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CHHS Hall of Fame

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The College of Health and Human Services Hall of Fame


The purpose of the CHHS Hall of Fame is to recognize and honor individuals who have made significant contributions to CHHS through their leadership, dedication to community and hard work. The nominees for the Hall of Fame may have graduated from WKU with a degree in one of the many majors in CHHS or attended WKU but did not earn a degree, or individuals who are recognized as national leaders in their professional career and have made significant contributions to advance the professions and programs within CHHS.

2015 Hall of Fame Inductees

2015 CHHS Hall of Fame Inductees at the Induction Ceremony on May 13th. 

2015 CHHS Hall of Fame Inductees

Dr. John Bonaguro

Dr. Bonaguro

Dr. John Bonaguro with CHHS Dean Dr. Neale Chumbler at the 2015 CHHS Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony.

Dr. John Bonaguro meritoriously served as Dean of the College of Health and Human Services (CHHS) from its inception in 2003 until March of 2015. His dynamic vision and leadership resulted in CHHS becoming one of the leading colleges at Western Kentucky University and the college with the largest enrollment. The College now houses the School of Nursing and the School of Kinesiology, Recreation, & Sport and confers the Doctor of Nursing Practice and Doctor of Physical Therapy degrees. Dr. Bonaguro was instrumental in the development of each of these initiatives and was a key player in the development and success across all of the CHHS departments' notable achievements and progress over the years.

Dr. Bonaguro is a recipient of the Distinguished Professional Service Award of the American Association of Health Education, where he is also a fellow. He currently serves as Chairman of the Board of the Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates and as President of the Foundation for the Advancement of Health Education. He is a graduate of Leadership Kentucky and is actively involved in healthcare initiatives at the local, state, and national levels. As a scholar, Dr. Bonaguro has received over 3 million dollars in externally funded projects and authored a number of highly influential works in his field.

Dr. Bonaguro is without question an influential figure in the development and continued success of the College of Health and Human Services at WKU. His positive impact on the College is immeasurable, his leadership without qualification, and his tireless dedication to advancing the College worthy of recognition.

Mr. Jeffrey Buckley

 Mr. Jeffrey Buckley

Mr. Jeffrey Buckley with CHHS Dean Dr. Neale Chumbler at the 2015 CHHS Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony.

Mr. Jeffrey Buckley graduated from the Health Care Administration (HCA) program at WKU. He later pursued graduate studies in hospital administration atWebster University in Saint Louis, Missouri and the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, Minnesota and holds a Master’s Degree in Health CareManagement. He currently serves as the Vice President for Alliant Management Services based in Louisville, Kentucky. In addition, Mr. Buckley is a board member of the Kentucky Chapter of the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE). Since 2011, Mr. Buckley has served on the WKU HCA advisory board.

In all his capacities, Mr. Buckley has been instrumental in supporting the HCA program and the community around him in many areas including professionalism in health care, representation in state and regional healthcare bodies, education, and student success in healthcare management.  His role in the advisory committee has been very instrumental in the changes made to improve professionalism and to promote high standards of learning and achievements among our students.

Mr. Buckley has over 30 years of experience in health care as a senior level executive in multiple healthcare organizations. With Alliant Management Services, he is responsible for the management activities of numerous active hospital clients and the business development in a region covering more than five states. He has served successfully in leadership positions in health care including numerous professional and community boards. He is also a past District Vice Chairman of the Kentucky Hospital Association.

Mr. Buckley stands out as a healthcare professional who strives to make his colleagues and his community better in understanding the value of health care as a profession and a way of life. He has exhibited a passion in health care and a great degree of interest in creating a new generation of successful healthcare leaders in our country.

Dr. Thad Crews

Dr. Thad Crews

Dr.Thad Crews with CHHS Dean Dr. Neale Chumbler at the 2015 CHHS Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony.

Dr. Thad Crews was the first Exercise Science faculty member in the School of Kinesiology, Recreation & Sport (KRS), joining the previously named Department of Physical Education & Recreation in 1974. For over 20 years, he served as the sole full-time faculty member with an Exercise Science background, contributing his expertise to teaching in the Physical Education program. In 1998, the Exercise Science concentration under Physical Education was established, largely due to Dr. Crews’ influence, thus creating a new path of study for our students. Prior to his retirement, Dr. Crews also served as the department head for the Department of Physical Education & Recreation from 2000-2008.

During his tenure, he was not only an exceptional teacher and scientist, but also a caring mentor to each of his students and to fellow faculty. The Exercise Science program now serves over 500 students and is the largest undergraduate program in KRS and one of the largest majors at WKU. During his time as department head, the undergraduate program in Sport Management was created, which now serves approximately 250 majors, and the department facilities underwent a complete renovation.

Dr. Crews served as President of the Kentucky Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (KAHPERD) from 1984 to 1985.  His hard work and dedication to the organization resulted in a Merit Award (1986), a Distinguished Service Award (1990), a College/University Physical Educator of the Year Award (1993), the highly respected Mustaine Award (1994), and a Lifetime Membership Award (1997). Dr. Crews was also a long-time member of the Southern District AAHPERD, and he received the organization’s Honor Award in 1990. Dr. Crews retired from WKU in 2007 and subsequently served five years to the department as a transitional retiree, for a total of 38 years of service.

Ms. Marilyn Dubree

Ms. Marilyn Dubree 

Ms. Marilyn Dubree with CHHS Dean Dr. Neale Chumbler at the 2015 CHHS Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony.

