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John Rush, James Tatum to receive MSU honorary doctorate degrees

Friday, December 13, 2013

Missouri State University will grant its 16th and 17th honorary doctorate degrees to community leaders John Rush and James Tatum. The Doctor of Public Affairs (A.P.D.) degree will be conferred upon Tatum and Rush at May 16, 2014, commencement ceremonies.

The Doctor of Public Affairs (A.P.D.) degrees are granted in recognition of each man’s extraordinary achievements in the area of public affairs.

The nominations were approved today (Dec. 13) by the Missouri State University Board of Governors following recommendations from the Faculty Senate and President Clifton M Smart III.

John RushJohn Rush

Rush served as president/CEO of United Way of the Ozarks for 20 years and has since continued his commitment to the community in the areas of public health and welfare. Rush has been a strong voice of advocacy for the Jordan Valley Community Health Center, a federally qualified health center, and has served on the center’s Board of Directors.

His voluntary leadership continued through his work with the Presbyterian Children’s Services, Ozarks Health Advocacy Foundation, ARC Foundation, the Child Advocacy Center and the Greene County 100 Club.

Rush has served as a member of Springfield City Council, past president of the Greene County Park Board, served on the Mayor’s Commission for Children and Youth, Springfield Chamber of Commerce Leadership Forum and the Attorney Disciplinary Committee of the Missouri Supreme Court. He continues to serve higher education serving on advisory boards for Missouri State University and Evangel University.

Tatum, James 1-03James Tatum

Tatum, owner of Tatum Motor Company for 54 years, has pursued a lifelong passion for creating educational opportunities for others. He has served on the Crowder College Board of Trustees for more than 50 years and has served as president of local county school boards, PTAs and school districts primarily in southwest Missouri.

His voluntary leadership led to the change in state law tax districts allowing for rural community colleges. He championed his passion for education as a delegate to the White House Conference on Education in 1960, served on the President’s Educational Advisory Council from 1982-88, and was director of the Association of Governing Boards of Colleges and Universities.

Tatum graduated from West Point and served this nation in the Korean War before returning to southwest Missouri to champion education. Recently, his efforts have been in helping to establish the MARET Center (Missouri Alternative and Renewable Energy Technology) recognized internationally for its contributions to the energy field.

“We are excited to honor John Rush and James Tatum with honorary doctorate degrees,” said Dr. Cynthia Hail, chair of the Honorary Doctorate Selection Committee. “Mr. Rush and Mr. Tatum are community leaders, willing volunteers, role models, and advocates for families and others in crisis, and inspirations for public service. We look forward to their participation at spring commencement.”

The first Missouri State University honorary doctorate was awarded in 2003. The purpose of the award is to recognize extraordinary achievements by distinguished citizens in hope of encouraging others. Previous recipients are John Goodman, Sister Lorraine Biebel, Harold Bengsch, David Harrison, Pat Walker, Annie Busch, Jim Craig, Nancy Brown Dornan, Dr. Sue Savage-Rumbaugh, Jan Horton, Pattie Penny, Calvin Allen, Gordon McCann, Dr. Bert Park and Shawn Askinosie.

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  • Dr. Cynthia Hail
  • (417) 836-6065


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