Outstanding Alumni Awards
Charles Matthews '50
Charlie Matthews is a teacher, actor and director. He earned an M.F.A. from Carnegie-Mellon University in 1955, worked at Pittsburgh Playhouse from 1955-57 and served as an instructor at Earlham from 1957-60. He lived in New York City from 1960-62, where he studied with the legendary acting teacher Uta Hagen. He played minor roles on and off Broadway, and landed a bit part in the film Splendor in the Grass. Matthews returned to Richmond and taught English, speech and theatre at the high school from 1962-77. Among many other activities, Matthews has enjoyed a long association with Richmond Civic Theatre, performing in more than 50 productions, serving on various committees and directing youth theatre productions.
Bill Buskirk '66
Bill Buskirk taught at Earlham from 1974-2008 and has made important contributions to Earlham, especially: promoting an interest in ornithology and natural history among students, developing experiential educational opportunities and encouraging philanthropy on behalf of the College. Buskirk inspired hundreds of students with his love of natural history and mentored several students who went on to become professional ornithologists. In addition to his on-campus teaching, he was a leader of off-campus programs (including East Africa, New Zealand South west Field Studies program), short-term field trips and alumni trips. With the late Jim Cope, he developed Birding Big Day, which has evolved into an important annual fundraiser for Earlham.
Rebecca Voelkel '91
Rebecca Voelkel is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ (U.C.C.) and is Director of the Institute for Welcoming Resources and Faith Work for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. She works with a network of “welcoming churches” (pro-LGBT congregations, mostly within mainline protestant denominations) that has grown to more than 4,000 churches nationwide. She is also the author of Preventing Sexual Abuse: A Course for Teenagers (Pilgrim Press, 1996). Voelkel previously worked for Center for the Prevention of the Sexual and Domestic Violence, Seattle Mental Health Chaplaincy and as Pastor of Spirit of the Lakes U.C.C. in Minneapolis.
Del Harris, men’s basketball head coach from 1965-74, has maintained a close relationship with Earlham during his long career as a coach in the N.B.A. and for four different international teams. Harris was head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers from 1994-98, leading the team to three consecutive 50-plus win seasons and was named NBA Coach of the Year following the 1997-98 season. During earlier stints as a head coach, he guided the Milwaukee Bucks to four straight playoff appearances between 1987-92 and led the Houston Rockets to the playoffs three times, including a trip to the N.B.A. finals in 1981. He led his Earlham teams to 176 victories and 19 tournament or conference championships, including a berth in the N.A.I.A. national finals.