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Jan. 5, 2021

Northwest Alumni Association to honor 7 for success, service


Seven distinguished members of the Northwest Missouri State University family will be honored during a spring Alumni Awards Banquet for dedicating their time, talent and service to the University as well as for accomplishments in their chosen fields.

The Northwest Alumni Association annually occurs during Family Weekend in September. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, however, the 2020 Alumni Awards Banquet is postponed to May 1, 2021. Details are being finalized and will be provided closer to the event.

Additionally, the Alumni Association is now collecting nominations for its 2021 Alumni Association Awards. Nominations must be submitted by March 1, 2021, on forms provided by the Alumni Association and will not be considered unless the entire nomination form is complete. Contact the Northwest Alumni Association for a nomination form at 660.562.1248, email alumni@nwmissouri.edu or complete the appropriate form located on the alumni web site at www.nwmissouri.edu/alumni/events/awards/nominations.htm.  

More information about the 2020 honorees is provided below.

Distinguished Alumni Award: Jerry Moyer

Moyer ’76, ’78, after three years as a lead project engineer with Planning Research Corporation at Kennedy Space Center, joined Bionetics in 1982 and retired last January as its director for space and engineering. Under his leadership, Bionetics provided ground support for more than 2,000 flight experiments covering 130 space shuttle missions while providing medical and laboratory services for space shuttle launch and landing operations; provided engineering and services for more than 50 Kennedy Space Center-managed life sciences payloads; and conducted research for longer space travel and potential bases on the lunar surface and Mars.

He was instrumental in developing the Space Life Science Training Program, a NASA program for undergraduate students aspiring to become scientists and engineers. He also played a key role in working with NASA, Space Florida, and the Florida Office of Tourism and Economic Development to foster the development of a 400-acre commerce park on Kennedy Space Center property that now houses aerospace companies.

He has served on and chaired several national space organizations, in addition to serving on the Northwest Foundation Board of Directors. Among his numerous awards and citations, he was inducted into the National Space Club’s Space Worker Hall of Fame in 2019 for Spaceflight Advocacy and Education, and he is a recipient of the NASA’s coveted Public Service Medal.

Distinguished Faculty Award: Dr. Tyler Tapps

Tapps ’04, ’06 joined the Northwest faculty in 2014 and teaches in the School of Health Science and Wellness. He has served as assistant director of the School of Health Science and Wellness for the last two years.

He has served in a variety of leadership roles at Northwest, including as chair of the graduate council, chair of the Faculty Senate Research Committee and as an internal evaluator for the Hope 4 All suicide prevention grant that Northwest Wellness Services received in 2019. He also played a lead role in helping Northwest’s recreation program achieve reaccreditation in 2015 and served three years as a graduate coordinator, supervising students and helping implement curriculum changes to facilitate graduate enrollment growth. As a Provost Fellow, he gains academic leadership experience in key campus administrative roles.

Tapps continuously contributes research and professional publications. His articles have highlighted areas on nutrition for older adults, the benefits of trails for communities and economy, skills and experiences on resumes and the importance of involvement for young professionals. He also served as the editor of two textbooks, “Working Toward Wellness” and a best-seller, “Foundations of Recreation.” He has been invited to present more than 15 of his peer-review works internationally, nationally and at the state level.

Tapps completed his bachelor’s degree in corporate recreation and wellness and his master’s degree in recreation at Northwest. He received the Northwest Alumni Association Young Alumni Award in 2012 as well as Northwest’s Faculty Excellence Award for Scholarship in 2017 and the University’s Excellence in Agility and Innovation Award in 2019.

Distinguished Faculty Emeritus Award: Dr. Thomas Carneal

Carneal, a native of Plattsmouth, Nebraska, came to Northwest in 1967 as a faculty member in history and served as chair of the Department of History, Humanities and Social Sciences from 1993 until his retirement in 2002. He taught and developed courses and programs in history and guided the department through multiple changes to its name, purpose and physical location. He also was instrumental in the development of the public history program, stemming from his work with the Nodaway Historical Society, creating an ongoing collaboration involving Northwest, the city of Maryville and Nodaway County.

Carneal’s contributions to Northwest also include international student recruitment. He traveled to Tokyo, Cairo, Hong Kong, Istanbul and other locations, resulting in the successful recruitment of international students to Northwest from 14 different countries. He also helped raise awareness of the University’s growing international student population through his work on the development of the Joyce and Harvey White International Plaza.

In retirement, he remained engaged with Northwest through many volunteer roles. He was a member of the Northwest Foundation Inc. Board of Directors from 2002 to 2008. He is highly respected in the American Kennel Club, where he has served as a judge since 1995 and is recognized as a Breeder of Merit for AKC Conformation. Through his work, the Nodaway County Historical Society Museum maintains the national depository of the National Poodle Association of America. He also has served as president and chairman of the Board of Directors of the St. Joseph Kennel Club as well as annual show director for almost a quarter of a century.

