NNU Logo

The 2023 Alumni Awards will be presented during Homecoming Chapel at 10:00 a.m. on Friday, November 10.

Dr. Reginald Finger, Class of 1976
2023 Alumnus of the Year Award

Dr. Reginald Finger grew up as an only child with dedicated Christian parents who modeled service, hospitality and consistent spiritual practices in his home.

Reginald’s first visits to NNC were as an Alaska Bible quizzer. There was no question of other colleges or universities; he only applied to NNC. By the time he came to campus as a first-year student, he already felt very much at home there.

As a mathematics major, Reginald made significant lifelong friendships, building on the relationships he’d made while a quizzer. Two years after graduating, he moved to Seattle for medical school, earning his MD degree, a Master of Public Health in Epidemiology and a preventive medicine residency credential from the University of Washington.

Ultimately, Reginald became a physician epidemiologist, researcher, embryo adoption advocate and public health professor. With resistance to his stance on sharing his Christian faith in medical settings, he was motivated by a desire to make changes that future Christian students wouldn’t have to battle against.

After completing medical school, Reginald became a state epidemiologist in Kentucky until 1997. He did medical policy research for Focus on the Family and then spent seven years writing, researching and speaking on embryo adoption.

In 2013, the opportunity arose to join the faculty at Indiana Wesleyan University. Reginald continued to teach there in the Master of Public Health program until his retirement in 2023.

Reginald has enjoyed leading chapels and devotionals periodically for the NNU volleyball team since 2015. Moving to Nampa made it easier to participate in the receptions, awards events, games and special meals, as well as blessings for the seniors on Senior Day. This year, Reginald also gave a couple of mid-afternoon devotionals to the men’s basketball team. He continues to be involved in campus life at NNU, leading chapels and devotionals for the Nighthawks volleyball and basketball teams.

From 2020 to 2022, Reginald was involved in a project outlining the basics of “Integration of Faith and Learning” for the Indiana Wesleyan faculty. During that time, he spoke at the Quadrennial Forum for the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities in Dallas, collaborated on an article for the CCCU Advance periodical, hosted a series of webinars at IWU and recorded a podcast.

“I am deeply honored and grateful to receive this award,” Reginald said. “I was picked to represent a set of values and actions that NNU promotes and that are exemplified by thousands of alumni and I’m delighted to celebrate the relationships I am part of because of NNU.”

Because of his continued dedication to NNU, its alumni and students, NNU is honored to present Dr. Reginald Finger with the 2023 Alumnus of the Year Award.

Eric Ely, Class of 1982
2023 Professional Achievement Award

While in Junior College at Treasure Valley Community College in Ontario, OR, Eric Ely was invited to a college Bible study at First Church of the Nazarene. It was through this Bible study that Eric came to Christ. Through an introduction with the head coach at NNC, Eric was invited to visit the campus.

Eric majored in Elementary Education at NNC. He went on a foreign basketball tour with the team to Mexico through Sports and Cultural Exchange International (SCEI). Eric continued to do several foreign evangelistic basketball trips with SCEI while attending NNC.

Eric played varsity basketball at NNC, track and field, and intramural softball, served as Class Chaplain, Dorm Chaplain and Ombudsman in Student Development, participated in Mission to the Cities and worked at the Golden Bell Nazarene Ranch, with Work and Witness teams, ROTC, Timeouts and helped at the Spanish Nazarene Church on occasion.

Before graduation, Eric had the opportunity to play basketball professionally in France for a year. He played with a pro team in a small town of about 15,000 people in Northern France. That team played in the Division 4 National Championship in Versailles, Paris. Eric was pegged as “the Good American” in the national sports paper La Voix Du Nord after the media saw him play in the final four of that championship game.

From NNU in 1982, Eric went to Bible College at Grace Community Church in Los Angeles for a cross-cultural training program, which prepared him for his next three and a half years playing professionally in Brazil, helping his team to the National Championships each year. He attended a vibrant church there, where he met his wife, Regina Celia DeSouza.

After Brazil, Eric returned to NNC to work as an Admissions Counselor and assist with the women’s basketball team from 1986 to 1989 before taking a job in Orlando, FL, at Frontline Outreach, an inner-city mission.

He and Regina returned to work at NNC again in 1990 in the Office of Student Development as the Director of Residential Life until he became the first director of the new Office for Multicultural Affairs. This role identified the needs of minority and international students on campus and hosted prospective multicultural students considering the University as their college. In 1997, Eric was offered the opportunity to begin and develop an Office for Multicultural Affairs at Mt. Vernon Nazarene University in Ohio, which he accepted and implemented for two years. At the end of his second year there, Oral Roberts University offered him a position coaching an NCAA Division 1 women’s basketball team.

During the six years Eric served at ORU, his Mid-Major D1 women’s basketball team won the conference three times and advanced to the NCAA tournament, eventually losing twice to national champions Tennessee and Purdue. He was then invited to work at the University of Missouri in the Big 12 Conference as the recruiting coordinator, serving there for three seasons before returning to ORU in the summer of 2007.

Eric moved on to Oregon State University, where he helped rebuild the depleted PAC10 team, building a strong women’s basketball program from 2010 to 2020, going to the final four after six years, two Elite Eights and three Sweet Sixteens. They were ranked as high as #2 in the nation for women’s college basketball in 2016 and 2017.

