FHSU announces the 2014 alumni award recipients

-University Relations

Seven graduates of Fort Hays State University will be recognized this weekend during Homecoming events as winners of the FHSU Alumni Association’s highest honors — the Alumni Achievement Award, the Young Alumni Award, the Distinguished Service Award and the Nita M. Landrum Award.

Members of the 2014 awardee class come from a wide array of backgrounds including athletics, academia, design, geology, law and marketing, with all representing exemplary service and dedication to their industries, communities and the university.

The Alumni Achievement Award, the Association’s highest honor, recognizes graduates for significant accomplishments in business or professional life, or for distinguished humanitarian service to their community, state or nation. This year’s recipients are Susan (Trout) Armstrong, Haysville; Dorothy (Gross) Knoll, Dallas, Texas; Jeffrey Peier, Wichita; and Gene Schmidt, Tulsa, Okla.

The Young Alumni Award is granted to graduates of 10- through 15-year reunion classes for significant accomplishments in business or professional life, or for service to the university and the Alumni Association. This year’s recipient is Justin McClure, Wichita.

The Nita M. Landrum Award recognizes alumni or friends who have provided sustained volunteer service for the betterment of the Alumni Association and/or the university, especially in their home communities. This year’s recipient is Patricia (Rhoades) Baconrind, Hays.

The Distinguished Service Award honors graduates or non-graduates who have demonstrated a continuing concern for humanity on a local, state or national level, who support cultural and educational objectives, and who exemplify the highest standards of character and personal attributes. Honored this year with the Distinguished Service Award is Mike Karl, Hays.

Awardees will serve as special guests to the annual President’s Reception hosted by Mirta Martin, FHSU president and husband, John Martin Jr., on Thursday, Oct. 9. Following the reception, the awardees will be introduced and have an opportunity to speak during the Tiger Bonfire and Pep Rally beginning at 7:30 p.m. On Saturday, Oct. 11, the recipients will participate in the ever-popular Homecoming Parade down Main Street at 1 p.m.

These events are all in addition to more than 25 events scheduled throughout the weekend, including specialty reunion activities for the 50- and 60-year classes, Allied Health, Alpha Gamma Delta and Gymnastics. Other popular events include the Tiger Golf Tournament, Half Century Club Luncheon and Induction ceremony, Oktoberfest celebration at Frontier Park, 5K Tiger Run/Walk race, Tiger Family and Friends Picnic, and the football game against the Missouri Western State University Griffons.

Click to dropdown boxes below to see information about the recipients in each category


Alumni Achievement

Susan (Trout) Armstrong graduated from FHSU with a B.A. in English in 1971. In addition to being president and CEO of Armstrong Chamberlin Strategic Marketing, she is the account supervisor and strategic planner. Armstrong began her career as a reporter/editor with The Hays Daily News. She later joined Parkinson, Strong, Prisock Advertising Agency as a writer/continuity director, followed by Stephan Advertising Agency as an account supervisor before she founded her own agency, Armstrong Creative Services, which would later become Armstrong Chamberlin. She is a recipient of numerous advertising awards on the local, national and international levels, including two prestigious EFFIE awards, presented by the New York Marketing Association for advertising effectiveness. She received the Gold Star award presented by the Haysville Chamber of Commerce in 2010, was recognized as one of the “2004 Women in Business” by The Wichita Business Journal and received the Meritorious Achievement Award from the National Agri-Marketing Association in 2004. Armstrong and her husband, Bruce, a 1971 FHSU graduate, live in Haysville. They have two sons, Matthew and Zachary, and one grandchild.

Dr. Dorothy (Gross) Knoll received a B.S. in mathematics in 1968 and an M.S. in counseling and guidance in 1976, both from FHSU, as well as her Ph.D. in counseling and student personnel administration from Kansas State University, Manhattan. Now a Licensed Professional Counselor/Life Coach/Qualified Mediator, Knoll spent a vast portion of her career with the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City as Dean of Student Services until her retirement in 2011. Before that, she served FHSU in several capacities, including associate dean of students and foreign student advisor and assistant vice president for student affairs. She is a recipient of the Distinguished Service Award, granted by the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators Region IV-West; the KU Women of Distinction Award; and James J. Rhatigan Outstanding Dean Award. Knoll and her husband, Joseph Beasley, live in Dallas, Texas. She has two children, a daughter, Dr. Victoria Knoll, and a son, Corbin, a 1996 FHSU graduate, and two grandchildren.

Jeffrey Peier graduated from FHSU with bachelor’s degrees in finance and economics, both in 1980. He furthered his education at the University of Kansas School of Law, where he received his Juris Doctorate. Peier is a senior member and managing partner of the Wichita law firm Klenda Austerman LLC, where he has spent his entire legal career. He also serves as a member of Klenda Austerman LLC’s Management Committee. In 2013, Peier received the Wichita Medical Research and Education Foundation “Jiggs” Nelson Quality of Life Award and was named a Kansas Super Lawyer by Super Lawyers Magazine in 2006. He has served on the FHSU Foundation board of trustees since 2001 and was named vice chairman of the board in 2013. Additionally, Peier has served on the FHSU College of Business and Entrepreneurship’s Dean’s Executive Advisory Council and the Economics, Finance and Accounting Advisory council since 2005. He is a former member of Alumni Association Board of Directors and served as board president from 1991-1992. Peier and his wife, Dianne ’81, live in Wichita. They have one son, Grant.

