Mallette prioritized spending time with his family: Karri (Birch) Mallette, ’10 ΚΑΘ, and children, Mavrik and Zoey. He also enjoyed playing and coaching and basketball as well as playing golf. A scholarship established in Mallette’s name was a top performer in Westminster’s recent 1851 Challenge, both in number of participants and funds raised. A “Hoops for Ziggy” basketball game raised funds during Alumni Weekend for a memorial bench to be installed on campus in Mallette’s honor.

Amanda W. Gowin, PhD – Remley Award
Dr. Amanda Gowin currently serves as department chairperson and assistant professor of the Department of Health and Exercise Science at Westminster College. Gowin has worked at Westminster College since 2008, first serving as a health educator and dietitian with the Wellness Center and then moving into teaching. Gowin has a doctoral degree in educational leadership from the University of Missouri-Columbia as well as a master’s degree in education counseling psychology and a bachelor’s degree in nutritional sciences from the University of Missouri. She is a registered and licensed dietitian and has additional training in sports nutrition from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Gowin’s classes are incredibly popular because she is known as a professor who cares about her students. She provides them with wonderful opportunities outside of the classroom, such as service and research experiences that enrich their learning. Gowin works closely with students as their advisor, supporting capstone research and supervising internships. She also advises the Peer Health Educators group, takes students on study abroad experiences, and regularly travels with groups on life-changing service trips to Tanzania in support of the Humanity for Children organization. Her work with the organization includes several public health-related experiences to improve maternal/child health with the Maasai community in rural, northern Tanzania. These trips have fostered in many students a deep passion for supporting women’s health. Gowin resides in Fulton with her husband, Matt Gowin, ’92 ΒΘΠ, and their blended family: Sam, Katherine, Liv and Hope. She enjoys being active, especially outdoors, and attending concerts and sporting events with her family.



Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Sarah Rummel Backer

Sarah Rummel Backer is the Director of Media Relations and Senior Writer at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri. A proud Westminster graduate, Sarah has more than 20 years of experience in marketing and strategic communications in the areas of higher education, medicine, agriculture, and the private business sector.