Distinguished Alumni

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)


Mr. Daniel D. Busby
BSB 1963, MBA 1964

Winchester, Va.


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
BSB 1982
Topeka, Kan.


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
BSB 1973
Plano, Texas


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
BSE 1952
Wichita, Kan.


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.


Click here to see the video from the 2013 Distinguished Alumni and Outstanding Recent Graduate recipients.

Linda Bluth (MS 1966)
Ellicott City, Md.

Linda Bluth has 47 years of experience as a special educator, including 32 years in special needs transportation. Retiring in 2009 as director of the Office of Quality Assurance and Monitoring at the Maryland State Department of Education, she currently works part-time for that same agency as a quality assurance monitoring specialist in special education and early intervention services.

An expert in the field of special needs transportation policies, she joined the School Bus Safety company as a consultant and product trainer in 2011. Bluth is past president of the National Association for Pupil Transportation (NAPT), and received the organization’s Distinguished Service Award in 2000.

Anita G. Evans (BSE 1980)
Mayetta, Kan.

A physical education teacher and Title VII Indian education director at Royal Valley USD 337, Mayetta, Anita Evans develops and implements programs emphasizing Native American culture, language, art and academic assistance for students in the district, along with coaching the high school’s softball and volleyball teams.

Evans was named 1997 Kansas Native American Educator of the Year, and earned National Indian Teacher of the Year honors in 2002 from the National Indian Education Association. She is also a 2010 Port Jervis (N.Y.) High School Hall of Fame inductee. In 1998, she implemented a summer youth work program for Prairie Band Potawatomie Nation and served as its director until 2005. She also sponsors the Royal Valley Native American Singers and Dancers, the only school-sponsored Native American dance group in Kansas.

John David (J.D.) Schramm II (BFA 1985)
San Francisco, Calif.

J.D. Schramm serves on the faculty of Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, where he teaches a variety of communication courses to MBA students.

A sought out speaker, educator and trainer, Schramm uses his expertise in communication to help individuals and organizations become more effective. He speaks regularly on topics of suicide prevention, LGBT inclusiveness in schools and churches, and mentoring young people. Schramm earned a BFA in theatre from Emporia State University in 1985.

An original member of the ESU Ambassadors, he took that model to his high school alma mater, Thomas More Prep-Marian in Hays when he served there as director of admissions. He went on to complete his MBA at New York University in 2002 and his doctorate in education (Ed.D.) from the University of Pennsylvania in 2012.

Paul Thomas (Tom) Thornbrugh (BA 1968)
Tulsa, Okla.

Tom Thornbrugh is Presiding Judge of Division IV of the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals. In a distinguished career in both private practice and on the bench, Thornbrugh has been committed to ensuring citizens receive fair treatment under the law. Before his district court appointment, Thornbrugh spent more than 20 years in private law practice in Tulsa, also serving as a legislative advisor for U.S. Sen. Dewey Bartlett (R-Okla).

During his career with the U.S. Army, Thornbrugh was awarded the Bronze Star Medal, Army Commendation Award, and Vietnamese Signal Corps Citation. He serves as adjunct professor at St. Gregory’s University and University of Tulsa.

