About the Alumni Association Awardees
Alumnus of the Year
The highest honor given by the Alumni Association. This award is presented to a graduate who is of good character and is held in high esteem by his/her associates and has brought credit upon him/herself and the College.
A physical education major, Don Hobart of Westminster, Md., played football at the college and was a member of the Alpha Gamma Tau fraternity. He served in the U.S. Army for three years following his college graduation, and then went on to earn both a master’s degree and Ph.D. from the University of Maryland.
An expert in kinesiology, he served as assistant chair and associate professor at the University of Maryland, Baltimore, where he taught for more than 40 years. An endowed scholarship was established in his name by the Physical Therapy Alumni Association at the University of Maryland, Baltimore, in 1993. He is also a recipient of the Distinguished Service Award from the Maryland Chapter of the American Physical Therapy Association and is on the board of governors of the American Congress of Electroneuromyography.
Hobart has volunteered as a troop leader for both the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts and was on the board of the YMCA of Carroll County. At McDaniel, he served as a visitor to the Board of Trustees from 1987–1990 and president of the Alumni Association from 2009–2011. He is also a member of the WMC Heritage Society Advisory Council. He received the College’s Alumni College Service Award in 2013.
Hobart retired from the full-time faculty at the University of Maryland, Baltimore, in 1993, and continued to teach there part time until 2008. He also operated Hobart Studio, a woodworking business that supplied folding luggage racks to Orvis and other retailers. More recently, he has served as a trustee and faculty member of Rehab Essentials, a private company specializing in distance learning programs for licensed physical therapists. He also pursues his passion for travel photography.
Alumni Community Service Award
Presented to a graduate who has performed outstanding voluntary service to their community beyond normal business or professional obligations.
Ken Gill of Severna Park, Md., majored in Sociology at McDaniel (formerly Western Maryland) College and played football all four years. A member of the College’s ROTC program, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army after graduation and served in the 101st Airborne Division during the Cuban Missile Crisis. After his return from the service, he went to graduate school at the University of Maryland.
Through an ad in the Wall Street Journal, he got involved with the food industry. He began his entrepreneurial voyage in foodservice as a restaurant operator, eventually moving on to the equipment-dealer business and ultimately presiding over multinational distribution operation. He has owned all or part of as many as seven companies at once, including Gill Group, Inc., an international foodservice equipment and supplies contractor ranked among the largest in the country, and The Gill Company, which is comprised of Gill Marketing and Gill Manufacturing.
He joined the Food Service Equipment Association (FEDA) in 1978 and served as president from 1989–1991; he later helped establish FEDA’s Educational Foundation. In 1996, he became a founding partner of Foodservice Equipment Reports. In 2009, he received FEDA’s lifetime achievement award. He was named to Foodservice Equipment and Supplies Magazine’s Hall of Fame in 2015.
Gill was elected to the McDaniel College Board of Trustees in 2002 and has set up a scholarship fund to honor his wife, Joanne Moffatt Gill, a 1962 alumna, as well as created the Ken Gill Fund for Enterprise Economics at the College. In 2012, McDaniel dedicated the Kenneth R. Gill Stadium in his honor. He chaired the stadium project committee to fund the $8 million-plus facility solely through individual gifts including his own $2.25 million donation. Also in 2012, he was inducted into McDaniel’s Sports Hall of Fame.
A graduate of Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring, Md., he was inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame in 2009. He has also served on numerous boards, including at Anne Arundel Medical Center, where he was treated for prostate cancer. A walkway at the hospital is named after Gill and his wife.
Neal Hoffman of Westminster, Md., currently the managing partner at Hoffman, Comfort, Offutt, Scott & Halstad, LLP, graduated from McDaniel (formerly Western Maryland) College with a bachelor’s degree in Sociology and earned a Juris Doctorate degree from the University of Baltimore School of Law. He is a member of the American Bar Association, Maryland State Bar Association and the Carroll County Bar Association, where he is a former president.
