Skip to Content

Hall of Fame

William Penn University appreciates the dedication and service of our many alumni and community supporters. It is representative of the values we aim to instill in all of our students. Each year at Homecoming, individuals or groups of people are selected to be recipients of the awards listed below. They are honored at the Recognition Banquet with the awards and inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Distinguished Career Award

The Distinguished Career Award is given to an individual based on esteemed and meritorious achievement in career and life. Candidates for this award are alumni of William Penn University or Nebraska Central College.

Charles Pierson–2022 Distinguished Career Award Recipient

The Distinguished Career Award is given to an individual based on distinguished and meritorious achievement in career and life in general. Candidates for this award are alumni/ae of William Penn University or Nebraska Central College.

Charles ‘Chuck’ Pierson’s first occupation at the age of nine years was selling vegetables out of his father’s garden in the neighborhood of Highland, Indiana. He followed that by working for a wholesale food distributor, and setting pins at the local bowling alley. That was the first job that required him to get a social security card. It was a special day! These first jobs established Chuck’s work ethic for a lifetime.

When Chuck was 15, his father was transferred to Ponce, Puerto Rico as the plant manager for Union Carbide Corporation. Chuck flourished in Caribbean culture, learning a new language, working for the local supermarket, he even enjoyed being Santa Claus at another local store. After graduating from high school, he attended Chauncey Hall Prep School in Boston, MA before arriving at William Penn College in the summer of 1962.

At Penn he was one of the founders of Sigma Phi Sigma fraternity and was involved in numerous community projects. Work found him on the construction of Dana Atkins Memorial Union and three years at Mahaska County Hospital as an orderly. It was there he met his future wife, Judy Marcus, a lab technician. Chuck graduated from William Penn in the spring of 1966 with a Bachelor’s degree. That same month, he and Judy were married.
Like many during that time period, he entered the Air Force after graduation. Stationed at Myrtle Beach Air Force Base, South Carolina, he immediately took a side job managing a Bonanza Sirloin Stockade restaurant.

His first civilian job was in 1968 with US Steel Corporation in Gary, Indiana as a supervisor in the new continuous casting process. Later Chuck was assigned as liaison for the construction and start up of a new steel purification process. His first salary was $775 a month, he thought he was the richest man in the world!

Throughout this time frame, Chuck continued his education earning credit towards a master’s degree in business at Purdue University, Calumet campus in Hammond, IN.

Chuck’s next career step was in 1971 with John Deere in Dubuque, Iowa as a manufacturing supervisor involving multiple disciplines, including welding, painting, assembly, machining, human resources and training. While establishing his career with John Deere, Chuck made time to earn his private, instrument and commercial pilot’s license between 1977 and 1979.

In 1981 Chuck and Judy moved their two sons and daughter to Davenport, Iowa where his initial assignment was to relocate and start up a major product assembly line. His assignments throughout the factory were in project management, product development, line and workstation design.

Having one career was not quite enough for Chuck. In 1988, Chuck became a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) graduating from the Denver Colorado School of Financial Planning. He also obtained his license to sell life insurance in Iowa. During this time, Chuck and Judy purchased 40 acres of land in Bettendorf, Iowa. They refurbished their home as Chuck completed courses in Master Gardening and Forestry Stewardship through Iowa State Extension services.

In the mid-1990’s John Deere purchased Timberjack, the largest manufacturer of forestry harvesting equipment in the world. Their operations were in New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Finland, Sweden, Russia and Alabama in the USA. Chuck was one of a team of three selected to visit each of these facilities. Over the next several years they reviewed and restructured to achieve synergy with John Deere. Not only did his team work long days, they met wonderful people and had great experiences along the way. They learned the history of the countries and discovered beautiful architecture. They fished for trout in New Zealand and hunted moose in Sweden. It was a great job and a wonderful opportunity and of course, they achieved their goal.

In 2001 Chuck retired from John Deere after 30 years of service. He began running his own consulting business which he did successfully for several years. After 45 years of marriage, Chuck’s wife, Judy passed away on August 21, 2011.

Throughout Chuck’s lifetime he was involved in Junior Achievement, Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, United Way and teaching young people how to shoot firearms responsibly. His hobbies include, reading, hunting, competitive shooting, gardening, fishing, golfing, carpentry and working with the Department of Natural Resources on land restoration and conservation practices.

Chuck now resides in Fort Myers, Florida where he enjoys the sunshine and full retirement. For his lifetime of career paths, William Penn is honored to present the 2022 Distinguished Career Award to Charles ‘Chuck’ Pierson.

