Group of senior citizens on front steps at college entrance
Mount Vernon Nazarene University honored its Golden Grads during Homecoming festivities on Nov. 11.

MOUNT VERNON, Ohio — Following an exhilarating Homecoming, Mount Vernon Nazarene University reflects on a celebration that not only embraced tradition but also forged new connections among alumni, students, and university supporters. Festivities featured a diverse array of events, engaging alumni forums and exciting Cougar basketball as alumni reunited with former classmates sharing life stories and reminiscing about the formative experiences that bind them together.

“It was our pleasure to welcome all the alumni and friends who returned to campus for our annual weekend. For our alumni, MVNU is truly ‘home.’ We are a family forged by experience, relationships, memories, and worship while on campus. I love meeting both new and old friends,” said Mike Cheek, Executive Director of Alumni Relations and Advancement.


Dr. David Wilson, Transitional Leader for MVNU, spoke on living thankfully to open Homecoming’s traditional Prayer Breakfast, reflecting on Psalm 9:1, “I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart. I will recount all of His wonderful deeds.”

“I believe it is important for all of us to live thankfully. Not depend on a day. Not depend on an event. But for all of us to make a habit of living thankfully,” said Wilson. “That doesn’t mean that I ignore heartache and disappointment for myself or for others. But what it does mean is that I’m not going to let negative and unhappy circumstances obscure my sense of what God is doing, moment by moment in my life.”

He encouraged those in attendance to pause in the busy tie and reflect see “God’s grace all over the place.”

Specific prayer was led by the following: Gabriel Beadle prayed for students; Scott Sharpes prayed for alumni; Professor Denise Parks for faculty; and Mel Severns prayed for staff.


The Class of 1973 was recognized during Homecoming Chapel in celebration of the 50th anniversary of their graduation from Mount Vernon Nazarene College. Each member of the class was presented a Golden Grad medallion.

“Bell bottom pants, hip huggers, earth shoes, clogs, tie dye T-shirts and gypsy dresses were popular. Long hair, big hair, and afros were in style. Just look at the 1973 yearbook. We appreciate the ground they laid while students here, and we welcome them back with open arms,” Mike Cheek, Executive Director of Alumni Relations and Advancement.


Jeana Howald (’82) was recognized with the Distinguished Alumni Service Award during Homecoming Chapel. She has served as women’s softball coach since 1990. 

The Distinguished Alumni Service Award is given by MVNU’s Alumni Association to an alum who has shown and modeled the values of the University in their lives and careers.  

“What makes Jeana special goes beyond her title and performances. She exudes the spirit of MVNU. She is a leader of women who lives the MVNU motto of service and life change,” said Dr. James Smith, Vice President for University Relations. “She mentors her players for life after athletics through commitment to their academics and their personal relationship with Christ. Her personal relationship with each player does not end when they stop playing for her as she continues to foster relationships with her alumni.” 

Read more here

Longtime Head Baseball Coach Keith Veale was named Honorary Alumnus during Mount Vernon Nazarene University’s Homecoming Chapel on Nov. 10. 

The Honorary Alumni Award is presented to MVNU faculty, staff or friends who have been influential in the life of the University and have demonstrated a continuing interest in MVNU.  

“Not another year should go by without us recognizing the devotion and dedication of our very own Keith Veale,” said Mike Cheek.

Read more here.


Students and Alumni heard incredible testimony from Kalyn Vogelmann (’95), USA-Canada Director of Women’s Discipleship for the Church of the Nazarene and founder of THRiVE, a ministry to women. 

Vogelmann spoke of her own journey and how God’s will brought her to MVNU although she wasn’t certain why. The answer, she said, rests in Ezekiel 47:9 — “There will be swarms of living things wherever the water of this river flows. … Life will flourish wherever this water flows.” 

“We, Mount Vernon community, are the river that flows. That’s who we are supposed to be. Whether you were here then, here now, or whether you are going to be here, we are called to be with Jesus. Get your floaties on. Strap on those puddle jumpers if you need to, but get into the river because wherever we fall, everything should thrive. … We are called to be the people who participate in the work that God is already doing in the world,” she said. 

To view Vogelmann’s full testimony, click here.


President Dr. Carson Castleman hosted two events during Homecoming providing opportunities for alumni and President’s Circle members to hear his vision for the university as well as his personal testimony.

Dr. Castleman said he and his wife, Dr. Angela Castleman (’00), feel they have come full circle returning “home” after starting their lives together at MVNU.

“If there is anything I want you to know about me, it is that I am honored to be back here at Mount Vernon leading and being an active participant in this community,” said Dr. Castleman. “But most importantly, I love Jesus Christ with every fiber of my being and every decision I make will be bathed in prayer and wise counseling with the Lord.”

He shared his short-term goals for the university before answering questions from the audience.

“The two things we are really going to be focusing on over the next six to nine months is enrollment and spiritual life including our connection to the church,” said Dr. Castleman. “Each of those things will help us grow enrollment and grow the opportunity to make a difference at this institution.”


Josh Richardson (’16), Richey Burgos (’08), and Annelise (Rohrer) Cisek (’16) were inducted onto the MVNU Athletics’ Wall of Fame.

Richardson finished his career with multiple cross country and track & field All-Conference finishes, was a conference champion in the 10k, a cross country national qualifier, as well as a two-time track & field national qualifier. During his time, he finished as a track & field All-American and Marathon National Runner-up. On top of this, Richardson was chosen four times as the Team’s Most Valuable Runner for cross country, multiple time NAIA Scholar Athlete, and is still a school record holder in the 5k, 8k, and 10k.

Burgos was an integral part of the baseball team for four years and earned many accolades and honors including these in 2008: NCCAA All-National Tournament Team, American Mideast Conference First Team, American Mideast Conference Player of the Year, a part of the NCCAA East Region Team, NCCAA East Region Player of the Year, NAIA Region IX Team, NAIA Region IX Player of the Year, NCCAA All-American Team, NCCAA National Player of the Year, NAIA Honorable Mention All-American, and was the Team’s Most Valuable Player.  

(Rohrer) Cisek was a member of the volleyball team and was honored as a four-time Crossroads League First Team, three-time Crossroads League Player of the Year, and a three-time NAIA All-American (third team as a junior and senior, Honorable Mention as a sophomore). In her time, she was NAIA Scholar Athlete while racking up 1870 career kills (seventh all-time).

“The MVNU Wall of Fame not only serves as a way to recognize former student-athletes for their accomplishments in competition, but it is also a way to highlight what God is doing in their lives after leaving MVNU,” said MVNU Director of Athletics Chip Wilson.

Read more here


Nominees for the Homecoming Court are selected by the student body for being Godly leaders in the school, having integrity and caring for others, showing a sense of responsibility and reliability, and high academic standing. 

The court included freshmen, Avery Stults and Luke Faircloth: sophomores, Lauren Warder and Alex Hayden; juniors, Emily Semler and Evan Hodkinson; seniors, Elizabeth Heimbach, Queen Julia Trotti, Rebecca Bash, Colton Sisler, Logan Kazelman and King John Backus.

To view photos from Homecoming, visit

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