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Northwestern Foundation & Alumni Association announces Outstanding Graduates

(ALVA, Okla. April 6, 2017) – The Northwestern Foundation & Alumni Association will recognize five Outstanding Graduates during the annual Spring Reunion Banquet on Saturday, April 29 at 6 p.m.

The honored alumni include: David Elder, class of 1973, Arts category; Doug Van Meter, class of 1989, Business/Professional category; Julie Zollinger, class of 1992, Education category; Phyllis Brunsteter, class of 1949, Ranger Spirit category; and James Erskine, class of 1963, Humanitarian category.

For more information, contact John Allen, director of alumni relations, at 580-327-8593 or

David Elder

Outstanding Graduate, ArtsDavid Elder

Born in Sussex, N.J., David Elder graduated from Northwestern with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1973 and a Master of Education degree in 1976. He went on to receive a Master of Fine Arts withan emphasis in studio art from West Texas A&M University in 2006.

While at Northwestern, Elder was a member of the Political Science Forum, the Young Republicans Club and the United Campus Ministry.

Elder began his career teaching elementary and high school art in Pine Bush, New York, from 1973-1974, and then at Laverne High School as an art and history teacher from 1975-1999. He was first employed as an instructor of art at Oklahoma Panhandle State University (OPSU) in 1999 and has since earned tenure at the university.

While at OPSU, Elder helped create the university’s Bachelor of Fine Arts degree which was approved by the Oklahoma Board of Regents. He also created OPSU’s first art history minor. He has served on several university committees, including the Rank and Tenure, Financial Aid and the Accommodations committees, and was elected to the OPSU Faculty Senate several times.

Elder currently has pottery in the MacCreeds Gallery in Bennet Springs, Mo., and the All Fired Up Art Gallery in Guymon, Okla. One of his pottery pieces won Best of Show at the 2011 Nescatunga Arts Festival in Alva. He is currently a member of the Saint Peter the Apostle Catholic Church in Guymon where he was elected to the Parish Council and has served for over ten years.

Today, Elder is Professor Emeritus at OPSU and resides in Guymon with his wife, Cherrie. They have two children, Bridget Ann Elder-Thomas and Christopher Elder.


Doug Van Meter

Outstanding Graduate, Business/ProfessionalDoug Van Meter

Originally from Enid, Okla., Doug Van Meter graduated from Northwestern in 1989 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in accounting. He was a member of the Ranger football team from 1984-1989. He went on to receive his Certified Public Accountant (CPA) certificate in 1991.

After graduating from Northwestern, Van Meter started his 26-year career with BKD, becoming partner in 2001. He is currently a member of BKD’s National Financial Services Group and is the financial services industry leader for the south region, including Arkansas, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Texas. In this role, he serves on the firm’s eight-member Financial Services Committee that sets the practice’s strategic direction and growth initiatives for BKD.

A supporter of a number of Oklahoma-based nonprofits and higher education institutions, Van Meter spends time speaking and recruiting at various institutions while promoting higher education and opportunities in the accounting industry.

Van Meter said one of his greatest accomplishments is seeing the day-to-day development of individuals he works with – but his greatest accomplishment is maintaining his integrity and commitment to his wife and family.

Van Meter resides in Edmond, Okla., with his wife, Kamee. They have three children, Kolt, Kade and Karsyn.


Julie Zollinger

Outstanding Graduate, EducationJulie Zollinger

Born in Springfield, Ill., Julie (Short) Zollinger graduated from Northwestern in 1992 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. She went on to receive a master’s in psychology from Utah State University in 1996 and an Educational Specialist degree from Fort Hays State University in 2012.

While at Northwestern, Zollinger was involved in the band, Soundsations, student government and was president of the Psychology Club.

A nationally certified school psychologist, Zollinger has been employed at Hays West Central Kansas Special Education Cooperative with Hays USD #489 since 1999. She also is an adjunct instructor of psychology at Fort Hays State University.

She is currently a member of the National Association of School Psychologists and the Kansas Association of School Psychologists and has extensive training in the area of autism. She has received numerous awards for her work in psychology, including the Alumni Achievement Award (Utah State University, 2016), the School Psychologist of the Year Award (Kansas Association of School Psychologists, 2015-2016) and the Adjunct Instructor of the Year Award (Fort Hays State University, 2014).

Zollinger also led the implementation of a school-wide Positive Behavior and Intervention Support Program, continues to develop strong family connections with minority families in order to facilitate their understanding and involvement in their child’s special education services, and successfully presented at national and state professional conferences.

Zollinger resides in Hays, Kan., with her husband, Brett, ’92. They have one child, Allen.


Phyllis Brunsteter

Outstanding Graduate, Ranger SpiritPhyllis Brunsteter

Born in Hazelton, Kan., Phyllis (Stout) Brunsteter received her Bachelor of Science degree from Northwestern in 1949.

During her time at Northwestern, Brunsteter was a member of the Sigma Kappa sorority and the home economics club. While attending school, she worked in Northwestern’s business office while maintaining her status on the Dean’s Honor Rolls. After graduation she worked full time in the Dean’s office and then as administrative assistant to the Executive Vice President. Brunsteter was the first recipient of the Thelma Crouch Staff Employee of the Year award. She was employed at Northwestern for 46 years, retiring in 2003.

Brunsteter said she always considered being a part of Northwestern’s student body and staff a privilege.

She is a member of the Presbyterian Church in Alva where she has served in several capacities. She has been involved in many community groups including the Northwestern Alumni Association, Northwest Concert Series, Oklahoma Retired Educators Association, Alva Community Theatre and the Nescatunga Art and Humanities Council. Brunsteter also was honored in 2002 as Northwestern’s Homecoming Parade Marshall.

Brunsteter resides in Alva. She and her late husband, William Brunsteter, have two children, Jane Hood and Grant Brunsteter, and two grandchildren, Nicholas and Katie.


James Erskine

Outstanding Graduate, HumanitarianJames Erskine

A native of Alva, Okla., James Erskine graduated from Northwestern in 1963 with a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry. He received his master’s degree from Oklahoma State University in 1966 and has taken several extension courses through Texas A&M University.

While at Northwestern, Erskine was a member of the Ranger Band including concert, marching and jazz band. He also was a member of the brass quartet which traveled with the university choir. He was listed on the Dean’s Honor Roll for six semesters and received several scholarships, including the Carl Shafer scholarship and the Brown and Brown Scholarship.

After receiving his master’s degree, Erskine began an impressive 35-year career as an analytical chemist with Dow Chemical, eventually retiring as a research leader. Throughout his career, he has presented at several industry meetings and is published in several publications.

In addition to his career as a chemist, Erskine also has a passion for helping others. He has volunteered with his local Habitat for Humanity group for the past 22 years, building a total of 90 homes for low income families. He also is involved in a “fourth grade after school” tutoring program where he helps and encourages students with their homework and shows them how science can be fun.

Erskine said his work as a construction and volunteer coordinator, along with his tutoring work, has given purpose to his life in retirement.

Erskine currently reside in Lake Jackson, Texas.



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