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ESU Alumni Honors Key Volunteers

June 5, 2019

Emporia State University will present 2019 University Service Citation Awards to four Kansans this month during the annual Emporia State Theatre Guild Dinner on June 12, and the Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon on June 22. 

Dr. Charles R. (Charlie) Hill, Emporia, will receive his award during the Emporia State Theatre Guild Dinner, and Marilyn Buchele of Emporia, Frank Duvanel of Benton and Steve R. Williams of Newton will receive their awards during the Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon.

All of this year’s award winners have made unique and significant contributions to the university, its students and staff members.

They have served on boards, led fundraising efforts, participated in recruitment and teacher-recognition activities, attended events, established alumni chapters and scholarships and carved out time to work on behalf of the university.


Marilyn Buchele

Marilyn Buchele ended a 41-year career at Emporia State when she retired in 2014; however, her presence will be felt on campus for years to come. 

During her career, Buchele served as a layout assistant in the Print Shop, secretary to the Dean of Men and Dean of Women, director of Veterans Educational Services and executive assistant to four vice presidents for Student Affairs and the Dean of Students.

Retired Dean of Students Dr. Harry Stephens described her as a true professional.

“She was first of all committed to the university and the community and to students, particularly the veterans — I almost said ‘her’ veterans,” said Stephens, who worked with Buchele for 19 years. “She was the certifying individuals for veterans’ benefits, so the accuracy of that was critical.”

But, Buchele was devoted to non-veteran students, too, whether they were honor students, in leadership roles or having personal or academic issues that impeded their ability to be successful, Stephens said. 

Part of her job sometimes included finding students when calls came in from concerned parents. 

“Marilyn could always find a student,” Stephens said, reminiscing. “She could find a student in the classroom or the Union. In the early days, she could even go knock on their door and say, ‘Are you all right? Your mother’s calling.’”

Buchele also got involved in groups and events campus-wide. 

She is a charter member of the Kellogg Society, a Summer Theatre Angel, served as manager of Corky the Hornet, assisted with commencement ceremonies and chaired the campus United Way campaign.

She and her husband, Ken, established the Buchele Scholarship in Honor of Veterans, the Ken & Marilyn Buchele Theatre Scholarship, the Buchele Fund for International Travel Assistance for Honors Students and the Ken & Marilyn Buchele Athletic Department Endowed Fund.

“They continue to be advocates,” Stephens said. “...They make a wonderful team.”


Frank Duvanel

If Frank Duvanel (BSE 1960) of Benton looks like he’s having fun working on behalf of Emporia State University, that’s probably because he is.

During the 59 years since the retired farmer graduated, he has ardently and actively supported the university. 

He has been involved for decades in the South Central Core Planning Group, has been president of the South Central Alumni Chapter and is “instrumental in making projects happen,” according to Mim Hiesterman, who has worked for years with Duvanel and, often, his wife, Janet, on chapter projects. 

“He really is such a wonderful supporter of Emporia State,” Hiesterman said. “Locally, he just was always there and so fun-loving and such a great sense of humor. ...He could run a very serious meeting, but he always started one with a really good story.” 

Duvanel, a past member of the ESU Alumni Board, has delivered Students Through Alumni Recruitment Team (START) gifts to all Butler County high schools and was a TAP (Teacher Appreciation Program) volunteer for many years.   

He has fielded a team for the Don Edwards Golf Classic each of its 22 years of existence and maintains close ties with Sigma Tau fraternity. The Duvanels attend Homecoming each year. 

Duvanel also took his leadership expertise into a related arena, when he was elected to and served on the board of education for the Remington school district.


Dr. Charles R. ‘Charlie’ Hill

Dr. Charles R. “Charlie” Hill (BSE 1950; MA 1956)has stayed connected to Emporia State, even though he left officially in 1980 after 25 years on the faculty as professor and director of theatre. He retired in 1998 as head of speech and drama at Austin Community College.

“He’s been giving to this university since he was here as a student and that goes back many, many years,” said current Director of Theatre and Professor Jim Bartruff.

Hill helped launch the first Summer Theatre season in Emporia in 1955, where he played the leading role of Elwood P. Dowd in “Harvey,” and directed numerous Summer Theatre productions (44), Curli Q Homecoming Variety shows (14) and musicals (6) during his time at Emporia State.

Bartruff said that Hill’s work founding the Emporia Theatre Guild was one of Hill’s most significant contributions to the university. Hill continues to serve on the Theatre Guild Board, along with co-founders Mary Sue Wade and Polly Sauder.  

After directing three and chaperoning two USO shows for the military forces in Asia and Europe, Hill received several awards of appreciation from government officials in those areas. Bartruff said those USO tours not only were a great service and morale builder for the troops, they also provided invaluable training for students.

“Many went on to very successful careers as teachers and as performers. It had lasting value,” Bartruff said. 

In 2005, Hill’s former students established the Dr. Charlie R. Hill Scholarship Fund in his honor, which was first awarded on “Charlie Hill Theatre Day.” Hill also established the Charles R. Hill Theatre Scholarship.

When award-winning actor Karl Malden came to campus to conduct Summer Theatre workshops, Hill served as Malden’s assistant. 

Hill has served on the Speakers Bureau and was a member of the Top Hatters dance band at the university and Sigma Tau Gamma fraternity. He also is a professional jazz pianist. 

Now, at this stage of life, Hill helps students by hiring them to run errands so they can “pick up a little pin money,” Bartruff said.


Steve R. Williams

Education, in one form or another, has been a lifetime priority for Steve Williams (BS 1964; MS 1969) of Newton. 

Williams, now retired, was a teacher and later became a school administrator. After retiring from education, Williams became a consultant for the Kansas Health Foundation, where he assisted in developing materials and school teams as part of the “Take a Second, Make a Difference Goes to School,” an anti-bullying initiative. He also served as a project facilitator for the Community Engagement Institute at Wichita State University.

His involvement with Emporia State runs deep. As a Foundation Trustee board member, he has served as vice chair and chair, and on the Personnel Operations Review Committee. He is currently serving as past chair on the Executive and Finance committees. 

He led the Trustees’ fundraising efforts to build the new Breidenthal University House, which will provide private living space for the president and family, as well as a separate public space for entertaining. Williams also led a years-long effort to reorganize and redesign the Foundation itself, to better serve the university. 

He was a member of the Alumni Board of Directors, is a member of the South Central Alumni Chapter and assists in running the annual Don Edwards Golf Classic. 

He and his wife established the Stephen R. and Cheryl S. Williams Scholarship at ESU to assist students studying to become teachers.

“There’s not a more deserving person than Steve for this award,” said current Foundation Chair Beth Paladino of Detroit. “He really was the spearhead to position us to be better able to do what we’re supposed to do, which is to support the university ... and be sustainable in the future.”



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