Alumni & Friends

Mount Alumni Awards

Each year since 1990, MTSO has honored exceptional graduates with the John and Ruth Mount Alumni Awards for Distinguished Service.

These awards are made possible by the generosity of MTSO Trustee Emeritus John Mount (left) and his late wife Ruth. Profiles of our most recent Mount Award honorees are below. You may also wish you view our complete list of past Mount Award recipients.

We welcome nominations for future Mount Award recipients throughout the year. You’ll find a brief nomination form here.

The most recent Mount Alumni Awards Luncheon was held Sept. 19, 2011. Photos are available for viewing and downloading here. Three recipients were honored with 2011 Mount Alumni Awards.

Rev. Neil J. Bright
Specialized Ministry

Rev. Neil J. Bright has distinguished himself as a caring and innovative leader in the field of health care. Since 2006, he has served as vice president and administrator of health care at Elyria’s Wesleyan Village, a continuing-care retirement community affiliated with the East Ohio Conference of the United Methodist Church.

Before joining Wesleyan Village, Bright was administrator at another retirement community, Kendal at Oberlin, and night administrator for Riverside Methodist Hospital. He also served as associate minister at Gay Street UMC in Mount Vernon for seven years – a position he accepted the same year that MTSO was awarding him with his second and third master’s degrees. In fact, in addition to his graduate degrees in Divinity, Religious Education and Church Music from this school, he holds a Master of Health Administration degree from Ohio State.

Bright puts his rich educational and pastoral background to good use. He knows Wesleyan Village residents by name, and it’s not uncommon to find him serving as the preacher or piano player for worship services.

Bright has served his community and the world in a number of ways. He is an advisory board member for the Elyria Salvation Army Board and is a past board member of the Lorain County Red Cross. At Riverside, he established a system for donating the hospital’s used medical supplies and equipment to hospitals in Third World countries.

One of those who nominated Bright offered this unique perspective: “He is an asset to the Annual Conference, to the Methesco family and – perhaps most importantly – to those of us here at Wesleyan Senior Living.”

Rev. Dr. Walter R. Dickhaut Jr.
Service to MTSO

When Walter Dickhaut Jr. first climbed the front steps of Werner Hall on the newly built campus of Methodist Theological School in Ohio, the mortar holding the building’s cornerstone in place was barely cured. The stone’s inscription, “To Preach the Word,” would underlie every classroom experience and the very ethos of the fledgling seminary. It was the purpose for which MTSO had been created. And with Dickhaut it stuck.

After several years of local church ministry in the West Ohio Annual Conference as well as the completion of his D.Min. degree, Dickhaut served the school in an adjunct faculty role while he pastored the Summit Avenue Church and led Metropolitan Ministries, the Southside Settlement, and Methodists for Church Renewal.

In 1980 he joined the faculty of Bangor Theological Seminary, working first in field education, then teaching homiletics, and then finally serving as academic dean. He retired in 1998 as the Fogg Professor of Sacred Rhetoric and Oratory.

In recent years, Dickhaut has been instrumental in two important development efforts that helped MTSO bridge its past and future. He was one of the architects of the Everett and Mary Tilson Social Justice Award and one of the leading promoters and fundraisers for the award.

In conjunction with the seminary’s 50th anniversary, a campaign was held to finally and fully fund the Van Bogard Dunn Chair in Biblical Interpretation. Dickhaut was a pivotal figure in this highly successful campaign amongst the school’s early graduates.

Rev. Fred A. Diehl
Parish Ministry

In the 40 years since he earned his M.Div. degree from MTSO and was ordained in the United Church of Christ, Rev. Fred A. Diehl has crafted a vocation that is the embodiment of servant leadership. Serving urban and rural congregations in Ohio and Pennsylvania, he has shared his skills and compassion in both local and far-flung ministries.

He led mission teams to North Carolina after Hurricane Andrew, to Mississippi after Katrina, to Tennessee after a massive tornado, to Iowa after a devastating flood, and to Haiti just this summer.

Closer to home, Diehl has met a vast array of needs in the communities he has served. At his current church, First UCC in Hamburg, Pennsylvania, he has led efforts to raise $40,000 for the family of a young boy with cancer, and $30,000 to help pay heating bills for those in need. Because food stamps can’t be used for diapers, his church offers a free diaper bank each month.

And the church maintains a Mission House, in which a family experiencing financial challenges can live rent-free for up to a year while Diehl and other members of his congregation assist with job placement, family counseling and other needs.

One of those who nominated Diehl wrote the following: “Fred Diehl embodies the very best qualities of pastoral ministry that MTSO envisions and teaches. While we can’t claim him as a United Methodist, Fred certainly embodies Wesley’s perspective on ministry, for the world is his parish.”