Nine Honored With 2022 Alumni Awards

By Kerry Regan, November 18, 2022
Ceremony held at IC in the City and Reunion.

Nine distinguished members of the Ithaca College community were honored with the college’s top alumni awards at a Nov. 10 dinner in Manhattan’s Marriott Marquis to kick off the IC in The City - Reunion and Cortaca '22 weekend.  

The achievements of the award winners are as diverse as the IC curriculum: establishing an orphanage in Haiti, becoming one of the few African-American colonels in the U.S. Marines, founding a Maryland Children’s Development clinic, serving as a staff researcher at the Los Alamos and Oak Ridge National Laboratories, and supporting the college in just about every conceivable capacity.  

“Tonight's honorees join an illustrious cohort of alumni and non-alumni who have contributed their efforts and expertise to making a positive impact on our college community and the wider world,” said Ithaca College President La Jerne Terry Cornish in her welcoming remarks.  

The awards are given by the Ithaca College Alumni Association, and were presented by the president of its board of directors, Tanya Hutchins ’89, along with host Michael Kushner ’13. Kushner, a former Outstanding Young Alumni Award winner himself for his musical-theatre-related accomplishments, kicked off the evening with a little Broadway pizazz by singing the Frank Loesser-penned song, “I Like Everybody.”  

Dicker Recognized with Distinguished Alumni Award


Mark Dicker ’77 accepts the Edgar “Dusty” Bredbenner Jr. ’50 Distinguished Alumni Award. (Photo Credit: Claire Marziotti)

The Edgar “Dusty” Bredbenner Jr. ’50 Distinguished Alumni Award, went to Mark Dicker ’77, parent ’08, a nursing home administrator and assistant executive director of several New York City healthcare facilities. A longtime supporter of the college, he was a major contributor to the Athletics and Events Center Campaign and in 2006 established the Dicker Family Scholarship awarded to a deserving student majoring in art in the School of Humanities and Sciences, in honor of his daughter, Jaclyn G. Dicker '08. He has served as an IC Trustee and an Alumni Trustee, and on the IC Alumni Association Board of Directors and numerous committees.  

Michael Kaplan ’85 summed up Dicker’s commitment to IC in his nomination letter: “Mark has been there for Ithaca College whenever they need him.” 

Two Class of ’99ers Earn Humanitarian Awards

Perkins and Henderson

Reverend Dr. Carlos Perkins ’99 and Dr. Michael Henderson ’99 received the Humanitarian Alumni Award. (Photo Credit: Claire Marziotti)

Reverend Dr. Carlos Perkins ’99 and Dr. Michael Henderson ’99 received Humanitarian Alumni Awards for their work on behalf of orphans in Haiti. They jointly established an orphanage and school in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, that led to the founding of a not-for-profit organization, Beautiful Morning, dedicated to helping orphans grow up in a nurturing environment.  

The pair bring complementary life experiences to the effort. Perkins leads the Bethel Cathedral African Methodist Episcopal Church in Indianapolis and also serves as a principal in the city’s Metropolitan School District of Pike Township. A native of Jamaica, Perkins also has served in pastoral roles in St. Croix and as the principal of a Washington, D.C., high school.  

Henderson is a former military doctor who served in Iraq and is currently a partner with Austin Heart practicing in central Texas. His volunteer work diagnosing and treating thousands of patients in Haiti and East Africa led the Hospital Corporation of America to recognize him with a Humanitarian Award.  

Professional Achievement Awards for Player ’89 and Lent ’91

Ricardo Player ’89 and Kimberly Kurtz Lent ’91 were recognized with the Professional Achievement Award for their career work—Player in the U.S. Marines, Lent in the School District of Philadelphia.  

Player joined the Marines shortly after graduating from IC’s Park School of Communications. He served in an infantry role in the Iraq War, then began a 25-year career as an officer in public affairs before transitioning to a commanding officer role as a colonel at the Marine’s Parris Island, S.C., training depot. He retired this year and now works as a marketing consultant and film director in Abilene, Texas. Player was unable to attend the ceremony.  

Lent has served in the Philadelphia school district for 28 years, and is currently a counselor at Paul Robeson High School for Human Services, which has a 100% minority student population and a 100% school poverty rate. Yet through the efforts of Lent and her colleagues, the school has achieved a 95% graduation rate, 20 points above the district’s average. Recognition of her ongoing work has included receiving the 2014 Mayor's Office Outstanding Educator Award for the City of Philadelphia.  

Two Beloved Administrators Recognized for Meritorious Service

Williams and Semmler

Former IC Vice President for Institutional Advancement Shelley Semmler and Ithaca College President Emerita Peggy Ryan Williams accepting their James J. Whalen Meritorious Service Awards. (Photo Credit: Claire Marziotti)

Ithaca College President Emerita Peggy Ryan Williams (1997-2008) and former IC Vice President for Institutional Advancement Shelley Semmler (1999-2012) received a warm welcome from the audience when accepting their James J. Whalen Meritorious Service Awards for their distinguished contributions to the college. 

Williams was the college’s seventh—and first female—president. She brought a new level of inclusivity and collaboration to the campus, and introduced new academic programs including master’s programs in teaching and business administration and the college’s first doctoral program, in physical therapy. She also led IC’s largest comprehensive campaign to date in 2008, raising $145 million to endow 140 scholarships and help fund construction of the Dorothy D. and Roy H. Park Center for Business and Sustainable Enterprise.  

Semmler led that and many other fund-raising efforts during her tenure, including the campaign to build the Athletics and Events Center, which opened in 2011 with more than 2,800 donors contributing $52.5 million. Semmler currently serves as a founding senior consultant at executive search and consulting firm Aspen Leadership Group.   

A Promising Start and a Lifetime of Achievement

The Outstanding Young Alumni Award for emerging leaders in their field went to Samantha (Cary) Schrell ’12, a chemist who specializes in the elements on the periodic table’s bottom row, the actinides, many of which are synthetic and all of which are radioactive. After getting her Ph.D. in inorganic chemistry from the University of Florida, she worked at Los Alamos National Laboratory, and since 2019 she has been a research scientist at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.  

At the other end of the career spectrum, Lois (Moses) Shofer ’67 was recognized with the Lifetime Achievement Award for work on behalf of children in education, program management, and volunteerism. After earning her Ph.D. from the University of Maryland, she founded the Children’s Development Clinic in Maryland, one of the state’s largest and most successful volunteer programs, which she ran for 25 years. She also established an IC scholarship for community college graduates seeking to continue their education on South Hill.  

After showing off artifacts from her college days—including a paddle decorated with Greek society letters and her freshman beanie—Shofer closed the event by noting she was following her IC speech professor’s “three Bs” advice for speaking engagements: “Be brave, be brief and be seated.”