Seven Butler University alumni, one professor emeritus, and a former Trustee and his spouse are the recipients of Butler’s annual Alumni Awards. These individuals have demonstrated extraordinary professional achievement and service to the University and their communities. Honorees will be recognized this year online at butler.edu/homecoming as part of Butler’s AT HOMEcoming 2020 festivities, beginning on Friday, September 25. An in-person recognition program is slated for 2021.
This year’s recipients are:
- Butler Medal: Thomas A. King ’66
- Butler Service Medal: James W. Berry
- Robert Todd Duncan Alumni Achievement Award: Wendi C. Thomas ’93
- Katharine Merrill Graydon Alumni Service Award: Mary Majewski Shaw ’93
- Hilton Ultimus Brown Alumni Achievement Award: Brandon M. Gaudin ’06
- Joseph Irwin Sweeney Alumni Service Award: Michael R. Bennett ’09
- Mortar Award: Albert and Margaret Chen
- Foundation Award: Scott ’03 and Katie Nichols ’05
Butler Medal: Thomas A. King ’66
Thomas A. King ’66 has been active in nonprofit management, community development, and philanthropy in Indiana throughout a wide-ranging career that has spanned more than five decades.
Following his graduation from Butler in 1966, King worked as a newspaper reporter for The Indianapolis Star and then joined the United States Air Force during the Vietnam War. After four years as an Air Force officer, King returned to Indianapolis, where he held a variety of positions at the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce. He served as the Chamber’s president from 1979 to 1991. During his tenure as president, King led the Chamber’s study of Indianapolis’ infrastructure, which set the course for capital improvements during the next 20 years. He was also involved in building the Hoosier Dome and bringing the Colts to the city.
King later served as president of the Eli Lilly and Company Foundation, where he directed the company’s philanthropic strategies and managed global corporate responsibility practices. He shared his expertise with students at Butler and Indiana University—Purdue University Indianapolis as an adjunct instructor, teaching nonprofit management, ethics, and leadership courses.
Following his retirement from the Eli Lilly and Company Foundation, King was involved in consulting. He concluded his career as president and CEO of the Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites. He has served in volunteer leadership capacities for several community organizations, including Big Brothers of Central Indiana, Goodwill of Central Indiana, the Indiana Sports Corporation, and the Arthur Jordan Foundation.
King is an emeritus member of Butler’s Board of Trustees, as well as a recipient of the Butler University Outstanding Alumni Award, the 2005 Michael A. Carroll Award from the Indianapolis Business Journal, the 2011 S. Henry Bundles Service Award from the Center for Leadership Development, and the 2015 Charles L. Whistler Award from the Greater Indianapolis Progress Committee, among many others. He is a two-time recipient of the Sagamore of the Wabash.
King and his wife, Verletta, have been married 55 years and have three sons and seven grandchildren. His current interests include Butler basketball, organizational effectiveness, golf, and woodworking.
The Butler Medal is the highest honor conferred by the Butler University Alumni Association. It recognizes individuals for a lifetime of distinguished service to either Butler University or their local community, while at the same time achieving a distinguished career in their chosen profession and attaining a regional—or even a national—reputation. Since 1959, this award has recognized individuals who have helped immeasurably toward perpetuating the University as a great educational and cultural institution and have had a profound influence on the course of Butler University.
Butler Service Medal: James W. Berry
Dr. James W. Berry is a Professor Emeritus of Biological Sciences at Butler University. A member of the University’s faculty from 1965 until his retirement in 1997, Berry’s academic career has taken him across the country and around the globe.
Berry received his bachelor’s degree from East Tennessee State University in 1957 and his master’s degree from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in 1958. He went on to Duke University, where he completed his PhD studies in 1965. After a one-year stint teaching Zoology at Butler, Berry received a postdoctoral appointment at the University of Miami and began what would become a 50-year survey of spiders in the Florida Everglades.
