Three Kohawks to receive alumni awards during Coe Homecoming

Extra: Rod Pritchard, Secretary of the College
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2017-09-29 07:00:00 - General

Coe College will honor two prominent Coe alumni and a well-known professor who has taught for a half century during its upcoming Homecoming celebration. The recipients include Cedar Rapids community leader and President of the Hall-Perrine Foundation Jack Evans '70, Janet Box-Steffensmeier '88, the Vernal Riffe Professor of Political Science and Professor of Sociology at The Ohio State University, and longtime Coe Professor of Mathematics Kent Herron.

The all-alumni recognition will be held on Saturday, Oct. 14, in Stewart Memorial Library. A light breakfast reception will begin at 9:15 a.m., followed by the program at 10 a.m. The event is open to the public at no charge.

Alumni Award of Merit - Jack Evans '70

Jack Evans '70
Jack Evans '70

Growing up in the small town of Early, Iowa, Jack Evans emulated the work ethic of both his grandparents and parents. After high school, Jack had the opportunity to follow in his father’s footsteps to Coe College, earning a bachelor's in business administration and finding the two loves of his life: Cedar Rapids and Nancy Hamblin Evans '71.

After college, Jack went on to receive an MBA from the University of Iowa in 1972 and began to work at SCI Financial Group, eventually moving up the ranks to president and chief operating officer.

After William Whipple '35 became chairman in 1996, Jack was invited to become president of the Hall-Perrine Foundation. Under Jack's expertise, the foundation continued as a pinnacle of community investment in Linn County and, today, is credited for being not only a catalyst for community reinvestment, but an anchor investor in the fabric of Linn County.

In addition to his leadership role at Hall-Perrine, Jack has demonstrated strong commitment to organizations like Priority One, the United Way of East Central Iowa, and he has sat on the boards of The Gazette Company, Nuveen Mutual Funds, the Iowa Board of Regents, Alliant Energy, Brucemore, the Cedar Rapids Airport Commission, the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago and Four Oaks. He is past chairman of the Iowa College Foundation and former member of the Chicago Stock Exchange.

Currently, Jack is chairman of the board of directors at United Fire Group and is the only non-physician on the board of directors for the American Board of Orthopedic Surgery. He is a member of the advisory board of the University of Iowa's Tippie College of Business. Jack has been the only person to twice chair a campaign for the United Way of East Central Iowa – the first in 1994 and the second in 2014 alongside his son, Matt.

Jack is a recipient of the Governor's Volunteer Award, the John B. Northcott Award for volunteer service from the United Way in 2014, the Junior Achievement of Eastern Iowa Corridor Business Hall of Fame in 2015, and the Howard Hall Excellence in Business Award from the Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance in 2015.

At Coe, Jack participated in golf, C Club, Sigma Nu, concert choir and student government. As an alumnus, he has participated as a Coe-rporate volunteer and is past chairman of the Board of Trustees, serving now as a life trustee. Jack has referred numerous students to Coe and is a member of the Heritage Club. He received Coe's first Alumni Reunion Award in 1975.

Jack and Nancy are long-standing supporters of Coe College, generously sharing their time, talent and treasure.

Alumni Award of Merit - Janet Box-Steffensmeier '88

Janet Box-Steffensmeier '88
Janet Box-Steffensmeier '88

A first-generation college student with farm roots, Janet Box-Steffensmeier came to Coe from tiny Salem, Iowa. Inspired by her hard-working and supportive parents, she is now the Vernal Riffe Professor of Political Science and Professor of Sociology at The Ohio State University.

She graduated magna cum laude in mathematics and political science from Coe in 1988 while completing the honors program. She received her Ph.D. in the Department of Government from the University of Texas in 1993.

At Coe, Janet was named Outstanding Senior Woman in 1988. She participated in Mortar Board, Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Kappa Phi, was president of Phi Eta Sigma national freshman honor society, vice president of Alpha Lambda Delta national freshman honor society, a member of Chi Omega, and participated in Washington Term. Janet was the class representative upon graduation until 1991, has referred prospective students to Coe, and is eager to help as a recruiting volunteer. She is also a loyal supporter of Coe.

