University Service Citation Award
Started in 1980 by the ESU Alumni Association, the intent of the University Service Citation Award is to recognize unique and significant service to Emporia State University. Individuals chosen for this award are moved to service by a deep concern for and loyalty to ESU. Their efforts extend beyond the call of duty and usually are performed without expectation for compensation. Award nominations are made annually.
Click here to fill out a nomination form online or call your ESU Alumni Association at 620-341-5440 to request a nomination form. (please note: for consideration during the upcoming calendar year, nominations are due by December 1; nominations received after this date will be considered for the following year)
Maurice Gray was a Hornet football student-athlete during his time at Kansas State Teachers College, as he earned his bachelor’s in psychology in 1975. Over the years, Gray has served Emporia State in a variety of roles.
Gray is an influential figure that helped establish the Emporia Connection, which is an official alumni chapter designed to strengthen ties between African American alumni, current and prospective students and the University. The group is comprised of six decades of alumni who live throughout the United States. Gray continues to help lead the Emporia Connection as he helps organize events and serves as their historian.
He was directly involved in recognizing the late Geraldine Strader (BSE 1957—Foreign Language; MLS 1967—Library Science) on Emporia State’s campus. Due to Gray’s efforts, a plaque in the William Allen White Library honors both her time on campus and her impact on others. Strader was recognized as an advocate for diversity and inclusion and ensured that everyone had a fair voice. She was also one of the first female African Americans to live in the dorms on the Emporia State campus.
Gray is a Hornet for Higher Ed. He continuously advocates to his legislators about the importance of higher education, the importance of accessibility to public higher education services and education as a whole.
He has helped volunteer his time at TAP luncheons, which involves serving lunches to high school staff members. Gray served as a board member in his church, served on the Emporia State Athletics Hall of Honor Board and was a member of the Emporia State Alumni Board from 2008-14. He also supports Football Legends Weekend fundraising events every year.
Click here to view Maurice's video introduction.
Dr. Jim Hoy began his accomplished career as an English instructor at Kansas State Teachers College (now Emporia State) from 1965-66 and returned from 1970 until his retirement in 2014.
Hoy’s career was not only spent in Emporia, but also throughout the world. He visited ranch cultures in several countries internationally and lectured on cowboy folklore internationally.
Hoy won many awards throughout his career for his outstanding work. Early on, he was the recipient of a Will Rogers Medallion, the Founders Award from Westerners International and the 1981 Seaton Award for nonfiction.
Since 1983, Hoy and Tim Isern have written Plains Folk, a weekly newspaper column devoted to life within the Great Plains. During that same year, he was named a Roe R. Cross Distinguished Professor. He also served in several organizations, including president of the Kansas Historical Society and the American Association of Australian Literary Studies; chair of the Board of Trustees of the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress; and a member of the Kansas Humanities Council Speakers Bureau.
In 1992, Hoy and graduate student Mike Marchand (BS 1990—History; MA 1991—History; MLS 1994—Library Science) received a $16,000 grant from the Kansas State Historical Society to survey, map and document all manmade structures in the area near Middle Creek and Diamond Creek, which covers 171,520 acres in Chase, Marion and Morris counties. One significant result was the successful nomination of the Whitney Ranch near Hymer to the National Register of Historic Places.
Hoy received an American Cowboy Culture award in 1999 and was inducted into the Kansas Cowboy Hall of Fame in 2004. He also became a founding member of Emporia State’s Center for Great Plains Studies.
Both Hoy and his wife Dr. Cathy Hoy (MS 1982—Curriculum & Instruction; MLS 1983—Library Science; PHD 2001—Library & Information Management) were the recipients of the Friend of the Flint Hills Award given by the Flint Hills Discovery Center Foundation in Manhattan for the significant time, effort and resources they've given to the conservation of the Flint Hills of Kansas. He was recently named Kansan of the Year by the Native Sons & Daughters of Kansas. Past recipients of this award included Bob Dole, Robert Gates and Gordon Parks.
Click here to view Jim's video introduction.
Tim has served on several Emporia State advisory boards. As he currently serves on the Emporia State Foundation Trustee Board, he previously served as a member of the Alumni Board and is currently the chair of the Business Alliance, which is the primary advisory group of the School of Business.
Tim, who is the president of Wright CPA Group, PA in Emporia, advocates for Emporia State as a Hornet for Higher Ed. He helps Emporia State advocate not only for the University, but for the state of Kansas’ entire system of higher education. Tim was also the first person to become a mentor of the Emporia State School of Business’ Mentor Program. Tim is a frequent speaker at business classes and has shared advice with students as the speaker at various dinners. Wright CPA Group has a long history of hiring Hornet accounting graduates.
Kristi is known as a volunteer extraordinaire as she volunteers her time at many events throughout the Emporia community.
Together, Tim & Kristi have been instrumental in helping with the Emporia State international population. As international students move to Emporia and on-campus, Tim & Kristi have welcomed them into their home and provided friendship and fellowship. Kristi was instrumental in founding a “bedding program” to collect bedding supplies from students who were leaving – to clean it – and provide it to new students arriving. This saved money for the new students and avoided the waste of perfectly good materials. Tim & Kristi have hosted international students at their home in many different formats over the years including hosting a Labor Day luncheon for 8 years in a row with all homemade food (except the butter!). The last 2 years Kristi served 115 for lunch. They also host reunions of the Delta Upsilon Fraternity, Tim’s fraternity.
