September 23, 2021 at 12:30pm
Dane Lisser

Seven distinguished individuals to be honored at 2021 Homecoming Celebration

This October, during Millikin University's 2021 Homecoming Celebration, the University will honor seven distinguished individuals with this year's Millikin Alumni Awards.

The 2021 honorees are Dick Dechert, Class of 1954 and Marilyn Trainer Dechert, Class of 1955; C. Thomas Harrington, Class of 1970; Sir Edward "Kidd" Jordan, Class of 1967; Dr. Ngozi Onuora; Angela Osborne, Class of 2009; and Randall Rentfro, Class of 1978.

Merit-Loyalty Award
Dick Dechert '54 and Marilyn Trainer Dechert '55

A 1954 graduate of Millikin lettering in baseball and track and field, Dick Dechert earned a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry, while Marilyn Trainer Dechert earned a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry in 1955.

Both Dick and Marilyn are joyfully retired and enjoy life in Decatur, Ill., attending many music and fine arts events at Millikin, as well as leading philanthropic causes that are near to their heart. Dick had a successful professional life in sales and dabbled successfully in various ventures. Marilyn had a very successful business career with a pharmaceutical company. One year of chemistry at Millikin set her up for a lifetime of success professionally. Marilyn was also the head women's golf coach at Millikin from 2001-14.

As students at Millikin, Marilyn won the Consolation Championship Bracket in the Women's Intercollegiate Golf Tournament hosted by The Ohio State University in 1952. Dick was the junior class vice president, was a member and proud president of Sigma Alpha Epsilon and served on the student council and the Decaturian's sports staff.

Marilyn was voted College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin (CCIW) Coach of the Year in 2014 and was inducted into the Illinois Women's Golf Hall of Fame in 2015. Dick was recognized by the Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) for serving as president and as a member of the Board of Directors.

Alumnus of the Year
C. Thomas Harrington '70

C. Thomas Harrington is a 1970 Millikin graduate who majored in accounting and minored in economics during his time as an undergraduate. Born, raised, and educated in Decatur, Tom started his working career with a local public accounting firm in Decatur. In 1982, Tom established Thomas Harrington & Company, a regional accounting firm serving clients from St. Louis to Chicago, until its eventual sale in Dec. 1997.

After his firm's sale, Tom and his wife, Cordia, established a wholesale bakery manufacturing company originally located in Dickson, Tenn., called Tennessee Bun Company, which later became Crown Bakeries. Crown Bakeries are a dedicated group of passionate bakers delivering unmatched baking expertise and unrivaled customer service to leading food service, food manufacturing and retail customers across America.

Harrington was named the 2017 Nashville Business Journal CFO of the Year and received the 2019 Nashville Business Journal Lifetime Achievement Award. He served on the Millikin Board of Trustees from 2010-19. Tom and Cordia were an integral part of the development of Millikin's Workman Family Baseball Field by providing a generous gift toward the $5.4 million project.

Merit Award
Sir Edward "Kidd" Jordan '67

Internationally acclaimed saxophonist Sir Edward "Kidd" Jordan is one of the true master improvisers who still performs at age 86. According to Indie Jazz, Jordan is "probably, the single most under-documented jazz musician of his generation, though … one of the busiest in the world." A multi-reedist, he plays the baritone, soprano, C-melody, and sopranino saxophones, as well as the contrabass and bass clarinet.

For more than 50 years, Jordan has shared his gifts and passion for music. Serving as an educator for 34 years, Jordan retired in 2006 as the chairman of the jazz studies program at Southern University in New Orleans, La. Notably, he continues to serve as the artistic director of the Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong Summer Jazz Camp since its 1995 inception.

Jordan holds a bachelor's degree from Southern University, a Master of Music from Millikin University, and attended post-graduate summer studies at Northwestern University where he studied with Dr. Frederick L. Hemke. On May 13, 2017, Jordan received an Honorary Doctor of Music from Loyola University. In 1985, the French Ministry of Culture recognized him as a Knight (Chevalier) of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, the nation's highest artistic honor given by the French government. He earned two Lifetime Achievement Awards, one from OffBeat Magazine for Music Education and from the Vision Festival XIII (New York City). The Jazz Journalist Association awarded Jordan their Jazz Hero award in 2013. His music contributions have also been documented on CBS' 60 Minutes.

