Eight alumni and friends of Fort Hays State University will be honored with awards from the FHSU Alumni Association at the Alumni and Foundation Awards Banquet Friday, Oct. 5, during Homecoming celebrations.
Four alumni will receive Alumni Achievement Awards, the association’s highest honor, for outstanding, unselfish contributions in service to community, state or nation, both as citizens in their chosen careers and through philanthropy.
The Alumni Achievement Awards will be presented to Dr. Terrell Balthazor, founder and CEO of TMB Scientific LLC, Cuba, Mo.; Dr. Kenyon Griffin, emeritus dean and interim director of the Wyoming Statistical Analysis Center of the University of Wyoming, Laramie; Donna Jones Morris, Utah State Librarian and Division Director, Salt Lake City; and Charles Sexson, a retired agent for the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, Topeka.
Two young alumni -- 10- to15-year graduates -- will receive Young Alumni Awards in recognition of professional and educational achievement, community activities, honors and awards, or other accomplishments. The association will also present a Nita M. Landrum Award -- given to alumni or friends who have provided sustained volunteer service for the betterment of the Alumni Association or FHSU, especially in their home communities -- and a Distinguished Service Award, which honors individuals who have demonstrated a continuing concern for humanity at a universal, national, state or community level, who endorse and exemplify the highest standards of character and personal attributes, and who demonstrate a continuing concern for improving the quality of life.
Young Alumni Award winners are Grant Bannister, a partner in a general practice law firm in Manhattan, and David Gray, founder and former owner of Affordable Supplements Inc., Wichita. The Nita M. Landrum Award goes to Mary Lou Blum, manager and owner of a family farm and business interests, Hays. Dr. Shawn Chen, president and owner of Sias International University, FHSU's first educational partner in China, will be presented with the Distinguished Service Award.
The FHSU Alumni Association, established in 1916, is dedicated to identifying and serving the needs of more than 41,000 graduates living throughout the United States and 64 foreign countries.
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Terrell M. Balthazor
Terrell M. Balthazor, Columbia, Mo., is a 1971 graduate of FHSU with a B.S. in chemistry with a minor in mathematics. In 1975, he received his Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Balthazor is the founder and CEO of TMB Scientific LLC. His company, established in April 2000, specializes in technology analysis and strategic research planning. Clients include small startup firms as well as
established global businesses.
He retired from Monsanto Co. in 1999 after a 24-year career, holding numerous positions including research scientist, strategy analyst and vice president of research. He played a prominent role in establishing the strategic direction for Monsanto’s programs in chemistry, agriculture and plant biotechnology. Balthazor also served on the company’s strategic management team and was co-head of the Europe-Africa agriculture business. His studies of the microbiology of glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup® herbicide, demonstrated the rapid degradation of this chemical in the environment and contributed to the development of herbicide tolerant crops now used widely in agriculture. He has published extensively on the chemistry of phosphorus and sulfur and organic chemicals incorporating these elements. He is also an authority on the role of symmetry in physical and biological phenomena.
Balthazor received five Monsanto Science Excellence Awards and four Monsanto Leadership Awards and was chosen by the Monsanto scientific community as the most outstanding scientific leader and mentor. He has served as a lecturer at various universities and scientific conferences. In 1981 he was recognized with a Young Alumni Award. He is a member of numerous professional organizations, including the American Chemical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Society of Microbiology and the Sternberg Museum of Natural History. He is also a member of the St. Louis Art Museum, the American Bird Conservancy, six different public and community radio stations, Disabled American Veterans, the National Wildlife Fund, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Red Cross, the United Way, the Humane Society, and several historical societies.
Kenyon N. Griffin
Kenyon N. Griffin, Laramie, Wy., graduated from FHSU in 1961 with an A.B. degree in history and went on to earn an M.A. in political science from Kansas State University and a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Kentucky. He is a retired professor and administrator from the University of Wyoming and currently serves as an adjunct professor in that university’s College of Business.
