Distinguished Alumni Award
MILLERSVILLE UNIVERSITY DISTINGUISHED ALUMNI AWARD
This award is given to any living alumni member, who is a graduate of Millersville University and who has been distinguished in such a way as to bring honor to the individual, the University and/or the Millersville University Alumni Association.
The MU Alumni Association, through its Executive Committee having created the Distinguished Alumni Award for alumni who through outstanding achievements, and/or have served their Alma Mater, has adopted the following general standards of eligibility and procedure for selection. This award was established in 1971.
Standards and Eligibility
The award may be given to a living alumnus of Millersville University who has been distinguished in such a way to bring honor to the individual for their professional achievements, contributions to society, to the University and/or the MU Alumni Association.
Nominations for the award may be submitted by any person familiar with the achievements of an individual’s distinguished endeavor. Letters of support and a completed nomination form shall be submitted to the Nominations and Awards Committee concerning the nomination:
WHO - name, address, telephone number, etc.
WHAT was the service or special distinction? Briefly describe its nature and purpose and the goals achieved.
WHEN was the service or special distinction? Of what duration, with specific dates?
WHERE was the service or special distinction? Was it rendered to the alumni constituency, state, or nation?
HOW was the service or special distinction accomplished? Qualify the manner in which the service was rendered.
Analysis of Achievement - conclude the nomination by assessing the nominee’s achievement in total. Indicate the impact the service had upon the Alumni Association, University, and/or individual. Please include any additional material which will further substantiate your analysis of this service/special distinction.
Procedure for Selection
1. The Nominations and Awards Committee shall verify and pass on the eligibility of those nominated.
2. It shall be the Nominations and Awards Committee’s responsibility to review the nominations and select one person for the award. Nominations not acted upon in the current year may be held for reconsideration the following year.
3. Committee members shall not divulge the names considered. The award winner shall be notified by the chairman of the Nominations and Awards Committee or the Director of Alumni Engagement.
4. Criteria for this award may be amended by a 2/3 vote of the Committee present at a meeting.
5. The deadline for nominations for this award is February 23. Nominations should be submitted via the online form.
Questions may be directed to the Office of Alumni Engagement, Millersville University, PO Box 1002, Millersville, PA 17551-0302 or email: email@example.com.
The formal presentation of this award shall be made at an appropriate University and/or Alumni Association function and in a form and manner approved by the governing body of the MU Alumni Association.
An award and/or certificate of recognition will be given to the recipient at the time of the presentation of the Distinguished Alumni Award.
A plaque inscribed with the name of each recipient will be displayed in the Duncan Alumni House and the University Room, Gordinier Hall.
Michael Panarella graduated from Millersville University in 1972 with a bachelor’s degree in social studies education. As a student, he wrestled and played football throughout his four years at Millersville University. Panarella was named to the all-conference PSAC for football and received All-American recognition in both sports. Outside of sports, he was a member of the Mu Alpha Kappa Fraternity and volunteered in the Big Brothers Association.
After graduating from Millersville University, Panarella taught at Pennsylvania School for the Deaf for three years, where he was both a teacher and a coach. Panarella was then hired at Shawnee High School in Medford, New Jersey, where he taught psychology and history for 32 years. He was an extraordinary teacher and continued to inspire future generations to follow their dreams. Following his retirement, Panarella returned to the classroom to teach American Sign Language at Eastern High School and Haddonfield Memorial High School for a combined six years.
Panarella is passionate about the need for people to give back, which is reflected though his volunteer work with Special Olympics, Child Placement Review Board, Community Emergency Response Team, Camden Boys and Girls Club, Dr. James Still Educational Center, Diversity in Schools Program, and Drug Free Schools. He has recorded stories from World War II veterans and created a series named “Bridging the Generation Through Oral History.” He also started a program called Project Graduation, which helps veterans to get their diplomas after having to leave school to fight in a war.
In recognition of his years of dedication and hard work, Panarella has received many honors for his community service. In his accomplishments as an athlete and as a coach, Panarella is a member of six athletic halls of fame, including the Millersville University Athletics Hall of Fame. Recognized as a local hero, Panarella was bestowed the Medford VFW Award, named the Medford Town Council Citizen of the Year, and was named Man of the Year by the Medford Lumberton Rotary Club and Burlington County.
