The McPherson College Citation of Merit award recipients for 2023 are Dwight Oltman ’58 (posthumously), Zane Smith ’66, and Garold Minns ’73. These recipients exemplify the college’s mission of Service, Scholarship, and Participation through their lifelong commitment to the values they developed as students at McPherson College. The college honored this year’s recipients at a dinner on April 21 at the Community Building in McPherson.
The McPherson College Citation of Merit is the highest award recognizing the most distinguished alumni for lifetime accomplishments in service to profession, community, church, and to McPherson College. The recipients are recommended by the Alumni Awards Committee and are approved by the College Board of Trustees.
The beginning of Dwight Oltman’s 55-year career as a renowned international conductor and music educator can be traced back to his senior year at McPherson College. He was asked to fill in for the band director, who had become ill until a replacement was found and ended up conducting the entire academic year.
Oltman was the founding music director of the Ohio Chamber Orchestra in Cleveland and conducted the orchestra from 1972 to 1992. He was also the music director and principal conductor of Cleveland Ballet from 1976 to 2000. He conducted ballet performances in cities across the United States, including New York and Chicago, and in Europe at the Edinburgh Festival in Scotland. From 2000 until 2012, he was the music director of Ballet San Jose in California and traveled with the company to perform in Shanghai, China. Oltman served on the faculty of Baldwin Wallace University for 40 years from 1970 until 2014, where he conducted the symphony orchestra and symphonic wind ensemble. Both groups were honored by being selected to perform at numerous state, regional, and national conferences. He also directed the renowned Baldwin Wallace Bach Festival for 39 years, which was featured on PBS for its St. Matthew’s Passion performance and at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Throughout his career, he conducted various orchestras in the United States and abroad and was a guest lecturer for many national conferences and American music schools.
He graduated from McPherson College in 1958, earned a Master of Art in Music from Wichita State University in 1963, and completed postgraduate coursework at the University of Cincinnati. Additionally, he studied conducting with Pierre Monteux and Max Rudolf, two of the leading pedagogues of the 20th century, and composition in France with Nadia Boulanger. He was recognized with a proclamation from Cleveland Mayor Michael White and recognized with a Morton Gould Award from the American Society of Composers.
Zane Smith put his business degree from McPherson College to use in helping develop his hometown of Ankeny, Iowa. After graduating from McPherson in 1966, he returned to his home and opened a gas station just off of well-traveled Interstate-35. He later continued his education in real estate and obtained a real estate and broker’s license, becoming a Certified Residential Specialist and Certified Commercial Investment Member. He established a residential real estate company, Zane Smith Realty, which grew into one of the leading residential real estate companies in Iowa. He expanded his company into commercial sales and founded Zane Smith Commercial. He is a 50-year member of the Des Moines Area Association of Realtors and a member of the Iowa Commercial Real Estate Association and National Association of Realtors. In addition to his real estate companies, he was also a past co-owner of two tire stores and six convenience stores.
He is an active member of community organizations. He is a 50-year member of the Masonic Lodge and Ankeny Rotary Club and a nine-time Rotary Paul Harris Fellow, and member of the Za-Ga-Zig Shrine-Royal Order of Jesters. He is a past board of directors member of the Ankeny Chamber of Commerce and First American Bank. He is a life-long member of the Ankeny Church of the Brethren. Smith established a permanent ongoing endowed scholarship fund for students in the McPherson College business program.
Dr. Garold Minns grew up in McPherson and graduated from McPherson College with a degree in biology in 1973. He continued his education at the University of Kansas School of Medicine-Wichita. At KUMC-Wichita he completed his residency in internal medicine, followed by an infectious disease fellowship. He joined the faculty of KUMC-Wichita in 1980 and today serves as its dean and associate dean for Academic and Student Affairs, professor, and was the previous chair of the Department of Internal Medicine. He is the Sedgwick County health officer and during the pandemic was instrumental in leading health policy for the county, including Wichita. He also serves as part-time physician at the Wichita Veterans Hospital.
His community involvement includes working with the National Youth Sports Program, giving physical exams for youths, and as a camp physician for the Boy Scouts of America. He is a member of the Wichita First Church of the Brethren, where he has been actively involved in committees over the years, and as volunteer physician for the Annual Conference.
A recording of the Evening of Recognition Awards dinner and program can be found at https://livestream.com/mcpherson-college/evening-of-recognition-2023