Missouri State University’s alumni prove what it means to be a Citizen Bear with exceptional achievements. From academia to the military, these Bears are changing the world.
The Missouri State University Alumni Association presents awards of recognition to these alumni each year.
The 2017 awards ceremony
The Alumni Association will honor alumni and former staff for their outstanding accomplishments at its 61st anniversary celebration. The Bears of Distinction Dinner and Awards Ceremony is at 6:30 p.m. June 24 in the Plaster Student Union Ballroom.
The event is open to the public. Make reservations before June 9 by calling the alumni relations office at 417-836-5654. Tickets are $25 per person.
Bears of Distinction
Six Bears of Distinction will receive awards:
- Lifetime Achievement Award: Lt. Gen. Karen Dyson (1980) was the first female finance officer to achieve the three-star rank. Dyson’s awards include the Army Distinguished Service Medal, Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal and Meritorious Service Medal. She also earned the Parachutist Badge, the Army Staff Identification Badge and the Presidential Support Badge.
- Outstanding Alumna Award: Dr. Margie Vandeven (1990) is the commissioner of education for the state of Missouri. Prior to her appointment as commissioner, she assisted with the planning and implementation of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s Top 10 by 20 initiative, which calls for Missouri to be one of the top 10 states for education by 2020.
- Outstanding Young Alumnus: Dr. David Vinyard (2007 and 2008) is an assistant professor of biological sciences at Louisiana State University. He graduated summa cum laude from MSU with dual majors in chemistry and agriculture with a minor in piano. He is MSU’s first and only Rhodes Scholar finalist, earned his Ph.D. from Princeton and did post-doctoral work at Yale. His work has been cited over 619 times.
- Excellence in Public Affairs: Dr. Alanna Bree (1994) is the owner and solo physician at A Children’s House for Pediatric Dermatology, executive director of A Children’s House for the Soul, and assistant professor of dermatology and pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine. Bree has participated in several mission trips to Nicaragua, Guatemala, Kenya and Tanzania. She provides pediatric dermatology care for children in orphanages, especially those with albinism.
- Award of Appreciation: Greg Onstot was vice president for university advancement and executive director of the Missouri State Foundation from 1982 to 2007. Onstot supervised the areas of development and alumni relations, university relations, intercollegiate athletics, Hammons Student Center/Plaster Sports Complex and the Juanita K. Hammons Hall for the Performing Arts.
- Volunteer of the Year: The Darr College of Agriculture Alumni Committee raised more than $71,000 over the past three years. Funds raised have supported student labor in the college and purchased a passenger van for student activities. This year, funds will be put into an endowed scholarship to be awarded annually.
Bears of Excellence
The Alumni Association created the Bears of Excellence Award in 2016 in celebration of its 60th anniversary. It recognizes uniquely accomplished alumni from diverse academic, professional and personal backgrounds.
This year’s Bears of Excellence are:
- Jennifer Fitzmaurice (1996) is the assistant vice president for customer loyalty at AT&T in Dallas. She is a technology industry leader and one of 12 professionals in 2015 to be named a “Game Changer” in the ICT Industry by OSP Magazine, a publication for information and communication technology professionals.
- B. Cecile Reynaud (1975) is a retired coach and professor of sports management. She was the Division I volleyball coach at Florida State University from 1976 to 2001. She has held many national and international leadership positions related to volleyball, including work with several Olympic events, serving on the Board of Directors of USA Volleyball and providing color commentary for volleyball on networks including ESPN, FOX and Sun Sports.
- Rafiel Warfield (2004) is the assistant staff judge advocate, Marine Corps Forces Command, U.S. Marine Corps. Warfield was the first African-American to be president of the MSU Student Government Association. He earned a Juris Doctorate in 2008 from Syracuse University College of Law, where he was the first African-American male to be president of the Syracuse University College of Law Senate. He commissioned in the U.S. Marine Corps in 2009. He is stationed in Norfolk, Virginia.
- John Wanamaker (1983) has been a managing partner at BKD, LLP since 2004. BKD is the nation’s 10th-largest CPA and advisory firm. He is the current chairman of the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce, was appointed to the City of Springfield Enhanced Enterprise Zone board and was named one of Springfield Business Journal’s 2012 Men of the Year.
For more information, contact Lori Fan, executive director of alumni relations, at 417-836-5654.