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Northwest Missouri State University


2017 Northwest Alumni Association Award Winners

Leon Dixon

Public Service Award

Leon Dixon  

Leon Dixon is a co-founder and chairman of the board of directors of the W.E.B. DuBois Learning Center in Kansas City, an organization that has been offering free tutorial services and educational enhancements to local residents in areas of math, reading and science. For more than 40 years, the DuBois Learning Center has graduated hundreds of children and continues to serve hundreds in the Kansas City community. His program has helped to form the college readiness track for many students, including students who attend Northwest Missouri State University. Through this program, Dixon has mentored and humbly directed hundreds of young people to pursue higher education. Dixon is retired from the Allied Signal FM&T Corporation (formally the Bendix and now Honeywell Corporation) where he was a mathematician and computational scientist for thirty-two years. He is currently a member of the Kansas City Public Library Board of Trustees and the author of the book Future In Our Hands, which is a discourse on the DuBois Learning Center.

Sam Henson

Young Alumni Award

Sam Henson '01 

Henson ’01, senior vice president – director of legal and regulatory affairs for Lockton Companies, earned his Juris Doctor from the University of Missouri–Kansas City School of Law. He oversees regulatory compliance and the legislative landscape for more than 50,000 Lockton clients and spends much of his time in Washington, D.C. as an advocate of the protection of the employee benefits system for the more than 10 million participants in the plans Lockton serves. He is a nationally featured author and speaker on employee benefit topics, having appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Benefits Magazine, Plan Sponsor Magazine, Employee Benefits Advisor, and Insurance News.

David McDaniel

Distinguished Alumni Award

Dr. David McDaniel ’73 

Dr. David McDaniel ’73 has more than 34 years of experience at GE Healthcare. Before retiring in July 2017, McDaniel was a principal engineer with the medial systems unit of General Electric Company. He is the man behind the global company’s PET scan machine. In 1983, McDaniel was hired by GE as a senior systems engineer in the then-new field of X-ray advanced technology engineering. At that same time, researchers were already working on another piece of technology to transform the medical field. In 1989, GE asked McDaniel to join its new PET division as a senior detector physicist.  That same year, he developed the foundation that GE needed to produce its original “Advance” PET scan machine. Since then, McDaniel has designed the architecture behind generations of PET scanners, contributing to electrical and software designs, algorithms, image analysis and the diagnosis of an infinite number of patients throughout the world. 

Rich and Bernie Mendenhall

Honorary Alumni Award

Rich and Bernie Mendenhall 

Rich and Bernie Mendenhall have supported Northwest Missouri State University and Bearcat Athletics for many years. Proud supporters of the Northwest basketball and football teams, the Mendenhall’s can often be found at most home and away games. They are long-time season ticket holders for both football and basketball and a member of the Bearcat Booster Club for more than 20 years. Rich and Bernie have been generous contributors to the University and Bearcat Athletics in many ways, in particular as members of the Hughes Family Center Founding 50 Team. They also volunteer their time assisting the Countryside Bistro with setup and catering of various athletic and alumni hosted events, including post-game team meals at all away football games.  

Sherri Reeves

Distinguished Faculty Emeritus Award

Sherri Reeves '57  

Sherri Reeves ’57 came to Northwest in 1969 and worked in the College Advisement Center. In 1972, she became an instructor in the Women’s Physical Education Department and was named the head coach for Northwest Missouri State College’s first women’s basketball team affiliated with the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW – national level) and with the Missouri Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (MAIAW – state level) governing bodies during the 1971-72 academic year. Sherri served in a liaison capacity at NCAA Title IX seminars to research that law’s rules and regulations as they applied to Northwest from 1972-2001. In 2013, she was inducted into the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletic Association Hall of Fame and into the M-Club Hall of Fame in 2005. 

Tim Sullivan

Turret Service Award

Tim Sullivan ’75 

Sullivan ’75 played an instrumental role in the founding of the Central Iowa Alumni and Friends Chapter of the Northwest Alumni Association and served as the first president. He later joined the Alumni Association Board of Directors, serving as president from 2007-2009. He was the first Alumni Association Board President to serve as a voting member on the Northwest Foundation Board of Directors, a position approved in 2007. Though his term on the Alumni Board of Directors is over, he still volunteers with the Central Iowa Alumni and Friends Chapter and with the Alumni Association. Every August, he enjoys talking to prospective students and alumni while volunteering at the Northwest booth at the Iowa State Fair. Tim also travels to several Bearcat athletic events and other Alumni Association activities. 

Matt Symonds

Distinguished Faculty Award

Dr. Matt Symonds ’90, '94 

Dr. Matt Symonds ’90, ’94 is an associate professor in the School of Health Science and Wellness. He began his career at Northwest in 1996 as the Athletics Business Manager/Events Coordinator for the Department of Athletics. Since then, he has served in a number of roles, including director of the University Fitness Center, graduate programs coordinator, department chair, and as the inaugural director of the School of Health Science and Wellness. His contribution to student involvement is not measurable. His impact on current and former students is widespread, apparent by his Dean’s award for service to the College of Education and Human Services in 2009. Symonds served as president of the Missouri Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance (MOAHPER) in 2010, and has been recognized by the association with four awards: the Robert Taylor Professional Service Honor Award, a Presidential Award, the MOAHPERD Scholar Award, and the Kathleen Kinderfather Award – the association’s highest honor.