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Alumni Awards

Each year an Awards Committee of the Alumni Association bestows Young Alumnus, Outstanding Alumnus and Distinguished Achievement Awards on select graduates. The awards have been given since 1960.

The Young Alumnus Award recognizes character and citizenship, achievement or service rendered, honors and recognition received. The recipient must be 39 years of age or younger.

The Outstanding Alumnus Award is given on the basis of character and citizenship, service to church/community or college or other outstanding achievements, honors and recognition.

The Distinguished Achievement Award acknowledges character and citizenship, achievement in a chosen profession or vocation and work of benefit to humanity.

To make a nomination, please complete and return a nomination form to the Office of Alumni Relations, Bethel College, 300 E. 27th, N. Newton, KS 67117 or e-mail

2019 Award Recipients

Young Alumnus Award:

Chad Unrau, Houston, will receive the 2019 Young Alumnus Award in convocation Friday, Nov. 15. This award recognizes character and citizenship, achievement or service rendered, and honors and recognition received. The recipient must be 39 years of age or younger.

Unrau graduated from Bethel in 2004 with a bachelor of science and double major in math and physics. He earned an M.S. in mechanical engineering and a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from Washington University, St. Louis.

Since 2017, he has been chief operating officer of Magna Imperio Systems Corp., Houston, which owns and operates a water technology company that works at developing and manufacturing energy-efficient, high-recovery desalination water treatment systems.

Before that, 2014-17, he was director of engineering for NanoVapor Inc. in The Woodlands, Texas (2014-17), and senior research and development (R&D) engineer for the Cabot Corporation in Pampa, Texas (2009-14).

Unrau describes himself as “an entrepreneur with more than 15 years of experience in operations, R&D, product development and engineering.” He currently has five patents pending.

Unrau is married to Mindy (Pfannenstiel) Unrau ’05. They have two miniature schnauzers, Charlie and Kevin, and enjoy traveling, especially to go hiking with family in the mountains.

Distinguished Achievement Award:

Gayle Gerber Koontz, Elkhart, Ind., is this year’s Outstanding Alumnus, awarded on the basis of character and citizenship, service to church/community or college, or other outstanding achievements, honors and recognition.

She is professor emerita of Bible and religion (retired 2014) at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary in Elkhart.

After three years at Bluffton (Ohio) College, Gerber Koontz completed her degree in English literature with certification in secondary education at Bethel in 1969.

She subsequently studied one year at Harvard Divinity School before completing an M.A. in religion from Lancaster (Pa.) Theological Seminary in 1976 and a Ph.D. in philosophy of religion and ethics at Boston University in 1985.

At BU, her dissertation advisers were Paul Deats and Gordon D. Kaufman ’47.

From 1972-79, Gerber Koontz worked for or was closely connected with Mennonite Central Committee (MCC): as an assistant editor and then director of Information Services at the Akron, Pa., office, and as a member of the MCC Peace Section Task Force on Women in Church and Society and editor of the task force newsletter.

She taught one year at Goshen (Ind.) College, where she was assistant professor of religion (1981-82), before moving permanently to AMBS.

In addition to her teaching, Gerber Koontz served a number of different roles at AMBS over the years, including acting president following the death of Marlin Miller in 1994; dean; acting dean; and chair of the Department of History, Theology and Ethics (HTE).

She has also held multiple roles within Mennonite Church USA, including as a participant in theological dialogues with the Church of God (Cleveland, Tenn.) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), and as a member of the committee that developed the 1995 Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective.

Gerber Koontz is married to Theodore (Ted) Koontz ’68, also retired as a professor in HTE at AMBS. They were co-recipients of Bethel’s Young Alumnus Award in 1981.

From 1988-90, Gayle and Ted were on leave from AMBS to serve as faculty at Silliman University Divinity School in Dumaguete, Philippines.

They are the parents of three children – Rachel, Timothy and Peter – and grandparents of four. They spend 2-3 months a year in Tucson, Ariz., as volunteers with Service Opportunities with Our Partners (SOOP), a program of MC USA.

Outstanding Alumnus Award:

The recipient of Bethel’s 2019 Distinguished Achievement Award is Diana (Erb) Schunn, Whitewater. This award acknowledges character and citizenship, achievement in a chosen profession or vocation, and work of benefit to humanity.

Schunn received her bachelor of science in nursing from Bethel in 1987.

She also has extensive training in SANE/SART – Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner and Sexual Assault Response Team – and forensic nursing.

Since 2008, she has been executive director of the Child Advocacy Center of Sedgwick County, and has been serving the Wichita Police Department and other groups as a forensic nurse consultant.

Schunn began her nursing career in 1987 as a staff nurse and relief charge nurse at St. Joseph Medical Center in Wichita, before moving into SANE/SART work in 1993 with both St. Joseph and Via Christi Regional Medical Center (now Via Christi Health) in Wichita.

She remained in that area with Via Christi through 2011, when she began full-time with the Child Advocacy Center.

Schunn has received numerous awards for her work helping people of all ages deal with the trauma of sexual violence. Among those: Wichita Business Journal Women in Business list, 2017; American Red Cross Commitment to Community Hero, 2016; Wichita Police Department Certificate of Appreciation, 2006, “For service rendered to the community and citizens of the City of Wichita, Kansas, in the interest of better law enforcement”; The Vagina Monologues Vagina Warrior Award, 2004; and Kansas Attorney General Carla Stovall’s Crime Victim Service Award, Outstanding Individual for Commitment to Crime Victims, 2000.

Schunn was the Bethel Department of Nursing’s Outstanding Young Alumnus in 1996.

She is married to Rob Schunn ’86. Their two children, Casey and Kylee, and daughter-in-law Lisa are all Bethel graduates.

Schunn, a native of Henderson, Neb., was a member of the volleyball team at Bethel. One of the things she now enjoys is “watching sports of all kinds – particularly college football, volleyball and basketball, with Nebraska football being my favorite.”

The Outstanding Alumnus and Distinguished Achievement awards are presented each year at the annual Alumni Banquet in June 8.

The Young Alumnus Award is presented in a convocation during the school year, along with a program by the recipient for Bethel students, faculty and staff.

Awards Committee

  • Jeffrey Graber ’04, Newton, Chair
  • Gwen Neufeld ’89, North Newton
  • Monica Schmidt Spicer ’11, Newton
  • Richard Zerger ’69, McPherson

About Bethel

As the first Mennonite college founded in North America, Bethel College celebrates a tradition of progressive Christian liberal arts education, diversity within community, and lifelong learning.