Monte Kuklenski, ’75
Monte Kuklenski is among a storied group of MSU theatre and dance graduates who have gone on to high accomplishments.
On campus, he shared the stage with friends John Goodman, Jack Laufer, Tess Harper and Kathleen Turner in Tent Theatre shows and other productions. After graduation, he acted in summer stock and dinner theaters around the Midwest. “I worked with a lot of my buddies from MSU on that circuit.” Next, he studied directing and production at Southern Methodist University. While he was there, the NBC network broadcast a live play from SMU. Kuklenski was the liaison between the school and the NBC production wing. “I kept those contacts,” he said. After continuing in Midwest theatre for a while, he said: “I have to try L.A. and see what I can do in TV.”
His big break came in 1984 when he was the production/stage manager for the opening and closing ceremonies of the L.A. Olympics. Then, in 1988, “I got a call from an old friend who was working for a new, tiny network called Fox.” He interviewed for a studio operations position, got it, and his role grew as the fledgling network grew. Now, he oversees the process of building and operating Fox broadcast centers around the country.
Your father got this award in 1983. How does it feel to earn the same honor?
Incredible. If this award is anything, it’s an award to the quality of the school. That’s what should be celebrated. The other thing I credit is my family — there’s a real legacy there. My parents were from small towns around Springfield, both went to MSU and were in education all their careers. My sisters studied education there and both are teaching in Springfield.
Why do you think so many MSU theatre alumni are successful?
We had some incredible professors who didn’t expect us to just be students, but professionals. We also had a tight-knit bond and supported each other despite our competitive profession. Also: If you can put a play together, you can put just about anything together.
What do you consider your most important accomplishments?
Other than raising my children, staying in touch with old friends. I have lifelong friends from MSU — some famous, some not so famous — that I see here in Los Angeles. For example, John Goodman’s daughter recently got a job on the crew of the sitcom “New Girl.” I could look out my window and see her! It’s great — one of my best friends from college, his daughter now works on our lot!
I feel like my life is starting to come full circle. That’s a real good personal feeling.
More about Monte Kuklenski
- Senior vice president of facilities and construction for Fox Networks Engineering and Operations
- Bachelor’s in theatre, MSU, 1975
- Master’s in directing/production, Southern Methodist University, 1980
- Los Angeles area
- Wife, Valerie
- Two children, Renee, 20, and Thomas, 16
- MSU family ties:
- His late dad, Dr. Joe E. Kuklenski Jr., ’49, was superintendent of Springfield Public Schools from 1970-81, and won this award in 1983. Joe met Monte’s late mother, June Kuklenski, in the MSU band. Monte’s sisters are also grads: Jill Scruggs, ’78, and Julie Peck, ’80.
Stan Lippelman, ’91
Stan Lippelman knows marketing. He has worked in the field nearly 20 years and managed a number of well-known brands — in fact, you have probably used a product he had a hand in developing. However, he started out on a different path. Lippelman originally came to Missouri State on a music scholarship and was in a rock band. An introductory marketing class piqued his interest and changed his career path.
After graduating from Missouri State, Lippelman began his career with Noble & Associates, working on brands such as Kellogg’s, Heinz, MasterCard and Coca-Cola foods. After earning an MBA, he accepted a position with General Mills in Minneapolis, where he advanced to senior marketing manager. He worked on the development of new products for household brands such as Pop Secret and Lucky Charms. In fact, Lippelman introduced the “shooting stars” in Lucky Charms, which are still in the package today.
Lippelman later returned to Missouri as director of marketing for Rawlings Sporting Goods in St. Louis, and quickly advanced to vice president. In 2004, he came back to his hometown. Lippelman is currently the head marketing officer for Bass Pro Group, which includes Bass Pro Shops, Tracker Marine Group and their direct businesses.
What are some of your most important professional accomplishments?
I am proud to have worked on some of the most powerful brands in the world. I have worked on the development of many new products, including Rawlings products that you still see worn today by major and minor league baseball players. I am exceptionally proud of the marketing we do at Bass Pro, and our team.
What are some of your favorite memories of MSU?
Being part of the Ad Team with Dr. Melissa Burnett. I also loved getting up early to get tickets to Hammons Student Center to watch basketball in Spoon’s Temple of Doom (the arena’s nickname when the late Charlie Spoonhour was coach).
How do you stay connected to your alma mater?
We see friends and former professors at athletic events. We are members of The Founders Club. I serve on advisory boards for the marketing and athletics departments. What I love about MSU is the community — the amazing campus, the compassionate professors and the friendly students that truly make Missouri State University one of the top universities in America.
