Distinguished Alumni Awards

Drury bestows six honorees with 2017 Distinguished Alumni Awards

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., October 13, 2017 — Drury University will again honor esteemed community and professional leaders at the 2017 Distinguished Alumni Award ceremony on Saturday. The banquet is part of Drury’s annual Alumni Reunion celebration, taking place this weekend.

The Distinguished Alumni Awards were founded in 1951 to recognize individuals who have achieved professional and personal successes, who have shown their loyalty to Drury University, and have demonstrated exemplary service to their community. Nominations are taken from the Drury community and the Alumni Council selects honorees. The 2017 honorees are:

Warren Davis

Lifetime Achievement Award – Warren B. Davis ’59

Davis has spent his life making the most of the business education he began at Drury. After earning his bachelor’s in business in 1959, Davis went on to spend 31 dedicated years working for the Orval Davis Tire Company, eventually rising to become its president. After a brief retirement, he returned to the business world as an entrepreneur. In 1994 he established Davis Properties, which is today one of the largest property owners in downtown Springfield.

Gene Summers

University Engagement Award – Gail “Gene” Summers ’63

A graduate of the Breech School of Business, Summers has proven himself as a local leader, frequently demonstrating his gift for recognizing community needs. This gift inspired him to start his own insurance agency, which he successfully ran for many years. While enjoying a fulfilling career, Summers never missed an opportunity to give back to Drury and to Springfield. Alongside his wife Patsy, Summers has been involved in many programs to benefit the community, including establishing multiple scholarship funds for local students. He has served on the leadership of St. John’s United Church of Christ, the Springfield Little Theater, and the Drury Alumni Council.

David Gohn

Career Achievement Award – S. David Gohn ’64

After graduating from Drury’s Breech School of Business in 1964, Gohn entered a management-training program at Union National Bank in Springfield. Not long after, he accepted a position with the West Plains Bank and Trust Company. Fifty years later, Gohn remains at the West Plains Bank, where he now serves as the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. Gohn has always made time for Drury, serving as Trustee on the Drury University Board of Trustees from 1988 – 2009.

Raymond Hackett

Outstanding Service Award – Raymond E. Hackett ’80

When Cyclone Nargis killed 180,000 farmers in Myanmar in 2008, Hackett was inspired to found “Not Next Year, Every Year,” an organization dedicated to improving the lives of Burma’s rural poor through sustainable energy. During annual visits to the country, Hacket has helped bring improved irrigation systems, solar energy, and clean water to Myanmar villages. His organization has even helped found a rural clinic.

Lauren Holtkamp

Young Alumnus Award – Lauren Holtkamp ’03

After graduating from Drury in 2003, Holtkamp earned her Master’s of Divinity from Candler School of Theology at Emory University, but she soon returned to the sport she loves. A member of the inaugural Drury women’s basketball team, Holtkamp holds a deep passion for the game. By working her way up through the organization, she has become the third woman ever to be hired as an NBA referee and is the only woman to currently hold the position.

Judy Thompson

Faculty/Staff Appreciation Award – Judy Grier Thompson ’61

Thompson’s service has been an integral part of Drury for over 43 years. A 1961 graduate, she returned to the university as Alumni Director in 1974. In 1979, she became one of the first women in a vice president role at Drury, a position which she held until her retirement in 2002. Under Judy’s leadership, over 40 percent of alumni financially supported the university and the endowment increased to more than $100 million. In 2016, she returned to Drury and currently serves as Vice President for Stewardship and Principal Gifts.


Drury accepting nominations for Distinguished Alumni Awards

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., March 3, 2017 — The Drury University Alumni Council is accepting nominations for the Distinguished Alumni Awards through Friday, March 10.

For 65 years, the Distinguished Alumni Awards have honored outstanding Drury alumni, friends of Drury, and faculty/staff who have distinguished themselves as valuable leaders and true Drury Panthers through their service, engagement and connections at an individual, university, community and global level. Awards will be presented during Alumni Reunion Weekend on Saturday, October 14, 2017.

Award categories include:

  • Lifetime Achievement Award
  • Career Achievement Award
  • Community Service Award
  • University Engagement Award
  • Young Alumnus Award
  • Faculty/Staff Appreciation Award

“Over the past 144 years, Drury University has provided a unique educational experience and produced graduates that have made a difference not only in our local area, but all over the world,” says John Everett, president of the Alumni Council. “The Distinguished Alumni Awards were created to recognize those contributions to society from our extremely talented alumni base.”

Nomination forms, category criteria and winners from the past 65 years can be found at online at Drury.edu.


Media Contact: Andrea Battaglia, Director – Annual Fund & Alumni Relations: (417) 873-7353 or abattaglia@drury.edu.