In 1967, Berry returned to the Zoology Department at Butler. Along with his duties at the University, he was also hired by the Atomic Energy Commission to investigate the effects of atomic bomb blasts on Pacific Island flora and fauna. He spent two summers in 1968 and 1969 studying spiders on the Pacific atolls Eniwetok and Kwajalein.
He returned to the South Pacific in 1973 during his first sabbatical to continue his study of spiders there. His wife, Betsy, acted as his field assistant as they covered the Mariana and Caroline Islands from Guam to Helen Reef. They returned again in 1980 for Berry’s second sabbatical, this time with daughter Tina in tow, and lived for six months on the Micronesian island of Yap.
In 1988, Berry began work on organizing the first Butler Undergraduate Research Conference. The inaugural conference took place in 1989, with 50 students from colleges across Indiana. During the next three decades, the conference expanded and now hosts more than 750 students representing institutions throughout the Midwest.
Berry completed his survey of spiders in the Everglades in 2009 and submitted his study for publication this year. He is a member of the American Arachnological Society, the International Society of Arachnology, and the Indiana Academy of Science. Berry is a past fellow of the Indiana Academy of Science and a research associate for the Florida State Collection of Arthropods. He received the Special Services Award from the Indiana Academy of Science in 2012.
Since the 1980s, Berry has loaned his family’s antique sleigh out to the Jordan College of the Arts’ production of The Nutcracker. The sleigh is a familiar sight to the Butler community (and, according to Berry, looks “a lot more magical with the Clowes Hall lighting than it does in real life”), and he is proud to have a part in a production that is still enchanting the Indianapolis community.
The Butler Service Medal, established by the Alumni Association in 2001, is the second-highest honor conferred by the Butler University Alumni Association and is reserved for recognition of emeriti faculty or retired faculty and staff (graduate or non-graduate). The recipient will have achieved a lifetime of distinguished service to Butler University and/or the community. Recipients will have helped to shape the past and future successes of Butler and therefore shown a profound influence.
Robert Todd Duncan Alumni Achievement Award: Wendi C. Thomas ’93
Wendi C. Thomas ’93 is the founding editor and publisher of MLK50: Justice Through Journalism, a nonprofit newsroom in Memphis focused on poverty, power, and public policy. As part of ProPublica’s 2019 Local Reporting Network, she investigated a nonprofit hospital’s aggressive debt collection practices, which led the hospital to erase at least $11.9 million in hospital debt for more than 5,300 defendants. She is also a member of ProPublica’s 2020 Local Reporting Network.
Previously, she was metro columnist and assistant managing editor at The (Memphis) Commercial Appeal. She has also worked for The Charlotte Observer, The (Nashville) Tennessean and The Indianapolis Star. Thomas was a 2016 fellow at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University.
Thomas is the 2020 Selden Ring Award winner for investigative reporting and won first place in the Association of Health Care Journalists’ 2019 awards for business reporting. Her “Profiting from the Poor” investigation tied for first place in the Investigative Reporters & Editors 2019 awards.
In 2019, Thomas received the National Association of Black Journalists’ Best Practices award. In 2018, she was named Journalist of the Year by Journalism and Women Symposium. She was inducted into the Scripps Hall of Fame for commentary in 2008. She is a graduate of Butler University and a proud product of public schools.
The Robert Todd Duncan Award recognizes a graduate who is established in their career, and whose personal and/or professional accomplishment brings honor and distinction to the University, and individual attainment and/or contributions for the betterment of society. This award honors the spirit and accomplishments of Robert Duncan, a 1925 graduate, noted opera singer, and educator who in 1945, became the first African American to sing with a major white opera company, the New York City Opera Company.
Katharine Merrill Graydon Alumni Service Award: Mary Majewski Shaw ’93
Mary Majewski Shaw ’93 attended Butler University on a full basketball scholarship and graduated with high honors in Business Marketing. Elected captain for three out of four years on the team, Shaw started every game and was the first player in Butler Women’s Basketball history to lead the Bulldogs in assists per game for four consecutive seasons. She achieved a number of milestones during her basketball career at Butler, including 332 career steals (the second-highest total in Butler and Horizon League history), the all-time record for minutes played, and being part of the top-10 players on Butler’s all-time list for three-point field goal shooting. She was inducted into Butler’s Hall of Fame in 2006 in recognition of her achievements.