Public Service Award: Jason McDowell

McDowell ’03, ’10, ’18 has served on the Maryville City Council since 2015 and was mayor from 2016 to 2018. He has been a driving force behind such projects as the new Maryville Public Safety building, the conference center at Mozingo Lake Recreation Park and the South Main Street corridor project, all while ensuring that taxpayer dollars were being used in a fiscally responsible way. While he was mayor, residents of Maryville passed a tax on tourism and economic development that assists Northwest with funding for the operation of the Carl and Cheryl Hughes Fieldhouse while establishing community-wide marketing for a newly created Tourism Committee. 

McDowell has served on numerous volunteer boards and committees in both Maryville and Nodaway County. He is a member of the Maryville Pride Lions and the Nodaway County Solid Waste Board. He also served on the Nodaway County DARE board from 2017 to 2019, serving as president for one year. McDowell can often be found volunteering at the Ravenwood Community Breakfast.

McDowell’s public service to the community carries through his profession as an educator in Nodaway County. Prior to becoming an administrator, he taught sixth grade science at Maryville Middle School and served as the assistant director of what was then the ACES Alternative School, working within a 21-school district cooperative to provide alternative education programming to students with behavioral needs. He currently is the elementary principal for the Northeast Nodaway R-V School District, having held prior positions as assistant principal, PK-12 principal and interim superintendent. In 2019, he was named Exemplary New Principal by the Missouri Association of Elementary School Principals.

Turret Service Award: Gary Thompson (posthumously)

Thompson ’76 served on the Northwest Foundation Inc. Board of Directors from 2007 until his death in 2019. He served on several Board committees and was instrumental in the creation of the Governance Committee, serving as its chair for two years. At the time of his passing, he was the Board’s vice president and was president-elect for 2020-2021.

Thompson was an instrumental leader and advocate for the Forever Green fundraising campaign. He and his wife, Kathy, were eager to assist and promote the Founding 50, a group of major donors who contributed to the Hughes Fieldhouse project. Their gift funded the electronic scoreboard in the facility and is named in their honor. In addition to his generous support to the Northwest Foundation, he was a mentor and loyal supporter of his fraternity, Phi Sigma Kappa.

After completing degrees at Northwest in finance and business management, he was hired by The Hartford as a commercial underwriter and underwriting trainee. In 2005, he was appointed executive vice president and served in that capacity until his retirement in 2013. Thompson was especially proud to be the only top-level executive at The Hartford who did not graduate from an Ivy League university.

Young Alumni Award: Bilal Clarence

Clarence ’05, a native of Copenhagen, Denmark, graduated in 2005 with a degree in interactive digital media–computer science. A member of the Bearcat men’s basketball team, he helped lead the 2003-2004 team to the Elite Eight Tournament and induction into the M-Club Hall of Fame in 2014.

Clarence played professional basketball for European teams from 2005 to 2009. In 1999 at age 19, he was selected to play for Danish Basketball on its national team and remained on the team until 2008, serving as captain his last year. In 2006, he was Most Valuable Player of the Danish squad in the Nordic Championships, a tournament featuring the best players on national teams from Sweden, Finland, Norway, Denmark and Iceland. Clarence finished his professional basketball career as co-captain of the CB Tijola, Spain, team in 2008-2009.

During offseasons, Clarence furthered his expertise in technology as a freelancer, developing multiple technology platforms and websites for a variety of companies worldwide. His professional career in technology allowed him to return to the United States in 2009, helping him gain additional experience with various software companies.

From 2012 to 2019, he worked for Apple Inc. in a variety of positions, including software engineer, senior software engineer and software engineering manager. His achievements at Apple include leading presentations on new and emerging technologies; designing, implementing and maintaining Core Product Services for Apple’s online store and leading a team responsible for the service tier powering the online store. He currently serves as the senior director of data engineering at Capital One in the San Francisco area.

 

Honorary Alumni Award: John Richmond

John Richmond served on the Northwest Board of Regents from 2013 to 2019, serving as the chair of the People, Finance and Operations Committee from 2017 to 2019. Richmond continuously fought to balance the budget and maintain the cost of attending at the most affordable level, helping Northwest balance its budget with a strategic eye on ensuring access, affordability and quality while preserving the University’s long-term viability.

Richmond served 29 years as the president and chief executive officer of Northwest Medical Center in Albany, Missouri, and remains a leader in the northwest Missouri region. He has a passion for supporting individuals and organizations dealing with mental health issues, special needs, poverty and related challenges. In addition to providing support to the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, his generosity and kindness spans globally as he and his wife, Aileen, worked to raise money to help build an orphanage in South Africa.

He speaks of his love for his adopted alma mater to all he encounters and knows firsthand the importance of the quality of education at Northwest. Richmond often can be found at athletics events, groundbreakings and other University activities, on and off campus.


Media contact:

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