The Rockhurst High School National Alumni Association Executive Committee has named M. James Van Dyke ’72 as its Alumnus of the Year for his outstanding dedication to Jesuit education and the community. Van Dyke accepted the award during the school’s Homecoming Mass on September 30, 2019.
“My parents believed that a strong foundation in your faith paved the way for a successful life," Van Dyke reflected. “Myself and many members of my family have benefited directly from the gift of an outstanding Jesuit education. For me to be honored with this award by my fellow Rockhurst alumni is very humbling and gratifying.”
Van Dyke is one of the top experts in audit and consulting services for businesses across the nation. He began his professional career with Ernst & Ernst in 1976, where he served until 1990 when it was known as Ernst & Young. Van Dyke was then a lead partner with McKittrick, Kopel & Van Dyke before it merged into Baird, Kurtz & Dobson (BKD) in 1995. He retired from BKD in 2015.
After graduating from Rockhurst High School in 1972, Van Dyke earned his Bachelor of Business Administration (Concentration in Accounting) from the University of Notre Dame in 1976 and his Masters of Business Administration (Concentration in Finance) in 1988. He passed the Certified Public Accounting (CPA) Exam in 1977.
“There are times when we have all met someone who has a special devotion to important work,” commented Andrew F. Stafford, Sr. ’93, President of the Alumni Executive Committee. “Jim Van Dyke has just that for Jesuit education and Rockhurst High School. He is a remarkable example of service to God, family, the overall community, and our School.”
Van Dyke was a board member for Rockhurst High School from 2010 to 2019 and treasurer for the final two years of his service. He continues to consult with the school on a pro bono basis for all aspects of the institution’s financial well-being. He served as a board member and treasurer for Catholic Charities of Kansas City - St. Joseph from 1990 to 2001, Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Greater Kansas City from 1990 to 1992, and the University of Notre Dame Kansas City Alumni Group from 2015 to 2018. Van Dyke is currently a member of the Diocese of Kansas City/St. Joseph Finance Council, as well as a board member for Townsend Condominiums. He was given the University of Notre Dame Club of Kansas City Presidential Service Award in 2018 and United Way Leadership Academy Award in 2015.
“Particularly in the past year, Jim has gone above and beyond the typical duties of a Trustee,’” remarked Jonathan R. Haden ’75, who served with Van Dyke on the Rockhurst High School Board of Trustees and was named Alumnus of the Year in 2018. “He has been a vital asset to Rockhurst in assuring the financial stability of the school during the first year of David Laughlin's presidency and its transition to the new CFO in Allen Roberson. Jim is truly deserving of this recognition and honor.”
The Van Dyke family has a proud tradition of devotion to Rockhurst High School. Van Dyke has been married to Margaret “Peggy” Wood Van Dyke since 1979. They have three children; Joseph ’99, Elizabeth (Van Dyke) Jerome, and James ’05. Van Dyke’s father, Joseph, graduated from Rockhurst High School in 1940, and his mother, Mary Helen, was a founding member of the school Mother’s Club (now known as the Parents’ Club). His older brother, Michael ’66, was named Rockhurst High School’s Alumnus of the Year in 2005 and has offered pro bono legal counsel to the school since the 1980’s. VanDyke’s sister, Joane (Van Dyke) Wilkerson, is married to Bryan P. Wilkerson ’78, who were co-chairs for one of the school’s most successful Rockhurst Auctions in 2016. All of Van Dyke’s nephews are Rockhurst High School alumni.
The Alumnus of the Year Award is named for Very Rev. Pedro Arrupe, SJ, who was Superior General of the Society of Jesus from 1965 to 1983. Fr. Arrupe coined the phrase “men for others” as a challenge to alumni of Jesuit institutions to change the world with devotion and service to mankind. Award recipients serve as role models for the entire Rockhurst High School community, particularly its students.
Watch Van Dyke receive the award and reflect on the impact of Rockhurst in his life here
Past honorees include:
2002 - William J. McGraw ’44
2003 - Mark J. Henke ’72
2004 – Robert E. Miller ’46
2005 – Michael J. Van Dyke ’66
2006 - Timothy M. Trabon ’69
2007 – Raymond W. Sonnenberg ’65
2008 – James C. Wirken ’62
2009 – Timothy P. O’Connor, PharmD. ’74
2010 – Thomas H. Norman ’59
2011 – M. Rev. Geo. K. Fitzsimons, DD ’45
2012 – David M. Knopke ’66
2013 – Rev. Jeffrey P. Putthoff, SJ ’83
2014 – John G. Houlehan ‘60
2015 - William H. Dunn, Sr. '40
2016 - Michael J. Brown '75
2017 - Thomas A. McDonnell '62
2018 - Jonathan R. Haden '75