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The Lycoming College Alumni Association Executive Board (AAEB) presented five awards during the college’s Homecoming activities Saturday, Oct. 26. Award recipients were selected by the board from nominations received from alumni and other members of the college community.
Sonja Burkhalter Gonzalez, a 1992 Lycoming graduate, received the Angela R. Kyte Outstanding Alumnus Award, given to an alumnus/a who has demonstrated a lifetime of service to humanity and whose life exemplifies those qualities encouraged and fostered at Lycoming.
Barbara Lovenduski Sylk, a 1973 Lycoming graduate, and Michael Bell, a 1994 Lycoming graduate, each received the Dr. James E. Douthat Outstanding Achievement Award, given in recognition of alumni who have achieved significant accomplishments that reflect positively on the college. Bell and Sylk were honored specifically for their contributions to the arts programs at Lycoming College.
Steve Wiser, a 1974 Lycoming graduate, was recognized with the Dale V. Bower Service Award, given to an individual for outstanding service rendered to Lycoming.
Captain Pamela Tipler, a 2005 Lycoming graduate, received the Taunia Oechslin Young Alumnus Award, given to an alumnus/a who has made significant contributions to their profession, demonstrating leadership and exemplifying outstanding service and volunteerism to the college or the community during the first 15 years since graduating.
Gonzalez is the executive director of the Northland Family Help Center in Flagstaff, Ariz., an agency that provides shelter and crisis intervention for women and children. Gonzalez helps at-risk women and children in her free time as well and volunteers for community service organizations. She serves on several boards in Arizona, including Open Inn Inc. and the Arizona Sexual Assault Network, among others. Earlier this year, she was the recipient of the Arizona Attorney General’s Distinguished Service Award for Service Coordination. While a student at Lycoming, Gonzalez was a member of Alpha Rho Omega and was a cross country team member. She earned a Master of Arts from Linwood University.
Sylk has been the president of the Cadme Gallery in Philadelphia. She devotes time to painting and working on portraits. She is a trustee at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and involved with the Great Philadelphia Cultural Alliance. While at Lycoming, Sylk was involved in student government. She has previously served on Lycoming’s AAEB, was the chairwoman for the Lycoming College Century Club and was on the Lycoming Fund Committee. Sylk earned Masters of Art at Philadelphia College of Art.
Bell is a renowned American artist and is most famous for his large, cinematic paintings. He has painted portraits of several infamous people, including the late John Gotti. His artwork is also featured nationwide on “Sopranos” star Joseph Gannascoli’s new Cugine cigar line. Bell has given workshops and keynote speeches throughout the country. He is the recipient of the Los Angeles Good Shepherd Community Service Award for his domestic violence activism and also the William U. Harris Award of Excellence, which recognizes an individual who has demonstrated extraordinary leadership skills in the field of education. Bell earned a M.Ed. at Towson University.
Wiser taught social studies at Williamsport Area High School from 1974 until his retirement in 2006. He has been involved with Lycoming’s football program for 42 years, having served as an assistant coach for 38 of them. His strategies for the Warrior defense helped the team to win 14 MAC titles in 33 years. Throughout his tenure, the Warriors have made 12 NCAA playoff appearances and two trips to the national title game. As a student at Lycoming, Wiser was a member of the Kappa Delta Rho fraternity. He also wrestled and played football, earning four letters as a linebacker and two All-MAC honors. He is a member of the Lycoming Athletics Hall of Fame and the Bald Eagle Area High School Hall of Fame.
Tipler has served her country since graduating from Lycoming in 2005. Upon graduating from Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine with her doctorate in 2009, she was promoted to captain in the U.S. Army and was stationed in Tacoma, Wash., where she served as a physician until October 2012. Tipler was then deployed to Egypt, where she served as a flight surgeon until recently. While a student at Lycoming, she was a member of the Beta Phi Gamma sorority and the choir, chamber choir and tour choir. As a senior, Tipler received the Walter G. McIver Award, awarded to an outstanding and dedicated choir member who has made significant campus contributions to student life.
Photo Caption: From left, Amy Dowling, director of alumni relations; Sonja Burkhalter Gonzalez '92; Michael Bell '94; President Kent Trachte; Barbara Lovenduski Sylk '73; Steve Wiser '74; Captain Pamela Tipler '05; and Clark Gaughan '77, president of the Alumni Association Executive Board.
Lycoming College is a four-year, residential liberal arts and sciences school dedicated to the undergraduate education of 1,400 students. Its rigorous academic program, vibrant residential community and supportive faculty foster successful student outcomes. Lycoming offers 36 academic majors and is recognized as a Tier 1 institution by U.S. News & World Report. Founded in 1812 and located near the banks of the Susquehanna River in Williamsport, Pa., Lycoming is one of the 50 oldest colleges in the nation. For more information, visit www.lycoming.edu.