Every year CAST recognizes some of its most successful alumni. Induction into the College of Applied Science and Technology (CAST) Hall of Fame is an honor bestowed on current, past, or honorary members of the CAST community. Nominations can be based on outstanding performance in one's profession; demonstrated leadership in one's profession or the community; outstanding service to the institution; and statewide, national, or international recognition. This year's Hall of Fame induction ceremony will be held on Thursday, September 16, 2021 at the Hancock Stadium Club with a reception at 4:00 pm followed by the induction ceremony at 5:00 pm. Both are open to the public.
Department of Agriculture
After graduating from high school in 1977, William Graff’s plans were to farm. He surveyed the farm economy and decided to enroll in Lincoln Land Community College. He began attending Illinois State in the fall of 1979, graduated in 1981 with honors, and returned to full-time farming.
Graff is active locally, statewide, and nationally. His community roles include serving as a volunteer fireman, a three-term township trustee, a two-term township supervisor, and completing two terms on the local school board. He is past chair of the Logan County Regional Planning Commission, and finished one term on the County Economic Development Committee. At the state level, Graff is a past member of the Illinois State Fair Advisory Board and was a member of Governor George Ryan's Transition Team.
He has always been involved in farm organizations, including having served as president of Logan County Farm Bureau Board of Directors and as a member of the Illinois Beef Association Board of Directors. Graff has been on several state and national Farm Bureau committees, and served nine years on the Taloma/Encompass Grain Cooperative Board of Directors.
His contributions include serving in an agricultural advisory capacity. He was appointed by President George W. Bush to run the Farm Service Agency of the Department of Agriculture for the State of Illinois. President Donald Trump appointed him a second time.
Now retired from federal service, Graff actively farms and continues his podcast—Breakfast with Bill—to discuss agricultural issues. He helps his wife, Judi (Long) ’91, run two businesses. They have been members of ISU’s Department of Agriculture Alumni Board.
The couple faithfully attends church and enjoys family. They have three grown children, all of whom help on the farm.
BS 1999; MS 2003
Department of Criminal Justice Sciences
U.S. Army Lt. Col. Kraig M. Kline completed degrees in criminal justice sciences and enlisted in the Army as an All-Source Intelligence Analyst in 2000. A year later, he was commissioned into Military Intelligence with a branch detail to the Chemical Corps through a Green to Gold ROTC Scholarship.
Kline’s military education and schooling includes the completion of numerous classes that range from intelligence analysis and computer network operations planning to commander instruction. He attended U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, Airborne School, and Air Assault School. In addition, Kline completed Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape Training. All prepared him from various military posts.
His positions have included Battalion Chemical Officer and Assistant Brigade, G2 and Intelligence Plans Officer, and Chief of Threat Branch. He has further served as Brigade S2, Deputy Mission Crew Commander, Company Commander, Deputy Watch Officer in Charge, Executive Officer to the Director of Intelligence, and U.S. Cyber Command.
Kline deployed five times in support of named military operations, including Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom, and Freedom’s Sentential. He has been decorated numerous times with awards that include the Bronze Star Medal, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Army Achievement Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, and the Iraq Campaign Medal.
Additional honors include the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, the Combat Action Badge, and the Air Assault Badge. He twice received the Overseas Service Ribbon.
Kline served as the Chief of Threat Branch for the U.S. Army Cyber Center of Excellence at Fort Gordon, Georgia. He is now an ISU professor of Military Science. He and his wife, Brandy (Hodgson), reside in Bloomington.
Department of Family of Consumer Sciences
Excelling in home economics as a high school student, Sally Arnett-Hartwick not surprisingly chose to earn a home economics education degree at Illinois State. After graduating, she completed a master’s degree in workforce education and development at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale.
She taught family and consumer sciences at two rural high schools in southern Illinois prior to earning her doctorate in Workforce Education and Development (WED) at SIU-C in 2008. She specialized in FCS teacher education.
Arnett-Hartwick served as the FCS teacher educator at Northern Illinois University for five years. She returned to Illinois State as an assistant professor in 2013 and served as the program coordinator for FCS Teacher Education. While at ISU, she earned tenure and was promoted to professor.