Hoffman began his community service efforts in the 1970s as chair and board member of the YMCA of Carroll County. He served as a trustee and president for the former Davis Library, the first free public library in Westminster, Md. Hoffman was also a trustee for Carroll Lutheran Village and the Carroll Hospital Foundation.
For 13 years, he was chairman of the Carroll County Advisory Board of Directors of Branch Banking and Trust Company. He was also director of the Carroll County Bank and Trust for five years. Hoffman served on the Carroll County Student Grant Program committee and the McDaniel College Alumni Council. In addition, he has volunteered as a coach and manager for Westminster Little League baseball and manager for the Westminster Babe Ruth League, as well as treasurer for the Carroll County Old Timers Baseball Association.
A practicing attorney, Larry Schmidt of Timonium, Md., received a bachelor’s degree in History from McDaniel (formerly Western Maryland) College and is a graduate of the University of Baltimore School of Law. He is currently a principal at Smith, Gildea & Schmidt, LLC, in Towson, Md. He is also a member of the Baltimore County Bar Association and Maryland State Bar Association, where he served as a member of the Board of Governors. He was awarded the 2016 Leadership Law Award by The Daily Record.
Schmidt previously served as Baltimore County zoning commissioner for 13 years, which is the longest period of service of any individual in that position, and on the Baltimore County Board of Appeals. He was appointed to the Baltimore County Board of Education by former Governor Martin O’Malley and served on the board for six years, three as president. He was also president of the Greater Towson Committee and an active member of the Lutherville-Timonium Recreation Council. He is currently on the board of directors for the Genesee Valley Outdoor Learning Center and has participated as a volunteer attorney for more than 20 years for the Maryland State Mock Trial program.
Alumni Professional Achievement Awards
Presented to a graduate who has gained distinction in his/her chosen field or profession and whose accomplishments reflect admirably on McDaniel College
Jennifer Leigh Disney of Rock Hill, S.C., graduated from McDaniel with a bachelor’s degree in both Political Science and Psychology. She earned Master of Arts and Master of Philosophy degrees, as well as a Ph.D. with distinction in Political Science from the City University of New York. She is currently a full professor and chair of the political science department and the director of the women and gender studies program at Winthrop University. She has served as the founding director for the Office of Nationally Competitive Awards at Winthrop.
Disney has written numerous papers and presentations for national conferences and has served on many professional panels. Her book, “Women’s Activism and Feminist Agency in Mozambique and Nicaragua,” was published by Temple University. She also co-authored the article “Militarism and Its Discontents: Neoliberalism, Repression, and Resistance in Twenty-First-Century US–Latin American Relations.” She served as co-editor of “New Political Science: A Journal of Politics and Culture,” the official journal of the New Political Science Section of the American Political Science Association and the Caucus for a New Political Science.
She has received numerous awards, including a Christian Bay Best Paper Award by the American Political Science Association and the Carolyn Heilbrun Women’s Studies Dissertation Award from the City University of New York Graduate Center. She also earned a Presidential Citation Community Service Award from Winthrop. For five years, Disney served as president of the board of A Place for Hope, a community resource center of the Blackmon Road community.
Sam Hopkins of Raleigh, N.C., a 1980 alumnus of McDaniel with a bachelor’s degree in Biology, is a current member of the college’s Board of Trustees. His daughter, Rachel, is a freshman at McDaniel. He earned a Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Biophysics from the Medical College of Virginia in Richmond, Va., and completed his post-doctoral training at the Wellcome Research Laboratories in Research Triangle Park, N.C.
With more than 30 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry, Hopkins has held managerial, scientific and executive leadership positions at the Wellcome Research Laboratories, Trimeris Inc., Parion Sciences and Scynexis Inc. He is currently the acting president of Valanbio Therapeutics, where he directs the clinical research program for autoimmune technologies. He also provides independent consulting services in drug discovery and development through IOTEC Pharma Consulting LLC.
Throughout his career, he has participated in multiple aspects of anti-viral drug research. He was responsible for designing and implementing the clinical and regulatory strategy that led to the global approval of Fuzeon® (enfuvirtide) for the treatment of HIV-1 infection, which was recognized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2003 as a major milestone in HIV-1 drug development.