Janet directs the Program in Statistics and Methodology (PRISM) at Ohio State. Her work focuses on campaigns and elections, Congress, and lobbying, as well as event history, time series and network methodologies.

She has been the divisional dean for social and behavioral sciences and graduate affairs in arts and sciences since 2014. Janet served as president of the Midwest Political Science Association and the Political Methodology Society, as well as treasurer of the American Political Science Association. She has twice received the Gosnell Award for the best work in political methodology and the Emerging Scholar Award of the Elections, Public Opinion, and Voting Behavior Section of the American Political Science Association in 2001. She was an inaugural fellow of the Society for Political Methodology.

The Box-Steffensmeier Award, given annually by the Interuniversity Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR), is named in recognition of her contributions to political methodology and her support of women in this field. She received a Distinguished Teaching Award from the Political Science Department in 2013, Distinguished Undergraduate Mentor Award in 2009, the Warren E. Miller Award for Meritorious Service to the Social Sciences in 2013, the Ohio State University Distinguished Scholar Award in 2012, and the Political Methodology Career Achievement Award in 2013. She was appointed as the faculty representative to the academic affairs and student life committee of the Ohio State Board of Trustees in 2013. 

Janet became a full professor in 2003 and has published dozens of peer-reviewed articles and three books, as well as editing many books and book chapters. She has a long list of grants, the largest being $346,949 awarded in 2015-17 from the National Science Foundation in collaboration with two colleagues.

Distinguished Service Award - W. Kent Herron

W. Kent Herron
W. Kent Herron

As a University of Iowa Ph.D. candidate, W. Kent Herron arrived at Coe in 1968 for what he expected to be a one-year stint as mathematics professor. Nearly a half century later, he remains one of the most popular professors to current students and a dear friend to countless alumni.

Born in Sioux City, Iowa, Kent received his bachelor's at the University of Dubuque. His master's and Ph.D. soon followed at the University of Iowa. He was granted tenure at Coe in 1974. Never married and without children of his own, Kent is known as Doc to his extensive family of Coe alumni who are now among his closest friends.

With a passion for teaching that has gone well beyond the classroom, Kent's kind heart and grandfatherly soul have served him well as a mentor to students. Whether it's teaching students to ski or ride motorcycles, exposing them to the cultures of Aspen and Europe, employing them on summer paint crews, or providing them housing while attending graduate school, Doc is an active participant in the lives and personal development of students.

Teaching January Term from 1977 through 2003, Doc would take a class of students to Aspen and teach them how to ski while History Professor Don Lisio provided classroom instruction on the history of Aspen and its mining. Doc fell in love with the mountains and, in 1986, was hired by Aspen Skiing Company to give ski lessons over winter break.

Doc has been the advisor to Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity since 1972. It has been through this relationship that he has made close ties to many students, as well as those who took his math classes, participated in athletics or accompanied him to Aspen.

The owner of three motorcycles, Doc has taught dozens of Coe students how to drive. On three occasions, he has made the 9,000-mile round trip journey to Alaska on motorcycle. He also travels internationally with students and has visited Europe every year, often gathering information on World War II for his First Year Seminar course, "The Nature of Scientific Inquiry." With rare exception, Doc has taught a First Year Seminar class since its inception in 1970.

The Coe professor is also a faculty representative to Coe's athletic conference. Doc helped oversee Coe's transition from the Midwest Conference to the Iowa Conference in 1997-98. He is a faithful (but nervous) fan of Coe athletics and assists football parents by providing funds for post-game team feeds.

Doc served as co-chair of the recent strategic planning initiative known as A Bolder Coe. He was honored by former students as the recipient of an endowed chair in his name in 1997. More recently, a former student and TKE donated funds to name the new Hickok Hall addition in his honor. He has been a tireless supporter of Coe through the years.