Ramirez, Heinrichs, Briggs named Torch, Pilot, Navigator award winners
HAYS, KS -- Daron Jamison, Quinter senior, was presented today by Fort Hays State University President Edward H. Hammond with the university's highest honor, the President's Award.
Also at the brunch, the FHSU Alumni Association recognized Rigoberto Ramirez, Great Bend, with the Torch Award as this year's outstanding graduating senior and recognized Dr. John Heinrichs, associate professor of geosciences, with the Pilot Award as the outstanding faculty member.
Joleen Briggs, coordinator for Interdisciplinary Studies, was given the Navigator Award as top academic advisor and Melinda Blackwill, Quinter senior, was recognized for excellence among elementary education majors with the Cecile LaSalle Beougher Award.
"The President's Award has only been given a few times," said Hammond, who presented Jamison with only the fourth President's Award that he has given. The last, in 1992, was to then U.S. Sen. Robert Dole. Before that, Hammond had presented the award to Li Pei Wu, president and CEO of General Bank of Los Angeles, and Mickey Spillane, internationally famous author.
Jamison now joins that select company of President's Award recipients. Hammond said that Jamison, like the others before him, comes from a humble background. Jamison grew up on a small cattle ranch near Quinter and did not know what he wanted to do when he graduated high school. He decided only at the last minute, said Hammond, to go to college, and thus became the first member of his family to do so.
"In his freshman year he was bashful and reserved and committed to not flunking out," said Hammond. Jamison began getting involved in campus life in his sophomore year, so involved that he was elected president of the Student Government Association in his junior year and was re-elected his senior year.
In addition, said Hammond, he was twice selected by the student body presidents of the other five Regents institutions to represent them before the Regents and the Kansas Legislature.
"This is a great honor," said Hammond, "and more than that, he has the respect of Regents, university presidents, and legislators."
Ramirez was presented with the Torch Award and Heinrichs the Pilot Award by Alumni Association President Alan Deines. The Torch Award candidates are nominated by members of the faculty on the basis of leadership and academic excellence. The Pilot Award is given on the basis of classroom excellence, ongoing research and service activities. Candidates are nominated by graduating seniors.
The Alumni Association instituted the Torch and Pilot awards in 1974 to emphasize the importance of excellence in teaching and learning. They are presented every year in advance of Commencement, scheduled for Saturday, May 17. This year, degrees will be awarded to 1,168 graduates: 43 associate's degrees, 235 graduate degrees and 890 bachelor's degrees.
Among Ramirez's accomplishments is serving as vice president of the Student Government Association. In that capacity, he read the names of the three finalists for -- and presented the winner with -- the Navigator Award, given to the outstanding academic advisor as selected by graduating seniors.
Heinrichs, as the sitting president of the Faculty Senate, introduced the 52 candidates for the Torch Award.
Dr. Tom Newton, chair of the Department of Teacher Education, presented Blackwill with the Beougher Award, a $750 award established in 1994 in memory and honor of the longtime Hays teacher who received the Presidential Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics in 1990. It may be used at the discretion of the recipient for teaching materials, further education or professional development.
Ramirez, a business administration major, also carries a minor in organizational leadership and has maintained a 3.94 GPA while serving as vice president of the SGA, president of the Hispanic American Leadership Organization, vice president of Alpha Kappa Psi and working the last three years of his university career as a resident assistant in Wiest Hall. He was also active in Mortar Board, the Marketing/Management Club and the Center for Civic Leadership Task Force.
He has been named a College of Business and Leadership Scholar and a National Academic Scholar and has received the National Gillette/Urban League Scholarship, the National Collegiate Minority Leadership Award and the National Hispanic Scholarship. Last summer he was selected for an internship with the Gillette Co. in Boston and this year is one of only two interns to receive a job offer from the company, where he will begin work in June.
Deines, introducing Ramirez, quoted one faculty member: "This student has been recognized locally and nationally for his intelligence and ability to contribute to others."
Another faculty member wrote, "This student is a team player and contributes to the intellectual atmosphere of the classroom. His work shows a great deal of thought and effort no matter the assignment he is given."
Heinrichs, the Pilot Award winner, is completing his fourth year at the university. He received his bachelor of science (1983) and master of science (1985) in mathematics from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He completed his doctorate in geography at the University of Colorado in 1996.
He has served on NASA proposal review panels, served as a peer reviewer for the Journal of Physical Oceanography and has served on the NCGE Remote Sensing Task Force. He has been published in numerous professional journals, monographs and reports and is an active presenter at area, regional, national and international conferences.
At FHSU, he has served as vice president and is the current president of the Faculty Senate.
Deines quoted one student, who wrote of Heinrichs, "This professor evokes critical thinking and stimulates intellectual curiosity. He presents his ideas clearly and is a brilliant scholar who is enthusiastic about his subject and is committed to teaching. He has the ability to awaken the consciousness. His humanitarian style and knowledge about his work encourages serious minded students to excel beyond their environment."
Briggs, winner of the sixth annual Navigator Award, earned a B.S. in business at FHSU in 1984. She returned to the university in 1999 and, said Ramirez, "has made many contributions to the way academic advising is provided to all students both on and off campus."
"She is a true believer in academic advising and its mission," said Ramirez. "Her interest in student success, accessibility and availability is evident to her advisees and her peers."
Blackwill, the winner of the Cecile Beougher Award, completed her student teaching this spring. She participated in the TEAM: Links for Learning elementary education program, gaining more than 1,000 hours of elementary classroom experience, said Newton, chair of the Teacher Education Department.
Her cooperating teacher, said Newton, "says, 'she is a meticulous planner, thorough worker, goes above and beyond the necessary requirements, and is the type of person who will continue to give her best in whatever she does.' "
The Graduate/Faculty Brunch is sponsored by the FHSU Alumni Association. The association, established in 1916, is dedicated to identifying and serving the needs of more than 36,000 graduates living throughout the United States and 61 foreign countries.