The Distinguished Alumni award is the highest honor that can be granted to an alumnus or alumna of Emporia State University by the ESU Alumni Association. Awarded each fall during Homecoming, it recognizes the outstanding professional accomplishments of ESU's finest graduates. Since the inception of the award program in 1960, more than 200 alumni have received the award.
Candidates are nominated for the Distinguished Alumni award by alumni and current and retired ESU faculty. As much information as possible is gathered on each candidate. The information is evaluated and an initial selection is made by a committee representing alumni and faculty. The Alumni Association Board of Directors approves or makes final selection of those who will receive the award. A maximum of five alumni can receive the award in a given year.
Past Distinguished Alumni have included teachers, research scholars, humanitarians, administrators, public servants, doctors, lawyers, and leaders in business, industry, and the military. All are respected in their professions and community. Most important, they are Emporia State University graduates who have given ESU a rich heritage.
Click here to fill out the nomination form online or call your ESU Alumni Office at 620-341-5440 to request the most current nomination form. (please note: for consideration during the upcoming calendar year, nominations are due by October 31; nominations received after this date will be considered for the following year)
Click here to view the 2015 Distinguished Alumni introduction video.
Retired U.S. Army Col. Guy C. Beougher, who received his bachelor of science in business administration degree from Emporia State in 1980, now is a senior leader in the Defense Logistics Agency and involved in the fight against Ebola in Africa.
Among his graduate degrees and certifications are a master of science in material acquisition management from Florida Institute of Technology and a master of science in national resource strategy from National Defense University; he is a doctoral candidate in public policy and administration, transactional cost economic theory, at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and University.
His awards include a Superior Civilian Service Medal, a Civilian Global War on Terrorism, Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medals, Army Achievement Medal, Kosovo NATO Medal and overseas ribbons. To read more, click here.
Richard C. 'Dick' Hawk has succeeded in diverse careers — banking, financial management and upscale restaurant ownership.
Hawk said he came to Emporia to attend Kansas State Teachers College, now Emporia State University, because of a $100 scholarship, “which was a great deal of money at the time.” He earned two degrees here, a bachelor of science in business administration in 1956, and a master of science in business administration the following year. During his time here, Hawk was editor of The Bulletin newspaper and president of the student council. He also served as director of field services at the university.
Later, he served as assistant dean in the University of Chicago's Graduate School of Education and became the first director of the Minnesota State Higher Education Board. He received an honorary doctorate degree from LLD University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, Minn. The Richard C. Hawk Sports Center was named in his honor at Alliant International University in San Diego. To read more, click here.
Dr. Ilene K. Kleinsorge credits Emporia State University for helping her along the journey from single parent and college student working four part-time jobs to executive dean of the Division of Business and engineering and dean of the College of Business at Oregon State University.
“First and foremost, the learning I got from ESU was that I could do anything I wanted to do,” said Kleinsorge, noting that her ESU experience taught her the value of collaboration. “I’ve been able to compose my life as I go by finding connections that others may not see and making things happen that are greater than first imagined.”
She graduated with honors from Emporia State with a bachelor of science degree in 1981 and received her doctorate from the University of Kansas in 1988. She became a faculty member in the OSU College of Business in 1987. To read more, click here.
John D. McPherson, Jr. built a career primarily running railroads since he graduated from Kansas State Teachers College in 1959 with a bachelor of science degree in business administration. He later received a master of science degree in management from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
He served in various capacities for the former Santa Fe Railroad for 25 years and was chief operating officer for the Florida East Coast Railway LLC from 1999 to 2007. He also was vice president of Florida East Coast Industries Inc., and also served as its vice president of rail operations beginning in 1999, according to McPherson's executive profile in Bloomberg Business Week.
McPherson also was president and chief executive officer of the Illinois Central from 1998 to 1999 and as its senior vice president of operations from 1993 to 1998. He served as chairman of the Las Vegas Railway Express in 2013 and 2014, after becoming its director in 2012. He has been a director of CSX Corporation since July 2008, Bloomberg reported. He served as a director of TTX Company from 1997 to 2007. To read more, click here.
Lana Scrimsher Oleen has spent her career focused on education and citizen service. The former Kansas Senate Majority Leader graduated from Kansas State Teachers College in 1972 with a bachelor of science in education degree in English and in 1977 with a master of science degree in curriculum and instruction. She taught school from 1972 to 1986.