Dan Busby
Diane DeBacker
Tony Forcum
Rosemary Kirby
Linda Bluth
Anita Evans
J.D. Schramm
Tom Thornbrugh
Dale Cushinberry
Norma Lu Hafenstein
Floyd Hoelting
Dianne Welsh 
Maj. Gen. Kevin A. Leonard
Ronald Loewen
Teresa A. Markowitz
Don G. Reichardt 
H. Edward Flentje
Robert J. "Bob" Gress
Omar G. Rogers, Sr. 
Becky Hayes Boober
Randy Scott
Harold See
Sue Swaim 
Louis Burns|
Lonnie Clark
Tom Fincken
Ben R. Leedle, Jr. 
Donna L. Clopton
Dr. Karen Kelly
Herb B. Kuhn
Victor Spinski 
Jeremy C. Kohomban
Marshall McNott
Russell E. Meyer
David L. Robertson
Jackie I. Snyder 
Mary (Anderson) Devin
William Greene, Jr.
Peggy Lamm
J. Andy Tompkins
Deryl Wynn 
Mark Austenfeld
Raymond Blackwell
Wallace Fujii
Evan Lindquist 
Ed Eilert
Barbara (Zirnstein) Fowler
Robert Hartsook
Ramon Littell
Richard Zahn 
Betty “Kepka” (Hochman) Belton
William F. Blaufuss Jr.
Ronald J. Fundis
Susan (Davis) McCollum
Corinthian Christine Nutter 
Richard Daniel Lumley
James Meyer
Curtis Pickert
Janet (Painter) Schalansky 
Walter Boles
Robert Fisher
Ronald Poplau  
Ted E. Bilderback
William C. Kloefkorn
Ralph W. Laster Jr. 
Lloyd A. Stone 
Carol Swinney  
Bruce E. Koel 
Charles W. Lindahl 
Clyde F. Martin 
Howard Ray Moses 
Reginald Boothe 
Ronald Epps 
Edward H. Hammond 
Dennis Neff 
Forrest A. Newlin  
Michael C. Manning 
Thomas Moon 
Lea Follis Plarski
Philip Reed Rulon 
Jackie Silberg  
Stephen M. Archer 
Ray Rust 
Yasanori Watanabe 
William H. Wunder  
C. Clair Hutchinson 
Ronald Iman
Marc Johnson 
Gary Sherrer 
Rita Riggin Swan 
Monroe Fordham 
Ron F. Krueger 
Richard W. Mawdsley 
Calvin T. Roberts 
David A. Waite  
Kay Alden 
James R. Bowen 
James F. Harter 
Samuel Walter Wine 
Mark L. Witten 
Glen K. Andrews 
Robert F. Clarke 
Vernard Johnson
Linda (Hayes) Gerber 
Elva (Bell) McLin 
Leone Buyse 
Jack Carter 
Carl E. Powell 
Calvin Lee Pritner 
M. Kay Royse  
Bob Abbott 
D. Stanley Eitzen 
Francis K. McGowan 
Claire L. Schelske 
Larry H. Toburen  
Louis L. Bangs 
Michael A. Barbara 
Fred Burchinal 
Charles W. Dieker 
Florence E. Wilson 
Panayiotis M. Zavos  
Gary Bitter 
L. Scott Cram 
David M. King 
Barbara Kiefer Lewalski  
Robert E. Bays 
G. Wayne Johnston 
Kenneth C. Skeen 
Ron Slaymaker 
Julian H. Taylor  
Forrest Frease 
William Jackson Bell 
William A. Bloomer 
Vaughn Nelson 
James W. Pickert  
Raymond C. Koch 
Arthur Adrian 
Rainer Martens 
Rose Ann Shorey 
Marshall S. Hiskey  
Helen Case 
Manuel J. Justiz 
R. Wilford Riegle 
Gail Shannon  
Don Ingwerson 
Don Peters 
Al Philips 
John Sarracino 
Richard J. Williams  
Bill Brown 
Darrell Mase 
Ivan Smith  
Ted Andrews 
Dorothy Gropp 
Arlo Hermreck 
John R. Zimmerman  
Richard Hiskey 
Ruth Irwin 
Jim Pogue  
Alice VanLandingham 
Robert Mott 
Archie San Romani 
Paul Del Brinkman  
Burt Harrison 
Virgil Stout 
Herman Berg 
Jim Fraley  
Jean Leblon 
Helen Johnson 
Alma Eikerman 
Ben Day  
Erma L. Stewart 
John J. Zimmerman 
Frank A. Beach 
Stuart Cram  
Josephine Bates 
George Blair 
John McCormally 
Dale Saffels 
Roy Burns  
Al Morris 
Dwight Newberg 
Russell Porter 
Samuel Estep 
Noel Gist 
Mary M. Graye  
Ann King Reynolds 
Robert W. Stauffer 
Ray C. Maul 
Percy Young 
August Eberle 
Everett Fish  
Elijah Williams 
Eugene Savaiano 
Emory Lee Cox 
Thomas P. Butcher 
Lewis Worth Seagondollar  
Margaret L. Burke 
Arthur E. Gropp 
Homer W. Hargiss 
Francis C. Welch  
Hugh Edwards 
Robert H. McFarland 
Byron Eshelman  
Don Davis 
Minnie Miller  
Harry Levinson 
Everett Rich  
Vic Trusler 
Bill Larkin  
Paul Johnson 
William Martin Jr. 
Ray G. Cremer 
Guy E. Finkle 
Delort Gammon  
Edwin John Brown 
Alfred C. Hill 
Kathryn Kayser
Fred Messenger
Katherine Morrison  
Susan Friend 
Edna McCullough 
John Rufi 
Hugo Wedell 
Ellsworth C. Dent 
Clifford H. Nowlin 
F. L. Schlagle