Panarella considers his crowning achievement to be his marriage of 45 years to his wife, Elizabeth, his three children that followed his professional path to become educators, and his eight grandchildren.
Ronald Burger ’70
2019 Distinguished Alumni Award RecipientA Lancaster native, Ronald Cary Burger graduated from Millersville in 1970 with a BS in Education. Millersville has remained a foundation stone in Burger’s work as he applied what he learned on campus to a 50-year career in education, public health, and emergency preparedness and response.
After graduation, Burger became a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ghana and taught science at Winneba Training College. During the first holiday break from classes, a severe outbreak of cholera, a devastating gastro-intestinal disease, spread around Winneba. Thanks to his training with the Center for Disease Control (CDC), Burger was assigned to lead the Ministry of Health team in controlling the outbreak and realized that he had found his life’s work. Upon returning from Ghana, he taught at Downingtown Senior High School for a few years, turning his biology classroom into a representation of a cell.
Thanks to persistence, patience, and teaching experience, Burger became an Epidemiologist and Disease Control Program Coordinator with the CDC. Burger’s assignments took him throughout the US and in 1975, he was sent to Bangladesh through the World Health Organization’s Smallpox Eradication Program where he identified cases, traced outbreaks, and administered vaccinations for smallpox. In 1976, while assigned to the Pennsylvania Department of Health in Tuberculosis Control, Burger was a central expert identifier of Legionnaires’ Disease and provided his expertise during the Swine Flu National Immunization Program.
Burger was assigned to the CDC headquarters in Atlanta as the Senior Emergency Response Coordinator in 1989. In the decades that followed, Burger responded to numerous public health emergencies and disasters, including: 38 hurricanes, the Mt. St. Helens volcano eruption, the Northridge Earthquakes, the Midwest floods, the 2002 anthrax attacks, and on September 11, 2001, he led the CDC response team at Ground Zero—dedicating his efforts to support the first responders and New York Fire Department.
Burger generously volunteers his time to numerous efforts, often serving as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) and firefighter. He enjoyed many years as an avid Red Cross Volunteer and Advisory Committee Member with the Metro Atlanta Chapter, where he was honored with the Clara Barton Volunteer of the Year Award in 2004. Burger also served on the Boards of the American Lung Association of Atlanta and the Georgia Public Health Association and was named the Local Public Health Volunteer of the Year Award in 2005.
Upon retiring from CDC after 35 years, Burger became a volunteer member of the National Disaster Medical System within the Department of Health and Human Services and continues to respond to major public health incidents. He is also a full-time contractor with the Department of Homeland Security as the Jurisdictional Coordinator for the BioWatch Program in Florida, which safeguards our country from biological attacks.
Burger and his family reside in Tallahassee, Florida.
Col. William Davis III '72, USA Ret.
2019 Distinguished Alumni Award RecipientColonel William J. Davis ’72, USA Ret. earned a bachelors degree in secondary education from Millersville in 1972, a master’s degree in international relations from Salve Regina University, and the title Master Faculty from the National Defense University. On November 11, 1971—Veteran’s Day—he enlisted in the Army.
Colonel Davis has served in a significant number of highly sensitive, joint, interagency and multinational operations, including the full range of Special Forces Missions in the United States and abroad in Asia, Central America, Europe, Africa and the Middle East. He is a Combat Diver, Master Parachutist, Ranger and Special Forces qualified and has been decorated with the Combat Infantryman Badge and numerous other United States and foreign awards. During the Gulf War, then LTC Davis commanded the 2nd Battalion, 5th Special Forces Group. At the time, no unit of this size in the history of the United States Army had ever replicated the magnitude of tasks and combat missions as were executed by this battalion.
Even though Colonel Davis’s combat service rendered him seriously disabled, he continues to serve as a positive role model and is heavily involved as a research patient for Gulf War Illness. In 2005, the Colonel Bill Davis Fund for Research on Gulf War Illness was established at one of the key medical centers for Gulf War Illness and Chemical Agent Exposure, UT Southwestern at Dallas, Texas. In November 2012, the program’s Research Director Dr. Robert Haley, commented that “Bill has made a profound contribution to medical research that will improve the lives of tens of thousands of Gulf War veterans…thus will go down in the history of medicine for his unique and crucial contribution to solving the mystery of a newly recognized medical condition...and one of the greatest importance to our men and women in uniform…both those who served in Operation Desert Storm/Desert Shield and those who will face chemical weapons in future conflicts.”
