Every year during Reunion Weekend, the college honors exceptional graduates by bestowing upon them the Alumni Citation—the highest award given by Denison to its alumni. The citation honors those who have achieved the highest levels of leadership in their fields through contributions to the professional, civic, or religious life of the nation or to the advancement of Denison itself. Here’s a look at this year’s recipients. (For more information on each honoree, visit denisoneverywhere.com.)
Jane Carstensen Heller ’49
Founding board member, Granville Studio of Visual Arts
Heller, along with her husband, Jack Heller ’47, and friends David Richards ’45 and the late Dee Lindenberger Richards ’49, helped create Kendal at Granville, a continuing care community for the aging, which opened its doors in 2005. Heller served on the Denison University Research Foundation board and on the Denison University Museum board. Her paintings have been displayed in three invitational shows sponsored by the art department, and she has contributed to several art ventures in central Ohio, most notably, as director of the New Art Space at The Works, a center for art, industry, and technology. Heller is a founding board member of the Granville Studio of Visual Arts and has taught art to children through the Granville Recreation Commission. She also has worked with students from the Career & Technology Education Center in Licking County.
Irvin H. Harlamert ’52
Attorney at Law and Judge, retired
When the Korean War broke out, Harlamert enlisted in the U.S. Navy Reserve. Upon graduation from Ohio State Law School in 1955, he became a commissioned naval officer, and flew in dive bombers from the aircraft carriers Saratoga and Randolph. In his final year, he was a member of the faculty of the Naval Intelligence School in Washington, where one of his students was Ensign Richard Lugar ’54.
Harlamert has been practicing law for 56 years. The Ohio Supreme Court selected him to serve as one of 10 members of the Ohio Board of Bar Examiners. In his fifth year, he served as chairman. He served as a trial judge four times over a period of 24 years. A lifetime member of the Westminster Presbyterian Church, he served as a deacon, a ruling elder, a high school Sunday school teacher, and for 30 years as the church attorney. He initiated and has funded a summer internship program for Denison students aspiring to be entrepreneurs.
Jean Dungan Van Buskirk ’52
Retired Director, Sister Cities Program of Baltimore
Van Buskirk creates new programs that build bridges among diverse individuals, organizations, and leaders in the community. Her favorites are the first Haunted House, a volunteer program for Planned Parenthood, a neighborhood food co-op, and a volunteer bureau for the city of Baltimore. Recently she built an inner city community playground with the help of more than 4,000 volunteers across multiple Baltimore neighborhoods.
While living in Belgium for three years with her family, she became involved in the Belgian-American Society and other organizations that provided opportunities to build networks between Americans abroad and the Belgian communities. Upon returning to Baltimore, she became director of the Baltimore Sister Cities Program, and later worked as director of the Maryland Sister States Program. This network of 800 volunteers facilitated international exchanges in business, culture, education, environment, sports, and medicine.
Orlando L. Taylor ’57
President and Interim Vice President for Academic Affairs, The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, Washington, D.C., Campus
In addition to his roles at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, Taylor is also a senior fellow at the Association of American Colleges and Universities. Prior to these appointments, he was vice provost for research and graduate dean at Howard University.
Taylor, who holds a B.S. from Hampton University, an M.A. from Indiana University, and a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (and several honorary doctorates, including one from Dension), is a national leader in graduate education. In addition, he has served as a member of numerous national boards in higher education, including the boards of directors of the Council of Graduate Schools and the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research. He currently co-chairs the National Advisory Board for the Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching and Learning at the University of Wisconsin. He is also a current member of the board of directors of the Oak Ridge Associated Universities and of the Advisory Council for the Geosciences Directorate at the National Science Foundation. He has been an advocate for access and equity in higher education.
Margaret “Peg” McKenzie Milbourn ’67
Peg Milbourn, of Painesville, Ohio, has spent more than 40 years volunteering with nonprofits, especially in the development and governance areas. She has served many organizations in various roles, including the local chapter of AAUW, her children’s newly established private school (where she began a development office and chaired the $2.6 million capital campaign), the Junior League, Lake Erie College and Andrews School, and the Cleveland Orchestra Sustaining Fund. She was the only female board vice president and development chair at Grand River Academy. At Denison she has served as a moderator for Women for Denison, as the national Annual Fund chair, as an alumni-nominated trustee, and as chair of the Leadership Giving Committee. She has also chaired or co-chaired reunion committees for her 30th, 35th, 40th and 45th reunions.
