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Garrett-Evangelical Names 2014 Distinguished Alumni

May 2, 2014

Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary is honored to recognize Dr. Rita Lester and Dr. M. Franklin Dotts as the 2014 Distinguished Alumni. Each year, the seminary chooses two alumni to be honored as Distinguished Alumni at our Commencement exercises. One alumnus is chosen from the most recent 25 years of graduates and one alumnus is chosen from all those alumni who graduated over 25 years ago.

Our more recent Distinguished Alum, Dr. Rita Lester, teaches at Nebraska Wesleyan University where she serves as professor of religion, the faculty president, and a member of the board of governors. In 2010, she was one of 12 professors in the nation selected to attend the “Teaching About Islam and Middle Eastern Culture” seminar in Jordan.  That same year she won NWU’s 2010-2011 Margaret J. Prouty Faculty Teaching Award.  In 2012, Lester was named the Nebraska Professor of the Year and was honored by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. She was selected from nearly 300 top professors in the country.

The second Distinguished Alumus of Garrett-Evangelical is Dr. M. Franklin Dotts. After teaching high school English in Pittsburgh for six years, M. Franklin Dotts received a call from God to move from public education to Christian education. In 1969, he received a doctor of education (Ed.D.) degree in religious education with a specialty in curriculum planning from Teachers College, Columbia University, through its joint program with Union Theological Seminary in New York City. While pursuing his doctoral degree, Dotts began his long tenure at the United Methodist Publishing House (UMPH) and the General Board of Discipleship (GBOD) of The United Methodist Church.  He started there as an editor of church school curriculum resources for young children and early elementary children in the Department of Children’s Publications. From 1986 until his retirement in 1990, Dotts served as Executive Editor of Children’s Publications, with responsibility for all church school resources for children from birth through Grade 6.  Throughout his time as editor on the national staff, Dotts was widely known for his encouragement and leadership.

At Garrett-Evangelical, our focus is on educating our students to become bold, servant leaders who serve the church, academy, and the world,” says President Lallene Rector. “Dr. Lester and Dr. Dotts are the living embodiment of our goal for students after graduation. Not only is Dr. Lester serving her students well at Nebraska Wesleyan University, she has been recognized as one of the finest educators in the country. In a similar way, Dr. Dotts has faithfully served The United Methodist Church in arguably one of the most critical areas of our denomination. I couldn’t be more proud to recognize them as our 2014 Distinguished Alumni and hold them up as examples for our current students to aspire towards.”