Alumni Profiles     

Carolyn McHenry Elwess, ’71
Torchlighter Award, 2002

Few people associated with Park University do not know that name. She is a 1971 graduate and has been a Park University employee since 1989. Currently she is the archivist and circulation assistant in the library. However, neither fact is the reason Carolyn was chosen to receive the 2002 Torchlighter Award, an award that is given to honor those who have made a significant, long-standing contribution to Park University.

 There are many graduates from Park University and there are many employees. There also are many graduates who are employees. Among them Carolyn is unique. Carolyn is an advocate for Park University and she takes her advocacy far beyond her job. Carolyn was nominated for the award by
Marlowe Sherwood, ’63, Alumni Council historian and former alumni director. Marlowe was emphatic that her nomination was for the extra effort Carolyn gives beyond her job.

 The position of archivist, as defined in her job description, is a small part of her job, five hours per week. The majority of her time is occupied by the job responsibilities of circulation librarian. She graduated from Park University with a degree in literature. However, it is her work with the history of Park University that has brought her fame throughout the community and Park family. Following her position as alumni director, Carolyn joined the library staff in 1996. The Fishburn Archives were added to her responsibilities at that time. She preserves the many artifacts and photographs that are donated to the University. Her displays, prepared for use at special events, help to educate and remind the current generations of students and friends about the amazing history of this institution. Carolyn was instrumental in the renovation of the University White House and contributes to the preservation of buildings throughout the campus.

In her personal life, she and her husband,
David Elwess, ’64, own and preserve Sunset House, the former president’s mansion and dormitory, on Main Street in Parkville.

The revival of the Park University Historical Society, which provides support to the Fishburn Archives, is attributed to Carolyn. The inclusion of vital Park University information for the 150th anniversary of Parkville also was Carolyn’s work. She continues to assist the City of Parkville to preserve the history of the entire community.

Carolyn serves on the Walnut Grove Cemetery Board, site of the graves of the Park founders. She has led attempts to restore important buildings on campus, gaining community involvement along the way. She responds to inquiries from families of Park students interested in historical information. Additionally, she works in conjunction with the Kansas City Museum and Science City to exchange and restore museum-quality artifacts.

As a prolific writer, Carolyn contributes frequently to this alumni magazine and other publications. She compiled and edited the publication,
120 Outstanding Alumni of Park College. Her articles vary from profiles of interesting alumni to her nationally recognized article, “Titanic Survivors” which appeared in the summer/fall 2001 issue of the Alumniad.

Carolyn embodies the attributes of the
Torchlighter Award and for that the Alumni Association salutes her and the love and dedication she has shown Park University.