Missouri State University is fortunate to have many highly accomplished alumni. In recognition of graduates’ exceptional achievements, the Missouri State University Alumni Association presents awards of recognition each year.
Alumni Association recognizes 2016 awardees
The Alumni Association will be honoring alumni and former staff for their outstanding accomplishments at the 60th Anniversary Bears of Distinction Dinner and Awards Ceremony on June 10 at 6:30 p.m. in Plaster Student Union. This event is open to the public and guests may purchase tickets online.
Bears of Distinction
The Outstanding Alumni Award recognizes recipients for extraordinary achievement in their personal and professional endeavors. Among the qualities considered are notable success in a profession or business, loyalty to the university and outstanding contributions to society.
This year’s Outstanding Alumnus is Ron Richard, 1972. Richard represents Missouri’s 32nd senatorial district. He is the only Missouri legislator in a century to be elected both Speaker of the House and Senate Majority Leader.
The Outstanding Young Alumni Award recognizes graduates 35 years of age or younger who have demonstrated extraordinary achievement in their personal and professional endeavors and have brought honor to Missouri State University.
This year’s Outstanding Young Alumnus is Lincoln Hough, 2005. Hough is a three-term Missouri representative. In 2011, he was named a Distinguished Legislator by the Missouri Community Colleges Association for his work advocating for community colleges across the state.
The Alumni Award for Excellence in Public Affairs recognizes graduates who have exceptional achievements in their professional endeavors, while demonstrating outstanding commitment to the ideals of public service.
This recipient of this year’s Award of Excellence in Public Affairs is Steven F. McDonald, 1966. McDonald spent four decades focused on peace building, conflict resolution, democracy and governance in Africa, Northern Ireland, Timor Leste and Brazil. He worked with South Africans, including Nelson Mandela, to bring about the change from Apartheid to majority rule in 1994.
The Volunteer of the Year Award honors alumni who have made an extraordinary effort to advance the reach and impact of Missouri State University. This award celebrates individuals or groups who have demonstrated exceptional dedication, leadership or service to the Missouri State community.
This year’s Volunteer of the Year is John Brinkmann, 1992. Brinkmann founded the men’s basketball golf tournament in 1996 and assumed sole responsibility for the event in 2001. To date, the event has attracted more than 2,000 participants and raised more than $1 million in aid for students. Brinkmann also serves on MSU’s College of Business Advisory Board.
The Award of Appreciation honors retired faculty and staff members for achievement in their professional or academic field and loyalty to the University.
The recipient of this year’s Award of Appreciation is Julie A. Ebersold, 1976. Ebersold worked for Missouri State University’s office of alumni relations for 29 years. She started the R.E.A.L. Bears student organization in 1987 to recruit emerging alumni leaders, launched the collegiate license plate program to support student scholarships and expanded alumni engagement programs to include regions from coast to coast.
Bears of Excellence
The Bears of Excellence Award was created in 2016 in celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Missouri State University Alumni Association’s awards program. It recognizes uniquely accomplished alumni from diverse academic, professional and personal backgrounds.
The inaugural Bears of Excellence are:
Bass is the founder, president and CEO of Sheridan Production Company, LLC. He has had a 36-year career in the oil and gas industry and is a member of the Oklahoma Independent Producers Association Board, Oklahoma Energy Resources Board, Council of the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association, and the Australian Mines and Metals Association.
Fulton is superintendent of the Pattonville School District. The school district, one of the most diverse in Missouri, has received national and statewide recognition for achievement from “U.S. News and World Report,” “St. Louis Post-Dispatch,” and others. In 2016, Fulton was named Missouri Superintendent of the Year by the Missouri Association of School Administrators.
Gannaway is a retired attorney. He served as Mayor of Springfield from 1995-2001 and helped lead the revitalization of downtown by securing more than $50 million in private investments during a three-year period. He is credited with the development of Jordan Valley Park, the Exhibition Center, Hammons Field and the renovation of the Landers Theater, Gillioz Theater, Discovery Center and more.
Garard is the owner of Grooms Office Environments. She started as a sales representative at Grooms shortly after she graduated college and worked with the company in different roles for more than 11 years. In 2015, she and her husband purchased the company and have focused on creating a rich culture and developing a strong presence in the Springfield community.
Shook established and served as the first president of three public community colleges in Missouri: Crowder College (Neosho), East Central Community College (Union) and St. Charles Community College (Cottleville). Throughout his career, he led statewide legislative efforts on behalf of community colleges.
Wilson is a retired helicopter and flat-wing pilot. She was a ROTC distinguished military graduate, lieutenant in the U.S. Army stationed in Germany and an airfield commander at Karlsruhe Army Airfield. During her career, she participated in flight tests for NASA and the Federal Aviation Administration, and organized and flew rescue support for first responders at ground zero in Manhattan after the 9/11 attacks.