More about Stan Lippelman
- Vice president of marketing, Bass Pro Group
- Bachelor’s in marketing, ’91, MSU
- Master of Business Administration, ’96, University of Virginia
- Lives in:
- Wife, alumna Kim, ’93
- Son, Hayden
- Daughter, Ella
Outstanding young alumna
Deidre Goodwin, ’92
Goodwin has since worked with some of Broadway’s most revered directors and choreographers. She’s a veteran of eight Broadway shows, among them “A Chorus Line,” “Chicago,” (where she captured the dream role of Velma Kelly), “Nine,” “The Boys from Syracuse,” “Jesus Christ Superstar,” “The Rocky Horror Show” and the original companies of “Chita Rivera: The Dancer’s Life” and “Never Gonna Dance.”
Deidre Goodwin’s combined film, television and Broadway credits are extraordinary. Following MSU graduation, she gained experience overseas and in regional theater before moving to New York.
A stint as Merry Murderess June in the Oscar-winning film “Chicago” earned her a piece of the 2003 SAG Award for Best Ensemble. Other film roles include “Every Little Step,” “Love and Other Drugs,” “It’s Complicated,” “Across the Universe” and “The Bourne Legacy.” Goodwin has also appeared in several television series, such as “30 Rock,” “Law & Order SVU” and “Rescue Me.”
Goodwin has added the role of teacher and mentor to her resume. She has taught dance and musical theater workshops across the country, and is among the musical theatre conservatory faculty at the New York Film Academy. “I teach a lot now and love giving back to those who want to perform.”
In partnership with voice teacher Kim Stern, she created The Broadway Warm-Up, a completely synchronized vocal and dance warm-up for professional performers, and produced a soon-to-be-released accompanying video.
Goodwin in the 2002 film version of “Chicago”
What have been some of your favorite roles so far?
Velma Kelly in “Chicago” on Broadway and Shelia Bryant in “A Chorus Line” on Broadway. They are strong women who have fantastic journeys in classic musicals. As an actress, it was an honor to get a chance to play those roles.
What are some of your favorite memories of MSU?
Rehearsing after classes late at night, taking 20 to 22 hours a semester while working part time, doing dance concerts or musicals, yet still finding time to have a good time and get good grades.
What do you love about MSU?
That they gave me a chance. I had to work really hard, but I loved it. Through dance classes with an amazing teacher, Chyrel Miller, as well as acting, I found my “voice” and have been able to turn that into a career.
More about Deidre Goodwin
- Bachelor’s in dance and bachelor’s in media/production, both 1992, Missouri State
- Lives in:
- New York City
- Husband, Brant Amundson
- Parents Brenda and Michael Square
- Brother, Jarrod Goodwin
Outstanding young alumna
Keela (Foughty) Davis, ’06 & ’06
Keela Davis was the first person ever hired by Mercy health system’s research and development division when it was new in 2007, and she has directed the division ever since.
Mercy Research & Development, housed in Jordan Valley Innovation Center — part of Missouri State — takes ideas for new medical devices and improved health care procedures and then designs, prototypes, tests and patents products for partners who then license the technology, manufacture it and sell it.
Davis is a humanitarian as well as a scientist. She travels to help orphans around the world, providing them with medical care and clothing while trying to help get them adopted.
Davis and her husband, Dan, have adopted three children of their own: a 4-year old son from South Korea, and a 3-year-old daughter and a 2-year old son from Congo.
Which of your professional accomplishments makes you most proud?
We started the research and development program from scratch, we’ve grown it, created a lot of products and have been able to do some really neat, unique things here.
And I wouldn’t say we’re done. It’s not finished; it’s still a work in progress. Being able to see the products that we’ve created get onto the market and be beneficial to patients in improving their outcomes and improving the way that care is provided — that’s a great accomplishment.
What do you do in your spare time?
I spend a lot of time volunteering for a nonprofit adoption program and humanitarian aid program.
I make a lot of trips to Congo and Nicaragua. I have been to Congo eight times in the last 18 months. I’m starting a small company over there that will teach people who don’t have jobs or don’t have a trade how to do something, like make shoes and sell them, so I hope to create jobs.
How did you become interested in humanitarian issues?
We adopted our first child, and we traveled to South Korea to bring him home. That probably started the itch. Then we heard that Congo was one of the worst places on Earth for children, particularly young girls. We connected with some friends and a nonprofit organization that does adoptions and humanitarian aid there, and just decided we needed to go there and see what we can do.