Ms. Marilyn Dubree received her Associate Degree in Nursing from Western Kentucky University in 1973. She is currently the Executive Chief Nursing Officer of Vanderbilt Hospitals and Clinics, encompassing over 200 hospital owned or managed hospitals and clinics across the United States and abroad.  With Vanderbilt University Medical Center, she has led strategic initiatives in nurse recruitment and retention, managed innovations in workforce issues, and advanced the initiative for inpatient documentation and clinical process improvement.

Ms. Dubree was a leader while a student at WKU where she was president of the WKU Kentucky Association of Nursing Students (KANS). She was recognized during this time as the outstanding nursing student for Kentucky.

She continued her education at the Medical College of Georgia (BSN) and Vanderbilt University (MSN). She is recognized as an international nursing leader, is a frequent speaker at conferences, and is interviewed in nursing and buiness journals.  Ms. Dubree is a Wharton Nurse Executive Fellow and a member of Sigma Theta Tau.

Ms. Dubree is a robust supporter of WKU and the School of Nursing. She serves on advisory committees and is a guest lecturer, most recently for the Doctor of Nursing Practice students where she explained how Magnet Status changes nursing and supports research.  She is active both professionally and in service to the community of Nashville, Tennessee and is held in high regard by nurses and health professionals in many venues.

Dr. Melinda Joyce

 Dr. Melinda Joyce

Dr. Melinda Joyce with CHHS Dean Dr. Neale Chumbler at the 2015 CHHS Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony.

Dr. Melinda Joyce has made a significant professional contribution to the School of Nursing through sharing her pharmacologic expertise with undergraduate and graduate students since 1990 in the role of Adjunct Professor. Dr. Joyce served as the Director of Pharmacy for the Medical Center in Bowling Green, Kentucky from 1998 until 2011 when she assumed her current position as Vice-President of Corporate Support Services for Commonwealth Health Corporation.

Dr. Joyce is well known locally, state-wide, and nationally for her professional accomplishments, leadership, service, and active involvement with various organizations.  At the state level, she has served as President and member of the advisory committee for the Kentucky Board of Pharmacy. As an active member of the Kentucky  Pharmacists Association, she has served as their President, Parliamentarian, Chairman of the Board, Chairman of the Education and Research Foundation Advisory  Council, and in other committee appointments. Dr. Joyce is the current President of the Kentucky Chapter of the American College of Healthcare Executives. At the national level, Dr. Joyce is a Diplomat and Fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives. As an active member of the American Pharmacists Association, she has served on their Board of Trustees, as Contributing Editor, and on various committees. She also takes an active role in the American Society of Health-Systems Pharmacists.

Multiple honors and awards have been bestowed on Dr. Joyce including the Distinguished Service Award for Hospital/Institutional Pharmacy Practice from the American Pharmacists Association and the Distinguished Service Award from the Kentucky Pharmacists Association. She is a former Kentucky Pharmacist of the Year in recognition of her impact on the profession.

Dr. Joyce has demonstrated outstanding service to the community through her many educational programs, both to the public as well as clinical personnel. Since 1984, she has delivered over 300 continuing education programs to healthcare providers. Such offerings clearly illustrate her commitment to education and service.


Dr. Alton Little

 Dr. Alton Little

Dr. Alton Little with CHHS Dean Dr. Neale Chumbler at the 2015 CHHS Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony.

Dr. Alton Little served 36 years in the Department of Physical Education and Recreation at WKU, beginning in 1971. He was a full-time faculty member for 31 years and then continued his service to the University for five years as a transitional employee, during which he taught half time. Dr. Little was one of the first two people in the state to be honored with the Professional Administrator Certification, and he served for 16 years with the Bowling Green Board of Parks and Recreation. He also served for many years as an accreditation site reviewer for the National Recreation and Park Association. In addition to receiving numerous national recognitions and awards, the Kummer-Little Recreation Center, located in downtown Bowling Green, was named in honor of Dr. Little and colleague Dr. Biff Kummer as a tribute to their years of work promoting and developing the parks and recreation system.

Dr. Little has been the driving force behind the creation and funding of five named scholarships for Recreation Administration majors. This work was accomplished through consistently reaching out to former students, championing the cause, and donating his own money.

In 1989, Dr. Little also founded the Bowling Green Chapter of Mended Hearts, a local organization that supports people undergoing heart procedures. Margaret Isenberg, former president of the local Mended Hearts chapter, said of Dr. Little, “He is always ready to step up and lend a helping hand wherever and whenever needed."

Dr. Little has been a supporter of many youth projects, including the War Memorial Boys Club of Bowling Green, and he was the Special Olympics Volunteer of the Year in 2002.

Dr. Little also touched the lives of many others through Riverside Christian Church where he was pastor for almost 40 years.

2014 Hall of Fame Inductees



Dr. Stan Cooke
Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders
Dr. David Dunn
Department of Public Health
Mr. Jimmy Feix
School of Kinesiology, Recreation and Sport
Mr. Doug Ford
Department of Public Health
Dr. Mary Heltsley
Department of Family and Consumer Sciences
Dr. Martha Jenkins
Department of Family and Consumer Sciences
Mr. David Laird
Department of Public Health
Ms. Christy McClendon
Department of Social Work
Mr. Joe Micatrotto
Department of Family and Consumer Sciences
Dr. Justin "Jay" Miller
Department of Social Work
Dr. Burch Oglesby
School of Kinesiology, Recreation and Sport
Mr. Tom Pennington
Department of Allied Health and Physical Therapy
Ms. Connie Smith
School of Nursing

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 Last Modified 7/17/15