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Northwest Missouri State University


Alumni Spotlight

Aug. 4, 2017

Northwest Alumni Association to honor 8 for success, service

Eight distinguished members of the Northwest Missouri State University family will be honored during the Alumni Awards Banquet this fall for dedicating time, talent and service to the University.

The annual event, sponsored by the Northwest Alumni Association, begins at 6 p.m., Friday, Sept. 22, with a social in the J.W. Jones Student Union Ballroom. A dinner will be served at 6:45 p.m. and the awards presentation begins at 8 p.m.

The banquet annually coincides with Northwest’s Family Weekend activities.

“Each Alumni Association Award category provides examples of Bearcats doing great things for the University, within their profession or within their community,” Bob Machovsky, Northwest’s director of alumni relations and annual giving, said. “Every year the Alumni Association Board of Directors is amazed and filled with pride to see how Bearcats are achieving greatness. The Alumni Awards Banquet is our way to celebrate the achievements of our amazing alumni and friends.”

Tickets cost $50 per person or $350 for a table of eight. Reservations will be accepted until Friday, Sept. 8, on a first-come, first-served basis.

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.nwmissouri.edu/alumni/events/awards/registration.htm or contact the Northwest Alumni Association at 660.562.1248 or alumni@nwmissouri.edu.

The honorees for 2017 are listed below.

Distinguished Alumni Award: Dr. David McDaniel

Dr. David McDaniel

McDaniel, a 1973 graduate, has more than 34 years of experience at GE Healthcare.

McDaniel, who retired in July, was a principal engineer with the medical systems unit of General Electric Company and was instrumental in the development of the global company’s PET scan machine. In 1983, McDaniel was hired by GE as a senior systems engineer in X-ray advanced technology engineering. In 1989, he joined GE’s new PET division as a senior detector physicist and helped lay the foundation for the company’s original “Advance” PET scan machine.

McDaniel 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. 

Distinguished Faculty Award: Dr. Matt Symonds

Dr. Matt Symonds

Symonds, who earned degrees from Northwest in 1990 and 1994, 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 and events coordinator for the Department of Athletics. Since then, he has served in numerous roles at Northwest, including director of the fitness center, graduate programs coordinator, department chair and as the founding director of the School of Health Science and Wellness.

His impact on student engagement is widespread and apparent by his Dean’s Faculty Award for service in the College of Education and Human Services in 2009. Symonds served as president of the Missouri Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance in 2010, and he has been recognized with four awards presented by the organization – the Robert Taylor Professional Service Honor Award, the Presidential Award, the MOAHPERD Scholar Award, and the Kathleen Kinderfather Award, which is the association’s highest honor. 

Distinguished Faculty Emeritus Award: Sherri Reeves

Sherri Reeves

Reeves, who received degrees from Northwest in 1957 and 1970, returned to the University in 1969 to work in the college’s advisement center.

In 1972, she became an instructor in the women’s physical education department and was named the head coach of the first Northwest women’s basketball team to be affiliated with the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women at the national level and the Missouri Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women at the state level. Sherri served in a liaison capacity at NCAA Title IX seminars from 1972 to 2001 to research that law’s rules and regulations as they applied to Northwest.

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. 

Turret Service Award: Tim Sullivan

Tim Sullivan

Sullivan, a 1975 graduate, played an instrumental role in the founding of the Central Iowa Alumni and Friends Chapter of the Northwest Alumni Association and served as its first president.

He later joined the Alumni Association Board of Directors, serving as president from 2007 to 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. He continues to 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 Northwest’s booth at the Iowa State Fair.

Tim also travels to Bearcat athletics events and other Alumni Association activities. 

Honorary Alumni Award: Rich and Bernie Mendenhall

Rich and Bernie Mendenhall

The Mendenhalls have supported Northwest and Bearcat athletics for many years.

Proud supporters of the Northwest basketball and football teams, the Mendenhalls can be found at most home and away games. They are longtime season ticket holders for both football and basketball and have been members 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, including as members of the Hughes Fieldhouse Founding 50 Team.

They also volunteer their time assisting the Countryside Bistro with setup and catering of various athletics events, including postgame team meals at all away football games, as well as events hosted by the Northwest Alumni Association.

Young Alumni Award: Sam Henson

Sam Henson

Henson, a 2001 graduate, is senior vice president and director of legal and regulatory affairs for Lockton Companies, where he oversees regulatory compliance and the legislative landscape for more than 50,000 Lockton clients.

He 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, Employee Benefits Advisor, and Insurance News.

He earned his juris doctor from the University of Missouri–Kansas City School of Law.

Public Service Award: Leon Dixon Jr.

Leon Dixon Jr.

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 offers 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 form the college readiness track for many students, including students who attend Northwest. Through the program, Dixon has mentored and humbly directed hundreds of young people to pursue higher education.

He is retired from the Allied Signal FM&T Corporation (formally Bendix and now Honeywell Corporation), where he was a mathematician and computational scientist for 32 years. He is 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 about the DuBois Learning Center.


For more information, please contact:

Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
mhorn@nwmissouri.edu | 660.562.1704 | Fax: 660.562.1900

Northwest Missouri State University
215 Administration Building | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468