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Alumni to receive Odyssey medals at Founders Day

CONWAY, Ark. (Oct. 12, 2005) - The Hendrix College Board of Trustees will honor six individuals whose life achievements exemplify the Hendrix Odyssey program during a Founders Day convocation ceremony on Thursday, Oct. 20.

The ceremony will be at 11:10 a.m. in Staples Auditorium. Odyssey Awards medals will be presented for accomplishments in artistic creativity, global awareness, leadership and professional development, service to the world, undergraduate research and special projects.

The awards are being given for the six categories in Hendrix;s new curricular initiative, Your Hendrix Odyssey: Engaging in Active Learning, which launched at last year's Founders Day convocation.

"We established the Hendrix Odyssey Awards program last year so that students at Hendrix can look to these medalists as role models who have made a difference in their communities and in the world,"said Hendrix President J. Timothy Cloyd. "We hope students will be inspired by the medalists to engage the world in critical, thoughtful and life-changing ways."

This year's awards recipients will include the following:

Susan Dunn, Artistic Creativity medal. A Verdi soprano who has performed at opera venues around the world, Dunn is equally acclaimed for her Wagner, Mahler, Strauss and recital singing. The American soprano has demonstrated extraordinary gifts on the world's most challenging stages, including La Scala in Milan, New York's Carnegie Hall, and the Vienna State Opera, and has worked with the world's preeminent maestros including Sir Georg Solti and Riccardo Chailly. A native of Bauxite, Ark., Dunn graduated from Hendrix in 1976, she also studied at Indiana University and the University of Illinois. In addition to a busy concert schedule, she serves as head of the vocal program at Duke University. 

Theodore Bunting Jr., Leadership/Professional Development medal. Bunting currently serves as vice president and chief financial officer of Nuclear Operations and System Energy Resources, Inc., for Entergy Corporation. With more than 20 years of utility industry experience, Bunting has been involved in all areas of utility accounting and the development and growth of Entergy's unregulated businesses. With Entergy facing $1.1 billion in restoration costs for hurricane damage caused by Katrina and Rita, most of Bunting's attention lately has been focused on the financial issues of the restoration. A 1981 Hendrix graduate with a degree in economics and business, he is chairman of the Robert J. Taylor Scholarship Foundation, a college scholarship program for incoming freshmen.

Jennifer Platt, Service to the World medal. A founding member of Hendrix's first environmental organization called SAVE, Platt has made conservation her career since graduating from Hendrix in 1992. As water conservation manager for the city of Cary, N.C., she developed a nationally-recognized conservation program. She now is director of operations for WaterPartners International, an organization dedicated to providing safe drinking water for the world. As water issues become more prevalent and critical throughout the world, Platt hopes to target solutions for a healthier environment that will make a global impact.

Don Harrell, Special Projects medal. Harrell, now retired, is former executive vice president for external affairs of the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association-College Retirement Equities Fund in New York City, one of the nation's largest private retirement systems, covering nearly three million members of the academic community. A former English professor at the University of Houston, he served as chief of staff for former U.S. Sen. David Pryor for 11 years and was press secretary from 1975-78 for Pryor when he was governor of Arkansas. Harrell, who grew up in Camden, Ark., is a 1959 Hendrix graduate. He received a doctorate degree from Vanderbilt University.

Alan Eastham, Global Awareness medal. President Bush this summer appointed Eastham to serve the next three years as U. S. ambassador to the Republic of Malawi, a country of about 12 million people in southeastern Africa. Eastham, a 1973 Hendrix graduate, has served for 30 years in the Foreign Service of the U.S. State Department. His job has taken him all over the world, including France, India, Kenya Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. He accepted his first assignment with the State Department in 1975 in Kathmandu, Nepal. Among his jobs as ambassador to Malawi will be to deal with HIV-AIDS and other health-related issues, as well as food and security and corruption. Eastham is a native of Dumas, Ark.

 Stephanie James, Research Medal. A leader in research on infectious diseases of global health importance, James is on staff of the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health as associate director for science for the Grand Challenges in Global Health initiative. Prior to joining NIH, James served for 11 years as chief of the Parasitology and Internal Programs Branch, Division of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases. She is the recipient of the 1993 NIH Director's Award for leadership in establishing the International Centers for Tropical Disease Research and the 1999 award for leadership in advancing collaborative malaria research through the Multilateral Initiative on Malaria. A 1972 Hendrix graduate, James received a doctorate degree in microbiology from Vanderbilt University.

Eastham and James will not be present for the ceremony.

For more information about the medalists, click on

The Odyssey Awards recipients for 2004, the first year the awards program was established, were Hendrix alumni Linda Pondexter Chesterfield, 1969; Inis Claude, 1942; R. Paul Craig, 1960; Jo Luck, 1963; Dr. George F. Sawaya, 1985; P. Allen Smith, 1983, and Mary Steenburgen, 1975.

Hendrix, founded in 1876, is a selective, residential, undergraduate liberal arts college emphasizing experiential learning in a demanding yet supportive environment. Selected this year by the Princeton Review as the nation's #4 "best value" college, Hendrix has been affiliated with the United Methodist Church since 1884.  For more information, visit


Contact: Judy Williams, 501/450-1462,