Shaw started her business, Your Image Works (YIW), in 1998. The only NCAA internal licensee owned by a woman, YIW counts among its clients OrthoIndy, Indiana University, Butler, and the NCAA. She credits her years as a student athlete with helping her serve her clients. In 2015, she established AP Property, a property management business.
She is a familiar face to Butler alumni in Central Indiana. Shaw served as a volunteer steering committee member for the Central Indiana Butler Community from 2010 to 2020, with seven of those years as vice president. She was a vital player in developing the annual Bulldog Crawl. She was also a member of the B Association for 12 years. During the last year, she joined Butler’s Board of Visitors and serves as an advisor to the Butler Giving Circle. She is also a board member for Aspire House Brand.
Shaw believes in Butler and calls herself a “huge cheerleader” for the University and its students. In 2017, she supported Butler Volleyball’s travels to Brazil, and she often hosts the women’s volleyball and basketball teams at her home. She also enjoys mentoring local high school seniors and connecting them with Butler professors.
The Katharine Merrill Graydon Alumni Service Award recognizes a graduate who is established in their career, and who has displayed and recognizes a long-term commitment of outstanding service to the University. The recipients of this award have provided demonstrable service to the University to assist in perpetuating Butler as a great educational and cultural institution. This award honors the memory of Katharine Graydon, who graduated from Butler in 1878 and was a Professor of English Literature at the University from 1907 to 1930, receiving an honorary doctorate of literature in 1928. Graydon served as the Alumni Secretary and Editor of the Alumnal Quarterly from its first edition in 1922 until her retirement in 1929, when she was named Professor Emerita.
Hilton Ultimus Brown Alumni Achievement Award: Brandon M. Gaudin ’06
Brandon Gaudin ’06 is a play-by-play announcer for multiple national platforms. He broadcasts NFL football, college football, and college basketball for FOX Sports and the Big Ten Network. He also calls men’s NCAA basketball for the Westwood One radio network.
Gaudin is also the play-by-play voice for Madden NFL by EA Sports and has been featured as the lead voice on a number of national ad campaigns. His three seasons as the play-by-play voice for the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets earned him features in The New York Times, USA Today, and SportsIllustrated.com.
However, Gaudin is best known to Bulldogs as the play-by-play voice for Butler Basketball and was on the call for the Bulldogs’ trip to the Final Four in 2011. During his years at Butler, he was named Most Outstanding Communications Student and one of the top-10 male students in his graduating class. He is currently a member of the College of Communication’s Dean’s Advisory Board.
The Hilton Ultimus Brown Alumni Achievement Award honors a recent graduate whose personal and/or professional accomplishment brings honor and distinction to the University, and individual attainment and/or contributions for the betterment of society. Hilton U. Brown gave a lifetime of service to his career and Butler University, including serving on the Board of Trustees for 71 years. He was an award-winning newspaper journalist and Managing Editor at the Indianapolis News for more than seven decades.
Joseph Irwin Sweeney Alumni Service Award: Michael R. Bennett ’09
Michael R. Bennett ’09 is a director and investment counselor covering the east coast region for Citi Private Bank. Bennett works with ultra-high net worth individuals, family offices and endowments, and foundations to provide strategies for asset allocation, investment objectives, and risk management.
Before joining Citi, Bennett worked at J.P. Morgan Private Bank for 10 years. A part of the Private Bank Opportunistic Investment Council and an analyst, he ended his time at J.P. Morgan as an executive director and investment specialist.
Bennett received a Bachelor’s Degree in Finance from Butler in 2009. He played an integral part in the development and execution of Butler’s New York Trek program, which provides current students a glimpse at working on Wall Street. A CFA charter-holder, he is also a board member of the D10 Decathlon and serves as the New York City board chair for Good Sports. He lives in New York City.
