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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
2015 RecipientsGary Parks
Gary Parks, an active participant in the South Central Alumni Chapter, was described as a "worker bee" in a nomination submitted by Mim Hiesterman, coordinator for South Central Kansas Alumni.
Parks is generous with his time, talents and resources, Hiesterman wrote.
He is involved in the Core Planning Group, taking a leading role in planning chapter activities. He also serves on the golf and Hornet Night committees and works at the events.
Parks is responsible for delivering packages to high schools and volunteers for the Teacher Appreciation Program luncheon project, which is a program designed to thank teachers for their service, recognize alumni and recruit students.
"He is a dedicated Hornet," Hiesterman said.Mark and Pat Sevier
Mark and Pat Sevier have demonstrated their commitment to Emporia State, its students and alumni for many years, according to Roy Mann, director of development at the ESU Foundation, who nominated the couple for the award.
Mann said the Seviers had been tireless volunteers and advocates for the university. The couple had been hosting an active, but informal network in their home outside Atlanta; they wanted to broaden the connection with African-Americans who were connected to the university or the city of Emporia and organize a reunion.
The resulting "Emporia Connection" became recognized by the Alumni Association as an official chapter. It has become more than a social event; it has resulted in creating a legacy scholarship fund that helps create scholarship dollars for future Emporia State students.Ron Thomas
Ron Thomas, general manager of Emporia's Radio Stations, was nominated by Kent Weiser, director of athletics. "It is safe to say that whenever the Athletics Department calls on Ron for help, he always is there to help," Weiser said.
Thomas donates his time and talents in a variety of ways. He tallies approximately 35 Hornet basketball games a year as public address announcer, as well as conference and national events hosted by Emporia State on behalf of the MIAA and NCAA.
"I have had many visiting administrators and conference officials comment that he is clearly the best PA announcer in our league," Weiser wrote.
Thomas also serves as master of ceremonies for fundraising and other events, including the annual auction and the KC Night of Champions event last summer in Kansas City.
Past University Service Citation Award Recipients