College fetes alumni achievers, longtime Board chair

The Grove City College Alumni Association is honoring three alumni who have made significant contributions in their fields with the 56th annual Jack Kennedy Memorial Alumni Achievement Awards and one for long-time service to his alma mater with the 2020 Distinguished Service Award.

“The winners this year are among a large group of esteemed alumni recognized for these awards.” Melissa (Trifaro ’96) MacLeod, senior director of Alumni and College Relations said. “Collectively they represent the amazing alumni community of Grove City College, but individually they have demonstrated leadership and integrity in their work, bringing true honor to their alma mater.”

The three Jack Kennedy Memorial Alumni Achievement Award recipients are:

  • Robert D. King ’69 is an electrical engineer who devoted his career to changing the world’s dependence on fossil-fuel-driven vehicles. Known as General Electric’s “father of electric vehicle research and development” at the time of his retirement in 2014, King and his research team developed technology and patents now used by more than 50 percent of hybrid-electric vehicles worldwide.
  • Lisa Adams Gordon ‘78 is a television news anchor/producer for Erie New Now at WICU/WSEE TV, the NBC and CBS affiliates in Erie, Pa., where she also works as a field reporter, and hosts/produces the weekly public affairs program “The Insider.”  For more than 42 years she has applied her skills to the broadcast journalism field in roles that include news director, live broadcast director, anchor, reporter, producer, assignment editor, and digital news writer. During her career, she has interviewed innumerable influential and controversial figures from all walks of life.
  • David H. Peiffer ’81 is an entrepreneur and businessman who has more than 35 years of expertise in trade and commerce in the Near East. As founder and president of NITCOM Inc., he is a key player in the manufacture, marketing and sales of OEM and after-market vehicular climate systems and parts throughout the Levant, and in particular, Israel. NITCOM is a major supplier to Israeli military industries and represents some of the largest names in the mobile air conditioning industry.

Trustees Chair Emeritus David R. Rathburn ’79 will receive the 2020 Distinguished Service Award. Rathburn has been serving the College since his undergraduate years in the Student Government Association. He served on the Board of Trustees for 28 years, the last 17 as Chair, a position he left in July.

During his years on the Board, Rathburn helped lead the College during a period of unprecedented growth and change: extricating itself from the federal student loan program; establishing a robust network of financial support; becoming one of the premier Christian colleges in the U.S.; raising half a dozen new structures – including a namesake Christian activities building; restoring numerous buildings and working with four College presidents.

Due to COVID-19 measures that limit visitors to campus and large events, the award winners were honored in a virtual ceremony, available online at on Friday, Oct. 2. The College plans to honor them in person during next year’s Homecoming 2021 celebration.

The Jack Kennedy Memorial Alumni Achievement award originated in 1964. The award was renamed in honor and memory of professor and administrator Jack Kennedy ’37, who served the college for 32 years until his retirement in 1980. The Distinguished Service Award was established in 1999 to recognize individuals who have made significant contributions to the College through consistent service in exceptional ways. 

College fetes alumni achievers, longtime Board chair

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