Awards Brunch Slated for Oct. 29

alumni-awards-23.jpgThe Central Methodist University Alumni Board of Directors invites the public to register for the 2023 Alumni Awards Brunch as part of this year’s Homecoming festivities on October 29. Beginning at 11:45 a.m. in the Inman Student Center, the event will celebrate nine graduates as winners of the Distinguished and Young Alumni Awards.

This year’s Distinguished Alumni Award recipients include Skip Vandelicht ’77, Kevin Cantwell ’80, Rev. Hadley Edwards ’81, Dr. Lee Ann Barrett ’81, LTC Randy Bartel ’92, and John Brown ’94. Young Alumni Award winners this fall are Richard Strait ’07, ’10, Shamika Pegue ’13, and Paden Kleinhesselink ’16.

Distinguished Alumni Award

Roy “Skip” Vandelicht ’77 retired this spring from his post as director of bands at Central after serving for more than a decade in the role. Overall, Vandelicht enjoyed a teaching career of more than 45 years at Central and the Fayette School District. He is a member of two Halls of Fame – Missouri Bandmasters Association (2013) and Missouri Music Educators Association (2020). Upon his retirement, he was awarded Professor Emeritus status from the University. A previous winner of the Young Alumni Award, as well as CMU’s Gold Chalk and Perry Fellow Awards, Vandelicht and his wife, Melody, reside in Fayette.

Kevin Cantwell ’80 is the president of Big River Communications and Circle Fiber, with more than 40 years of technology industry experience and leadership roles at various industry giants. Throughout his career, he has worked around the world promoting and delivering internet platforms to foreign and domestic telephone companies. Cantwell has served on many boards in the St. Louis region and has been involved with the CMU basketball program since he graduated. He and his wife, Mary (Presnell) Cantwell ’80, have two children and five grandchildren. They reside in Weldon Spring, Mo.

Rev. Hadley Edwards ’81 has been a pastor since his time as a Central student, preaching at both St. Paul UMC in Fayette and Lewis Chapel UMC in Glasgow. After graduating with a degree in religion and working a year in the admissions office, Edwards went on to seminary at Southern Methodist University. In his decades-long career, he has served on various boards, committees, and agencies of the United Methodist Church. He retired from pastoral ministry in 2021 and now works to deliver messages through an online ministry called The Net Ministry.

Lee Ann Barrett ’81 is a distinguished doctor of optometry and leader in the industry who also serves her community. Practicing in Columbia since 1986, she also serves as the executive director of the Missouri Optometric Association and served on the board of directors for the Missouri Special Olympics from 2012-2019. Barrett was named a distinguished alumni of the University of Missouri - St. Louis in 1999 and awarded the Optometrist of the Year Award in 2002 from the Missouri Optometric Association and Heart of America Contact Lens Society in 2006. She and her husband, Bob '81, have one son, Alex.

Randy Bartel ’92 is a lieutenant colonel in the United States Army who has served his country for more than two decades. Currently the Deputy Commander for the U.S. Army Band “Pershing’s Own,” Bartel has also served as the commander of The U.S. Army Europe and Africa Band and Chorus, led the U.S. Army Herald Trumpets, and led Army Bands across three continents. Bartel began his career as a music teacher at Elsberry Public Schools near St. Louis before embarking on his military music career with the Quantico Marine Corps Band. He and his wife, Gina, reside near Washington, D.C. where he is stationed at Fort Myer, Va.

John Brown ’94 is a news anchor, author, and public speaker who has had a great impact on the broadcast industry throughout his career. He has won numerous broadcasting awards, including an Emmy for his role as a news anchor and political moderator, and has been named the best large market news anchor in Missouri. As an author, Brown has written a dozen books, mostly on Missouri and Florida history. He is also an inventor of a product used around the world in marathon races. A previous winner of the Young Alumni Award, Brown also gave the Gaddis Lecture at Central in 2019. He and his wife, Teresa, and two daughters live in Orlando, Fla.

Young Alumni Award

Richard Strait ’07, ’10, is a state and national leader in the area of suicide prevention. Over the past decade, he has dedicated his work to providing free suicide prevention conferences which train people on how to help save lives. Strait has won numerous awards for his work and volunteer service, and he serves on the boards for United Suicide Survivors International and the Missouri Association of Treatment Court Professionals. The current chair of the Missouri Suicide Prevention Network, he also served as an adjunct professor with CMU from 2014 to 2020.

Shamika Pegue ’13 is a board-certified behavior analyst at a long-term healthcare agency, where she works with adults diagnosed with developmental and intellectual disabilities. Her passion for providing healthcare for underserved communities led her to partner with several other Central alumni to create the Stand Up for Equity organization. In 2022, she gave the Gaddis Lecture, speaking on the topic of “Socially Significant Problem Behavior: A Behavior Analytic Examination of Cultural Control.”

Paden Kleinhesselink ’16 is Central’s director of athletic training services and has been at CMU for almost 10 years, first coming to Fayette as a graduate assistant in 2014. His skills and quick response helped save a life at a CMU soccer game in 2022, showcasing the importance of having well-trained athletic trainers on staff. In addition to his crucial role at Central, Kleinhesselink volunteers at his church in Columbia and recently earned his doctorate in athletic training from Temple University. He is married to fellow Central alumna Martha Bradley Kleinhesselink ’18.

To attend this year’s Alumni Awards Brunch and celebrate all the winners, visit and secure a seat at the table.

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