The Joseph Irwin Sweeney Alumni Service Award recognizes a recent alumnus who has demonstrated a significant commitment of outstanding service to the University. The award’s recipients have provided demonstrable service to the University to assist in perpetuating Butler as a great educational and cultural institution. The award honors the spirit and example of Joseph Sweeney, a young student with a great deal of potential, whose life was tragically cut short.
Mortar Award: Albert and Margaret Chen
Albert and Margaret Chen are the cofounders of the Telamon Corporation, headquartered in Carmel, Indiana. Founded in 1985 and named for the Greek word for “support,” Telamon has grown to a $770 million company with more than 2,000 employees. Albert is also the owner of Telamon Enterprise Ventures, LLC, which provides energy management, solar solutions, and smart manufacturing.
During their first 20 years in business, Albert focused on external marketing and strategic planning while Margaret managed the company’s operations. They have been widely recognized for their success in business and have received several awards, including the Cummins US Diverse Supplier Award in 2014 and the Best of Tech in Indiana: Corporate Innovator of the Year award in 2016. Most recently, Telamon Corporation was named one of the best-managed private companies in the U.S.
In 2016, Margaret retired to focus on her grandchildren and faith-based activities. Albert currently oversees Telamon Enterprise Ventures and is Executive Chairman of Telamon Corporation. They are both actively involved in community service. Margaret is a former board member of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. Albert is a former member of Butler University’s Board of Trustees and currently serves on the board of the Lingnan Foundation.
The Chens also are actively involved with their church and homeless outreach efforts. They enjoy giving generously to endowed scholarship funds at Indiana University, Purdue University, and Portland State University.
Albert is a graduate of the Executive Minority Business Program at Tuck School of Business, and he received an M.S. in Mathematical Sciences from Portland State University, as well as an LL.B. from National Cheng-Chi University in Taiwan. Albert received an honorary doctoral degree from his alma mater, Portland State University, in June 2017. Margaret received a B.A. in Piano Performance from Portland State University.
The Mortar Award, created in 1995, honors one person or couple each year who personifies the Butler spirit by demonstrating great vision, leadership, and generosity to Butler University.
Foundation Award: Scott ’03 and Katie Nichols ’05
Scott Nichols ’03 is president of Palmer Trucks, a Kenworth Dealership Group with 12 stores throughout the Midwest. He began working in the family business in 2008, and the business is currently celebrating its 55th anniversary.
A 2003 College of Business graduate, Nichols was a four-year Men’s Lacross player and a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity.
Dr. Katherine T. Nichols ’06 was born and raised in Terre Haute, Indiana. She received her undergraduate degree in Biology at Butler in 2006 and went on to attend the Indiana University School of Dentistry. She graduated with honors in 2010 and completed her residency program in pediatric dentistry at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health.
Known to her patients as “Dr. Katie,” she specializes in dental care for infants, children, adolescents, and patients with special healthcare needs. She is an active member of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, the American Dental Association, and the Indiana Society of Pediatric Dentistry. A Diplomate of the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry, Dr. Nichols maintains hospital privileges at St. Vincent’s Carmel Hospital and IU North Hospital.
The Nichols were married in 2008. They are members of Meridian Street United Methodist Church, the Indianapolis Children’s Museum, and the Ovid Butler Society. They are the proud parents of four children—Nolan, Knox, and twins Collin and Nora—and enjoy family bike rides, playing in the park, and cheering on the Butler Bulldogs.
“Butler University has played an integral role in shaping our lives, our businesses, our marriage, and our community outreach,” says Katie. “Our time spent at Butler shaped our view of The Butler Way and what it means to give back to an institution and programs that gave so much to you.”
The Foundation Award, created in 2011, honors one person or couple (age 40 and younger) each year who personifies the Butler spirit by demonstrating leadership and generosity to Butler University.