Jewell to present honorary doctor degrees


During Commencement ceremonies on Saturday, May 11, William Jewell College will present three honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degrees. Honorary doctorates are among the highest honors bestowed by a college, reserved for individuals who distinguish themselves through professional contributions or volunteer service and uphold the mission and values of William Jewell.

Congratulations to the 2024 recipients:

  • Ambassador Allan J. Katz, J.D.
  • Karen Marie Mathes, ’​80
  • Robert Mark Mathes, ’​79

Allan Katz portraitAmbassador Allan J. Katz, J.D., served as Ambassador of the United States of America to the Republic of Portugal from 2010 until 2013. Upon his return to private life, he joined the teaching ranks of University of Missouri-Kansas City and William Jewell College as a distinguished professor. Additionally, he founded and became CEO and chair of American Public Square at Jewell, an NGO which brings together non-like-minded people to engage in civil dialogue about polarizing issues. 

He serves as executive committee chair of the Academic and Corporate Board to ISCTE Business School in Lisbon, Portugal, a board member of EDP Renewables and the Harry S. Truman Good Neighbor Foundation, and a former board member of the International Relations Council of Kansas City. He is a frequent speaker and moderator on civic engagement, civility, American politics and developments in Europe.

A lawyer by background, Katz was the national director of the Public Policy Practice Group at the firm of Akerman Senterfitt from 2004 to 2010. Previously, he founded and was managing partner of Katz, Kutter, Alderman & Bryant, P.A., in Florida for 27 years, where he primarily worked with insurance companies and regulators. He also served in Washington, D.C., as general counsel to the Commission on Administrative Review of the U.S. House of Representatives, and in Florida as assistant insurance commissioner, assistant state treasurer, Tallahassee city commissioner, and board member for Florida Municipal Energy Association and Citizens Insurance Company.

Katz has been recognized for his work as lawyer and a community leader, including the Environmental Defense Fund and the Florida Wildlife Federation Fund’s Champion for Climate Change, The Best Lawyers in America for Insurance Law and Chambers USA Top Lawyers. He received a bachelor’s degree from UMKC and a juris doctor from Washington College of Law at American University in Washington, D.C.


Karen Mathes portraitKaren Mathes, '80, has dedicated her career and volunteer endeavors, primarily to the advancement of healthcare and education in her community. Although she is retired, she continues to serve the community as an honorary board member for the Liberty Hospital Foundation. She previously served as president of the Foundation and currently serves as chair of the Nursing Scholarship Committee. 

Her life passion is improving the health and wellness of those in her community and advancing the education of students pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. She received her BSN in 1980 at William Jewell College. She served her entire nursing career at Liberty Hospital, starting as a staff nurse and completing her work there as a nurse manager overseeing all departments of the hospital. She received the O’Dell Award for community service from the Liberty Hospital Foundation in 2016 honoring her civic achievement, leadership and generosity.

Using her liberal arts education as a lifelong learner, Mathes started a company in 2007 to complement a family business. Advanced Logistics and Fulfillment provides assembly and pack out services for retail displays that are placed in stores nationwide. She assembled a management team comprised primarily of women, including several William Jewell College graduates. Mathes retired from the company in 2020. 

She has served Jewell in numerous volunteer roles, including the In Pursuit Capital Campaign Committee and three terms on the Board of Trustees, from 2010 through 2019. She was named an emerita trustee in 2024.



Mark Mathes portraitMark Mathes, '79, is the executive chairman of the Vanguard Companies Board of Directors. He joined the company in 1982 as a sales executive, moving up to sales manager and eventually CEO. He purchased the company and became sole owner in 2007, retiring as CEO in 2021.

The 1979 Jewell alumnus was active at the national level of the $300 billion corrugated packaging industry, serving concurrently on the boards of the three largest industry associations and as chair in 2014. In the early 2000s, he teamed up with Walmart to push the fledgling sustainability initiatives of both Walmart and the paper industry while serving on six Walmart and industry sustainability committees, three of which he founded. Among those were the committee to develop the first corrugated carbon footprint and Walmart’s first sustainability scorecard that every Walmart vendor fills out before becoming a vendor. He was a frequent national speaker on the topic of sustainability and was the most quoted industry source in the media. His efforts at building Vanguard into the top sustainable company in the industry culminated in being named the Top Sustainable Business of North America in 2010 for all business categories.

While chair of the industry’s largest association in 2014, Mathes founded the Emerging Leaders program in which corrugated companies can enroll promising young employees for mentoring, training and opportunities to become industry board members and published authors. Ten years later, 142 members are being trained for leadership roles while several hundred others have graduated and are now executives within their companies and the industry.

Mathes has been recognized as a Top 250 Most Powerful Business Leaders of Kansas City, Largest Private Businesses in Kansas City and Bentonville, Arkansas, Top 50 Display companies in North America and the William Jewell College Citation for Achievement. One of his proudest achievements was coaching more than 1,300 youth baseball games while winning over 1,000 and going to 12 World Series. Mathes also served eight years as a member of the City Council of Liberty and enjoys an advisory role at Jewell’s Mathes Innovation Center.