Newman University will honor two longtime benefactors to the university and four distinguished alumni at the Cardinal Newman Banquet and Awards Ceremony, at 7 p.m. Feb. 27 in the Dugan-Gorges Conference Center on the Newman campus. The banquet is the capstone of the university’s annual Cardinal Newman Week activities, a celebration of the life and teachings of 19th century Catholic theologian and educator John Henry Cardinal Newman, for whom Newman University is named.
Newman officials will award the Cardinal Newman Medal, the university’s highest honor, to John and Marilyn (Gorges) Dugan of Wichita for their distinguished service to the university. The Newman Medal is conferred upon those who demonstrate in their daily lives an appreciation of the spirit and ideals of John Henry Cardinal Newman and who have been instrumental in the growth and development of the university.
Four Newman alumni will also receive awards at this year’s banquet. They are: Elaine (Doll/Aaron) Hemmen; C. Matt Seimears, Ph.D.; James Macias, Ph.D., and Kevin Suzette (Biltz/Danler) Ruegg.
Dugans cited for their long service to Newman University
Newman President Noreen M. Carrocci, Ph.D. praised the Dugans for their long support of the university and Catholic higher education.
“John and Marilyn Dugan have demonstrated an exemplary commitment to Newman and our mission, which has brought a wealth of benefits to current students and will continue to help students for many years to come,” Carrocci said. “Newman University simply would not be what it is today without the generosity and support of these two individuals and other members of the Dugan family.”
The Dugan family’s association with Newman and its predecessor institutions extends back several generations. John’s great grandparents Ellen and Henry Dugan came to Wichita in the 1880s and established one of their many homesteads in the area of McCormick and Sheridan Streets, the land where Newman University sits today. It was a dream of Henry’s to build a Catholic university on this land, and in 1888 he donated the land to the Catholic Diocese of Wichita.
The land was then obtained by the Adorers of the Blood of Christ (ASC), Newman University’s sponsoring order, which sent four Sisters to Wichita in 1902. The Sisters established St. John’s Institute on the site, a boarding school for children that over the years grew to become Sacred Heart Academy, Sacred Heart Junior College, Sacred Heart College, Kansas Newman College and now Newman University.
The Dugans’ relationship with the ASCs and Newman continued through the years in many ways. John Dugan attended St. John’s in the 1940s, and remembers delivering milk from the family’s dairy farm to the Sisters. Marilyn Dugan is related to the ASC community through two cousins, Sister Evelyn Gorges and her sibling Sister Sylvia Gorges, who was president of Sacred Heart College from 1961 to 1971.
The Dugans have continued to be loyal supporters of the mission of the ASC and of Newman University, and have shown a continuing commitment to providing an excellent education for Newman students through many generous contributions. In 2007, they made a $2 million naming gift for what became The Dugan Library and Campus Center, a $14.25 million facility that was created to replace the university’s previous campus library. A later additional gift of $500,000 from the Dugans helped underwrite costs of a conference center that is part of the Campus Center named the Dugan – Gorges Conference Center, in memory of the couple’s parents John and Rose (Green) Dugan, and Mathias and Catherine (Simon) Gorges.
John and Marilyn Dugan have been married since Nov. 17, 1956 and raised 10 children in west Wichita. Three of the children have graduated from Newman University and several of their grandchildren have attended the institution as well. The Dugans’ son Mark has served on the Newman Board of Trustees; their son Glenn is currently on the Board. In the late 1990s, the Dugans helped with the start-up funds for Holy Spirit Parish in Goddard, where they are currently members.
Sacred Heart Junior College graduate Elaine (Doll/Aaron) Hemmen ’51 will receive the Beata Netemeyer Service Award for her lifelong efforts to enhance liturgy for others. As the mother of a deaf daughter, Hemmen realized the need to enhance the liturgy for persons with special needs, and championed the cause of the hearing impaired. As a result of her efforts, Masses at several Wichita parishes have included sign language interpreters since 1970.
C. Matt Seimears, Ph.D. ’02 will be the recipient of the Leon McNeill Distinguished Alumni in Education. Seimears earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education at Newman, taught at Pleasant Valley Middle School, twice earning the Outstanding Teacher of the Year award, and is currently assistant professor of early childhood and elementary teacher education at Emporia State University. He has published four textbooks supporting the education of teachers, and is a well-known speaker, most notably as one of only 34 invited to present at the Oxford Round table in Oxford, England.
James Macias, Ph.D. ’81 will receive the St. Maria De Mattias Award. Macias, who holds a doctoral degree in organic chemistry, works in the development and technical support of chemical and petroleum products in the Royal/Dutch Shell Group. He lives in Houston, Texas, where he supports Newman’s recruitment efforts by representing the university at Catholic high school career fairs and making personal contacts with prospective students’ families. He was instrumental in launching and fostering a Texas alumni chapter, was a member of the alumni association Board of Directors, and served as vice president in 2007 and president in 2008. Macias also works to support underprivileged youth in Houston.
Kevin Suzette (Biltz/Danler) Ruegg ’94 will be the Spirit of Acuto Transformational Leadership Award recipient. She will be honored for her life of service and leadership within non-profit agencies. She began as a direct service provider to the homeless and victims of domestic abuse, and is currently CEO of the Arizona Foundation for Legal Services and Education in Phoenix, Ariz., an organization that provides financial support to schools, legal aid for persons of modest means, and project support for agencies effecting “grassroots” systemic change.
Reservations and ticket information
The Cardinal Newman Banquet and Awards Ceremony will begin at 7 p.m. in the Dugan-Gorges Conference Center, following a Mass in St. John’s Chapel and a social in the Dugan Library atrium. For complete information on reservations and tickets visit http://cardinalnewman.eventbrite.com/, or call 316-942-4291, ext. 2228. The complete schedule of Cardinal Newman Week events is as follows:
Sunday, Feb. 21
7 p.m. – Sunday Mass, St. John’s Chapel
8 p.m. – Campus Ministry Social, Heritage Room, Sacred Heart Hall
Monday, Feb. 22
7 p.m. – Cardinal Newman Lecture, Dugan-Gorges Conference Center
Tuesday, Feb. 23
11 a.m. – Cardinal Newman Mass, St. John’s Chapel
Wednesday, Feb. 24
2 – 4 p.m. – High Tea, Gorges Atrium
Saturday, Feb. 27
5 p.m. – Sunday Vigil Mass, St. John’s Chapel
6 p.m. – Wine and Cheese Social, Entrance to Dugan Library
7 p.m. – Cardinal Newman Banquet, Dugan-Gorges Conference Center