Alumni Achievement Award 

Since 1956, the Alumni Achievement Award has been presented annually on Alumni Weekend. In 2009, the award was modified to honor alumni achievement in two categories - Lifetime and Young. The award is considered one of the highest honors Westminster can confer on an alumnus.

The Lifetime Alumni Achievement Award
The Lifetime Alumni Achievement Award is presented annually to alumni whose accomplishments reflect the Westminster mission and who have distinguished themselves through personal achievements, professional achievements and/or have made significant contributions to society.

Announcing the 2013 Alumni Achievement Award Recipients:

Jim Benson

James Benson, MBA ’79 (Kappa Alpha) 
Lake Forest, Illnois
President, West North Advisors

“Critical thinking is at the heart of a Westminster education. The skills taught to me by Westminster’s talented and motivated faculty helped me to achieve success in both business and my personal life. I will be forever grateful to Westminster.”

  • Past Partner, Harris Associates L.P.
  • Former Executive Vice President and Director of Equity Research, Ryan Beck & Co.
  • Special Assistant to the Chairman, The Dime Savings Bank of New York
  • Vice President, Drexel Burnham Lambert
  • Member of CFA Institute and CFA Society of Chicago
Charlie Carden

Charles Carden, MBA ’67 (Sigma Chi)
Atlanta, Georgia
Board of Directors, Supermedia

“Westminster taught me the importance of intellectual pursuit, integrity, leadership, and friendship.  The analytical skills I learned in my math major, the leadership experiences I was able to pursue at the college, the values emphasized by the faculty and administration, and the friendships developed in a small college atmosphere have all been very important to me in my life.”

  • Member of the Westminster College (Missouri) Board of Trustees
  • Served as a Member of the Board of Directors for Supermedia, Goldleaf Financial Solutions, Ivox Corporation, Dialog Medical, Netzee, Fairmont Theatre of the Deaf and The Bellflower Center for the Prevention of Child Abuse
  • Former Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, The John Harland Company
  • Former Executive Vice President and CFO, Mariner Post Acute Network
  • Former Senior Vice President, Finance & Administration, and CFO of Leaseway Transportation Corp. 
Warren Eardman

Warren Erdman ’81 (Phi Delta Theta)
Kansas City, Missouri
Senior Vice President, Kansas City Southern

“Westminster gave me the tools for life-long learning.”

  • Former Chief of Staff to United States Senator Christopher S. Bond of Missouri

  • Board of Directors of Bank Midwest, N.A. of Kansas City
  • Curator for the University of Missouri
  • Chairman, Economic Development Corporation of Kansas City
  • Former Vice Chairman, Missouri Apportionment Commission, and Former Co-Chairman, Missouri State Government Review Commission
Mike Esser

Michael Esser ’70 (Beta Theta Pi) 
Chesterfield, Missouri
Partner, Edward D. Jones & Co.

“Westminster’s rigorous academic standards forced me to discover how hard I could work! The small student body size offered me leadership opportunities which prepared me for life as an Edward Jones Financial Advisor, Partner and leader in our industry.”

  • Received Financial Services Roundtable INFACT-IMACT Award in 2002
  • Member of Securities Industry Financial Markets Association and Government Representatives Council
  • Former Chairman of Hawthorn Foundation of Missouri
  • Former President and Treasurer of Congressional Awards Council of Missouri
  • Past Board Member of Missouri Governor’s Council on Disability
Ray Stranghoener

Ray Stranghoener ‘73 (Kappa Alpha Order)
St. Louis, Missouri
President, The Commerce Trust Company

“I met my wife, Daria, at Westminster and she would be the number one factor in any success I have achieved.  However, the personal attention and support I received from faculty and staff at the College gave me the confidence to aim much higher in my career and, fortunately, some of that turned out pretty well.”

  • Served on the Executive Committee of Commerce Bancshares, Inc.
  • Former head of Bank of America’s Private Bank in St. Louis
  • Former Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary for Boatmen’s Trust Company in St. Louis
  • Board Member of the Missouri Historical Society
  • Board Member of the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis

The Young Alumni Achievement Award
This award is presented annually to recognize alumni who demonstrate the Westminster mission through outstanding achievement early in their chosen career and/or dedicated leadership and service to their community.

Announcing the 2013 Young Alumni Achievement Award Recipients:

Leigh Hildebrand

Leigh Hildebrand ’97 (Kappa Alpha Theta)
Washington DC
Senior Assistant Parliamentarian

“It was impossible to hide in a Westminster classroom, and that training was invaluable for an occupation that is truly in the middle of everything happening on Capitol Hill.  But what I couldn’t have found anywhere else were the wonderful people that many years after our college days are still the best of friends.”

  • Senior Congressional Staff Fellow, Stennis Ctr. for Public Service
  • Federal Election Commission Attorney, Office of the General Counsel
  • Certified Lay Advocate, Protective Order Project
  • Alphi Chi Distinguished Alumni Award, 2013
Jim Bennett

Jim Bennett ’92 (Beta Theta Pi)
St. Louis, Missouri
Lawyer, Dowd Bennett LLP

“Westminster, with its small classes taught by distinguished full professor in an interactive environment, was the perfect environment for me and I know it opened my eyes to all the possibilities that were out there and prepared me to navigate through my life and career.”

  • Former law clerk to the Hon. Anthony M. Kennedy, Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, and to the Hon. J. L. Edmondson, United States Circuit Judge for the Eleventh Circuit
  • Executive Committee, American Inns of Court Chapter in St. Louis
  • Fellow, Litigation Counsel of America
  • Listed as Best Lawyers in America
  • Ranked as a “Tier One” counsel by U.S. News and World Report