Alumni Awards

Honoring Alumni Serving Around the World

The Clarks Summit University Alumni Association presents Alumni Awards each fall at the annual Homecoming: Alumni and Family Weekend. The Alumnus of the Year, Outstanding Service Award and Young Alumnus Award recognize just a few of our amazing alumni who are serving Christ.

God has greatly used many of our alumni around the world in a variety of capacities to bring honor and glory to His name. The Alumnus of the Year has been presented every year since 1967. The Outstanding Service Awards were first given in 1984, and the Young Alumnus Award was first given in 2016.

It is the great privilege and responsibility of the alumni family to participate in the selection of the annual alumni award recipients.

The deadline for nominations is April 15 each year. The Alumni Executive Council reviews all nominations and makes the final award selections.

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Alumnus of the Year Award

Each year, one individual is awarded the Alumnus of the Year Award. Clarks Summit University alumni nominate individuals during the spring. The Alumni Association Council selects the award winner.

Dr. Don Shirk (’78, ’82, ’97)
2023 Alumnus of the Year

God used Teen Leadership Conference at CSU in 1971 to lead Don to make a profession of faith. Then, at TLC 1972, God called him to pursue pastoral ministry.

As a student at CSU, Don was part of the choir and the Collegians Brass Quintet. He also earned his Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry degrees at Baptist Bible Seminary.

Don retired on February 1, 2023, after more than 40 years of pastoral ministry. For the last 36 years, he served as the senior pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Batavia, New York. He served on the Empire State Fellowship Council of 10, the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches Council of 18 and was on the Advisory Council of the Association of Baptists for World Evangelism. He was a trustee at CSU for approximately 10 years. For the past 22 years, Don has served as the police chaplain for the City of Batavia Police Department and achieved senior-level credentials with the International Conference of Police Chaplains. He is a certified biblical counselor with the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors.

Don and his wife, Claudia (Smith, ’78, ’82), will be married for 45 years in September 2023. They have five adult children and 14 grandchildren.

Don is incredibly grateful for how God blessed and shaped his life through the positive, godly influence of the many professors and staff at CSU. Psalm 71:17-18 is his new “life passage” for his retirement years. It reads, “O Lord, you have taught me from my youth and to this day I declare your wondrous works, now also when I am old and gray-headed, O God do not forsake me, Until I declare your strength to this generation, Your power to everyone who is to come.”

Dr. Sherrie Holloway (’85, ’10, ’23)
2023 Alumna of the Year

Sherrie remembers a time as a child when God’s Spirit showed her a personal need for a Savior. She knew it wasn’t enough to be in a good family, attend church or do anything else she could manage in her elementary-age mind. So, she asked God to forgive her. “God’s grace saved me, and it is His grace that continues to sustain, lead, correct, teach and guide me today,” she says. “It is His mercy and His steadfast love that I need more than anything.”

Sherrie grew up in South Jersey and still enjoys the Jersey Shore, Philadelphia pretzels and chicken cheesesteaks. She is the oldest of four children to Jerry and Jean Holloway and “Aunt Sherrie” to 17 nieces and nephews. She enjoys reading, good coffee, good conversation (especially with the good coffee!), being outdoors in the summer, quiet times with God, music and doing almost anything with good friends.

She is a professor at CSU, where she has spent over 35 years teaching in the Health and Human Performance Department and coached women’s basketball for 21 years. She continues to serve in athletics as the faculty athletics representative, helping to connect academics and athletics. Sherrie finds great pleasure in her “official” role as a teacher, enjoying the opportunities God gives her both inside and outside the classroom, learning with and from the students He places under her tutelage.

Sherrie is the associate director of the LYFE Women’s Conference held annually on the campus of CSU and is a frequent speaker at women’s ministry events across the globe.

Her passion is to know God and His Word and help others to know Him and experience the abundant life He desires for us. Her desire to know the Word and grow in her ability to communicate it motivated her completion of the Doctor of Ministry at Baptist Bible Seminary in May 2023.

Sherrie’s greatest passion is to speak the Word and help others connect its truth to their own lives. As a sought-after Bible teacher, she engages audiences internationally through her ministry, Wellspring Overflow. The author of “For the Love of God,” Sherrie’s second book is currently in the works. When she speaks, audiences love to hear her passion—to know God and to help others experience the abundant life He desires for us.