Following that accomplishment, Eric was invited to be an assistant coach and translator for the AIA, USA University Games Pan American Team. The games were played in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and won the Gold by defeating Brazil in the championship. He and his wife, Regina, are both gold medal owners now.

The pandemic caused a job change for a while, with Eric volunteering with the Greater Corvallis Rotary Club, serving in senior citizen living facilities. That fall of 2020, Eric began working at Texas Tech in Lubbock, Texas, helping rebuild their program for two years. In the summer of 2022, he was invited back to Oregon State University, where he currently is the Director of Player Personnel and Assistant to the Head Coach.

“My education and training at NNU have been the basis for all the opportunities I’ve experienced as a Christian professional over the years,” Eric said. “I’m certainly humbled and elated to receive this amazing award! NNU has done a great job preparing students over the decades. I feel even more responsibility to continue doing the best I can in representing God, NNU and all the alumni associated with NNU.”

For his faithful service worldwide as a Christian professional, Eric Ely is the honored recipient of the 2023 Professional Achievement Award.

Dr. Dorothy (Ackerman) Butler, Class of 2013
2023 Leon Doane Young Alumnus Award

Dr. Dorothy (Ackerman) Butler began her college career at NNU, majoring in Elementary Education. While taking a general chemistry class for a science elective, she discovered a proclivity for chemistry. NNU’s professors—Dr. Tim Anstine in particular— encouraged her academically and personally, calling out the potential he saw in her. Because of his encouragement, Dorothy switched her major to chemistry and never looked back.

During her time at NNU, Dorothy worked with Team SuperHydro and NASA. She and her team spent a few days in Texas, testing their experiment and participating first-hand in research aboard the Zero-G plane.

Between her junior and senior years at NNU, Dorothy was selected as an Amgen Scholar and moved to Seattle for summer research at the University of Washington, studying ways to tailor drug delivery mechanisms.

Dorothy was heavily involved at NNU, serving as an RA in Ford Hall, playing the flute in the NNU concert band and a small ensemble, working at the Brick House, as a peer tutor and teaching assistant and as part of the student alumni council.

“The education and experience I received at NNU were amazing, but the life lessons learned outside the classroom and the friendships were the best part,” Dorothy said. “Having professors and staff that care about your whole transformation… is truly an incredible experience. At NNU, I learned the importance of being rooted in Christ, and I truly appreciate all the care and wisdom poured into me while there.”

Following graduation, Dorothy started a doctoral program in chemistry at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN. She spent the next five years earning her Ph.D.

While at Vanderbilt, Dorothy studied the role of human milk oligosaccharides (sugars) in providing protection against infectious diseases. Her first research publication was recognized with an Editor’s Choice designation and was the most-read article in 2017.

After completing her Ph.D., Dorothy moved to Northern Virginia for a postdoctoral fellowship at the National Cancer Institute. She researched at NCI for three years, studying the sugars found on cancer cells that can be used to treat and diagnose cancer. When the pandemic started, her research shifted to studying the antibodies to carbohydrates in COVID patients and how they may be related to some of the autoimmune symptoms experienced.

After NCI, Dorothy began a position as a science policy project manager at the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network. As part of that role, she worked on a project to make cancer clinical trials more accessible to patients. She then took a fellowship at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in their Foreign Agriculture Service (FAS) as an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Science & Technology Policy Fellow. In this role, Dorothy has had the opportunity to work on international trade policy. She is participating in an interagency group working on the plastic treaty negotiations happening in the UN over the next few years.

“Dorothy Ackerman Butler graduated from NNU’s Department of Chemistry in 2013 and has continued to pave the path for women in STEM, influencing many young hopefuls through outreach programs and teaching.” —From Publication: INFLUENTIAL WOMEN OF NNU: YESTERDAY, TODAY AND TOMORROW

For her impressive accomplishments in her chosen field and for living out the values of NNU in all areas of her life, NNU is pleased to present Dr. Dorothy Butler with the 2023 Leon Doane Young Alumnus Award.

Eddie Miles, Class of 1994
2023 Distinguished Service Award

Eddie began his first year at NNC on a full-ride athletic scholarship in 1990 after transferring from Boise State University and playing for a Boise men’s soccer club team. He had no idea the impact his time there would have on his life.

Eddie majored in Business Administration and participated in community service, raking leaves, volunteering with special needs children who would come to swim in the NNC pool and as a volunteer tax preparer. He played soccer all four years, made lifelong friends, met his wife Christine and strengthened his relationship with God during college.

After graduation, Eddie began his career in banking, and from there, he moved into healthcare administration and medical management. Over the years, Eddie held positions as CEO of Medford Medical Clinic, Vice President at Memorial Physicians and the Vice President of Operations at Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital. In 2018, Eddie left medical administration and began working with The Dolsen Companies as their Chief Operating Officer.

Eddie’s nature was to serve; he always gave back in some capacity. He coached youth soccer teams, served on church boards, was the president of SOZO Sports and was a member of the White Pass Ski Patrol. A huge proponent of NNC, he jumped at the chance to join the Alumni Board in 2014 and eventually the Board of Trustees in 2019.

In September 2020, Eddie was diagnosed with a Glioblastoma brain tumor. He died on December 7, 2021, after a courageous 15-month battle during which he lived life to the fullest.

Because of his heart of service to every community he was a part of and his commitment to Northwest Nazarene University, NNU is recognizing Eddie Miles posthumously as the 2023 recipient of the Distinguished Service Award.

Congratulations to the 2023 Alumni Award recipients!

See Previous Award Winners