His career at the University of Wyoming included three years as dean of the College of Business and a stint as interim provost, vice president for academic affairs, associate provost, director of Extended Credit Programs and interim director of the Wyoming Statistical Analysis Center. His awards include the Distinguished Service Award from the
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Associated Students of the University of Wyoming and the Commitment to Diversity Award from the university’s United Multicultural Council. In 1994, he received the Air Force ROTC Outstanding Service Award and, in 1999, he was awarded an Outstanding Civilian Service Medal from the U.S. Department of the Army.
Griffin’s contributions to society are numerous. He was advisor to the Wyoming governor on education policy for K-12 and higher education issues from 1999-2000. He served as staff for the governor in his involvement as a founding member of the Western Governors’ University and as chair of the Education Commission of the States, and for the governor’s work on the Western Interstate Commission on Higher Education and for various educational groups in Wyoming. He was also appointed to the Wyoming Telecommunications Planning Council in 1991, which planned the introduction of interactive audio and video instructional infrastructure and instruction design.
He participated in the Academic Program Exchange in Saudi Arabia and visited the United Arab Emirates -- both endeavors sponsored by the U.S. Department of State. Griffin also consulted with the Wyoming and Illinois state bar associations on judicial survey procedures that led to improved evaluations of judicial officials; served on the Wyoming Judicial Supervisory Commission; and consulted with the Western Interstate Commission on Higher Education on costing financial expenditures associated with delivering technology-based courses and academic advising opportunities.
He was a member of the American Judicature Society, which he served as director, the Wyoming Judicial Supervisory Commission, the Western Political Science Association, the Western Social Science Association, the United Way of Albany County, the University of Wyoming Art Museum Board, the University of Wyoming Foundation Board and the Ivinson Memorial Hospital Foundation Board.
Donna Jones Morris
Donna Jones Morris is the Utah State Librarian and Division Director, administering the Utah State Library, including consulting services, bookmobiles, blind services and information resources. Before assuming her current post, she was executive director of the Arkansas Valley Regional Library Service System, Pueblo, Colo., a regional cooperative of 221 libraries in southeastern Colorado. From 1976 to 1985; she was director of Pioneer Memorial Library, Colby, and from 1969 to 1976 was a librarian and instructor at Colby Community College.
After completing an associate of arts degree from Colby Community College, she earned an A.B. in history with a minor in library science from FHSU in 1969, then went on to earn a master of librarianship degree from Emporia State University. She has 36 years of administrative and supervisory experience in state libraries, public libraries, regional library service systems, academic libraries and school media centers.
While in Colorado, she integrated the Colorado Library Association and the Colorado Educational Media Association into one professional organization, the Colorado Association of Libraries. She has been active and successful in winning grants and in securing state funding for the libraries.
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Since Morris became Utah State Librarian, she received the Mountain Plains Library Association 2005 Distinguished Service Award recognizing her exemplary service to and leadership in the regional professional library association. Achievements in Colorado earned her the CLA Career Achievement Award. In 1996, a project to add the holdings of small libraries to the Access Colorado Library and Information Network was selected as the CLA Project of the Year. She was named Colorado Librarian of the Year in 1992 for successful legislative efforts, for chairing the Colorado Endowment for the Humanities and for chairing the committee that instituted the Colorado Library Card, an agreement in which Colorado libraries honored cards from each other. She was also active in providing consulting services on 10 new buildings and 30 renovation projects, one of which received the CAL 2002 Design Award.
She is a member of the Utah Library Association, Chief Officers of State Library Agencies, the Utah Educational Media Association, the Utah Academic Library Consortium, the Board of the Utah Educational Network, the Mountain Plains Library Association, the American Library Association and others. She was also a recipient of the FHSU Alumni Association Young Alumni Award.