  • Received a degree from Clarks Summit University.
  • Completed at least 10 years of faithful and profitable Christian service in their profession.
  • Demonstrated loyalty to Clarks Summit University, its programs and/or its students or graduates.
  • Cultivated an evident pursuit of Christ-centered thinking and daily lifestyle that honors Him.
  • Hold an evident dedication to developing the life of Christ in others.
Previous Alumnus of the Year Award Recipients

2022 — Steve Viars
2021 — Ted Boykin
2020 — Barb Peil
2019 — Jack Spates
2018 — Jeff Howell
2017 — Mel Walker
2016 — Kelly Haight
2015 — Marty Dittmar
2014 — Glen Lavy, Esq.
2013 — Cheryl Fawcett
2012 — Rev. Jim Showers
2011 — Dr. Paul Plew
2010 — Jeff Hash
2009 — Chaplain James E. May III
2008 — Dr. David Crandall
2007 — Dr. James M Grier
2006 — Donald Trott
2005 — R. Eldon Brock
2004 — Floyd Donald Drake, Sr.
2003 — Carl Elgena
2002 — Charles Ware
2001 — Robert Gromacki
2000 — R. Craig Golden
1999 — David McClain
1998 —– Ken Rudolph
1997 — Jesse Eaton
1996 — David L. Moore
1995 —– Charles Vermilyea
1994 — Willard Stull
1993 — Benjamin McGrew
1992 — Gordon Lewis
1991 — Wilbur Strader
1990 — Manfred Kober
1989 — Austin Plew
1988 — Robert Hayden
1987 — Helen Finch
1986 —– Harold & Patricia Miller
1985 — John White, Jr.
1984 — Nina & V. Ben Kendrick
1983 — G. Heath Bobbett
1982 — Friedhelm Loescher
1981 — Mark Jackson
1980 — Kenneth Elgena
1979 — Bernard Bancroft
1978 — G. Arthur Woolsey
1977 — Mead Armstrong
1976 — Daniel Gelatt
1975 — Ruth Haycock
1973 — Cass Santos
1972 — Jessica Minns
1970 — Douglas Christen
1969 — Albert Williams
1968 — James Jeremiah
1967 — Merle Hull

Outstanding Service Award

Each year, four individuals are awarded Outstanding Service Awards. Clarks Summit University alumni nominate individuals during the spring. The Alumni Association Council selects the award winners.

Ron (’77) and Val Berrus (’73, ’75)
2023 Outstanding Service Award

Ron made a profession of faith just before entering SUNY Morrisville, where he was discipled by Dale Marshfield and John Austin. He followed them to the CSU campus in 1974. Ron and Val (Schrage) met at CSU and married in 1976.

God blessed them with three sons, Josh, Jason and Jeremy and one daughter, Janelle, who all serve Christ faithfully—three of them are CSU grads!

Ron served as a youth pastor and then as lead pastor at First Welsh Baptist Church in Edwardsville, Pennsylvania, in the ’70s and early ’80s. Then, from 1985-’04, he served as lead pastor at First Baptist in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania.

While there, Ron became a board member at ABWE. Val developed women’s ministries and trained and mentored women’s ministry leaders. In 2004, Ron and Val went on staff at ABWE as Ron created the Missionary Care Department at the mission and traveled to over 40 countries teaching, training, counseling and encouraging missionaries and national church leaders. They served in this capacity until 2010.

They joined Bible Baptist in Shiremanstown, Pennsylvania and were involved in discipleship ministries. One of Ron’s significant efforts at ABWE was working with Wayne Haston to create the Good Soil evangelism and discipleship materials and training. In 2010, Ron became lead pastor at Bible Baptist, where he and Val served until 2017.

Dan (’05) and Janelle (’05) Francis
2023 Outstanding Service Award

Dan and Janelle (Berrus) Francis were actively involved in campus life during their time at CSU. Dan was a resident assistant, class president and served as the student body president. He sang in the Concert Chorale, traveled on a summer ministry team and acted in several stage productions. Janelle accompanied the Concert Chorale, played in the chapel worship band and traveled on a summer ministry team.

After graduation, Dan and Janelle married. He served as the pastor of youth and worship at Bible Baptist Church in Shiremanstown, Pennsylvania, for 12 years. It was here that both of their children were born.

In 2017, they moved to Pinehurst, North Carolina, for Dan to serve as the student and family life pastor at Christ Community Church. In 2020, Dan assumed the role of interim senior pastor during a pastoral transition before eventually being voted in as the permanent senior pastor in March of 2021.

Dan and Janelle are incredibly grateful for their time at CSU, where God brought them together and prepared them for a life of ministry.

Dale (’77, ’80) and Karen (’76) Marshfield
2023 Outstanding Service Award

Dale and Karen (Fansler) Marshfield both came to know the Lord during their junior years of high school—Karen lived in Toledo, Ohio, and heard the gospel on a Youth for Christ canoe trip, Dale lived in Webster, New York, and heard the gospel through the teen ministry, Young Life. The two met while students at Clarks Summit University and were married after graduation in 1976. Karen earned her degree in education, and Dale went on to study at Baptist Bible Seminary.

