News

Two to Enter Natural Science Hall of Fame; Wimmer to Receive Servant Leadership Award

Two Southwestern College graduates will be inducted into the Southwestern College Natural Science Hall of Fame and one former professor will receive the Servant Leader award on Saturday, Nov. 10. 

The new members are Gordon Scott (deceased) and Gregory Unruh, while Robert “Doc” Wimmer will receive the Servant Leader Award. The plaques will be on display prior to the 5:30 p.m. dinner in the Deets Library.  The induction ceremony will begin at the conclusion of the meal, at approximately 6:15. 

The hall of fame honors Southwestern College alumni who have made significant contributions to the natural science world.

• Gordon H. Scott ’22 was a pioneer in medical education. After completing his Ph.D. in anatomy at the University of Minnesota in 1926, Scott’s early work included assisting E.V. Cowdry with cytological studies of malaria at the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research.  In the department of anatomy at Washington University, he began to do research in medical physics and developed many physical methods of study for biology.  One was the nation’s first electron microscope (1935-1936). Scott joined the medical faculty of Wayne State University in 1945 when the medical school occupied one building and had an enrollment of 250 students. When he retired nearly 25 years later, enrollment was well over 2,000. In its 1964 Distinguished Service Award, Wayne State cited Scott as a “creative researcher, distinguished educator, and masterful administrator. His research in histochemistry, aviation physiology, and capillary circulation brought him renown as one of the country’s finest scientists.”

• Gregory K. Unruh ’77 is an anesthesiologist and tenured professor at the University of Kansas Medical Center, and most recently has been associate dean for graduate medical education and designated institutional official.  A native of Sedan, he earned his M.D. at the University of Kansas Medical Center in 1981, and has been an active lecturer and researcher, as well as teaching and practicing medicine. Unruh received the Joel V. Mangold Award for Excellence in Resident Education, and has been anesthesiology residency program director since 2009. His institutional service includes being faculty advisor to the Delp Society (a student/faculty mentoring group) for more than a decade. He also has been an active participant in the American Society of Anesthesiologists and has held multiple offices (including the presidency) in the Kansas Society of Anesthesiologists.

Wimmer will receive the SC Servant Leadership Award.  This award recognizes those persons who have exhibited a willingness to lead in the style of a servant within God’s community of the world, one’s society, or the local community in which one resides.  Servant leadership describes the willingness of a person to serve causes beyond one’s own self-interest.

Wimmer was born in Westfield, N.J. He came to Kansas in 1949 as a student at College of Emporia and obtained a degree in 1952. He went on to obtain a master’s degree at Emporia State University in 1954 and a Ph.D. at Oklahoma State University in 1970. He taught at Southwestern College from 1959-1996.  During his tenure, he received the Outstanding Teaching Award given by the Chamber of Commerce, four Student Government Outstanding Teacher awards, the Bertholf Outstanding Teacher award, and the Ruth and Floyd Fassnacht Outstanding Faculty award.  He also generated the NSF grant to renovate the basement of Mossman Hall into biology laboratories.

These facts don’t tell the full story of “Doc” Wimmer, though. His family claims Doc never worked a day in his life because he enjoyed teaching so much, and the 790 students with biology majors who graduated from SC during his tenure experienced this gift both in and out of the classroom. He wasn’t driven by monetary goals; as a natural teacher he simply loved interacting with students, telling stories rather than giving lectures. Hundreds of those students also had memorable learning experiences during Jan Term trips Doc led.

In addition to celebrating Wimmer’s recognition as a Servant Leader Award recipient, SC is celebrating the establishment of the Robert Wimmer Chair in Biology at Southwestern College. A funding drive began several years ago and a final push this year brought in the needed commitments to establish the chair. As an endowment, earnings will annually benefit the biology program and students in the discipline.

Pat Ross, division chair for science at Southwestern College, will be the master of ceremonies.  Prior to the hall of fame inductions, there will be introductions of the Mastin Scholars, internship participants, and the Tri-Beta officers.

For more information about the Natural Science Hall of Fame, contact Susan Lowe, director of alumni programs at Southwestern College, at (620) 229-6334.