Distinguished Alumni Class of 2018
Distinguished Alumni Class of 2018 members James Pepple and Susan Melrath. Dr. Heather Dillaway is not pictured.
James D. Pepple, Class of 1967
Along with his wife Sandy, Mr. Pepple is the owner and developer of Wyncote Golf Club and The Homes at Wyncote. He is the general manager of all golf and restaurant operations, and since 1974 is also owner and operator of Ox-View Farms.
After graduating from Oxford, Mr. Pepple attended Penn State, where he earned a B.S. in biochemistry, and the University of Delaware, where he earned his master’s in biochemistry.
Mr. Pepple has a long record of giving back to the Oxford community. He has coached Little League Baseball, youth basketball and youth soccer, including a stint as coach of the high school’s junior varsity soccer team.
Mr. Pepple served on the Lower Oxford Township Planning Commission and is a past-president of the Oxford Area Chamber of Commerce, with Wyncote hosting the Chamber’s annual charity golf tournament. Wyncote also hosts fundraising tournaments for the Lighthouse Youth Center and Excelon, and is the home course for the high school’s golf team as well as the First Tee Program.
Mr. Pepple’s business success and contributions to the community have been recognized with the Paradigm Award from the Chester County Economic Development Council and the PEPPER Award for volunteer service from the Oxford Area Education Association.
Susan Melrath, Class of 1977
With an artistic career spanning 30 years, Ms. Melrath’s commercial clients include IBM, The Miami Herald and Simon & Schuster. Working from her Oxford studio, her fine art hangs in homes, hospitals, hotels, and galleries throughout the United States.
“I was lucky to learn a little about painting, drawing, pottery, and even silver casting in Oxford’s art program,” said Ms. Melrath.
After graduation, Ms. Melrath enrolled in the University of Dijon to study French. “I was too homesick to stay more than a year, but I did backpack around Europe for a month before coming home,” she said. “I still carry these experiences with me today. I walked on the opposite shores of the Atlantic, ate French fries in Brussels, and oranges the size of cantaloupe in Crete, shared a ferry with a band of gypsies, and saw the most magical ruins and beautiful art.”
Ms. Melrath spent four years at a commercial art school in Philadelphia, with summers spent waiting tables in Ocean City, Maryland. After a brief stint in the aerospace industry drawing exploded views of rocket motors, she spent several years as a freelance illustrator and made artwork for greeting card companies, book publishers, newspapers, magazines and ad agencies.
After leaving that work to raise her son, Ms. Melrath’s desire to paint deepened. She began to paint whenever she could, and helped establish an art program at her son’s elementary school, with the students created a mural and two bus shelters for the community.
With her son now in college, Ms. Melrath has been painting solidly for the past decade. She has been honored with grants and a residency, and with having her work included in public and private collections.
Heather E. Dillaway, Ph.D., Class of 1991
After graduating from Oxford, Dr. Dillaway attended Cornell University, earning a Bachelor of Arts in history and sociology in 1995. She then earned a Masters of Arts in sociology at the University of Delaware in 1997, and a Ph.D. in sociology at Michigan State University in 2002.
Dr. Dillaway joined the faculty in the Department of Sociology at Wayne State University in the fall of 2002. She is now a social science researcher, teacher and academic administrator.
Most of Dr. Dillway’s research focuses on women's experiences of menopause and midlife and the reproductive health experiences of women with physical disabilities (in particular, spinal cord injuries), with over 50 research publications on these topics. She typically teaches courses on race and gender inequalities, women and health, health disparities, families, qualitative methods, and research methods in the Sociology Department.
Recently Dr. Dillway has overseen a two-year launch of a new Bachelor’s of Science in Public Health program at Wayne State. She has also taught in the program, including courses on the social and behavioral aspects of health and the public health practicum and capstone courses.
Additionally, since coming to Wayne State, Dr. Dillaway has mentored and graduated over 40 master’s and Ph.D. students in sociology. Her former graduate students hold jobs across the country in teaching, research and non-profit arenas.
Dr. Dillaway is currently an Associate Dean of Academic Programs in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. In this Associate Dean role, she oversees curriculum innovation and development, graduate programs, and other academic initiatives.
Dr. Dillaway previously served as an Associate Dean in the Graduate School, Acting Director of the Institute of Gerontology, and Chair of the Department of Sociology at Wayne State. In this administrative work, she enjoys working to ensure academic success for both students and faculty and to support academic departments working towards that same goal.
Dr. Dillaway and her husband, Jason, have two children and live in Ann Arbor, Michigan.