Kirkwood Leaders Celebrate Success and Support

Steve Ovel was among this year’s honorees, taking home the Trustee’s Award. This award is presented to honor outstanding leadership in higher education.

April 11 event featured alumni awards, outstanding service recognition

Cedar Rapids, Iowa (April 14, 2014)—Over the past 48 years, Kirkwood Community College has connected with well over 70 thousand students and community partners through its many education and training programs. On Friday evening, the college paid tribute to college alumni, exemplary staff and corporate contributors. Kirkwood Alumni & Friends held the third annual Celebration of Success at The Hotel at Kirkwood Center, showcasing individual and company achievements.

Kirkwood highlighted the contributions of longtime corporate donor Rockwell Collins, recently retired administrator Steve Ovel, and three graduates ranging from the late 1970s to 2006. Nearly 300 people attended the annual program, launched in 2012, to highlight Kirkwood’s contributions to the Corridor, Iowa workforce, every state in the U.S. and well over 100 other countries.

“Chief among the projects that Rockwell Collins has championed is Project Lead the Way. Each year, many hundreds of students throughout our seven-county area get real-world experience and learn hands-on skills… while getting the straight story on what it takes to be engineers and scientists. Rockwell Collins has also been a key provider for scholarships, making a difference for dozens of students over many years,” Starcevich said.

The annual Trustee’s Award was presented to Steve Ovel, who served in several Kirkwood leadership capacities for three decades. His most noted role was Kirkwood’s key representative in Des Moines, as executive director of governmental relations.

In remarks at the presentation, Industrial Technologies Dean Jeff Mitchell noted the broad array of supporting comments for Ovel from leaders at the local, state and national level.

Ovel continues to serve Kirkwood and Iowa’s network of community colleges through his private consultation firm, formed after his June 2013 retirement from full-time duties.

Kirkwood also presented three Distinguished Alumni Awards, noting the honorees’ personal and professional contributions to our community and the local economy.

  • Joe Ahmann, a 1985 graduate of Kirkwood’s Architectural Design program, branched out into commercial property management companies and a partnership in commercial building design: Fusion Architects; Compass Commercial Services, LLC; and Ahmann Properties, LLC.
  • RaeAnn Barnhart was a non-traditional student who chose the Human Services field at Kirkwood, and became a successful and involved student leader. Today she is an advocate for individuals and families as co-manager of the Partnership for Safe Families in Cedar Rapids.
  • In 1979, Mary Van Houten graduated from Kirkwood’s fairly new Food Service Management program. In 2012, Van Houten got to come full-circle back to Kirkwood, accepting the role of Catering Sales Manager at The Hotel at Kirkwood Center.

More information on the college and Foundation mission, alumni involvement, and opportunities to support the college mission are available on the Foundation website:

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments are closed.