Tim & Kristi established the Wright CPA Group, PA Accounting Scholarship in 2013 and the Dr. John C. Rich Fund for Professional Development of Accounting Majors in 2014. The Dr. John C. Rich Fund for Professional Development of Accounting Majors provides resources to benefit accounting students with professional development and preparation for entering the accounting workforce. It helps support activities in AC 302—Professional Development and Leadership, Beta Alpha Psi, Accounting Club and other student organizations primarily intended for accounting students. They were also part of the group of ESU business alums who founded the John C. Rich Endowed Professorship.
Click here to view Tim and Kristi's video introduction.
Virginia H. "Ginny" (Bundy) Higgins received both her bachelor's and master's degrees from Emporia State and went on to receive top professional honors in the state.
After receiving a bachelor's in speech in 1962, she taught at Topeka High School for two years before returning to Emporia State to teach in the Communication department until 1999. She had earned her master's in speech in 1969. She served as director of Ethnic and Gender Studies from 1999 to 2008, when she retired as associate professor. She has worked on her doctorate in speech communication at the University of Kansas.
She received the Ruth Schillinger Award in 1998-99, and two service awards from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
Higgins was the first person to receive the Outstanding College Teacher of Speech Award from the Kansas Speech Communication Association, won that award a second time, and was inducted into the Kansas Speech Association Hall of Fame in 2006.
She is former chair of the campus AIDS Task Force, the Council on Teacher Education, and the Endowment Campaign; former president of the Faculty Senate and the American Association of University Professors; a past member of the Bonner & Bonner Lecture Committee; and former president of the Lyon County Chapter of the American Red Cross.
Dr. Loren Pennington has been keeping history alive in Emporia since 1960, when he began teaching at the university. When he retired after 48 years at Emporia State, the only noticeable difference was that Pennington no longer kept a classroom schedule.
Pennington continued interviewing World War II and Korean War veterans to build an impressive collection of personal stories from servicemen and women who fought in those wars.
Representing Emporia State, Pennington became involved with the city's annual Veterans Day celebration each November, presenting Veterans Roundtable panel discussions at the university. His public programs are centerpieces of the week-long event, and consistently draw large crowds to hear backstories of the country's wars, beginning with World War I and continuing to through the Vietnam War. Recent programs have also revolved around other wars, conflicts, and veteran-related issues.
Pennington wrote for history magazines for many years and was responsible for coordinating the university’s first television station. He was the originator of the Kansas Chautauqua, which ran for many summers in the 1980s and 1990s, where he portrayed historical figures, such as Gov. Alf Landon and General and President Dwight D. Eisenhower. He also participated in the university's Elderhostel program for several years after retirement.
John began his service to Emporia State as an undergraduate student, serving as President of his junior class, senior representative for Associated Student Government and several officer positions in Alpha Kappa Lambda fraternity. He received a bachelor’s degree in elementary education in 1960. He was an elementary teacher at Grandview School in El Dorado, Kans., for three years.
Returning to Emporia State as a graduate student, he was part of Dr. Joe Weigand’s Field Services staff and worked on all College Day and College Night programs at high schools across the state. He received his master’s degree in educational counseling and psychology 1964. He remained at Emporia State three additional years in the Field Services offices and served one tennis season as the interim coach. In 1967, John joined S.R.A., an educational publishing company that was a subsidiary of I.B.M., where he remained for 15 years in sales, marketing and management positions.
He has served as a member of the Now and Forever National Campaign Committee and the Alumni Association Board of Directors. With the recently dedicated wall of art in the Memorial Union, he and his wife Connie are sponsoring an effort to attract additional fine arts students to ESU.
In addition to an exceptional career in which he garnered multiple performance awards in the business world, the Statons have always devoted their time and efforts to helping improve the lives of others. Through volunteer efforts working with and through their Sunday School Leadership, they strive to “make a difference.” For the last 9 years, they have served with others in caring for Vietnam veteran General “Hal” G. Moore who was the subject of the movie “We Were Soldiers” and portrayed by Mel Gibson. On the lighter side, the Statons got involved in returning Norman, an adult beagle from Chapman, Kans., who was dognapped by Auburn students who had been skiing in Colorado and later abandoned in Alabama. Norman’s return home was followed by national television news for two days as he was returned to his Kansas family all safe and sound.
Having retired and moved to the south to follow our grandkids 19 years ago, John is quick to confirm that Emporia and ESU are and always have been considered “home” for both of them.
Much of Marion S'Lee (Choate) Stuart's formal education happened on the Kansas State Teachers College campus, before the name was changed to Emporia State University.
Born and reared in Emporia, she attended grade school in the "laboratory school," a training grounds for future teachers. She returned to earn a bachelor of science degree in art education in 1947 and a master's degree in art in 1966.
She and her late husband, Charles (BSE 1947 – Social Sciences, MS 1953 – Social Sciences), stayed in Kansas pursuing their careers in education. She taught in Lorraine, Idana, Longford, Broughton and Clifton Clyde.
They established the Charles L. and Marion S. Stuart Scholarship in 1993, primarily to provide scholarships to students from their area who were majoring in any subject that would lead to teacher certification. Along with Chuck, Marion attended numerous Homecomings and Hornet athletic events, represented ESU at the Kansas State Fair booth, and supported Chuck in his roles on the Alumni Association’s Board of Directors and as a Trustee of the ESU Foundation.
She was a founding member of the Clay County Hospital Foundation and has served on the board of directors since 1991.