Bethany College Announces 2013 Alumni Award Recipients

BETHANY, W.Va. — Bethany College will present its annual awards honoring outstanding alumni on May 4 at the Alumni Awards Dinner as a part of the Alumni Weekend events.

Bethany will recognize Bill Kiefer ’71 with the Robert A. Sandercox Award, and Justice Kaye Gorenflo Hearn ’72 and Dr. Cheryl Mitchell ’76 with Alumni Achievement Awards.

Kiefer is a 1971 graduate of Bethany College, was a member of Alpha Sigma Phi fraternity, and has since spent many years serving the college. He served as a director of the Bethany College Alumni Association Board of Directors for 10 years. Kiefer also spent six years as a member of the Bethany College Board of Trustees. For the last eight years, he has held the position of executive vice president and general counsel for Bethany College.

Kiefer earned a Juris Doctor Degree from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law in 1974. After more than 10 years in private law practice, he joined Weirton Steel, serving as a Senior Executive for over 20 years.

He has been involved in numerous business and community organizations and has served as president of Weirton United Way and has served on the boards of Weirton Medical Center Foundation, Weirton Medical Center Corporation, Weirton Christian Center, Business Development Corporation of the Northern Panhandle, Weirton and West Virginia Chambers of Commerce and West Virginia Independent Colleges and Universities.

The Robert A. Sandercox Award was created to honor those who contribute to the heritage and history of Bethany College in a way that is aligned to the mission of the school which impacts students, faculty, administration and alumni. Kiefer will be only the third individual to receive the award since it was established in 1997.

Kiefer and his wife Maria (Chaldares) Kiefer ’71 have three sons (Christopher, Stephen and Alex) and reside in Canonsburg, Pa.

Justice Hearn, elected to the South Carolina Supreme Court in May 2009, is only the second woman on the state’s highest court. As a 1972 Bethany College graduate, Hearn was a cum laude history major, a cheerleader, Alpha Xi Delta president and vice-president of the Association of Women Studies. After graduating fifth in her class from Bethany, she went on to graduate cum laude from the University of South Carolina School of Law and later, she earned an L.L.M. degree from the University of Virginia’s Graduate Program for Judges.

After beginning her career as a law clerk, Justice Hearn was elected as a Family Court Judge in 1986 and then to the South Carolina Court of Appeals in 1995, where she served as chief judge from 1999-2009.

Justice Hearn addressed the senior women of Bethany College in 2011 at the Darline Nicholson Breakfast and in the spring of 2012, Francis Marion University conferred her with an honorary Doctorate of Humanities degree.

Justice Hearn and her husband George M. Hearn, Jr. have a daughter (Kathleen) and reside in Conway, S.C.

Dr. Mitchell, a 1976 graduate of Bethany College, double majored in chemistry and biology at Bethany and went on to earn a Ph.D. in chemistry from Texas A&M University. In 2000, she founded Creative Research Management in Stockton, Calif., where she presently serves as the president and senior research chemist.

Dr. Mitchell has 47 patents to her name and is recognized as a world authority on sweeteners, rice processing and the extraction and metabolism of inulin, which is a naturally occurring sugar found in the fiber family. In 1980, Mitchell co-owned and co-founded California Natural Products. Using four of her patented products, her company manufactured Rice Dream, which is the largest selling rice beverage in the United States.

Through her work in many countries affected by cholera, Mitchell’s work in Bangladesh resulted in a patent associated with the improvement of rice-based oral rehydration solutions, which are currently recognized as the most effective and affordable treatment for cholera. In November 2011, Mitchell was honored by the California legislature with the 2011 Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Award for her lifetime achievement.

Dr. Mitchell and her husband, Ken Ellis, have two daughters (Sarah and Katie) and reside in Stockton, Calif.

As previously announced, the College will also honor Jeff Flick ’82, president and CEO of BD&E in Pittsburgh, as recipient of the 2013 Alumnus of the Year Award. This award was established by the Office of the President to recognize alumni who have demonstrated loyalty to the College and exceptional achievement throughout their lives, both professionally and in service to the community.

To view the full schedule of Alumni Weekend events or to register, visit

Bethany College is a small college of national distinction located on a picturesque and historic 1,300-acre campus in the Northern Panhandle of West Virginia. Founded in 1840, Bethany is the state’s oldest private college.