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Chester County Press

Unionville-Chadds Ford inducts three alumni to Wall of Honor

Unionville-Chadds Ford School District (UCFSD) recently inducted three new members to the UCFSD Wall of Honor.  Franki Burch from the Class of 1976, Jon Cox from the Class of 1993, and Martin Christensen from the Class of 2001 were inducted during a Wall of Honor Celebration on Oct. 6 at Unionville High School. 

As part of the Wall of Honor Program, the new inductees visited with Unionville High School students in their classes to share their story. This was an incredible opportunity for students to hear firsthand from the inductees and learn about their journey and success. Following the classroom visits, they stopped by the physical Wall of Honor located in the high school, where the inductees' plaques are on display and will remain on display for one year. Later that evening, the inductees rode in the Centennial Parade and attended an on-field reception during Unionville’s Homecoming football game where they were also recognized at halftime. 

To uphold the District’s mission of empowering students to succeed in life and to contribute to society, and to inspire current students and the community, Unionville-Chadds Ford selects alumni each year whose lives reflect the values of our mission for recognition on the UCFSD Wall of Honor. 

This prestigious award recognizes exceptional alumni who have achieved great success and contributed so much to society since graduating from Unionville High School.  Since 2008, the District has inducted 38 alumni into our Wall of Honor.  

Each year there is a call for Wall of Honor nominations from the community. A selection committee, consisting of district staff, students, parents, community members and former Wall of Honor inductees, judges each nominee to determine our inductees for the year.  

There were several outstanding candidates and the three inductees selected this year rose to the top. 

Dr. John Sanville, UCFSD Superintendent said, “The Wall of Honor is an important tradition for us. This year we recognize three exceptional alumni who each have a unique success story—an academic leader and pioneer for Health Science in higher education, a world-renowned photographer and author who travels the globe making a difference, and a retired Army Ranger and author who climbed the seven summits. Franki, Jon and Martin are the best examples of the District’s Portrait of a Graduate having fulfilled the hopes and dreams that we have for our alumni and will continue to have for future alumni to come.”

Here’s a look at the 2023 Wall of Honor inductees: 

Franki Burch Class of 1976

Franki Bailey Burch, Professor Emerita, retired from Gardner-Webb University in May 2023 following a 30-year career in university teaching and administration. After pursuing a bachelor’s degree from Lock Haven University, Franki received graduate degrees from Eastern Kentucky University (M.A.) and the University of Virginia (Ph.D.) in Health Promotion.

Throughout her career, Burch received multiple student-selected outstanding teaching awards. The Gardner-Webb graduate school experienced significant enrollment growth during Franki’s tenure as Dean. Under her Associate Provost leadership, multiple School of Education programs were developed including educational and organizational leadership. Burch was instrumental in the creation of the School of Health Sciences including the launch of the Physician Assistant Studies program. Burch was also influential in the creation of the doctoral program in Business Administration. During her tenure, all programs under Burch’s supervision received national reaccreditation status. 

Whether serving as Professor, Dean of the Graduate School, or Associate Provost for Professional and Graduate Studies, Burch was committed to a philosophy of servant leadership. Developing meaningful and eternally significant relationships with students, colleagues, and community members was always paramount to her professional career.

Throughout her career, Franki strove to remain guided by the words chosen over 47 years ago for her 1976 senior yearbook quoted by William Thoms. “Be careful how you live your life; you may be the only Bible some people read.” In addition to her God-given gifts of teaching and learning, Burch credits her personal and professional success to a lifetime of support from her parents, siblings, husband and children. 

Jon Cox Class of 1993

Jon Cox is an Associate Professor in the Department of Art and Design at the University of Delaware and President of the Amazon Center for Environmental Education and Research (ACEER Foundation). 

He is a community-engaged collaborative artist who works primarily in photography and film on the local, national, and international levels. Cox’s work has taken him to all seven continents covering social and environmental issues, where he hopes to make a positive change. He is a Fulbright Specialist, a National Geographic Explorer, and a Delaware Environmental Institute (DENIN) Faculty Fellow. He has co-authored two books with Indigenous communities in Tanzania, Hadzabe, By the Light of a Million Fires, and in Peru, Ancestral Lands of the Ese’Eja: The True People. His current collaborative projects are supported by the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Health, Fulbright, and the National Geographic Society. 

Martin Christensen Class of 2001

At 19, Martin created a list of 25 Lifetime Goals. The goals centered around Dreaming Big, Dreaming Small and Dreaming Smart. His relentless pursuit of his goals has led him to live a bold life. He has traveled the world, exploring 46 different countries, all 50 states and he has stood atop the highest mountain on all seven continents, including Mt. Everest, a unique accomplishment called the 7 Summits. He has honorably served his country as an Airborne Ranger Infantry Officer and during two combat tours in Iraq where he led dozens of men in the most trying of conditions.

Martin has done radio interviews, podcasts, numerous public motivational talks including a TED talk and he has published a book about his guiding principle of “Get Busy Living.”  Martin holds a Civil Engineering degree from the University of Pittsburgh, an MBA from Webster University and a second master’s in Global Energy Management from the University of Colorado. When he’s not off climbing a mountain or exploring a new country, Martin lives on the ocean in Beverly, Massachusetts with his girlfriend, her daughter and their two dogs.

Unionville-Chadds Ford inducts three alumni to Wall of Honor