Five new individuals have been elected to the Kansas Wesleyan University Board of Trustees, according to information released by the university Saturday. Rev. H. Sharon Howell (Lenexa, Kan.), Roy Lawrence (Salina, Kan.), Dr. Stefanie Milam (Annapolis, Md.), Byron Norris (Salina, Kan.) and Jon Starks (Salina, Kan.) join a group of 23 distinguished church, civic and business leaders who set the future of the university.
“We are so fortunate to have this impressive and diverse group of five individuals join our KWU Board. They have each demonstrated leadership in their respective areas and a dedication to our mission. They will enhance the work of our Board of Trustees,” said Dr. Matt Thompson, KWU president.
The board’s newest officers are led by chair Marilyn Foster Kirk ’68 (Evanston, Ill.), while Barry Weis ’10 (Salina, Kan.) is the immediate past chair. Ken Ebert (Salina, Kan.) is the vice chair and Charles Spencer (Kansas City, Mo.) serves as treasurer, while John Redding ’91 (Salina, Kan.) is the secretary.
Full capsules on each of the new trustees appear below.
Rev. H. Sharon Howell is a retired United Methodist (UMC) clergy member and former president of Saint Paul School of Theology. She previously served UMC churches in Texas, Missouri, and Kansas. Howell earned her Bachelor of Arts from Austin College and her Master of Divinity from Saint Paul.
Roy Lawrence ’91 is part-owner of the Salina Liberty indoor football team and the former director of development for St. John’s Military School in Salina. He graduated from Kansas Wesleyan with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Health, Physical Education and Recreation in 1991.
Dr. Stefanie Milam ’02 is the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) Deputy Project Scientist for Planetary Science at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. Milam was one of the lead scientists on 2022’s launch of the JWST and discussed the launch on multiple national platforms, including 60 Minutes and national PBS programming. She is a 2002 graduate of KWU with a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry, and earned her Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Arizona in 2007. She was recognized with the KWU Young Alumni Award in 2008.
Byron Norris ’72 is the retired vice president for human resources/risk management at McShares, Inc., based in Salina. He graduated from KWU with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology in 1972 and also holds a Master of Science degree from Wichita State University. He previously served on the Board of Trustees from 2013-22.
Jon Starks is the retired president and CEO of UMB Bank, Salina and Abilene. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Kansas, as well as the Graduate School of Banking at the University of Delaware, the American Bankers Association National Commercial Lending School at the University of Oklahoma and the Bank Marketing Association School of Bank Marketing at the University of Colorado. Starks previously served on the KWU Board of Trustees 2012-21, including a term as treasurer.
In other Board of Trustees business, four trustees were elected for an additional three-year term: Ebert; Charles Grimwood; Redding ’91 and Weis ’10. Ebert and Grimwood are past recipients of the university’s Alumni by Choice honor.
Two board members were elected as Trustee Emeriti, with terms expiring in 2028: Emily-May Richards (Peoria, Ariz.) for her first term as Trustee Emerita and Randy St. Clair (Parkville, Mo.) for his second term as Trustee Emeritus. Richards is a past recipient of the university’s Alumni by Choice honor.
Weis was recognized for his service as the board chair from 2021-23, while Julie Sager Miller (Salina, Kan.) and Richards, both outgoing trustees, were formally thanked for their nine years of service.
The Kansas Wesleyan University Board of Trustees meets three times each year. The essential function of the Kansas Wesleyan University Board of Trustees is policy-making and assurance of sound management and fiduciary responsibility. The Board has initial and ultimate responsibility in determining general, educational, financial and related policies deemed necessary for the administration and development of Kansas Wesleyan University in accordance with its stated purposes and goals.