Eureka College Announces 2019 Alumni Award Recipients

Apr 02 2019

EUREKA, Ill. — With Alumni Weekend just around the corner, the Eureka College Office of Alumni Relations has announced its 2019 Alumni Award recipients.

During Alumni Weekend on April 12-14, John Ripka (’55) will receive the Alumni Award of Merit, Tony Byerly (’89) will be given the Alumni Outstanding Achievement Award, Travis Wilcoxen (’05) will be named EC’s Outstanding Young Alumnus and Jane Cahill (’77) will receive the Alumni Board President’s Award for Service.

The Alumni Award of Merit exists to recognize lifetime excellence in one’s profession or service to his or her community while maintaining a significant and enduring relationship with the College.

Ripka is a retired executive of a direct mail marketing business and former direct mail consultant. He is a veteran of the United State Army and a Commendation Ribbon recipient. A longtime member of the EC President’s Circle and Loyalty League, Ripka — a resident of Connecticut — has returned to campus for numerous Homecoming and Alumni Weekends. He has also hosted Eureka College administrators in his home and attended regional events in New York City.

The Alumni Outstanding Achievement Award exists to recognize alumni of Eureka College for a single or multiple acts of outstanding achievement in their profession, or in service to his or her community, or for a sustained period of outstanding achievement at least 20 years from graduation.

Byerly is the President and COO of Securitas Electronic Security, Inc., an international security company. In this capacity, he has mentored and hired EC alums who have gone on to become highly successful individuals. At Eureka, he was a Reagan Scholar, the editor of the Pegasus and an officer in student government. A former Trustee of the College, Byerly is a President’s Circle and Loyalty League donor who has donated to the computer lab in Vennum Binkley Hall and the construction of Sanders Hall in 2014. His wife, Kari, is a 1990 EC graduate.

The Outstanding Young Alumni Award exists to recognize alumni who have demonstrated high-quality achievements in their profession and outstanding service to their community within 20 years of graduating from Eureka College.

Wilcoxen, a former Reagan Fellow, graduated from Eureka with a B.S. in biology and a minor in Spanish. After receiving an M.S and a Ph.D from the University of Memphis, he became an assistant professor of physiological ecology at Millikin University. By the end of 2016, he was promoted to associate professor and named chair of the Biology Department.

Wilcoxen is also Millikin’s Faculty Athletics Representative to the NCAA and CCIW, a chair of the Zoology Division of the Illinois State Academy of Science, a chair for the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology and an executive board member of the Illinois Raptor Center.

The Alumni Board President’s Award for Service recognizes dedication of one’s time and effort to the advancement of the college. It is awarded to alumni who have made significant contributions to Eureka’s mission, programs and students. Each year, individuals for this award are nominated by the Alumni Office and granted by the Alumni Board.

After graduating from EC with an elementary education major and an English minor in 1977, Cahill taught first and second grade at Pleasant View in Washington. A dedicated community service volunteer, she has been a long-serving member of the EC Women’s Board, a President’s Circle member and a Loyalty League member. Cahill was previously an Alumni Board member, and has been a caregiver to elderly EC alumni and the treasurer at Sunnyland Christian Church. Her son, Matt, is a 2009 EC graduate.

In addition the Alumni Award Recipients, two individuals have been selected as Honorary Alumni. The Eureka College Honorary Alumnus/na Award recognizes a non-student who has provided great effort in the advancement of Eureka College, its students and/or mission.

Michael Reagan, former Trustee, American political commentator, Republican strategist and author, and Celestino “Tino” Colorado, retired Large Engines Product Support Manager for Latin America in Caterpillar, will become Honorary Alumni in 2019.

Reagan is the son of alumnus and former U.S. President Ronald Reagan ’32 and his first wife, actress Jane Wyman, and a Ronald Reagan Society Guest Speaker, benefactor and supporter.

Tino Colorado is the husband of former EC Spanish professor Julia Colorado. He assisted her in hosting student dinners in their home and acquainting them with Spanish culture. A President’s Circle member, he established and endowed the Julia Colorado Scholarship for International Travel and Service. He is also the father of 2006 EC graduate Suzanne Colorado.

Alumni Weekend will feature events for EC alums of all ages. Highlights of the three-day annual event include an alumni/student networking presentation and panel discussions to help students and young alums alike launch into their careers, the Run with Reagan 5K, the Golden E 50-year celebration and Alumni Awards celebration on Saturday and EC’s Loyalty League reception Sunday afternoon. See the full schedule of events at


Leave a Reply