After nearly 34 years of active duty, Colonel Davis retired in 2005. He continues to support and mentor current active-duty members as Adjunct Faculty at Joint Forces Staff College and as an Editorial Consultant for “The Journal of Special Operations Medicine.” Each year, he honors his fallen Special Operations brothers by having memorial masses celebrated on the anniversaries of their passing and by remaining in contact with their family members. This is a mission that he considers a life-long commitment. Despite his physical challenges, Colonel Davis also inspires others by pursuing his life-long love of surfing with close friends at Freedom Surf Shop, Pungo Board House and Sandbridge Beach – “Stoked and Forever Young”.
Colonel Davis was inducted into the United States Army Officer Candidate School Hall of Fame in 1996, the Millersville University Athletic Hall of Fame in 2009, Distinguished Member of the Special Forces Regiment in 2013, and the Archbishop Wood High School Hall of Fame in 2018.
Colonel Davis’s life and service has been one of a warrior, diplomat and leader, and he continues to strive every day to personify in word and deed the Special Forces motto “De Oppresso Liber,” to liberate the oppressed. He is married to the Susan Joy Matthews and they reside in Virginia Beach, Virginia.
David Hoffa ’01, Ph.D.
2018 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipient
Dr. David Hoffa graduated from Millersville University’s Industrial Technology program in 2001 and went on to earn both his master’s and doctoral degrees. Following his graduate work, Hoffa made many significant contributions in both industry and academia. He developed a “people first” management style and became focused on continual improvement of himself and others. Hoffa applied his advanced training in teaching, statistics, and manufacturing technologies to his career path, advancing him from technical roles in Quality and research & development to a Regional Master Black Belt at Cameron International Corporation in 2012. His focus on development allowed David to not only excel in corporate management, but also become a conduit of growth for the people with whom he has worked. Investing in others is his deepest passion.
Nathan Wich, Operations Lead at Johnson & Johnson said, “I grew more as a professional and a leader in the year that David Hoffa led me than in the nine preceding years. David’s goal was obvious – to ensure everyone on the team had a chance to develop their skills. He constantly drove me, and others, to be better. My Green Belt Certification was made possible because of his direct influence.”
In his current role as a Process Engineering Manager at Johnson & Johnson, Hoffa leans on his education in process improvement, quality, and operations management every day. To date, he has helped companies save more than $31 million using Lean and Six Sigma, and has supported the careers of dozens of his coworkers by helping them to close improvement projects, earn certifications, and secure promotions. In addition to the many awards, honors, published works, grants, and certifications that he has amassed since his graduation from Millersville, Hoffa was recognized in 2017 with the Association of Technology, Management, and Applied Engineering’s second highest service distinction, the Dr. Alvin Rudisill Exemplary Service Award. Hoffa was the 26th recipient in the 52-year old professional association.
Duane Hagelgans ’98, J.D.
2017 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipient
Dr. Duane Hagelgans always puts public safety first. With 30 years of experience in emergency management, he has become an expert on natural and manmade disasters and is continually looked to for his expertise.
He brings all of that knowledge and experience into the classroom as a professor of emergency management and within his duties at the Center for Disaster Research & Education at Millersville University. He also keeps the local community safe as the governor-appointed Emergency Management Coordinator for Millersville Borough and Manor Township, through the Blue Rock Regional Emergency Management Agency, which he formed for the municipalities in 2012. He also serves as the fire commissioner for the Blue Rock Regional Fire District.
Hagelgans worked as a member of the Lancaster City Fire Department while pursuing his undergraduate degree at Millersville University in occupational safety and hygiene management. He graduated in 1998 and continued to serve the fire department and worked with several other volunteer fire and emergency organizations. After retiring from the fire department and earning his juris doctorate at Widener University in 2003, he jumped into two new, exciting careers—as a professor and a public servant.
Hagelgans returned to teach at Millersville University in 2007 where he is a newly tenured professor in emergency management with courses that cover topics including disaster management, terrorism and homeland security. In 2015, he received the distinguished Student Ally of the Year award from the International Association of Emergency Managers-USA (IAEM.)