Today Milbourn is VP of the board of Hospice of the Western Reserve, where she served as co-chair of a $19 million campaign. She recently was invited to join the board of the Cleveland International Piano Competition, where she chairs the development committee.
Martha Neff Kessler ’67
Ombudsman, Department of Homeland Security
Kessler currently serves as an ombudsman for the Department of Homeland Security, where she has also served as a consultant on intelligence analysis. She consults on Middle East and foreign intelligence issues, teaches courses on Islam, analytic techniques, and writing and briefing key U.S. policymakers. She had retired, but after 9/11, she was called back into service with the CIA and spent another 10 years there, retiring for a second time in 2010. Over the past decade, Kessler has done special projects for the director of National Intelligence and the FBI. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a member of the board of the Middle East Policy Council.
Kessler, who received an M.A. from Western Michigan University in 1969, was an intelligence officer with the CIA from 1970 to 2000, working on the Middle East, South Asia, and terrorism. She held positions throughout the Directorate of Intelligence and served three times on the National Intelligence Council as the director of CIA’s point person on the Middle East. For six years, she headed the Arab-Israeli division and was liaison with U.S. peace negotiators throughout the Madrid peace process. She was a fellow at the National Defense University’s War College, where she published Syria: A Fragile Mosaic of Power. During her career, she was awarded the CIA’s Medal of Distinguished Service and the National Intelligence Community’s Medal of Achievement, among other honors and awards.
David L. Kuhns ’68
Managing Director, Banyan Group ESC Ltd
Kuhns is a founding board member of The Armory Foundation, which among other activities runs the premier indoor track and field center in America and the largest high school sports competition in New York City. He oversees the organization’s education initiatives, including Armory College Prep, an after-school academic advancement program that has helped hundreds of students from NYC’s lowest performing high schools enter and complete college. Kuhns is also co-founder and advisor to Tooble LLC, an educational software development company located in New Haven, Conn. In addition, he serves as managing director of the Banyan Group ESC, an executive search and management consulting firm.
A retired broadcaster and communications lawyer, Kuhns co-founded Citicom Broadcasting Co., an owner/operator of radio stations in New York and Massachusetts. He also served as assistant general counsel for HBO and earlier as an appellate litigation lawyer for the Federal Communications Commission.
Four years ago, Kuhns helped start the Denison University Venture Philanthropy Club, an active investment partnership that provides capacity-building grants and student support to selected non-profits in Licking County.
Scott M Swank ’72
President, Owner, Swank Trading Co.
Swank has spent the last 35 years in the world of trading agriculture futures and options. He received his M.B.A. from Northwestern in 1974, and began his career in 1977 as an independent trader at the Chicago Board of Trade, where he focused on trading commodity futures. In 1987, he started Swank Trading Company, an equity member firm at CBOT that does propriety trading in all listed futures and options contracts. Swank is also a founding partner and co-owner of McArthur Golf Club, a private club in Hobe Sound, Fla.
Swank has served two elected terms on the CBOT clearing board of governors, chaired committees on Risk, Margin, Nominating, Finance, and the CEO search committee. He also served as a trustee on the Traders Foundation, a nonprofit organization supporting child-ren’s charities in the Chicago area. Currently, he is involved with Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Chicago and St. James Episcopal Church.
Swank was an alumni-nominated Denison trustee from 1994 to 2000, and in the past has served as the national annual fund chair and a member of Alumni Council. The Swank Family Fund for Internship Opportunities has benefited nearly 90 Denison students by supplementing their liberal arts education.
Patricia Rooney Alden ’91
Founder, R4 Services
Alden founded R4 Services, today a multi-million dollar business offering a full range of information management services, including storage, vault, scanning, indexing, and secure document destruction. Today, R4 (the four Rs stand for reliable, resourceful, responsive and reasonable) has more than 500 clients in legal, financial services, healthcare, government, and corporate industries. The company serves clients nationally as a founding member and shareholder of the National Record Center.
Alden serves as a member of the University of Chicago Hospital’s board of trustees, as a director of the Chicago Public Library Foundation, and as a member of the board of directors of the DePaul University Theatre School. She is a founding member of A Better Chicago, a venture philanthropy fund. She is also a member of the Economic Club of Chicago and The Chicago Club, and she serves on the women’s boards of the Lyric Opera of Chicago, the Boys and Girls Club of Chicago, and the Field Museum.