A regular presenter at major national and international scientific conferences, he has co-authored over 100 abstracts, patents and peer-reviewed journal articles, including a landmark 1998 publication in Nature Medicine, which has been referenced in peer-reviewed scientific literature over 1,000 times. It established the HIV-1 gp41 transmembrane protein as a valid target for antiviral chemotherapeutic drug discovery and development.
Hopkins has participated in private, as well as public financings, and has raised more than $400 million for start-up companies from venture capital sources, National Institutes of Health grants and contracts, private equity, corporate partnerships and public equity markets.
Joseph McDade of Roma, Ga., earned a bachelor’s degree in Biology from McDaniel (formerly Western Maryland) College and a Ph.D. in Microbiology from the University of Delaware. He began his career as an Army officer assigned to the U.S. Army Biological Labs at Ft. Detrick, Md. He then went on to work as a research associate at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, where he was assigned to Egypt and Ethiopia to study epidemic and murine typhus.
Most of McDade’s career was spent at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as a research microbiologist and as deputy director at the National Center for Infectious Diseases (NCID). He gained international recognition by isolating the causative agent of Legionnaires’ disease and, in collaboration with others, identified its mode of transmission and established treatment regimens. He also identified the first case of a rare tick-borne illness called human monocytic ehrlichiosis and directed research on Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Q fever and typhus.
Following his retirement, McDade worked at Berry College as scientist-in-residence, part-time instructor and faculty advisor for students aspiring to careers in medicine or in allied health fields. Currently, he is a member of the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity at the National Institutes of Health.
His many awards for his contributions to the fields of infectious diseases and public health include the Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Award from the American College of Physicians, the Gen-Probe Joseph Award from the American Society for Microbiology for exemplary leadership and service in the field of public health and the Charles C. Shepard Lifetime Scientific Achievement Award from the CDC. He was also selected as Professor of the Year at Emory University School of Public Health. In addition, he has authored more than 100 scientific articles and has been invited to speak at national and international conferences.
Alumni College Service Award
Presented to graduates who have demonstrated exceptional leadership, devotion and service for the betterment of the College Alumni Association.
Lt. Gen. (ret.) Otto Guenther of Fairfax Station, Va., the highest-ranking military officer ever to graduate from the College, majored in Economics and was a member of the College Choir and chaplain of the Gamma Beta Chi fraternity. He served in the U.S. Army for 34 years and has received numerous military awards and decorations. In 1995, he became the U.S. Army’s first chief information officer and was the director of information systems at the Pentagon until his retirement in 1997. After retiring from his military career, Guenther became vice president and general manager for the federal division of Computer Associates followed by an administrative role at Northrop Grumman Mission Systems Tactical Systems Division.
Currently, Guenther serves on the McDaniel College Board of Trustees and is a mentor for students in McDaniel’s ROTC program. He is also a member of the WMC Heritage Society Advisory Council and is assisting in planning for the College’s 150th anniversary in 2017. In 2013, he was awarded McDaniel’s Alumni Community Service Award. He is also on the board of directors for Widepoint Corporation and SNVC Corporation and volunteers with the Lorton Community Action Center and Rising Hope Mission Church.
Donald Rembert of Reston, Va., graduated from McDaniel (formerly Western Maryland) College with a bachelor’s degree in Economics. A certified financial planner, he has worked as a financial advisor since 1974 and is currently a principal at Rembert Pendleton Jackson. He is an active member of the Investment Adviser Association, the Southern Economics Association, the Ludwig von Mises Institute and the Northern Virginia Board of Realtors.
He was elected to the McDaniel College Board of Trustees in 2007 and currently chairs the WMC Heritage Society Advisory Council, which he founded in 2004. Rembert and his wife Judy, a 1960 alumna of the College, assisted in the renovation of the College’s former Buell House, which was renamed Rembert House in honor of their efforts to promote the College’s history.
Additionally, Rembert is chair of The Founders Society at McDaniel and has served on McDaniel’s Stadium Project Committee. He is also president of the Class of 1961 and a member of his class reunion committee.