Oleen has devoted her time and talents generously to Emporia State both as a student and alumnus. She was the 2012 spring commencement speaker. She has served as chairman and member of the Foundation Board, as a member of the alumni board, the Now & Forever National Campaign Committee, Hornets for Higher Education, as a Kansas State Fair volunteer and as part of the Teacher Appreciation Program. As a student, Oleen served on Associated Student Government and The Bulletin.
She represented the 22nd District in the Kansas Senate from 1989 to 2005, becoming majority leader in 2003, and was a board member of the Policy Consensus Initiative, the Governor's Military Council and was chair of the Education Task Force/Superintendent Coalition. To read more, click here.
2014 RecipientsMr. Daniel D. Busby
BSB 1963, MBA 1964
Daniel D. Busby has worked with nonprofit organizations during much of his nearly 50 year career. In his latest role as president of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA), Busby works with nearly 1,900 evangelical Christian organizations which receive over $22 billion in annual revenue. ECFA sets standards of governance, financial management and fundraising to which organizations voluntarily commit.
Along with frequent presentations on nonprofit topics, Busby is the author of hundreds of articles and 52 editions of five different nonprofit titles. NonProfit Times has named him one of the 50 most powerful nonprofit leaders for the past five consecutive years.
Another facet of Busby’s life centers on baseball memorabilia. He regularly contributes artifacts to the National Baseball Hall of Fame Library and Museum and assists the Hall in identifying items donated to their collection. He is writing a series of iBooks on vintage baseball tickets and a print edition relating to Brooklyn Dodgers memorabilia.Dr. Diane M. DeBacker
Diane M. DeBacker, Ed.D., recently concluded four years of service as Kansas Commissioner of Education, providing leadership for the Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE) to carry out the policies and programs that help the state’s 475,000 kindergarten through twelfth grade students achieve their academic goals.
DeBacker rose through classroom and administrative ranks in Kansas public and private schools before joining the KSDE, an agency she served as director of school improvement and accreditation, deputy commissioner of the Division of Learning and Innovative Services, interim Commissioner of Education, and most recently Kansas Education Commissioner.
Throughout her career, DeBacker has been sought out by schools, districts, education organizations and others for her educational insights as well as her clear thinking around the issues and challenges facing policy makers, educators and students.
DeBacker left her KSDE post in May, 2014, to serve as advisor to the director general of the Abu Dhabi Education Council in the United Arab Emirates.Mr. Anthony D. "Tony" Forcum
Anthony D. “Tony” Forcum, prior to his retirement in May 2014, was a principal of Deloitte Consulting LLP and a member of its Board of Directors. Forcum joined a predecessor of Deloitte & Touche in 1974 after graduating from Emporia State University and became a partner in 1984.
He served as Deloitte Consulting’s National Managing Director—Operations & Finance from 2003 through 2009 and Managing Director of Deloitte Consulting’s Texas practice offices in Dallas, Houston and Austin from 1997 to 2001. He also was Managing Director of the Dallas office in 1996. He served as the national recruiting principal for Deloitte Consulting at the University of Texas at Austin for many years.
Post-retirement, Forcum admits that his schedule will remain full. He plans to continue to serve McCombs School of Business at UT-Austin (where he is a lifetime member of the Business Advisory Council), and to work in entrepreneurial and consulting opportunities as they may present themselves.Dr. Rosemary A. Kirby
Rosemary A. Kirby, Ph.D., has taken divergent routes during a career in education that has spanned more than five decades. From an early classroom assignment Wichita Southeast High School, Kirby moved into administrative roles at several Wichita schools, including principalships at Mead Junior High, Jardine Junior High and West High Schools.
In the early 1990s, Wichita’s USD 259 Board of Education showed its confidence in Kirby when she was named the district’s interim superintendent. She was director of Wichita Area Vocational Technical School and president of Wichita Area Technical College, in addition to teaching for nine years in Wichita State University’s College of Education.
While officially retired, Kirby spends approximately 24 hours a week tutoring 20 students from kindergarten through high school in a variety of subjects: math, language arts, social studies, science and computer keyboarding. It’s a time-consuming endeavor, but one she finds extremely rewarding.
Kirby is an emeritus trustee of the Emporia State University Foundation, and is an active volunteer with the Emporia State Alumni Association’s teacher appreciation luncheons and student recruitment activities.