“Dr. Hagelgans tireless endeavors to educate, promote public safety and engage students are a clear representation of his dedication to Millersville University and the surrounding community,” Marianne Souders explained in her nomination of Hagelgans for the Distinguished Alumnus Award. “He enhances the educational experience of his students by involving them in the processes of emergency management within the region. He engages students in assisting with campus safety initiatives; assisting with the writing of emergency operations plans and programs for the university; and conducting training and exercises for the university, the borough, and the regional South Central Task Force. His involvement and associations in local and international organizations bring honor to the University and are deserving of accolade.”
LT. COL. PAUL MACNAMARA '84
2016 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipient
Lt. Col. Paul MacNamara has been described as a compassionate warrior, who selflessly serves his country, his community and Millersville University.
His focus is on serving others, whether offering healing hope to struggling teens, mentoring the brotherhood and service mission of his college fraternity Sigma Tau Gamma or displaying unparalleled courage as an U.S. Army Special Forces Commander in Asia, Africa, Europe and South America.
MacNamara graduated from Millersville University in 1984. He grew up in North Carolina, where his father served in the U.S. Army at Ft. Bragg. His father was a Major in the Special Forces, who died in the Vietnam War, when his son was just four years old. In 1984, MacNamara earned his Army commission from Millersville University’s ROTC program, where he held the highest positions of Cadet Commander and Ranger Commander. He served as an infantry officer with the 101st Airborne Division and completed Special Services training to become a Green Beret. In a military career that spanned more than 20 years, MacNamara commanded two In-Extremes Forces, supporting Theatre Commanders-in-Chiefs with Special Operations rapid response forces in Asia, Europe and Africa. He served as operations officer of the Advanced Skills Training Battalion for Special Forces, then as Chief of Training for all Army Special Operations Forces, including Green Berets, Rangers and Task Force 160 Aviation Regiment. MacNamara then served as Commander of the Golden Knights U.S. Army Parachute Team.
Settling in Mechanicsburg, he discovered that the Millersville chapter of his beloved fraternity Sigma Tau Gamma was struggling both financially and in its mission of service. He and his alumni brothers worked to restore the standing of the fraternity, establishing an alumni chapter of Sigma Tau Gamma. As Executive Vice President of the board, he mentors the chapter as an advisor. He personally established the Sigma Tau Gamma H. Craig Lewis Memorial Award as an endowment meant to foster the brotherhood in improving their GPAs and serving their community.
Active in the Gold Star Teen Adventure, he supports the team-building outdoor adventure program for children of fallen Special Operations service members. As an entrepreneur, MacNamara is a partner and CEO of the start-up investment firm Strategic Investment Partners LLC.
RODNEY S. LOOSE '70
2015 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipient
Rodney S. Loose served his country as a Special Agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), a member of the U.S. Marine Corps and as a civilian working for the U.S. Department of Defense.
During his sophomore year, Loose enrolled in the Marine Corps’ Platoon Leaders Course and attended Officer Candidates School during his summer breaks. After 18 years of service in the Marine Corps Reserve, he retired with the rank of Major.
Following his release from active duty with the Marines, Loose worked as a civilian employee of the Department of Defense as an industrial security specialist and a criminal investigator. In 1984, he was appointed as a special agent for the FBI in Richmond. He was assigned to the “reactive squad” to investigate domestic terrorism incidents, bank robberies, truck hijackings and kidnappings.
Special Agent Loose was trained and certified as a hostage negotiator and police instructor, and was a member of the SWAT Team. After three years in Richmond, he was transferred to the New York City Field Office, where he worked Soviet counterintelligence and investigated Colombian drug trafficking, and domestic and international terrorism.
In 2003, he was promoted to Supervisory Special Agent and transferred to the FBI Academy in Quantico, VA. He was assigned to the Investigative Training Unit, responsible for teaching domestic and international terrorism, Islam and Arabic culture, and inter-agency cooperation to new agents. He retired from the FBI in 2007, after 22 years as an agent.
Loose returned home to Pennsylvania, where he is an adjunct professor of criminal justice at Alvernia University in Reading. He is in demand as a speaker, giving presentations to various libraries and civic groups on his experiences as an FBI agent in New York City on 9/11 and the issue of domestic terrorism today.
DR. HUGH HERR '90
2014 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipient
Associate Professor, Media Arts and Sciences
Associate Professor, Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology
Hugh Herr directs the Biomechatronics group at The MIT Media Lab.