More about Keela (Foughty) Davis
- Director, Mercy Research & Development
- Bachelor’s in engineering physics, summer ’06, MSU
- Accelerated master’s in biology, December ’06, MSU
- PhD candidate, engineering management, ’14, Missouri S&T
- Lives in:
- Husband, Dan, ’05
- Children Elon, 4, Imara, 3, Adlai, 2
Excellence in Public Affairs
Dr. Cindy Baker
Hanging above Dr. Cindy Baker’s desk is a print given to her by her father, inscribed with the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Baker strives to put those words into practice through her professional and personal life.
Baker, a counselor and community leader who specializes in working with at-risk adolescents and families, has conducted more than 30,000 individual and family therapy sessions.
Her work with — and on behalf of — hungry, abused, homeless and traumatized individuals has been memorialized with a brick at the Victims Memorial Garden in Springfield, a site in Phelps Grove Park that remembers crime victims and those who serve them. It reads: “Dr. Cindy Baker — An advocate for us all.”
The impact her work has had is remarkable when viewed in light of the fact she didn’t begin her counseling career until her two children were in high school, 20 years after she graduated with her bachelor’s degree from a school in Kansas.
Baker was once a national director of human resources. In that career, she discovered her love for helping people work through challenging situations. She decided to pursue a counseling degree at Missouri State in the 1990s.
Since then, Baker has earned a doctorate from the University of Missouri and has continued to follow her passion for aiding others. Her commitment is evidenced in her regular 10-hour workdays, pro bono public speaking engagements and multiple after-hours community service endeavors.
How does it feel to receive this award?
Of all the awards I’ve received, this one has touched my heart the most. Missouri State helped pave the way for my future by broadening my knowledge of people. It propelled me forward and offered me opportunities as a nontraditional student.
What was it like for you to return to college as a nontraditional student?
Going back to school was frightening, and it felt awkward being one of the oldest students, but I hope my experience as a nontraditional student can inspire others. I remember being approached by (psychology faculty member) Dr. David Dixon to represent Missouri State as a student on the Developmental Center of the Ozarks board. The goal was to prepare a student for philanthropic work. That was where I first met top community leaders. Missouri State introduced me to advocacy and my role as a civic leader. I ended up serving on the DCO board for a few years.
How do you stay motivated to make a difference?
My goal on a daily basis is to touch at least one person’s heart. When I wake up, I begin my quest to find that one person, and I always do.
More about Dr. Cindy Baker
- Licensed professional counselor and nationally certified counselor. She is the founder and owner of Baker Consulting Services, Touchstone Helping Families, Touchstone Counseling and Garden of Healing Serenity Boutique.
- MSU degree:
- Master’s in counseling, 1998
- Ozark, Missouri
- Husband, Dr. Jay Baker
- Children, Josh Baker and Jenny Hornick (both Missouri State alumni)
Award of Appreciation
Dr. Denny Pilant
When Dr. Denny Pilant began teaching political science at Missouri State in 1966, he planned on staying for only a few short years — academics move around, he thought. But he got the Bear bug, and retired after 37 years of service.
Pilant served on community and school committees throughout the years, including the Bicentennial Committee for the Constitution, Legal Aid of Southwest Missouri and the Mayor’s Commission on Human Rights and Community Relations. He was also a delegate to the White House Conference on Libraries and the Missouri Conference on Libraries in 1979.
Through his committee work, he helped both Missouri State and the community. He worked on issues such as ensuring legal aid for those who could not otherwise get services, helping seniors stay in their homes and refining MSU’s system for dealing with students accused of cheating.
What do you consider your most important professional accomplishments?
First, the accomplishments of my students. I had a number who went on to do very well. I taught Bob Holden and his wife, Lori, and Bob became governor of Missouri. Greg Curl was an executive for Bank of America, and is head of a sovereign wealth fund in Singapore. Many students went on to grad school, law school or teaching. One of my students got a PhD at Vanderbilt and is a professor of political science.
Also, I was on the University planning committee for the public affairs mission, and helped our administrators implement it. And I was among the professors who helped start service-learning at Missouri State. We traveled to find examples of other schools with similar programs.
Why do you love MSU?
The people, the faculty, my colleagues — they were all very congenial.
One of the things I did for 10 years was teach a sailing class through the physical education department. I’m pleasantly surprised how many people still come up to me and say, “I took your sailing class, and I still sail.”
I never worked a day in my life. I enjoyed every minute of it. Maybe committee meetings, not so much — but besides those, it was great.
How do you stay connected to Missouri State?
I’m an amateur French horn player, and I still play in the MSU Community Band. I’ve always enjoyed working with Jerry Hoover and the music department.
More about Dr. Denny Pilant
- Emeritus professor of political science
- Taught at MSU from 1966-2002
- Wife, Mary
- Three adult children, Andrew, Julia and John