Gene Schmidt received a B.A. in geology from the University of Missouri, Columbia; a B.S. in analytical chemistry (organic chemistry) and an M.S. in organic chemistry (aqueous chemistry) both from Fort Hays State, in 1961 and 1962, respectively. He also earned an M.S. in geochemistry/inorganic and organic (hydrogeochemistry of Gulf Coast Sands & Shales) from the University of Tulsa, Okla. His career began as a district geologist with Kansas Board of Health’s Oil Field Section, later serving as senior research chemist for Pan American Petroleum. Next, he served as a research associate with Amoco Production Company, followed by director of groundwater/soils management services in the Environmental Affairs and Safety Department of Amoco Corporation, and, finally, senior technical consultant. Upon retirement, he opened Groundwater/Soils Environmental Consulting in Tulsa, where he currently specializes in hydrocarbon contamination of groundwater and soils and petroleum hydrocarbon fingerprinting and age dating. Schmidt has given more than 100 expert testimonies or depositions in court cases and has experience in more than 5,000 petroleum-related investigations with clients in the United States, the Caribbean and Europe, among others. He has produced more than 40 publications and holds a U.S. patent for a method of using dissolved hydrocarbons to prospect for petroleum. Schmidt and his wife, Thelma, reside in Tulsa, Okla. He has three sons, Gary, Timothy and Terry (deceased) and eight grandchildren.

Young Alumni

Justin McClure graduated from FHSU in 2000 with a B.F.A. in art and immediately went to work for Leo Burnett, Chicago, ranked one of the top 10 advertising agencies worldwide. He has also been a lead designer and animator for CMT/MTV Networks in Nashville and started an in-house motion graphics department at Barkley Advertising, Kansas City. Today, he is the owner and executive creative director at Justin McClure Creative, which he founded in 2008. Located in Wichita, the studio specializes in motion design, broadcast animation, video production and new media technologies. McClure’s portfolio includes work from national television networks ABC, CMT, the Discovery Channel, Disney, National Geographic and Syfy. He has also worked for national consumer brands: American Airlines, Beechcraft, Cessna, Chick-fil-A, Coca-Cola, Dell, MLB, NFL, Old Navy, Sonic, Sprint and Whole Foods. His work with these clients, as well as being the creator of Rerendered.com, a company that was purchased by Envato, Melbourne, Australia, and now boasts over 4 million users, has led him to become one of the most recognized motion design artists in the industry. Recognitions include awards from the Graphex 41 Competition, PromaxBDA, Telly Awards, Omni Awards, ADDY and the 2010 Wichita ADDY’s Rising Star award. McClure and his wife, Shelly, have two sons, Bradyn and Charlie, and two daughters, Madelyn and Liliann. They live in Wichita.

Nita M. Landrum Award

Dr. Patricia (Rhoades) Baconrind earned a B.B.A. in business education from Midland Lutheran College, Fremont, Neb.; an M.B.A. in business from the University of Nebraska-Kearney; an M.A. in communication from FHSU in 1993; and a Ph.D. in community and human resources from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. She is a certified general appraiser and owner of Baconrind Appraising Services Inc. and president of the Center for Professional Betterment Inc. She served as assistant professor of business administration at FHSU, beginning in 1976, and was promoted to associate professor in fall of 1981 until 1995. Since then, Baconrind has taught as an adjunct instructor in the FHSU Department of Economics and Finance for several semesters, most recently in spring 2008. She was named the FHSU Pilot Award recipient in 1979, recognizing her as the outstanding faculty member of the year. Her recognitions include six different Who’s Who categories: Women, Advertising, Finance, in the Midwest, Educators, and in American Education. She is a strong supporter of FHSU, having served two terms on the Alumni Association board of directors from 2002-2006 and 2006-2010. Baconrind lives in Hays and has one son, Chad, and four grandchildren.

Distinguished Service

Mike Karl came to Kansas to play football for Emporia State University but transferred to FHSU, where he received a B.S. in physical education in 1972 and an M.S. in education administration in 1974. Karl began teaching at Hays USD 489 immediately following graduation. After four years of teaching and five as assistant principal at Hays Junior High, now Hays Middle School, he spent nearly a quarter century as assistant principal and athletic director at Hays High, until his retirement in 2003. In 2004, Karl joined FHSU as director of field experience in the College of Education and Technology, a position he holds to this day. He is responsible for coordinating with K-12 schools regarding the placement of education field experiences including student teaching. He also assigns and trains supervisors of clinical experiences. In 2008, Karl was inducted into the Kansas State High School Activities Association’s Hall of Fame because of his accomplishments in 28 years of work in administration. Karl received the NIAAA Distinguished Service Award and State Award of Merit for Kansas in 1999, as well as 1990 Kansas Special Olympics Distinguished Service Award. Karl and his wife, Val, who earned degrees from FHSU in 1974 and 1996, live in Hays. They have a son, Scott, a 1999 FHSU graduate; two daughters, Summer, who earned FHSU degrees in 2004 and 2005, and Stacey, who earned degrees in 2006 and 2012; and eight grandchildren.

For more information, contact Karl Pratt, the Association’s communications/chapter development program coordinator, at 785-628-5708 or kapratt2@fhsu.edu.

Established in 1916, the Fort Hays State University Alumni Association serves the population of FHSU graduates by identifying needs and providing solutions. More than 57,000 graduates live throughout the United States and in at least 74 foreign countries. For more information, contact the Alumni Office at 785-628-4430, toll free at 1-888-351-3591 or by email at alumni@fhsu.edu.

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