the distinguished service award is bestowed upon an individual whose life of service has been exemplary. this honor extends beyond the circle of penn alumni to those who embody the william penn commitment to community and humanitarian service. this year’s recipient has become a familiar face around william penn university.
when serving in the air force and dappling in the business world did not result in long-term residency, ronald bryan had a personal confrontation to be more obedient to god. ron married his wife, joyce, at a young age and enlisted in the air force in 1963. he served four years in the areas of intelligence gathering and air defense command. over the course of eight years, ron attempted to work in the business field as a buyer and then self-employed.
shortly before the 1980s, ron was confronted with a need to answer a call from god to be more obedient in nature. he found that training through formal education was an important step in that process. ron received his bachelors of arts in 1980 from vennard college in university park, iowa. for 24 years, he pastored in only two different church locations.
in 2003, a unique opportunity presented itself as ron was encouraged to submit an application to become the general superintendent of our friends churches in iowa yearly meeting. while serving as the general superintendent, ron served on the board of trustees for william penn university and the barclay board of trustees in haviland, kansas. he often traveled with the board of friends united meeting while serving on the founding board of trustees for the friends mutual health group—of which served several states out of pennsylvania for quaker schools, yearly meetings, and retirement housing corporations. ron held his general superintendent position and active board member roles until 2015, when he chose to return to school. this time he received his master’s of arts in transformational leadership at the age of 69. this opened a new door for ron to serve others.
upon the decision of retirement, ron was solicited by president john ottosson, and encouraged by the academic dean, dr. noel stahle, to serve as a faculty member for william penn university and as the beane endowed chair holder. ron served as an instructor of religion from 2015 – 2019.
“it has been my privilege to continue to serve god in this role and learn a whole other aspect of life from the academic view. i have enjoyed a great deal of support and friendship from my division of social and behavioral sciences and many, many other faculty here at william penn,” says ron.
ron and his wife, joyce, have raised five children together over the last 55 years together. he is still instructing religion courses at wpu, while serving as the presiding clerk for the friends united meeting—including two general boards in both north america and africa.
for his willingness to serve in quaker leadership roles throughout his community, country, and internationally, along with his service to william penn university, william penn is proud to present the 2019 distinguished service award this year to ron bryan.