While Dale studied and worked on a construction crew, Karen taught in a Christian school. In 1980, they joined the Association of Baptists for World Evangelism, and in 1982 they moved to Durban, South Africa. They lived and served in South Africa for 26 years. During that time, they worked together in three church plants, developing, leading and teaching in the Baptist Bible College of KwaZulu-Natal and leading the missionary team there. While in South Africa, Dale earned degrees at the University of South Africa and the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal. They moved back to the States in 2009 to work with ABWE International Theological Education, ABWE Corporate Training and Education by Design Services.

At the beginning of 2015, the couple joined Grace Global Ministries/Tri-M to focus on leadership education in rural India. Dale works with a team of theological educators providing professional development through Education by Design, LLC, and is an Operating Committee member and adjunct faculty for Asia Biblical Theological Seminary of Cornerstone University. He is also an adjunct faculty member for Liberty University Online and John Rawlings School of Divinity.

Dale and Karen have two children. Jonathan, a law professor at the University of Florida Law School, is married to Vanessa; they have two boys. Jaime, a part-time Christian counselor, is married to Joe Luethy and is a full-time mom to two girls.

Stephen (’13) and Hannah (’13) Merkh
2023 Outstanding Service Award

Hannah (Sayre) grew up in Tunkhannock, Pennsylvania, and Stephen was born and raised in Atibaia, São Paulo, Brazil. God used Hannah’s passion for theatre and Stephen’s interest in music to bring them both to CSU, where Hannah excelled on stage, and Stephen focused on studying music.

While at CSU, Hannah served as a resident assistant, Student Leadership Council member, teacher’s assistant and faculty secretary under Dr. Jim Lytle. Stephen was the senior class president, teacher’s assistant and student leader of the worship team One Accord. During this time, God continued to refine them and called them to a life in His service.

They married in 2013 and began attending Hillside Haven Community Church in Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania. At the time, they believed the Lord was calling them to ministry in Brazil; instead, God called them to stay. In 2014, Stephen was hired at the church as a part-time worship leader, and in 2015 he became the associate pastor.

In 2020, God called Hillside’s lead pastor Don Roe into His presence through a tragic motorcycle accident. God proved His strength and compassion as He sustained the Merkhs and the rest of the congregation at Hillside Haven through that tumultuous time. In January 2021, the church unanimously asked Stephen to assume the lead pastor role.

God has given Stephen and Hannah four children on this earth and one precious life awaiting them in Heaven.


Candidates must have:

  • Received a degree from Clarks Summit University.
  • Maintained a quality association with Clarks Summit University for at least 10 years.
  • Cultivated an evident pursuit of Christ-centered thinking and daily lifestyle that honors Him.
  • Hold an evident dedication to developing the life of Christ in others.

A few examples of ministry/professional areas of potential award winners are pastor, youth pastor, educator, missionary, deacon, women’s ministry leader, lay worker, counselor, other significant ministry.