Charles W. Sexson
Charles W. Sexson, Topeka, earned a B.A. in sociology from FHSU in 1972 and went on to a 32-year career in the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, retiring in 2004. He earned a master’s degree in administration of justice from Wichita State University. Sexson also received specialized training, completing the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Va., in 1980, the Drug Unit Commanders Academy of the U.S. Department of Justice in 1993, and the Law Enforcement Executive Development Program at the FBI Academy in 2002.
He was a special agent in criminal investigations in the Topeka and Kansas City field offices until 1982. Sexson was assigned to the Intelligence/Organized Crime Unit conducting criminal investigations in public corruption, white-collar crime, securities fraud, homicide, theft and commercial gambling. He was a special agent supervisor in Topeka, supervising the Intelligence/Organized Crime Unit and the Crime Analysis Unit until 1990. From 1990 to 1994, he was special agent in charge in the Topeka office and administrator of the Narcotics Division. His work there included running the Narcotics Strike Force, the marijuana eradication program, the Clandestine Lab Response Team and the High Risk Warrant Team.
For the last 10 years, he was assistant director of the Topeka office and administrator of the Information Services Division, administering the criminal history records section, the Kansas Incident Based Reporting System, the registry of Kansas offenders, missing persons information, data processing and communications. As chair of the Kansas Criminal Justice Information System Advisory Board, he was a key participant in developing and implementing the strategic plan to re-engineer and integrate criminal justice information systems in Kansas. A high-speed, Web-based system resulted which
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provides instant access, 24 hours a day, to crime information text and images. The system was recognized in 2002 by the Center for Digital Government and the Progress and Freedom Foundation for effective use of criminal justice technology. In 2003,
Kansas was ranked among the top five states in the nation for use of Internet technology to transmit and access crime information data.
He is a member of the Kansas/Western Missouri Chapter of the FBI National Academy Associates, the Law Enforcement Executive Development Association, the Kansas Peace Officers Association and the Kansas Narcotics Officers Association. He is on the Board of Directors for the Jayhawk Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America and the
board of the Kansas Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Foundation. He is a member of the Kansas Historical Society and the National Audubon Society.
Grant D. Bannister
Grant D. Bannister, Manhattan, earned a juris doctorate after graduating in 1993 from FHSU with a bachelor of arts degree in economics with a minor in political science. He is a partner in Knopp and Bannister PA, a general practice law firm. He has the distinction of being admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court. He has served as a judge pro tem and on the Riley County pro bono panel. In this role, he has represented people such as infants, children in need of care and homeless people with diminished mental capacity. Bannister has been a guest lecturer at symposiums and universities. He has also contributed to the legal profession by serving on the Journal of Law and Public Policy of the KU School of Law.
In addition to work for his law firm, Bannister is also an entrepreneur. He is an owner and operator in the capital and equity funds of Bannister Capital LLC and Manhattan Capital LLC.
Bannister is very active in community service. Under his leadership, the Manhattan Daycare Board successfully navigated a challenging accreditation process and became financially independent. During his year as president of the Manhattan Habitat for Humanity Board, three new houses were built and land was acquired for several more homes. He also chaired the selection process for a new director of the organization. He has given much time and effort as a volunteer and board member for Kiwanis, the Retired Seniors Volunteer Project, United Way and the First United Methodist Church.
One of his main volunteer endeavors is as a youth coach for softball and basketball.
He is a graduate of the Flinthills Leadership program and the Manhattan Citizens Academy. His professional memberships include the Riley County, Kansas and American Bar Associations.
David A. Gray
David A. Gray, Wichita, earned both a B.A. in 1995 and an M.S. in 1997 in communication from FHSU. He is the founder and former president of Affordable Supplements Inc., a highly successful business selling nutritional sports supplements through retail stores and online. He sold the business in 2005.