Keep reading

Distinguished Service Award

The Distinguished Service Award is bestowed upon an individual whose life of service has been exemplary. This honor extends beyond the circle of Penn alumni to those who embody the William Penn commitment to community and humanitarian service.

Randal Keep–2022 Distinguished Service Award Recipient

To express our appreciation for all that he has done for William Penn University and the community, suffice it to say that the mere words of ‘thank you’ seem hopelessly inappropriate for his volunteer service. William Penn University is pleased to recognize Randal D. Keep as the 2022 Distinguished Service recipient.

The Distinguished Service Award is bestowed upon an individual whose life of service has been exemplary. This honor extends beyond the circle of Penn alumni to those who embody the William Penn commitment to community and humanitarian service.

Known to many as RD, Keep grew up in southwest Iowa graduating from South Page High School. He holds a AA in business management from Iowa Western College, a BA degree in Psychology/Sociology from Culver-Stockton, and a BA degree in Business Administration/Secondary Education from Tarkio College. He received his Master in Business Leadership (MBL) from William Penn in 2021. He had the pleasure of walking across the stage with his son, Jeff, who was receiving his BA that same year.

Keep has been a member of Optimist International since 1982. He has served as charter president of the Oskaloosa Club and is the current president. Through his tenure in Optimist, Keep served in several state positions. He was instrumental in beginning the Avenue of Flags project sponsored by the Optimist Club in Oskaloosa. The Club places flags in resident yards throughout the community on five holidays each year. This project has allowed the Club to donate more than $30,000 to projects around the community.

RD offers service in his community as a way of life. He currently is chair of Oskaloosa Planning and Zoning Commission, serving since April 2012. He volunteers with Love, Inc. (In the Name of Christ) as a driver for neighbors to appointments and the Ecumenical Cupboard. He also helped the Fremont Lions Club as a member and serves as the secretary for the club.

Keep was instrumental in building the Oskaloosa Bark Park, which came about as part of his capstone project while working on his MBL at William Penn. The park opened in 2015 and serves an estimated 3,000 dog visits per year.

His association with William Penn University began in the fall of 1991 when he answered an ad to help with video of the football team with coaches Randy Athay and Steve Burrows. In January 1992, Keep began covering WPU as sports editor for the Oskaloosa Herald. One night during the 1995-96 season, an announcer for a basketball game was unavailable and Keep filled in a couple times.

In the fall of 1996, Keep had moved to the news side at the newspaper and was asked by John Eberline, William Penn Alumni Director at the time, to become the football announcer, thus Keep began, over the next 27 years, to be the field and arena voice of the Statesmen. A volunteer position he relished, being a part of the student athletes experience. He retired at the end of the basketball season this past year, 2022 after William Penn hosted the national tournament.

Although, he says he is retired, Keep serves as a media specialist for North Mahaska Community Schools.

Keep is thankful for his wife, Karen, who has supported him while participating in a number of activities, especially those at William Penn. He has two sons, Ryan and Jeff, and a special son, Joseph Smith, who is also a WPU graduate. Keep loves spending time with his two granddaughters, Jayla and Jordan Grace.

For his service to his community and the university, William Penn is honored to bestow the 2022 Distinguished Service Award to recipient, Randal Keep.

Keep reading

Torch Award

The Torch Award was initiated during the 1972 Parents’ Weekend as a way of acknowledging and honoring alumni and non-alumni parents who have shown exceptional commitment to William Penn University. Each year the Torch Award is given to an alumni family of at least two generations; or to non-alumni parents, all of whose children have attended William Penn University. Consideration is also given to the interest and loyalty shown by the recipient family in the programs and ideals of the University.

Leslie and Kim Ferguson Family –2022 Torch Award Recipient

Les and Kim Ferguson both graduated from Seymour High School in southern Iowa. From high school graduation (1973, 1974 respectively) until 1993 they farmed 240 acres southwest of Centerville, IA. This included rented crop land, 100+ head of cows, corn/beans, hay, and the occasional ground feeder pigs. Here they raised two children: Tina and Taron.

Due to rising health concerns, they decided to make a career change. Les left his physically demanding job at the local elevator and attended IHCC 1989-1991. After graduating there, he immediately came to William Penn College as a non-traditional student, and graduated in 1993 with an Industrial Tech Degree, Business Minor. He spent his internship at Mid-American Energy, where he then became employed for the next 25 years as an Electrical Design Technician.

This career took them from the farm in southern Iowa to rural Carlisle, so Les and Kim could both commute to Des Moines. Here Kim took a 24-year career within Iowa State Government. She spent part of her time at Iowa College Student Aid and then at Iowa Department of Public Health, as a Financial Pre-Auditor. It was in Carlisle, they adopted two young boys in 1997: Jon and Bryce.

