The ESU Alumni Association’s University Service Citation Award recognizes alumni and friends of the University who have made unique and significant contributions to the University, its students and staff members.
The 2022 recipients of the ESU Alumni Association’s University Service Citation Awards have made unique and significant contributions to the university, its students, and staff members. This year’s recipients reflect just how diverse those contributions can be.
Retired teacher and librarian Beverly Olson Buller of Newton will receive her award during the 70th anniversary celebration of the William Allen White Children’s Book Awards event on Oct. 1.
Emporians Dr. Scott Waters, Michael L. “Mike” Petitjean, and Carol L. (Reeves) Petitjean will receive their awards at the Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon on Oct. 8.
Bev Buller could hardly have been more surprised when she opened an email saying she would receive a Service Citation.
“It’s a wonderful thing. It was so unexpected,” she said. “Having taught at Emporia State six years, this is especially meaningful for me. I feel like I’m a real Hornet.” She had been school library media coordinator in ESU’s School of Library and Information Management.
Kathie Buckman and Roger Heineken, who nominated Buller, emphasized her decades-long involvement in the William Allen White Children’s Book Awards, the oldest children’s-choice book award in the nation.
Buller — a retired teacher and librarian and an author — is a recognized authority on The Emporia Gazette’s former editor. Her children’s books about White and his daughter, Mary, who died in a horseback accident, were nominated for the White Award, named as Kansas Notable Books and chosen for the Kansas Reading Circle catalog.
She speaks about White for the Humanities Kansas Speakers Bureau, assisted Oscar-winner Kevin Willmott in making his documentary, “William Allen White: What’s the Matter With Kansas,” and for years has been a member of the William Allen White Community Partnership Inc.
While the first White Award ceremony took place in Hays in 1972, Buller’s efforts brought the event to Emporia to stay about 20 years ago. Because of that, children from around the state come here to meet with the authors and get books autographed at Red Rocks, the White family home, and to attend the awards ceremony and other events on-campus that weekend.
“This book award program is all about the humanities,” Buller said. “It’s reading, getting outside of your own skin by reading from authors that come from all over the United States.”
Children must read two of the books on the finalist list before they can vote. Buller views that as an early introduction to democracy in action.
“A well-informed voter has read up on the candidates and decided for whom to vote,” Buller said. “The kids are the same way. And, they’ve been doing it for 70 years now.”
MIKE AND CAROL PETITJEAN
Mike Petitjean (BSE 1970; MS 1978) and Carol Reeves Petitjean (BSE 1985) transitioned smoothly from ESU students to ESU supporters after graduation.
“My wife and I both have been kind of involved since the day I graduated,” Mike said. “We had good student experiences. Both of us were in the Greek system. I felt that helped keep us connected.”
Mike taught school in Hoisington for 11 years and was secretary to the superintendent for the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe Railway in Emporia and Newton. After being laid off when ATSF closed some offices, he opened his own office as financial advisor for Ameriprise Financial Services. Carol taught preschool. After retirement, they returned to Emporia about five years ago, to be nearer to the university and their grandchildren.
Between them, they’ve participated on boards, committees and events, and established scholarships as well.
“We also enjoy the sports, the games, the theater, that kind of thing,” Carol said. They’ve missed only one Homecoming since graduating, which Carol said likely involved the birth of one of their daughters.
Mike has served on the ESU Foundation Board since 2013, is chair of the board’s investment committee and a member of the finance and the trustee development committees. He is a founding member of the Second Century Club and a member of Kellogg Society and the START Program. He has sponsored holes and volunteered for the South Central Golf Tournament and worked at the ESU booth at the Kansas State Fair.
The couple in 1990 established the Petitjean Family Scholarships for full-time students, with first preference to active members of Mike’s fraternity, Phi Sigma Kappa, and second preference to Carol’s sorority, Alpha Sigma Alpha. In conjunction with the fraternity’s alumni association, they also established a scholarship in 1986 to honor Gladys “Mother” Gilbert for her decades of support to fraternity members.
“Mike has been instrumental in revitalizing that fraternity and serving as the lead person in renovating a house to be used for current and future fraternity members,” said Steve Williams, who submitted the Petitjean nomination.
Dr. Scott Waters (BSE 1978; MS 1981) believes he’s done nothing truly noteworthy during his 38-year career as an ESU professor. Students and colleagues who nominated him for a Service Citation believe otherwise.
“(He) does not hesitate to speak up with ideas to support positive change in the department at The Teachers College,” the nomination stated, before listing Waters’ other contributions.
He had taught in elementary schools in Kansas and the Philippines before joining in The Teachers College faculty in 1986. Here, he taught upper-level students how to teach.
“I enjoyed being that part of their journey, when they were right there on the cusp of entering the teaching profession,” Waters said. “It was fun to see them get their first teaching job and formally enter the profession. … Building relationships with those students was just a delightful experience for me.”
He received the 2018 Darrell E. Wood Service Award for his contributions in support of The Teachers College mission. He served as a Professional Development Schools site director to mentor future elementary education teachers. At the one-room schoolhouse on campus, Waters dressed in 1880s “teacher attire” to demonstrate for children and adults what education was like then in Kansas. Waters also coordinated the Kansas Master Teacher Awards, directed the Kansas Future Teacher Academy, mentored faculty, advised students, was involved in the education honors society Kappa Delta Pi and served as ESU’s faculty liaison for the National Collegiate Athletics Association.
His assignment was to ensure student-athletes passed their courses satisfactorily and progressed in their majors to be eligible to play. Waters said the coaches helped ensure that happened.
“All of the coaches that I worked with at Emporia State are very committed to their student-athletes doing well in the classroom,” Waters said.
“I had the privilege of teaching many, many terrific students over the course of my time at ESU, and I worked with wonderful colleagues. So, I have just very good thoughts about the people I’ve worked with at Emporia State.” Waters retired in 2020.