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Gray was in his 20s when he founded Affordable Supplements and was still in his 20s when his business sense and Web development skills turned his company into a highly successful enterprise. When the business sold, it had three retail stores, two in Wichita and one in Olathe, and experienced phenomenal growth -- 429 percent in 2003 and 154 percent in 2004. Several publications spotlighted Affordable Supplements Inc. as a top Wichita-area business.
The company’s success was founded on a customer-friendly Web site, reasonably priced products and quick shipping. He displayed high-level entrepreneurial and leadership skills in his company. He was very much involved in the day-to-day management but was credited by his employees with allowing them to play vital roles.
His first job after earning his master's degree was in the admissions department at Eastern New Mexico University, Portales. After returning to Kansas, he opened a gym in Colby and began selling nutritional supplements. He also was a transfer counselor and taught Web design courses at Colby Community College. He began trying to sell the vitamins and supplements over the Internet to assist sales out of his gym. Increased volume led to better discounts from wholesalers and better profits. Sales of the nutritional products grew rapidly, and he and his family moved to Wichita in 2001. Since selling his business, he has worked as a stay-at-home father and as a Virtual College instructor for FHSU teaching Web design.
Gray has been recognized with many awards: the Lone Eagle Award from the FHSU Docking Institute of Public Affairs; an ROI Web Award from Inc. magazine; and Wichita Metro Awards in 2003 and 2004. He was featured in a cover article in the Verizon Super
Pages at Work magazine and in a cover article in The Wichita Business Journal. He is a member of the Advisory Council of FHSU’s INT Department.
Mary Lou Blum
Mary Lou Blum, Hays, attended FHSU from 1947 to 1949 and has been a lifelong, active supporter of the university and the FHSU Foundation. She is being recognized for her support with the Nita M. Landrum Award for sustained volunteer service for the betterment of the university.
Blum, owner and manager of the family farm and business interests, and her late husband, Robert, who earned degrees from FHSU 1951 and 1956, have always been firmly committed to Hays and the FHSU community. She serves on the Board of Trustees for the FHSU Foundation She dedicated herself to that service and in a short time became a knowledgeable and involved trustee, serving on the finance committee. She is an enthusiastic fan of Tiger sports teams and regularly attends a variety of university activities. She is also a Wooster Society member and a life member of the Alumni Association.
She has a long list of community activities. She has served on the Board of Trustees of the First United Methodist Church and for eight years on the Hays Plaza, Epworth Towers and Epworth Village boards. Blum is active on the Hays Medical Center Auxiliary Board, for which she volunteers and she served as president in 1998. She is also active on the Debakey Heart Institute Board as well as being past president and vice president of the P.E.O. and the Hadley Auxiliary. She is active in the United Way, First Call for Help, the Humane Society and Big Brothers Big Sisters.
Xiao Chun “Shawn“ Chen
Xiao Chun “Shawn” Chen, San Gabriel, Calif., is president of Sias Group Inc. and president and chairman of Sias International University, Xinzheng, China, FHSU’s first international partner institution. The Distinguished Service Award is in recognition of his efforts in facilitating educational opportunities for students in both China and the United States. In addition to forging a partnership between FHSU and his own institution, he helped arrange similar partnerships between FHSU and three other Chinese institutions. He is well known for his strong support of education and his commitment and ability to provide educational opportunities for students.
He earned a bachelor’s degree from Chongqing University, Chongqing, China, a master of education degree from Linfield College, McMinnville, Ore., and an M.B.A. from Willamette University, Salem, Ore. The University of Humanistic Studies, San Diego, Calif, granted him an honorary doctorate.
Chen is committed to the ideas of cultural contacts to further understanding. Among his activities was providing two cultural opportunities for the citizens of western Kansas. He arranged for performances by two internationally acclaimed Chinese groups, the Zheng
Zhou Qu Opera Company in 2002 and the Henan Province Children’s Martial Arts and Acrobatic Troupe in 2004. He has also been involved in numerous civic activities in his home country of China and other countries.