Les and Kim both retired the summer of 2018, followed by a move to Oskaloosa, to be closer to kids and grandkids. They have enjoyed being heavily involved in their church, serving as 4-H Leaders, Dutch Oven cooking (teaching and competing), camping, and fishing trips to Canada.

Sons, Jon and Bryce, both graduated from Carlisle HS. Jon works construction in the Des Moines area. Bryce is an Army Veteran, having served 2 deployments to Iraq. He currently works at Lumen Technology, having risen to the rank of Senior Program Manager.

Son, Taron, also graduated from Carlisle HS. He graduated from William Penn University in 2002 with a BA in Industrial Management. Taron is an alumnus of Sigma Phi Sigma Fraternity and has been one of the cooks for the Alumni Homecoming Tailgate for years. He has worked at Musco Lighting since 2000 with positions in Engineering, currently a Project Manager assisting contractors with sports lighting installations around the USA. Taron’s partner, Amanda McGraw also graduated from William Penn University in 1996 with a degree in business management. She has worked at Musco since 1997 holding positions in Marketing; currently a Project Manager assisting contractors with installations around the USA. They have 2 daughters, MacKenzie and Ireland. Ireland is an 8th grader at Oskaloosa. Mackenzie is a Pharmacist at Lake Regional Hospital in Osage Beach, MO. She is married to Ross Howe who graduated from William Penn in 2014 and is a Recruiting Coach Manager at NCSA.

Daughter, Tina, graduated from Seymour HS. She attended William Penn College, graduating in 1997, with a Human Relations Degree, Business Minor. She was employed at Child Protective Services through Mahaska Company Public Health for several years before becoming a stay-at-home-mom. During this season, she has also been the local MOPS Director, serves on her church board, been a 4-H Leader for 15 years, taught honeybee classes, and home-schooled 4 children.

Tina’s husband, Jim Marshall, graduated from Centerville HS. He attended IHCC, where he graduated with an AAS in Electronics/Telecommunications in 1986. Later, he attended William Penn University and graduated in 2000, with an Industrial Tech-Engineering Technology Degree, with a minor in Applied Computer Science. He has been at Musco since 1990 and currently serves as Senior Application Product Designer. He is very active in his church, serves as 4-H Leader alongside his wife, and has served several terms as District Director with the Iowa Honey Producers.

Jim and Tina have four children: Lyman, Kendal, Grace, and Brie. They continue to live in rural Mahaska County where they raise chickens, honeybees, fruit trees, and life. Due to their ties to Musco and WPU they remained in the area.

The third generation of the Ferguson family continues with two of Jim and Tina’s children Lyman and Grace. Lyman graduated from WPU in 2018 with a Biology: Natural Resources degree. He is currently employed by MCG as a Telecommunications Directional Drill Operator and Locator. He and his wife, Molly have a son, Oliver, at home. Grace is currently a junior at WPU, with plans to graduate in 2024, with a Major in Small Business Entrepreneurship, Minor in Theater. She is engaged to be married in December.

The other two Marshall siblings stay busy. Kendal graduated from IHCC in 2018 with an AAS in Robotics and Automation Technology. He is currently living in Evansdale, IA and has been working for John Deere as an Electrical Maintenance Technician since graduating. Brie is a busy 8th grader and Garfield Boosters 4-H Club member.

As you can see, Les started a legacy of college education. Along with his wife, Kim, they raised 2 children, adopted 2 boys, spoil 6 grandchildren, and adore 1 great grandchild. Les blazed a path and made friends wherever he went. Les passed away in August of 2021 from the same illness that instigated his decision to go to college.

For their generational support to higher education, William Penn is honored to present the 2022 Torch Award to the Leslie and Kim Ferguson family.

Keep reading

Emerging Young Leader Award

This award was designed to recognize established and future leaders among recent William Penn University alumni. Standards for recognition include one or more of the following: demonstrated leadership capability, substantial indication of a commitment to the service of others, demonstration of potential for leadership/distinction in the long term, and a substantial commitment to William Penn University and its mission. The award is open to all alumni who are within their first 10 years of graduating from William Penn University.

Ed Thomas Award

Those that are successful in coaching young students in the world of athletics have a special gift of shaping and changing the lives of those they come in contact with. The late and great Ed Thomas, whom this award was named after, had a great impact on his athletes. He passionately believed that his job as a coach was not to prepare kids to be college athletes, but to make their involvement in football or other sports a learning experience.