His research program seeks to advance technologies that promise to accelerate the merging of body and machine, including device architectures that resemble the body’s musculoskeletal design, actuator technologies that behave like muscle, and control methodologies that exploit principles of biological movement. His methods encompass a diverse set of scientific and technological disciplines, from the science of biomechanics and biological movement control to the design of biomedical devices for the treatment of human physical disability.
His research accomplishments in science and technology have already made a significant impact on physically challenged people. The Transfemoral Quasipassive Knee Prosthesis has been commercialized by Össur Inc., and is now benefiting amputees throughout the world. In 2006, he founded the company iWalk Inc. to commercialize the Powered Ankle-Foot Prosthesis and other bionic leg devices.
Professor Herr’s work impacts a number of academic communities. He has given numerous invited and plenary lectures at international conferences and colloquia, including the IVth World Congress of Biomechanics, the International Conference on Advanced Prosthetics, the National Assembly of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, World Economic Forum, Google Zeitgeist, Digital Life Design, and the TEDMED Conference.
He is Associate Editor for the Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation, and has served as a reviewer for the Journal of Experimental Biology, the International Journal of Robotics Research, IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering, and the Proceedings of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences. He has been invited to participate in joint funding proposals from other universities and corporations, and has served on research review panels including the National Institute of Health, the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation, and the Department of Veterans Affairs.
In 2007, He was presented with the 13th Annual Heinz Award for Technology, the Economy and Employment. His work has been featured by various national and international media, including Scientific American Frontiers, Technology Review, National Geographic, the History Channel, and CNN. He continues to stay involved at Millersville by conducting a class for math/physics students and faculty and was the Key Note Speaker at May 6, 2011 Commencement.
Past Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients
1971 Dr. D. L. Biemesderfer ‘17 1991 Dr. William H. Flaharty ‘24 1972 Dr. Walter B. Waetjen ‘42 1992 Anna F. Lockey ‘25 1973 Velma Dilworth McCollough ‘24 1993 Thomas E. Entenmann ‘47 1973 William M. McCain ‘43 1993 Charles W. Hash ‘48 1974 A. Norman Ranck ‘22 1993 Frances L. Keller ‘45 1974 Henry J. Kauffman ‘32 1994 Dr. George Ditlow ‘49 1975 Dr. George F. Stauffer ‘29 1994 Harry K. Lines ‘40 1976 Ivan J. Stehman ‘29 1995 Glenn Flegal ‘54 1977 Josephine I. Darmstaetter ‘35 1996 Dr. J. Freeland Chryst ‘50 1978 Weptanomah Washington Carter ‘59 1997 Dr. G. Terry Madonna ‘64 1979 John Ward Willson Loose ‘47 1998 M. Diane Koken ‘72 1980 Dr. William H. Duncan ‘40 1999 Dr. Howard Jones ‘62 1981 Dr. B. Anton Hess ‘36 2000 Barbara Rogers ‘63 1981 Dr. Frank Lisella ‘57 2001 Dr. Renee O’Leary ‘50 1982 Robert G. Hostetter ‘35 2002 Stephen L. Powell ‘72 1983 Dr. Lloyd W. Showers ‘39 2003 Roy B. Clair, Jr. ‘67 1983 Ruth Grigg Horting ‘20 2003 Dr. Dominick DiNunzio ‘53 1984 Dr. Victor M. Bove ‘54 2004 Dr. Richard J. Hess Sr. ‘49 1984 Dr. Elizabeth Hirak Field ‘74 2005 Sue A. Walker ‘64 1985 Robert S. Walker ‘64 2006 Dr. Richard L. Frerichs ‘64 1986 Dr. Richard C. Todd ‘38 2007 Dr. James E. Seitz ‘50 1987 William H. Bolger ‘38 2008 Dr. Gary L. Miller ‘80 1987 John F. S. Rees ‘38 2009 Paul S. Beideman ‘71 1987 Steven A. DiGuiseppe ‘82 2010 John M. Getz ‘99 1988 N. Eugene Shoemaker ‘27 2011 Dr. R. William Field ‘77/’85 1989 Dr. Richard C. Keller ‘45 2012 Patricia Doll ‘82 1990 Jere W. Schuler ‘56 2013 Dr. Melvin Allen '69 1990 Ralph W. Hess ‘62