Arnett-Hartwick has been recognized for her teaching, research, and service. She received the National Postsecondary Teacher of the Year Award in 2018 and the National Teacher Educator of the Year Award in 2021. She has published more than 30 peer-reviewed journal articles, given more than 60 presentations, and secured more than $900,000 in research grant funding. She has served as national president for a career and technical education organization, and president of the Illinois FCS Teachers’ Association.
Loving the college atmosphere and having a passion for FCS, Arnett-Hartwick knew her path in academia would be very special to her professionally and personally. She is the only faculty member in FCS teacher education at ISU. Under her leadership, the enrollment has increased by 140 percent, making it the largest in-demand program and producers of FCS teachers in Illinois.
Arnett-Hartwick resides in rural Carrollton with her husband, Trevor, and three children: Jack, 19; Kaylinn, 8; and Whalinn, 7.
Department of Health Sciences
Merle Essex received her second bachelor’s degree in medical technology from ISU and her professional certification from American Society of Clinical Pathologists. She later completed a master’s degree in continuing education and training management, graduating with distinction from the University of St. Francis in Joliet.
Essex’s career began as a medical technologist at Advocate Trinity Hospital, formerly South Chicago Community Hospital. She was promoted to support services supervisor, assuming responsibility for inpatient/outpatient phlebotomy, specimen processing, and histology.
Essex implemented Trinity’s first professional practice for ISU’s medical technology students. When later working at Advocate Bethany Hospital, she was the laboratory technical supervisor before being promoted to laboratory director.
Essex is now the education consultant at ACL Laboratories, Advocate Aurora Health. She is responsible for the laboratory education of approximately 2000 staff at 10 Illinois hospitals. She developed ACL’s Phlebotomy Training Program that creates entry-level opportunities, and led efforts in expanding ACL’s Histology School to Illinois sites.
In addition, Essex developed and manages a program for emerging laboratory leaders. Since its inception, more than 116 have completed the program and more than 35 have been promoted to leadership positions within ACL Laboratories.
Essex hosts continuing education, job shadowing, and career events for teachers and students in high school and college. She expanded clinical rotation programs at ACL Laboratories through affiliation with colleges and universities across the U.S. This ensures professional practice opportunities for students in histology, cytology, MLT, MLS, cytogenetics, and phlebotomy. She has been an adjunct professor at Chicagoland community colleges and universities.
Essex has served on ISU’s Medical Laboratory Science Advisory Council since 2010. She has been married to her husband, Otha, for 35 years. Her family includes a son Damian, and his wife, Crystal and thier daughter, Melody.
School of Information Technology
Jason Potts received his undergraduate degree in applied computer science with a focus on telecommunications management. He leveraged his degree to serve as an IT consultant for the Illinois State Police and several corporate accounts. He joined State Farm Insurance Companies in 2000 as a project manager in the Systems Department, and has led projects across many business areas.
He has served in a variety of leadership positions at State Farm across multiple departments including Systems, Research and Development, Underwriting, and Agency. His experience has resulted in extensive enterprise perspective and cross-departmental understanding.
Potts was promoted to director in 2004 and became executive in Enterprise Technology in 2013. He has had oversight of Digital, Agency, Marketing, and Customer Care Center technologies. In his current State Farm assignment, he is responsible for enterprise data enablement. He earned the Chartered Financial Consultant designation in 2017.
He serves on numerous committees at his local church and enjoys volunteering within the Morton school district. He has been a member of the Occupational Development Center Board of Directors in Bloomington-Normal, and has a passion for helping the underserved.
Potts and his wife, Nicole, have three children: Caroline, 17; Charlotte, 14; and Henry 12. The family loves traveling and has almost reached the goal of visiting all 50 states. Potts also enjoys woodworking, hiking, mountain biking and spending time with friends and family.
BS 1994; MS 1996
School of Kinesiology and Recreation
Dr. Sarah Hallberg completed an undergraduate and master’s degree in exercise science at Illinois State. She earned the graduate degree under the guidance of Dr. Dale Brown, then completed a medical degree at Des Moines University.
