On Oct. 11, Richard “Dick” Penhallegon ’63 will be recognized at Homecoming as a Distinguished Alumni Award recipient. Established in 1958, the award is the highest honor presented to alumni. These alumni are honored for living out the College’s vision, mission and values as well as making positive contributions to their profession and community.
Penhallegon earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics before beginning his career in biostatistics. Since his graduation, Penhallegon remained dedicated to the College through his frequent presence on campus, financial support and service on the Kappa Sigma Alpha Alumni Board.
Penhallegon says his motivation to stay engaged with OC stems from his positive experience as a student, crediting the College in helping him mature.
“Olivet means a lot to me because that’s where my base is and where I developed,” Penhallegon said. “My family got me there by raising me to be responsible, but Olivet is the place where I grew up. I made deep connections at Olivet and it makes me gravitate there. I have deep respect for the College’s mission and goals.”
Penhallegon’s time as an active brother in the Kappa Sigma Alpha fraternity was at the heart of his transformational experience. He even held numerous leadership positions for the house, including president, learning valuable communication and teamwork skills along the way.
“My time in Kappa Sigma Alpha served as a benchmark for my life,” Penhallegon said. “It set the standard for me and how I was going to go into the world, especially when dealing with people. Respect was taught in the fraternity — there was a certain code of conduct, even if it was unwritten. People were expected to respect each other, and that goes a long way anywhere in the world.”
Penhallegon is also a model of the College’s mission in his own community, alongside his wife, Karen. The couple shares a passion for helping others and they serve with a team effort. Together, they supported two Vietnamese families immigrating to the U.S., staying engaged with the families over the course of nearly 20 years.
In addition, Penhallegon has served the Vicksburg Rotary Club, Boy Scouts, Habitat for Humanity and on a township board of review. He is very active in his church, holding roles like Sunday school superintendent and church council president. With the Men’s Ministry Team, Penhallegon also participated in jail visitation ministry.
“People need to be served because there’s a lot of need out there,” Penhallegon said. “I had a church background growing up, and my parents were honest people. The feeling was always there that you should help others and that was solidified at Olivet College.”
Penhallegon regularly shares the strong impact Olivet College had on him as a means to advocate for the College. He emphasizes his gratitude for the opportunities afforded to him while a student and his appreciation for the professors and support staff.
“It’s very humbling to receive the Distinguished Alumni Award,” Penhallegon said. “I found out about it by surprise. I had no idea anybody was considering me for it. Since learning of the nomination, I have needed to reflect on what it means and why I would be chosen. At first, I didn’t think I deserved it because I do what I do without expecting personal reward. My Christian faith is the largest influence on my life. One of my goals is to improve things where I can — I’m people oriented and enjoy helping others. It took me awhile to get my brain to accept it; it’s definitely an honor.”
On Oct. 11, Penhallegon will be honored alongside Audra Carson ’87 and Pamela Heos ’77 at the Homecoming Alumni Awards Celebration and Reunion Dinner. Check out the full Homecoming schedule and purchase tickets to attend.
To learn more about this year’s Homecoming, contact the Office of Alumni Engagement at email@example.com.