Previous Alumni Outstanding Service Award Recipients

2022 — Mark and Nanette Fitch, Susan Hossack, Mike Show, Mark Willey
2021 — Peter and Lisa Brock, Dave and Cindy Fox, Robert and Joyce Hayes, Nate and Jill Osborne
2020 — Gina Ruby, Dr. Norman Peart, Doug and Sharon Martin
2019 — Gil Thomas, Dave Cunningham, Matt Pollock, Kathy Compton
2018 — Tammy Beideman, Ken Riley, Chris Brown
2017 — Michelle Hammaker, Craig Miller, Bill and Kathy Brittain
2016 — Derek Mosher, Dan Cruver, Mike Bacon
2015 — Tim Ahlgrim, Russ Schelling, Mark Stuenzi, Ruth Nearmyer Trott
2014 — Mark Meyers, Ray Rouse, John Saucier, Christine (Bujnak) Warner
2013 — John Frey, Kristi Walker, Dennis Wilhite
2012 — Rev. Doug & Cheryl Boisvert, Pastor Patrick McGoldrick, Sue Lodico, Sgt. George Peach
2011 — Fran Weddle, Dr. Robert Kelleman, Ruth Rising
2010 — Ken and Arlene Updyke, Richard Blades, Martin Eaton
2009 — Dr. Don Whipple, Sherrie Holloway, Michael and Kim Ryall
2008 — James R. Howell, Wanda Southworth Leffel, Dr. Colin Smith, Mel Walker
2007 — Dr. Steve Viars, Dr. Rodney Decker, Jane Schmitz, Darlene Knafel
2006 — Joseph Flatt, Kennard Mosher, Delores Woods, Wilbur & Nona Janowski
2005 — W. Robert Mattox, C. David Barrows, Doris Youmans, Martha Lentsch
2004 — Carl Hills, Harold Green, Elizabeth Jones, Mary Shellhammer
2003 — Glenn Seaver, RoseLee Bancroft, Carl & Wilma Abbott, Bob Marsh
2002 — Donald Shirk, Saleen McElwain, Tim & Barb Vermilyea, Donald Moffitt
2001 — Harold Comings, Ellen Glanville, Dick & Ruth Gelina, Eddy Smith
2000 — Chris Hindal, Robert Lightner, Tim & Helen Matchett, Jacquelyn Mitchell
1999 — Victor Decker, James Grier, J. Murray Murdoch, Larry & Jacqui Armstrong, Verna Hollenback
1998 — Terry Zebulske, David Boehning, Andy & Diane Large, Bethel McGrew
1997 — Richard Alhgrim, James Lytle, Polly Strong, Lena VanGilder
1996 — Barry Stewart, Cheryl Fawcett, Paul & Elaine Kintner, Gerald & Thelma Strope
1995 — Willis Hull, Christopher Davis, Fred & Rachel Whitman, Beryl Kach
1994 — James Jeffery, Earle Harriman, Linda Short,
1993 — Donald McCall, Richard Engle, Paul Weimer
1992 — James Vogel, David McClain, Donald Bond
1991 — Richard Christen, Joyce McNamee, George Chadwick, Beverly McElwain
1990 — Karl Smith, Valerie Wilson, Artus Larkin, Harry Dodd
1989 —– R. Craig Golden, Clara Crumb deRosset, C. Lloyd Button
1988 — Floyd Drake, Martha Green, David Moore
1987 — R. Eldon Brock, Jesse Eaton, Carl Elgena, Donald Trott II
1986 — Marylou Brownell, Warren Birdsall, Benjamin McGrew, Charles Vermilyea
1985 — Charles Cuthbertson, Patricia Brannen, Robert Hayden, Robert Gromacki
1984 — Mary Thompson, Rev. & Mrs. M.O. Burman, David Layhe

Young Alumnus Award

Each year, one individual is awarded the Young Alumnus Award. Clarks Summit University alumni nominate individuals during the spring. The Alumni Association Council selects the award winner.

T.J. Dalenberg (’14)
2023 Young Alumnus

T.J. Dalenberg transferred to CSU in 2011 after making a profession of faith the previous year. In 2014, he earned a Bachelor of Arts with a major in Communications. He was involved in Chamber Singers, Student Missions Fellowship and other ministries at CSU. T.J. and his wife, Nichole, live with their son in Smithville, Ohio. They are active members at Pleasant Hill Baptist Church.

T.J. works in business full-time while running a non-profit ministry, Breathe Hope Twenty-Four, Inc. T.J. began working at Jarrett in Orrville, Ohio, in 2015. He is a human resources leader of corporate training and employee development. He has unique opportunities to share the gospel with those he works with. He and his wife founded Breathe Hope Twenty-Four, Inc. in 2022 after the tragic loss of their toddler, Noah Lane. The ministry focuses on sharing gospel hope with those grieving from loss. While they are just beginning their grief journey, T.J. and Nichole feel burdened to walk alongside others who share the pain of grief.

 T.J. and Nichole focus on ministering to their son, to the junior high and high school teens at their church and to the people they interact with in their daily travels.

  • Received a degree from Clarks Summit University within the past five years.
  • Cultivated an evident pursuit of Christ-centered thinking and daily lifestyle that honors Him.
  • An evident dedication to developing the life of Christ in others.
Previous Young Alumnus Award Recipients

2022 — Joseph Gonzalez
2021 — Dan Kennard
2020 — Nathan Miller
2019 — Chris Kish
2018 — Aleisha Buchanan
2017 — Aaron Hixson
2016 — Christian and Katie Attlesey

Athletics Hall of Honor

Clarks Summit University’s Defender Athletics program established The Hall of Honor in 2006. The distinction recognizes former student-athletes, coaches, administrators, special individuals and teams. Membership is based on excellence in athletic achievement and demonstrated Christ-centered values while involved in the university’s athletics programs.

Induction is the highest athletic honor the university bestows. Membership not only recognizes extraordinary achievement, it also sets an example of the distinct Christ-centered values and attributes the Clarks Summit University athletic programs desires to cultivate in present and future participants.

Visit the CSU Defender Athletic site for details.




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