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2006 Alumni Achievement Awards

Knox celebrated the 169th anniversary of its founding with the presentation of Alumni Achievement Awards at the 2006 Founders Day Convocation, at 5 p.m., Thursday, February 16, in the Muelder Room, Seymour Library.

At the celebration, three alumni were awarded 2006 Alumni Achievement Awards-David Axelrod '67, William Barnhart '68, and Semenya McCord '71. Caitlin Muelder '96 received the second Young Alumni Achievement Award.

2006 Alumni Achievement Award Recipients
Awards and citations were presented by Brett Tilly '95, president, Knox Alumni Council.

David Axelrod '67
2006 Alumni Achievement Award recipient for his achievements in film and documentary production.
(Pictured below with Phillip Syndey Post Professor of English Robin Metz.)

David Axelrod and Phillip Syndey Post Professor of English Robin MetzDavid Axelrod graduated from Knox in 1967 and received his MFA from New York University's Institute of Film and Television in 1969. Professor Bill Brady remembers David as an excellent student who was very active in theatre. David was a member of the Cinema Club and the "Knox Players," a group known for developing new and interesting ideas while working to promote an educational theater experience.

Over the course of his 30-year career, David has worked on dozens of television documentaries. Some of his work reflects his interest in the history of science and technology. In 2003, David received the Emmy Award for Outstanding Historical Programming-Long Form for "Galileo's Battle for the Heavens." The NOVA program looks at the Italian astronomer's struggle to reconcile his own discoveries with his religion. A review in the New York Times describes the two-hour special as "beautifully filmed, lucid and colorful in its presentation of Galileo's ideas, and always aware of the man behind them. . . "

An episode of the PBS science series, Lost at Sea: The Search for Longitude, examines how a nearly illiterate clockmaker took on the eighteenth-century scientific establishment and solved the most vexing problem of navigating at sea. The Toronto Globe & Mail claimed the greatest strength of The Search for Longitude was "the show's ability to take challenging scientific thought and turn it into a dramatic story about one man's quest." This tale of discovery earned David the Writers Guild Award, the International Documentary Association Award, the New York Festival Award, the Prix Leonardo and the Telescience Award.

"The Wright Brothers' Flying Machine," produced, directed, and co-written by David, demonstrates that, despite the technological advances in today's world, the technology used by the Wright brothers remains impressive and inspiring. The New York Times touted the film as a "wide-eyed hour, a spiffy story of American know-how and gumption . . . " David was honored with an Emmy nomination for his work on the Flying Machine, as well as the 1995 PBS program American Experience: The History of Rock & Roll.

The International Documentary Association recognized David's work with an award in 1999 for "The Batann Rescue," a film based on the daring 1945 raid to free American POWs in the prison camp of Japanese-occupied Phillippines. David is currently developing a four part series for NOVA based on Dava Sobel's new book, The Planets.

 

William Barnhart '68
2006 Alumni Achievement Award recipient for his achievements in journalism.
(Pictured below with David Amor, co-chair, Knox journalism program.)

William Barnhart '68 and David AmorWilliam Barnhart graduated from Knox in 1968 with a bachelor's degree in English literature. He went on to earn a master's degree in teaching from the University of Chicago Graduate School of Education and a master's in business administration from the same university's Graduate School of Business.

Bill has been a business writer and editor for the Chicago Tribune since 1979. His daily column provides readers with timely, provocative, and useful insights into the complex workings of financial markets and the economy. Bill writes a Sunday column, focusing on broad issues in investing, published by seven newspapers, including the Chicago Tribune, Newsday, the Hartford Courant and the Baltimore Sun. He also gives a daily financial market summary on CLTV, the Tribune's cable television operation serving the Chicago area. In addition, Bill contributes a monthly commentary to the Nightly Business Report on PBS television.

Bill began his career in journalism in 1970 as a police reporter for the City News Bureau of Chicago wire service and later covered state and local politics in Springfield and the Chicago suburbs. In addition to his work at the Tribune, he has worked as a business writer for the former Chicago Daily News and Chicago Sun-Times. Bill has served for more than 10 years as a board member and officer of the Society of American Business Editors and Writers, including a year as president. He received the group's distinguished service award. Bill is past president of the Chicago Literary Club, a 130-year-old organization that encourages the discovery and expression of ideas.

Bill and Gene Schlickman, an attorney and state legislator, are the co-authors of Kerner: The Conflict of Intangible Rights, the first biography of former Illinois Governor Otto Kerner. The book tells the rise and fall of the man remembered by many Americans as chair of the Kerner Commission, which investigated urban riots in the 1960s and concluded that America was in danger of becoming "two societies, one black, one white, separate and unequal." Bill is currently writing the biography of Justice John Paul Stevens of the Supreme Court.

Bill returned to Knox for Homecoming 2003 to participate in a panel discussion at the Symposium on Ethics in Journalism. He is married to Kate Eaton and lives in Chicago's historic Beverly Hills/ Morgan Park neighborhood, where he is secretary of the local historical society.