Kidd is a proud husband to Edvidge Chatters Jordan and father to Edward Jr., Kent, Christie, Paul, Stephanie, Rachel, and Marlon. Four are accomplished professional musicians: Kent (flute virtuoso), Stephanie (noted jazz singer), Rachel (acclaimed classical violinist), and Marlon (acclaimed jazz trumpeter).

Faculty/Staff Award
Dr. Ngozi Onuora

Dr. Ngozi Onuora is an associate professor in the Millikin School of Education. She teaches literacy courses in early childhood and elementary education, such as Children's Literature and Reading Methods. Her research interests focus on multicultural representation in children's literature and graphics. Known as "Dr. O" on campus, she also serves as chair of the African American Studies minor, teaches in the Honors Program, and serves as co-director of the Long-Vanderburg Scholars Program. Dr. Onuora earned a Doctor of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Young Alumnus Award
Angela Osborne '09

Angela Osborne currently serves as an associate vice president of Risk and Emergency Management Solutions for Guidepost Solutions, LLC, a leader in domestic and international investigations, compliance solutions, monitoring, and security and technology consulting.

While at Millikin, Osborne majored in political science and international & global studies and minored in French. She was involved in Alpha Chi Omega, Alpha Phi Omega, Service-Learning Scholars, Model United Nations, the Student Activity Fee Allocation Committee, Order of Omega, and Pi Sigma Alpha. After graduating in 2009, Osborne earned a full scholarship to attend graduate school at Georgetown University, where she earned a Master of Arts in Security Studies.

Osborne went on to become a Certified Protection Professional (CPP), a certified Physical Security Professional (PSP), and a Professional Certified Investigator (PCI) by American Society for Industrial Security (ASIS) International. In 2020, she received the Karen Marquez Honors, which is presented annually to a female security professional who has consistently worked for the betterment of the security industry over an extended period; Osborne was chosen out of 33,000 ASIS members. Osborne was also named the 2019 Outstanding Young Professional at the Outstanding Security Performance Awards (OSPA), became the youngest director on the ASIS International Professional Standards Board, and previously served as co-chair of the ASIS International Young Professionals Council.

Angela and her husband, Welsey Huang, are the proud parents of their daughter, Hermione.

Loyalty Award
Randall Rentfro '78

Dr. Randall Rentfro graduated from Millikin with a bachelor's degree in accounting in 1978, completed his master's degree in accountancy at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1986, and earned a doctorate in business administration (accounting concentration) at Florida Atlantic University in 2000.

Now retired, Dr. Rentfro most recently served as an associate professor of accounting at the University of Tampa. His teaching and research interests focused on the financial reporting of corporations and governments and the factors that influence such reporting. Dr. Rentfro's most recent research activities centered on state and local governments. In 2010, he and two colleagues received a grant from the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) to examine the need for disclosures of tax abatement activities by local governments.

Dr. Rentfro began his career at Caterpillar Inc. in 1978 and held various positions until he left to join Decatur Memorial Hospital in 1986 as its controller. In 1990, he began his faculty career at Millikin as an assistant professor of accounting. He later assumed the responsibility for being the director of Institutional Research and Assessment and chair of the Department of Accounting and Management Information Systems. In 1996, he moved to Florida to join Florida Atlantic University as a graduate teaching assistant and research assistant, upon finishing his doctorate, was promoted to assistant professor of accounting. In 2005, he joined Nova Southeastern University (NSU), where he taught in the undergraduate and graduate programs. Dr. Rentfro also chaired four dissertations for students in the Doctor of Business Administration Program at NSU. In 2011, he left Nova Southeastern to join the University of Tampa as an associate professor of accounting.

Dr. Rentfro's professional work has been recognized with numerous awards, such as the Distinguished Research Award from the Academy of Marketing Studies and the 2010 National Author Award from the Association of Government Accountants. He is a three-time Accounting Professor of the Year award recipient at Florida Atlantic University.

Dr. Rentfro and his husband, Dr. Ron Lennon, are strong supporters of the Florida Cultural Group, which owns and operates the Manatee Performing Arts Center in Bradenton, Fla. Ron has served on the Board of Directors for nine years and has been the board chair for the last three years. Randy serves on the finance committee and volunteers in the box office.

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