By Jake Weber; photos by Dave Lawrence
Kicking off Homecoming 2012, alumni gathered with current students, faculty and staff to celebrate the 2012 Distinguished Alumni Awards.
In acknowledging his award, recipient Richard "Rick" Jones, '71, noted some important things he had gained as part of his Albion education. "I learned that the Rock started as a pebble and the rest is just paint," he said. " learned that not every idea worth entertaining is worth embracing. And I learned that when you build a school around great themes, great projects and great people, students will go about creating more just, healthy and self-fulfilling lives …. and in the process, will advocate for the same. Lessons learned … the Albion way."
Albion College's 2012 Distinguished Aluni Award recipients are:
Cassada has spent much of the past decade flying combat and rescue missions, training pilots, and testing planes for the U.S. Navy. In his current position as chief of flight operations/P-8A acceptance pilot with the Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA), Cassada directs nearly $28 billion in contracts with Boeing, overseeing production of the P-8A (anti-submarine) and KC-46 (refueling) aircraft, airborne early warning and control systems, and unmanned aerial vehicles. Cassada is also the test pilot for the P-8A, evaluating each one prior to purchase and delivery.
Prior to joining the U.S. Navy, Cassada worked as a research fellow at the Collider Detector Facility within the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory. On active duty, Cassada served as patrol plane commander and pilot. He and his 10-member crew assisted with tsunami relief, did standalone counternarcotic operations, and flew 23 combat missions, including ground support and reconnaissance for Operations Iraqi Freedom, Joint Guardian, and Deliberate Force. Cassada also taught at the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School in Patuxent River, Maryland.
In 2011, Cassada was recognized as the DCMA Northwest Field Grade Officer of the Year. He has received several military medals, including combat medals from the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps. Cassada holds two graduate degrees in physics from the University of Rochester. He and his wife, Megan, are the parents of Quinn and Graham, and live in Seattle.
Earlier this year, DuVal completed a 43-year tenure with the Jefferson County (Kentucky) Council on Developmental Disabilities (CDD). She provided leadership for compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and was instrumental in developing educational, vocational, and residential programs and family and community advocacy groups.
DuVal was among the first in her field to recognize the potential for computers to transform learning and employment for people with disabilities. She won grants from Apple to establish an enabling technology center and is a past president of the National Alliance of Technology Access. DuVal served as an adjunct professor in the School of Social Work at Spalding University and is past president of the Kentucky Association on Mental Retardation.
DuVal has received the University of Louisville Outstanding Social Work Field Supervisor, the Louisville Courier Journal Phenomenal Woman Award, and the Kentucky Colonel Award, presented by Governor John Y. Brown. DuVal has also been officially honored by the mayor of Louisville, the 3rd Kentucky Congressional District, the Kentucky House of Representatives, and the Kentucky Senate.
In 1994 she was inducted into the Albion College Athletic Hall of Fame for her field hockey prowess. DuVal holds an MSW from the University of Michigan. She has two children and six grandchildren and lives in Louisville.
Grover commutes between Scottsdale, Arizona, and Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, where she is assistant professor of ophthalmology at the Wilmer Eye Instituse, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Grover serves as a clinical specialist in vision impairment and low-vision rehabilitation and collaborates with other health care professionals on evaluating and improving their care delivery. She is past chair of the American Optometric Association (AOA) Vision Rehabilitation Executive Council and a current member of the AOA Evidence-Based Care Committee. She currently serves as a Vision Care Section Councilor of the American Public Health Association and was recently appointed to the Prevent Blindness America Board of Directors.
As the recipient of a five-year National Eye Institute/National Institutes of Health Mentored Clinical Scientist Training Grant award, Grover completed her doctorate in Health Services Research and Policy at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
Grover has been recognized as a Distinguished Practitioner and Fellow in Optometry by the National Academies of Practice, named to the inaugural Leadership Program for Women Faculty by the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and received 2004 Alumna of the Year honors from the Illinois College of Optometry.
Grover also holds certificates in public health economics and public health informatics from the Bloomberg School. A member of Delta Gamma and president of the Panhellenic Council while a student, Grover is a current Albion College admission volunteer. She and her husband, Michael Grover, ’86, have one daughter and live in Scottsdale.
A teacher, coach, and administrator for 38 years, Jones spent a legendary 24 years as principal of North Farmington High School near Detroit. Upon his retirement in 2011, North Farmington High School’s main building was renamed the Richard B. Jones Academic Center. The school’s athletic campus is also named in his honor.
Jones’ legacy includes implementation of school year “themes” that engaged both school and community in exploration of social justice issues, with the goal of moving the students “from awareness to activism.” During the school’s yearlong examination of genocide, Jones was co-recipient of the Anne Frank Center USA’s Spirit of Anne Frank Outstanding Educator Award. Jones and North Farmington joined forces with a high school in Danbury, Connecticut, together raising over $135,000 to build “Promise School” in Sudan as an activism project for the genocide study.
Jones has earned four Teacher-of-the-Year honors and is a recipient of the Great Seal of Michigan, for his school’s efforts to pass a state divestiture bill regarding Sudan. He is Michigan’s 2008-09 High School Principal of the Year.
As a student at Albion, Jones played varsity baseball, was a member of Alpha Tau Omega, and founded Albion’s chapter of Fellowship of Christian Athletes. He earned a master’s degree in movement science and sports psychology from Florida State University. Jones and his wife, Kathy, are the parents of Keely and Lauren, and live in Farmington Hills.
Nelles’s accounting career began in the Detroit office of Coopers & Lybrand (now PricewaterhouseCoopers). In 1972, he opened Coopers & Lybrand’s San Diego office, where he spent 14 years working with California-based clients and directing administrative operations.
In 1988 Nelles became president of a private venture capital firm in La Jolla. In that role he became an investor and board member with the telecommunications firm Qualcomm, now one of the largest companies in the world. He has served on numerous boards of directors including Price/Costco, Wescorp, and WFSI Financial and is also currently a board member for American Assets Trust (a NYSE-listed real estate investment trust). Nelles has also served on the boards of many not- for-profit organizations, chairing the Salvation Army board in San Diego.
As an involved Albion College alumnus, Nelles has underwritten alumni events in the southern California region and is an informal adviser to President Donna Randall and a leading donor to the President’s Discretionary Fund. In spring 2010, Nelles and his wife, Gail, returned to Albion, where he divided his time between executive planning sessions and meetings with Gerstacker Institute students.
Nelles received an M.B.A. from the University of Michigan. He and Gail live in La Jolla, California and Sun Valley, Idaho, and have two sons and four grandchildren.