Drury bestows 2016 Distinguished Alumni Awards to six honorees

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., Oct. 18, 2016 — Drury University honored six people at the 65th annual Distinguished Alumni Awards ceremony on Friday. The banquet event was held as part of the annual Alumni Reunion celebration.

The Distinguished Alumni Awards were founded in 1951 to recognize individuals who have achieved professional and personal successes, shown their loyalty to Drury University, and demonstrated exemplary service to their community. Nominations are taken from the Drury community and the Alumni Council selects honorees. The 2016 honorees include:

The 2016 honorees from left to right: Adam McClellan, Traci Sooter, Sue Carter Porges, Janet Steinmetz Trotter, Calla Wiemer and Steve Edwards.

The 2016 honorees from left to right: Adam McClellan, Traci Sooter, Sue Carter Porges, Janet Steinmetz Trotter, Calla Wiemer and Steve Edwards.

Lifetime Achievement Award – Dr. Sue Carter Porges ‘66

After graduating with a degree in Biology, Porges completed her Ph.D. in zoology at the University of Arkansas and her postdoctoral education at Michigan State University. Her career has spanned the breadth of higher education across the country as a research fellow, professor, and now as Director of the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction at Indiana University. Porges has published over 500 academic papers and has been a valuable asset to the scientific community through her continued studies.

University Engagement Award – Steven D. Edwards ‘88

Edwards is the President and CEO of CoxHealth and a member of the Drury Board of Trustees. After graduating from Drury with degrees in political science with minors in philosophy and communication, he attended Washington University where he earned his Masters in Health Administration. From there, he went to Baylor University to complete a post-graduate fellowship. He became a Drury Trustee in 2012.

Career Achievement Award – Dr. Calla Wiemer ‘77

After graduating from Drury’s Breech School of Business, Wiemer earned her Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. She received a tenured faculty position at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, where she remained until 1997. Since then, she has taken teaching positions across Asia and now teaches at the University of the Philippines School of Economics and is Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Asian Economics. She began the recycling program at Drury in 1974 and has worked tirelessly at creating sustainable communities.

Outstanding Service Award – Janet Steinmetz Trotter ‘53

Trotter’s passion for serving children with special needs began in the 1960s when she started the Missouri Association for Children with Learning Disabilities. She worked with Springfield Public Schools and helped establish chapters of the organization in Kansas City, St. Louis, and Columbia. At the time, Missouri had no other program for helping children with special needs and she was influential in creating special education classrooms in public schools and in passing legislation requiring all districts to provide Special Education services.

Young Alumnus Award – Dr. Adam McClellan ’05

After graduating from the highly competitive dental program at the University of Missouri–Kansas City, McClellan has used his talent to not only earn a living but also to give back. As chair of the “Pouring from the Heart” gala, he was instrumental in raising enough money to fund the free pediatric clinic at the UMKC Dental School for four years. He also serves on the Board of Directors for Missouri Boys State. McClellan owns his own practice, Periodontal Care, in Kansas City.

Faculty/Staff Appreciation Award – Traci Sooter

Sooter is a Professor of Architecture and the Director of Design/Build Programs in the Hammons School of Architecture. She specializes in sustainable design/build courses serving charities and communities in need. She led teams of Drury students through four design/build projects for Extreme Makeover and has also completed seven other community design/build projects that include the first ever Platinum LEED home for Habitat for Humanity International. In 2015, She helped lead the 2015 Crowder-Drury Solar Decathlon Team against peers from 19 other colleges from around the nation, earning 8th place.


Inaugural Alumni Convocation and 2015 Distinguished Alumni Awards

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., Oct. 6, 2015 — Drury University will honor five outstanding alumni and a longtime staff member at its annual Distinguished Alumni Awards Recognition Dinner on Friday evening. The event is part of the 2015 Alumni Reunion Weekend, which is expected to bring more than 350 members of the national and international Drury family back to campus.

The weekend kicks off with an Alumni Convocation at 11 a.m., Thursday, Oct. 8 in Stone Chapel. Noted children’s author and Drury alumnus, David L. Harrison, will deliver an address titled “How Time Passes.” This inaugural Convocation highlights the over 30 years of Drury Distinguished Alumni Award winners and their contributions to the world. Harrison is a previous Distinguished Alumni Award winner for Career Achievement. The public and current students are invited to attend.

The 2015 Distinguished Alumni honorees are chosen for their career achievements, service to their communities and contributions to the University.

“These impressive individuals represent the very best of what it means to be a graduate of Drury University,” says Dianne Johnson, Vice President of Development & Alumni Relations. “They demonstrate how critical thinking developed in the liberal arts tradition combined with leadership, dedication and selflessness create a successful life and career. Each honoree is a wonderful example for our current and future students.”

