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Trustees honor three accomplished alumni with highest award

President Roger Casey, accepting for Donald Rabush are son Keith Rabush and former TARGET, Inc. colleague Jill Brown Hurlbrink, and Board Chair Martin K.P. Hill
April 30, 2013

The McDaniel College Board of Trustees bestowed its prestigious Trustee Alumni Award on notable alumni Donald Rabush ’62, M.Ed.’70; Nancy Stocksdale ’56 and Barbara Thomas ’70 for outstanding accomplishments in their respective fields.

Leaders and innovators – from designing programs that link graduate education with a residential experience for developmentally disabled adults to sponsoring legislation that fosters fiscal responsibility and education to changing lives on a global scale through leadership in Habitat for Humanity – the recipients were honored at the annual trustee-faculty dinner held April 26.

Demonstrating his entrepreneurial spirit by operating a campus laundry service to help pay his tuition, Donald Rabush graduated with a degree in English and served in Vietnam before returning to the Hill for a master’s degree and teaching the learning disabled in Carroll County. He went on to earn a doctorate in learning disabilities with a concentration in hearing impairments at the University of Denver before returning again to the college to teach in the Education department.

Rabush initiated the master’s degree in Human Services and Case Management in 1983 and founded TARGET, Inc. (now known as Target Community & Educational Services), a nonprofit organization to provide residential, occupational, and recreational services for adults with developmental disabilities. In 1992, in recognition of his inspired educational leadership, he was named the first to occupy the Laurence J. Adams Distinguished Chair of Special Education, the first fully funded chair in the college’s history. Many notable accolades have followed including the Alumnus of the Year in 2005, the Joseph R. Bailer Award in 1998, emeritus status as Professor of Education in 1995, as well as Special Achievement Awards in 1990 and 1987.

Maryland State Delegate Nancy Stocksdale took the skills and commitment she honed in the Home Economics management house and child development nursery school as a Home Economics major at what was then Western Maryland College, and ultimately applied them to managing a state and serving its nearly six million citizens. After 34 years mentoring and teaching generations of Maryland citizens in Baltimore County schools, she headed to Annapolis, ultimately applying the same life skills and wisdom to legislation to support all Marylanders.

Trustees honor three accomplished alumni with highest award
Board Chair Martin K.P. Hill, Awardee Nancy Stocksdale, President Roger Casey.

Stocksdale has been applauded in the Maryland legislature as a passionate advocate for fiscal responsibility, affordable health care, education and the environment. As a delegate since 1995, she has sponsored 56 bills, several to strengthen educational opportunities for at-risk youth. She has been a tireless supporter of the Sellinger funds to independent colleges, including her own alma mater.

Barbara A. Thomas has been a global activist for more than 15 years, serving as a volunteer, board member and executive director for Habitat for Humanity in the United States, Europe and Central Asia. Empowered by her belief that safe, clean housing is a basic right for everyone, Thomas has raised community awareness, recruited volunteers of all ages, mobilized finances and building materials for the construction of scores of homes that grant shelter to families in need.

Trustees honor three accomplished alumni with highest award
Board Chair Martin K.P. Hill, Awardee Barbara Thomas, President Roger Casey.

After earning an M.B.A. at Virginia Tech, Thomas started a business and in 1992, retired as a division manager at the aerospace and information contractor, TRW (now Esperian) in southern California. An active volunteer in the arts and social services, she became CEO fro Habitat for Humanity of Orange County, Calif., and later, after receiving the Habitat Partner Award, served in South Carolina as executive director of the Low Country Habitat for Humanity. In 2010, Thomas was named project manager for the Habitat for Humanity regional office for Europe and Central Asia (ECA) located in Bratislava, Slovakia, where she led the effort, in concert with the International Red Cross and the United Nations, to present the first ECA Housing Forum in April 2011, in Budapest, Hungary, home to McDaniel-Europe.

Currently, Thomas is challenging all college alumni to join her with McDaniel students and faculty for a study trip in May to learn about obstacles to affordable housing in Budapest, then join her in Romania for hands-on work with the Habitat for Humanity International’s Global Village Program.