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Outstanding Recent Graduates

The Outstanding Recent Graduate award recognizes an outstanding recent graduate from each of the undergraduate colleges and schools at Emporia State University. Selection for this award is based on criteria determined by each school/college and the stipulation that the recipient be no more than 10 years past graduation at Emporia State University. This award is sponsored by the ESU Alumni Association.

Click here to view Jason's introduction video.

Jason Baker (BSB 2008—Accounting, MBA 2009—Accounting)
is this year’s Outstanding Recent Graduate from the School of Business. In just six years, Baker’s career has already seen him advance from staff accountant to chief executive officer. Baker currently serves as the CEO of Scott Cooperative Association in Scott City. Prior to becoming chief executive officer, Baker served as Scott Cooperative Association’s controller for three and a half years.

As the controller, Baker managed the daily accounting and financial operations for the company. Baker began his career as a staff accountant/auditor for Lindsborg, Vogel, Pierce, Faris, Chartered in Hutchinson. Before joining Scott Cooperative Association, Baker served as a staff auditor/assistant vice president at Western State Bank in Garden City. Baker is also a CPA, earning the highest score on the CPA examination in Kansas for the January-February examination period in 2011.

“Baker is an example of the exceptional students from small-town Kansas who come to Emporia State University and thrive,” said Dr. John Rich, interim dean of the School of Business. “Jason excelled at all aspects of college life – academics and leadership – and made an exceptional contribution to the university community.”

“He has continued his high level of achievement and leadership since graduating. His career potential is unlimited. We are very proud of Jason as he is truly an outstanding recent alum.”

Outstanding Alumni

Every year, the School of Business selects an ESU alumni who have excelled in their professions and provided service to their communities. These alumni must be within ten years of graduation to be eligible.

Click here to fill out a nomination form online.


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. Michael Law

Click here to view Mike's introduction video.

Emporia native Mike Law began his association with the university as an Emporia High School student keeping statistics for Hornet football games on KVOE radio. In the 1980s, he was the play-by-play announcer for both Hornet football and basketball. After receiving an associate's degree in communication in 1979 from Colby Community College, Law returned to Emporia and received a bachelor of science in business administration from Emporia State in 1981.

Law, known professionally as Mike Kennedy, is vice president of programming for Steel City Media Kansas City and program director of Q104 KBEQ. He was host for the station's Morning Drive program for 14 years before stepping away at the end of 2015. In that role, Law has evolved into an influential figure in the field of country music. Successful artists and hopefuls alike seek him out to play their recordings.

Law has repeatedly been named one of country music's top 15 decision-makers by Music Row magazine, best country program director in America by Radio Ink magazine, and is included on the Country Radio Power List. In 2014 he was honored as a Kansas City Media Legend, awarded annually to one person who has served Kansas City media for 25 years or more. He has been named one of country music's Top Country Programmers in America for 14 of the last 16 years, becoming country radio's most-nominated programmer. He also has been Billboard magazine's Program Director of the Year and was named Country Radio's Large Market Morning Show of the Year in 2010.

Law reached his career goal in 2015 when he was inducted into the radio portion of the Country Music Hall of Fame. He had been inducted into the Kansas Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 2014.

Despite a busy schedule that frequently takes him across the country for music events and to recording sessions where his opinion is sought by headliners in the business, Law has made time to stay closely involved in Emporia State events and activities. He currently serves on the Emporia State Foundation board of directors, the Hornets for Higher Ed, and has served as master of ceremonies for numerous campus events.

He is actively involved in several charities in the Kansas City area. He serves on the board of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, and the Country Radio Broadcasters Agenda Committee and actively helps raise funds for causes primarily involving children -- the Fore the Kids Golf Tourney for Children's Mercy Hospital, the Q-104 Golf Tourney to benefit Children's Mercy South Hospital, and the Tux & Boots event to benefit Therapeutic Riding Academy for disabled children. 

Mr. Steve Sauder

Click here to view Steve's introduction video.

Steve Sauder, who graduated in 1968 with a bachelor's degree in business administration, is president of Emporia's Radio Stations, Inc.  (       KVOE AM & FM and KFFH FM) and also a founder and Chairman of the Board of Managers of ValuNet, Emporia’s fiber-optic broadband network that makes it one of only two gigabit communities in Kansas. Years earlier, he had been involved in creating a local telephone company in Emporia, Valu-Line, which later was sold to Birch Telecom.  These three companies have been honored by the Emporia Chamber as Business of the Year. A former coach for recreation league sports, Sauder now often takes the opportunity to help staff with sports broadcasts and is co-host of a sports talk show.

He also has taken leadership roles in the Emporia community, as president of the Emporia Area Chamber of Commerce, the Regional Development Association and other organizations. He said his proudest moment as a civic leader was in 1999 when, as chairman of the United Way campaign, the drive exceeded its $600,000 goal by $18,000. It was the first time the campaign surpassed the $600,000 mark. Sauder has supported the university in a variety of ways, from serving on boards and councils, to fundraising, to establishing multiple scholarships, including a gift from Steve Sauder and Paula Sauder to create the Ron Fredrickson and Inez Friesen Pocket Theaters in Roosevelt Hall.

He received the Joe Cannon Service Award given for dedication, service, and commitment to bettering ESU and intercollegiate athletics. in 2014 in recognition of his ongoing efforts on behalf of Emporia State Athletic Department. He is a member of the Emporia State University Foundation Board of Trustees and is the Champion for Athletics for the Now & Forever Campaign. In 2013, Sauder and his wife Bobbi made a significant donation to the campaign that doubles the annual output of the Earl W. Sauder Athletic Scholarship. He is also completing his third term as a trustee at Baker University. His memberships on campus boards include the President's Community Advisory Council, the School of Business Alliance and the Kellogg Society. He is a past member of the Alumni Association Board of Directors.

Sauder has been a strong supporter of Emporia State students and student athletes, with involvement in the Paul Terry Scholarship, the Earl and Stelouise Sauder Athletic Scholarship, the Earl W. Sauder Scholarship, the Earl Sauder Donor Advised fund, the Bobbi Sauder Nursing Scholarship and the Lady Hornet Basketball Scholarship.