The honorees are:

Lifetime Achievement – Ralph K. Manley ’49


Ralph Manley earned a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Business Administration from Drury University following his service in World War II. During the war, he received 19 decorations, including 3 Purple Hearts. In his long career as a real estate developer, he built more than 1,500 homes in the area. Manley was elected to Springfield City Council in 1999. His community involvement also includes service with Masonic organizations, the American Legion, the 101st Airborne Division Association, and the Home Builders Association of Springfield. Manley received the Outstanding Alumni Award in 1973 and was named Springfieldian of the Year by the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce in 2006.

Distinguished Career Achievement – Heidi Prather ’87


Prather attended the University of Health Sciences, College of Osteopathic Medicine in Kansas City, graduating summa cum laude in 1991. She is certified in three areas: Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Pain Medicine and Sports Medicine. Dr. Prather is now a Professor at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, where she also holds various leadership roles. She has received numerous awards for her teaching in medicine, and she was the first woman to become President of the North American Spine Society.

Distinguished Community Service – Mary Faith Buresh Holzer ’68


Holzer started a home improvement program in partnership with six churches. She has written to Washington D.C. and played a role in getting two laws enacted. The first provided an option for insurance coverage for people hurt while volunteering, and the second guaranteed Social Security benefits to servers in the food service industry. Mary has also sponsored five children from Africa, is a published author, and has received the “Patriot of the Year” award from the Paralyzed Veterans of America.

Distinguished University Engagement – John William (Bill) Ricketts, MBA ’71


Ricketts has been honored many times for his ambitious mentality in a business career that spanned more than four decades. He has dedicated much of his time to Drury University by offering constant encouragement, advice and support to the students and faculty within the Breech School of Business. Truly an example of “The Drury Difference,” Ricketts has donated funds to various key projects within the University, helped students connect with alumni, and has supported overall student activities. He currently serves on the Board of Trustees, a position he has held since 1995.

Distinguished Young Alumnus – Cliff Johnson ’03


Johnson is the co-founder of vacation rental company Vacasa, LLC. The company was voted “Fastest growing company in the Portland (Ore.) Region in 2014,” and was recognized as one of the top 10 fastest growing private companies in the nation by the Portland Business Journal. Besides his success in business, Cliff runs marathons and also serves on the board of MAPLE Microdevelopment, which helps people in impoverished areas of the world achieve financial independence.

Faculty/Staff Appreciation – Dan Cashel


Cashel has been involved with Drury for more than 40 years and has taken on many roles. He began working in the Admissions Office in 1974 and later moved to Student Affairs. He eventually transitioned into Athletics beginning in 1979 where he oversaw NCAA compliance and was Sports Information Director. Cashel was also a tennis coach and intramural director, and director of the Barber Fitness Center. Today he is Director of Student-Athlete Enhancement.


Drury honors three graduates with 2014 Distinguished Alumni Awards

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., Oct. 7, 2014 — Drury University honored three outstanding graduates with the 2014 Distinguished Alumni Awards during the annual Alumni Reunion on October 3. Fellow alumni nominate candidates and the DU Alumni Council chooses the honorees. The award winners are chosen for career success and service to their communities.

“These three impressive individuals represent the continuing tradition of outstanding Drury alumni,” says Dianne Johnson, vice president of Development & Alumni Relations. “They combine career achievement with leadership and service, and they demonstrate how to lead satisfying and meaningful lives to their families, our students and their communities.”

Kim Harrison Hamm

Kim Harrison Hamm

Kim Harrison Hamm ’86  Distinguished Alumnus Award for Career Achievement

Celebrated for her long and successful career as a partner at BKD, LLP, and for providing more than 25 years of expertise in audit and consulting services for clients in the real estate, not-for-profit and government industries. Hamm has also presented numerous seminars on a variety of topics, assisted with the implementation of insightful solutions for her clients, and remained active in the recruitment of college graduates for the firm.

Eunice Schmiechen Wallar

Eunice Schmiechen Wallar

Eunice Schmiechen Wallar ’63  Distinguished Alumnus Award for Community Service

Honored for her passionate pursuit of education, the arts and children’s advocacy in her professional life. Wallar owns and manages Waverly House, the longest continuously operated art gallery in Springfield, and has raised more than $60,000 for local children’s charities. She has served on boards including the Camp Fire Boys and Girls, Friends of the Springfield Art Museum, and the Drury Panhellenic Alumni Council.

Nathan Pettyjohn

Nathan Pettyjohn

Nathan Pettyjohn ’01 – Distinguished Young Alumnus Award

Recognized for his innovative advancements in the mobile services and advertising industries. Pettyjohn is the founder and CEO of aisle411, the leading mobile commerce and location services platform for retailers. He and his company have been featured on CNBC, The Wall Street JournalThe New York Times and more. With more than 12 years of experience, he has a rich understanding of business, management, technology and marketing.