Faith, family, and excellence is what Thomas believed in and those core values are also present in the recipients of the Ed Thomas Award.

Mike Jepson – 2022 Ed Thomas Award Recipient

The Ed Thomas Memorial Award is given to a William Penn alumni/ae coach who has demonstrated the characteristics that Ed Thomas was known for throughout his life. This year’s recipient is recognized for his inspiration and motivation as a coach based in the principles of faith, family and excellence.

Mike Jepson is a humble man of faith. “All the successes reached were because of great kids, great families, and great assistant coaches. Through the love of God and strength of family, my career has been a true blessing,” remarked Mike Jepson. Mike’s philosophy is to teach more than football and athletics, but also to teach respect to all players while preparing them for a future as a productive citizen.

Mike arrived at William Penn in the fall of 1970 from Syracuse, New York. He was a two-sport All City Athlete at TJ Corcoran High School. Mike reminisced, “Along with 12-15 other players, I came in 10 days after the main group of players had already started practices, so we were considered walk-ons. This is when I first met Ed. He was an equipment manager because he was medically unable to play. It is an honor to receive an award named after such a great man who was a devoted Christian and family man. That is how Ed lived and coached.

“My fives years at Penn were memorable and fulfilling. William Penn prepared me well for a future in education. Somehow, they knew that teaching would get me to my desired profession of coaching. William Penn College and the Statesmen football program allowed me to achieve those goals.”

Spending five years in the football program at Penn, the first two years as a JV player and scout team performer at running back, it was a challenging task to run offensive plays versus Wilbur Young, David Scott, and Lynn Crawn, all WPU Athletic Hall of Famers. The rest of the defense was equally challenging, however it prepared him well for the final two years as a starting fullback for the Statesmen.

Mike was an All-Conference performer in his senior year and started on the Iowa Conference Championship Team in 1972. In Penn’s first bowl game ever, Mike’s outstanding performance earned him the Offensive Most Valuable Player of the Boot Hill Bowl in 1972. In his fifth year at Penn, he was a Student Coach for the Statesmen. In Mike’s words, “A great learning experience with a truly great coaching staff.”

He began his teaching and coaching career at English Valley Community School District (CSD) in 1975, then moved on the Emmetsburg CSD for three years where he coached with the legendary Duane Twait. Mike had three great years while at Emmetsburg, coaching in State finals games all three years.

From there, he moved to Manson CSD where he taught and coached for thirty-nine years until his retirement in 2018. Mike spent 14 years as Head Football Coach in Manson with an outstanding high school football coaching record of 81-36 during those years. His tenure at Manson included five Conference Championships and four playoff appearances. In 1994, Mike was inducted into the Iowa Football Coaches Hall of Fame.

While at Manson, Mike coached a variety of sports. He was Head Track Coach for 21 years, coaching four Conference Championships along with second and third-place team finishes at the State Track meet. During his track tenure, he coached eleven individual state champions. In 2002, Mike became a member of the Iowa Track Coaches Hall of Fame. In addition, he was the Junior High basketball coach for 25 years.

He also coached for 18 years as an Iowa Central Community College assistant. His overall record is 128-74 as an assistant football coach at Emmetsburg, Buena Vista and Iowa Central.

Mike served as the Athletic Director at Manson/Manson Northwest Webster for 25 years. During these years, the athletic department had three State Championships and five second-place finishes. Jeff Anliker, the current head football coach at Manson Northwest Webster (MNW) of Manson, Iowa had this to say about Coach Jepson, “Coach Jepson is such a positive influence and mentor to all coaches and athletes that have gone through Manson and MNW. He is ‘old school,’ but we need more old school type influences on kids and young coaches these days.”

Mike was awarded the Distinguished High School Service Award by the Iowa High School Athletic Association for service to high school activities in 2018. A genuinely notable recognition at the highest level of Iowa High School Athletics.

He and his wife, Jacque of 48 years have two grown children, Andy and Jennifer, plus four grandchildren; Jack, Willow, Ayanna and Kellen. William Penn University is proud to present the Ed Thomas Memorial Award for 2022 to Coach Mike Jepson.

Keep reading

Athletic Hall of Fame Recipients: 2022

Cameron Foster (’14) , Bowling

Jennifer Whitehead (’14) , Softball

Emily Stanton Penn (’10), Volleyball

Lifetime Statesman Award

This first-time and perhaps one-time award is given to recognize support and service to William Penn University that is transformational in nature and at the same time foundational to Penn’s historical mission.

2016 Recipients–Joe Crookham and Jeanie Bieri