 

Semenya McCord '71
2006 Alumni Achievement Award recipient for her achievements in music.
(Pictured below with Carol Brown, director of alumni programs.)

Semenya McCord '71 and Carol BrownSemenya McCord, known to many in the Galesburg community as Vicki Henderson, graduated from Knox in 1971. A nationally respected jazz artist, Semenya is a vocalist, music educator, and composer. She began her teaching career in Galesburg at Steele School and Galesburg High School, where she worked as a faculty adviser. In the latter capacity, Semenya founded Soul Power, a club created to teach black history through creative arts. It was during these early years that she began working on a concert concept called "Journey into Jazz"-a program structured as a historical view of black Americans through their music. She later expanded the theme to include a tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King. The Boston Globe described "A Musical Journey into a Dream!" as a "unique tribute to ethnicity through music."

After moving to New England in 1975, Semenya performed throughout the area, working with the Massachusetts Cultural Council, Young Audiences of Massachusetts, Inc., and the New England Foundation for the Arts to develop musical programs featuring spirituals, blues, traditional, and contemporary jazz. Semenya was awarded Outstanding Jazz Vocalist by the Boston Music Awards and received the Martin Luther King Jr. Award for Musical Excellence from the City of Boston. She earned a Commonwealth Award in the Artist category from the Massachusetts Cultural Council and Massachusetts Advocates for the Arts, Sciences and Humanities and was inducted into the "Steppin' Out" Jazz Hall of Fame in Boston. Semenya is one of four featured soloists on Apartment House 1776 by John Cage. In 1996, her debut CD, Good For Me!, was released on WeJazz Records.

In the summer of 2003, Semenya returned to Galesburg to assist her mother, and has developed and produced jazz-oriented programs with increasing popularity in this region. Star Dust: Songs for My Father, a tribute to her dad, the late Ken Henderson, will be presented at the Orpheum Theatre this spring.

Semenya taught music and humanities courses for 12 years at University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and instructed private voice students. She is currently a jazz voice instructor at Carl Sandburg and Knox Colleges and is pursuing a master's degree at Northern Illinois University. Her friend and colleague, Nikki Whittaker, says "Vicki's ability to combine performance with education has made an incredible impact on students and audiences of all ages . . . [she] is an outstanding role model for us all, representing the unique spirit of Knox and the unparalleled talents of a gifted artist and musician."

 

Caitlin Muelder '96
2006 Knox College Young Alumni Achievement Award recipient for her achievements in acting.
(Pictured below with Professor Elizabeth Carlin-Metz, theatre.)

Caitlin Muelder '96 and Liz MetzCaitlin Muelder graduated from Knox in 1996 with a bachelor's degree in theatre. She played numerous roles in Harbach and Studio theatre productions, including Anna in the American premiere of Anna Karenina. As a junior, she won a coveted position in the apprentice company at the renowned Williamstown Theatre Festival. Elizabeth Carlin-Metz recalls that Caitlin insightfully observed at the end of her summer, "Well, I think I have the talent. It just remains to be seen if I have the perseverance." Liz observed, "It is this kind of clear eyed no nonsense insight that demonstrates Caitlin's sense of reality, optimism, and courage."

Upon graduation from Knox, Caitlin gained admission to one of the nation's top-10 graduate professional actor-training programs, the University of San Diego's Old Globe Program, capturing a space in a class of nine from a field of five thousand auditionees. Her master's thesis, Solitaire, a one-woman show about Amelia Earhart, was selected by the University of San Diego as one of four "showcase" productions that the university's graduate students presented at the Edinburgh Festival. She has also performed Solitaire in New York, Los Angeles, and at Knox College.

Since earning her MFA, Caitlin has acted in numerous plays across the country. Her graduate work gained the attention of Old Globe's internationally renowned artistic director, Jack O'Brian, who personally requested her as an understudy in his Broadway production of The Invention of Love at Lincoln Center. More recently, Caitlin played the role of Belinda Treherne in the critically acclaimed Engaged, a 19th-century comedy by W.S. Gilbert. Both Cailtin and the production gained rave reviews, and the show was held over at New York's Lucille Lortel Theatre. She has performed in some of the nation's leading regional theatres, including Inherit the Wind at the Ford's Theatre with James Whitmore. Caitlin delighted audiences at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival with her feisty Miranda in The Tempest, and earned rave reviews for her moving rendition of Laura in the Glass Menagerie at Charlotte Repertory Theatre. Cincinnati Playhouse audiences will long remember her chilling performance as the emotional vampire, Alice, in Closer. Caitlin returned to the Old Globe Theatre last spring to play Anna van Gogh in Nicholas Wright's Vincent in Brixton.

In addition to her work in theatre, she has had guest roles NBC's Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and CBS's The Education of Max Bickford and has appeared in two movies, Going In and If You Can Say It in Words.