Pi Kappa Lambda Outstanding Senior Award

For a senior with outstanding scholarship, musicianship, and contributions.

Pi Kappa Lambda is an American honor society for undergraduate students, graduate students, and professors of music.  There are currently 205 active chapters and approximately 64,500 individual members.  Pi Kappa Lambda was established on May 17, 1918 at Northwestern University by Carl Milton Beecher, Louis Norton Dodge, and Walter Allen Stults.

Presser Scholarship

For an outstanding music major at the end of the junior year based on excellence and merit.

The Presser Foundation gives grants only to institutions with recognized quality music programs and operates under the will and Deeds of Trust created by its founder, Theodore Presser. It is one of the few foundations in the United States dedicated solely to the support of music and music education. The student is selected on the basis of merit and achievement. This award is an honor award and the student, in his/her senior year, is to be known as a Presser Scholar.

Alice Herren Ayars Award

For an outstanding piano student.

Alice Herren Ayars was a member of the Millikin class of 1918 and was a piano major. This award was established by her husband, Haldon B. Ayars, also a member of the class of 1918, to honor his wife whom he met at Millikin.Their son Haldon “Buck” Ayars, of Moweaqua, IL was a 1946 Millikin graduate. Both, father and son, served as President of Ayars State Bank in Moweaqua.

Wilna Moffett Award

For the outstanding senior keyboard performer.

Wilna Moffett was a graduate of the Millikin Academy, and received her B.S. in Music in 1929. She began teaching in the School of Music in 1918. In 1945, she became an assistant professor of piano and organ, serving until her retirement in 1962. She continued teaching in the preparatory department until 1971. This award was established by her sister, Helen Moffett Russell, class of 1929, at Wilna’s death in 1974. She was described as “having given piano lessons to hundreds of Decaturites. Highest personal and professional ideals have characterized her life and teaching. Her sincere and personal interest in each student has caused her to be remembered by them with lasting affection.”

Mary B. Merris Award

For an outstanding voice student on the basis of excellence and achievement.

Mary Biehlen Merris was a noted contributor to Decatur’s cultural scene. Following her graduation from the Millikin Conservatory, she taught choral music at Roosevelt Junior High School, was soloist at several Decatur churches, and served as an early president of the Decatur Music Club. After marriage to Byron Merris, she enthusiastically continued to support and promote the musical, artistic, and historical endeavors at Millikin and the community at large. This award was established, by Helen Moffett Russell, class of 1929, to honor Merris and was first awarded in 1985.

Winifred St. Clair Minturn Award

To the senior selected for excellence in performance to the musical life of the University.

Winifred Minturn was the director of the Decatur Musical College from 1915 to 1925 when she became the executive secretary of the Millikin Conservatory. Two years later, in 1927, she became Director of the Conservatory, a position she held until 1956. She oversaw the transition of the conservatory from its original configuration into what is now known as – the Millikin School of Music – and lead the accreditation process in the 1930s. Director Minturn was devoted to excellence in performance, and this award is named in her honor.


William Eichenauer Guitar Award

To recognize a guitar student of junior or senior status with a cumulative grade point average of 3.2 or higher and who demonstrates self motivation and leadership.

One of Millikin’s most beloved and devoted supporters, William “Bill” Eichenauer was a member of the class of 1951 and served Millikin in roles ranging from University trustee to operator of the clock at football games. The recipient of the Alumni Loyalty Award in 1966, Bill was the epitome of the Big Blue spirit. Former vice-president of the Alumni Association Board of Directors, past president of the Millikin Quarterback Club, and a member of the selection committee of the Millikin Athletic Hall of Fame, he received Millikin’s highest alumni honor, the Alumnus of the Year Award, in 1996.

Thomas A. Johnson Memorial Award

For an excellent trombone student.

This award was established by friends to memorialize Tom “T.J.” Johnson, a member of the class of 1973, who died of cancer at age 38. TJ loved music. His trombone playing in Millikin’s jazz band and later in the Decatur Big Band was certainly a testimonial to that fact. He was very fond and supportive of Millikin, having served on the alumni board and pledge drives. This award was established as “the perfect way to remember him and to keep his name always associated with music and with Millikin.”

Dr. Russell Tiede Honors Award

For outstanding senior instrumental music student.


This award was established in honor of Dr. Russell Tiede who was a faculty member in the school of music from 1968 to 1993. Dr. Tiede was the chair of music education and taught conducting, music education, tuba and French horn. He performed regularly with the Millikin-Decatur Symphony and the Millikin Tuba Quartet. Most importantly, perhaps, was his coordination of the placement of music students in the public schools for student teacher training. Upon his retirement, he estimated that he had 300 students graduate from music education during his quarter-century career at Millikin.

Dr. Maria Klott Memorial Award

For one or more persons who have shown advancement and/or achievement in both theatre and music or both instrumental and voice. Recipient will have his/her name engraved the Dr. Maria Klott Memorial Award plaque displayed in the Perkinson Music Center.

Dr. Maria Klott served as an assistant professor of music at Millikin University from 1991 to 1994 and was a great attribute to the School of Music and the Theater Department. Her knowledge and understanding of the importance of building bridges not only between theater and music, but instrumentalists and vocalists as well, were truly some of her greatest traits. Actively involved with many organizations on Millikin’s campus, in 1990, she was adopted as the chapter sweetheart of the Beta Theta chapter of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia where she became a sister of music, and more importantly a dear friend to the fraternity members.