An internationally recognized leader in nutritional management of type 2 diabetes and other metabolic diseases, Hallberg founded Indiana University Health Arnett’s Medically Supervised Weight Loss Program. She is medical director for Virta Health, a nutrition science and telemedicine company focused on type 2 diabetes reversal. The company has grown to a valuation of more than $2 billion since its start in 2015.
Hallberg is a Fellow in the Aspen Institute’s Health Innovator Fellowship and a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network. She is an adjunct professor of clinical medicine at the Indiana University School of Medicine; a clinical exercise physiologist certified by the American College of Sports Medicine; and is a Fellow of the National Lipid Association and the Obesity Medicine Association, where she also serves on the board of trustees.
She is the principal investigator of the largest and longest study looking at type 2 diabetes reversal via lifestyle changes, including personalized therapeutic carbohydrate restriction. The study has resulted in eight, peer-reviewed publications. Her opinion pieces have been published in nationally recognized media outlets, including The New York Times. Hallberg speaks internationally on nutrition and type 2 diabetes. Her TEDx talk on diabetes has been viewed more than 7 million times.
Hallberg as been married to husband, Brad, for 24 years. They have three children: Noah, 18; Ava, 16; and Luna, 11. The family loves to travel and spend time outdoors, completing a hiking trip to Machu Picchu in Peru in 2018.
Department of Military Science
Jeannene O'Neil graduated with a bachelor’s of degree in speech communications and a minor in sociology. She received an ROTC Commission as a Signal Officer in the U.S. Army, and following graduation served as a platoon leader at Fort Stewart in Georgia. In that position, she supervised and managed operations, plans, and security for 45 technical support staff.
O’Neil later served as the communications electronics staff officer in an Army medical command in Heidelberg, Germany. She managed, coordinated, and evaluated communication networks that linked health care facilities in Europe. She has also served at Joint Base Lewis McCord in Washington, where she provided security access control services to more than 4,000 satisfied customers.
Outside of her military duties, O’Neil has served in teaching assistant positions and worked with students with special needs. She teamed with her husband, Timothy ’85, as volunteer Engaged Encounter Marriage and Family instructors. They have three grown children and one granddaughter.
The couple taught and participated in more than 30 retreat weekends across the country, preparing more than 500 engaged couples for a lifelong loving marriage relationship. She has also been a volunteer swim coach and water fitness instructor, as well as a case worker and family support representative for the American Red Cross.
O’ Neil has been serving since November 2020 in the Department of Defense as the office manager/protocol officer for National Government Agency Representative to U.S. European Command in Stuttgart, Germany. She was previously an office manager/staff officer for the Offices of Logistics and Policy. In that role, she was responsible for organizing, planning, and executing multiple assignments to meet established deadlines. She also developed new practices and procedures to meet changing needs and attain established goals and objectives.
BS 1972; MS 1976
Department of Technology
After graduating with degrees in industrial technology, Dan McCluskey began teaching graphic arts at Willowbrook High School in Villa Park. Given the industry’s rapid change, the classes and facility needed to be updated. Course selections were revised and expanded beyond lithography to include photography, screen printing, and desktop publishing. The facility was renovated and the program became one of the top in the Chicago suburbs.
McCluskey’s expertise in screen printing education made him a preferred speaker at regional and national education conferences up to his retirement from Willowbrook in 2005. His contributions and achievements were recognized in 2017 with his selection for the school’s Distinguished Service Award.
In 1976, McCluskey became an adjunct instructor at the College of DuPage. Over the next 37 years, he updated his skills as the curriculum adjusted to the changing graphic communications industry. He taught graphic arts film courses and later included Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop, and screen printing. He was selected for a 2003 Outstanding Part-time Faculty Award for his work at the college, which he left in 2013.
McCluskey has been active in organizations that support graphic communications education. He has served the Graphic Arts Education Association of Illinois the past 25 years as president, conference host, speaker, and as secretary/treasurer. He has been involved in the Graphic Communication Education Association (GCEA) as president, vice-president of communications, conference host, and chair of the annual conference Incentive Award Committee.
During his service to the GCEA, McCluskey has been honored with the Frederick D. Kagy Life Achievement Award, Fred J. Hartman Award for service to the association, and an Honorary Life Membership Award.