Handler Award for Excellence

For a senior level student or students pursuing the Bachelor of Arts in Music program who is/are nominated by a School of Music faculty member and who demonstrates a minimum 3.6/4.0 cumulative GPA; evidence of excellence in music; a commitment to versatility, innovation and passion in music as well as in other areas of study.

The award has been established by Dr. Cynthia Handler and members of the Class of 2014 IN400 Music BA Capstone course.  This award recognizes outstanding students in the School of Music who have chosen to pursue the Bachelor of Arts degree.  The award celebrates the choice that a BA music student makes, combining their passion for music with studies in the liberal arts.

Joan and Melvin Grabowski Memorial Award

For excellence in theatrical design and technical achievement.

The late Melvin Grabowski, class of 1947, established this award as a memorial to his wife Joan, class of 1969, upon her death in 1983. For many years Joan Grabowski was actively involved in set building and all the “behind-the-scenes” technical work for theater productions performed by Decatur’s local community theater group, Theater 7. This award recognizes those all-important students who are never on stage but are vital to the success of any performance. When Melvin died in 1995, his name was added to the award. The Grabowski’s son Tom is a 1978 graduate with a degree in theater and physics.

Dr. L. C. McNabb Memorial Award

For outstanding contributions to the Theatre Arts.

Dr. Leroy McNabb began his tenure at Millikin in 1931 as an assistant professor of English. He was later promoted to Associate professor in 1935 and professor on 1940. He was chairman of the speech department at the time of his retirement in 1952. His wife, Edith McNabb, was the director of the tele-courses broadcast on local television stations in the 1950s and 1960s.

Michelle Chartier Memorial Award

For students active in the department of theater and dance with a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.5.

This award was created by the students in the Department of Theatre and Dance in memory of Michelle Chartier, Class of 1991, who was killed in a car accident while returning to Millikin from spring break in her senior year.

Kathryn Paige Torp Memorial Award

For a junior or senior student in technical theater who demonstrates both passion and dedication to their art.

This award was established in memory of Kathryn Paige Torp ‘04, who majored in theater and art with a technical/design emphasis, by her parents, Cynthia Jones and Paul Torp.

Ron Smith Award in Musical Theatre

For excellence in musical theatre.

This award was established in 1986 to memorialize Ron Smith, a member of the class of 1981, who graduated with a BFA degree in Musical Theater – one of the earliest graduates of that program. While at Millikin, Smith was a prolific performer appearing in West Side Story, The Marriage of Figaro, Gianni Schicchi, The Boyfriend, Jacques Brel, The Love of Cole Porter, The Three Penny Opera, and The Shadow Box. After graduation, he appeared on the Kirkland stage in the national tour of The Pirates of Penzance. In 1985, Ron Smith died unexpectedly after several bouts of pneumonia.

J. Ben Wand Prize

For excellence in acting.

If you’ve ever watched WAND-TV in Decatur, then you’ve been exposed to J. Ben Wand for whom the television station and this award is named. Wand, a member of the Millikin class of 1911, was a member of Tau Kappa Epsilon and very active in school affairs. He was president of the Philomathean Literary Society, of the Glee Club, Student Council, and editor and business manager of the Decaturian. He participated in the Lincoln Oratorical Contest the Brown Debate and the Dramatic Club Contest, winning first prize. After graduating, Mr. Wand took an editorial job with the Decatur Review for three years, followed by the same sort of work on the Clinton Daily. He then went into trade journal work with the American Lumberman. In 1923, he bought the Southern Lumber Journal, and worked very hard to make it the success it is today. Wand’s daughter, Peggy Wand Campbell, is a member of the class of 1942.

Marvin Klaven Award

In recognition of a deserving art student who has maintained a level of excellence in the use of his/her chosen medium.

Marin "Marv" Klaven worked at Millikin from 1961 to 1996, retiring as an emeritus professor of art. This award was established by alumni and friends who donated items for display and sale. The proceeds funded a scholarship and this award. At his retirement, his students were quoted as saying:

“More than anyone else, I think Marv manages to combine a sense of what it means to create with his audience.”

“He has been my mentor, like a dad to me, one of the most important people in my life.”
“He isn’t afraid to get into your life and understand you.”
“He is perhaps the most incredible man I’ve ever met."

David S. Monroe Art Award

For outstanding achievement in art, recognizing students for their major, excellence in their work and exhibiting a professional attitude.

This award was established by Miss Virginia May in memory of David Monroe, a member of the Millikin University class of 1978, who graduated with a degree in art and mathematics. Monroe died shortly before his 33rd birthday. His grandfather, Ralph J. Monroe, was a prominent Decatur attorney for many years. Miss May was attorney Monroe’s secretary for 50 years.

Dorothy Sellers Art Awards

For outstanding achievement and potential and setting a standard of excellence for the art department and their peers.

This award was established by Dorothy Sellers, a member of the class of 1935, as a memorial to her parents, the late Mr. and Mrs. Harvey A. Sellers, Sr. She participated in Millikin’s “Alumni Audit” program which permits alumni and friends  to attend regular University classes. Her special interests were art classes.