CMU Will Honor Seven At Awards Event

Annual alumni awards ceremony May 2

Central Methodist University will present special awards to seven special alumni and friends at its 68th annual Alumni Awards Celebration on Friday, May 2.

Five Central graduates will receive Distinguished Alumni Awards, according to CMU President Roger Drake. Another will be given the annual Young Alumni Award, and a seventh very special friend will be presented CMU's University Service Award.

Shawn Griggs, Class of 2004, will receive the Young Alumni Award. Distinguished Alumni Award recipients include Dr. John Hutcherson '56, Earl Bates '61, Ron Knigge '65, Kylar Broadus '85, and Dr. Richard Wilson '86. Dr. Joe Geist, CMU professor emeritus and longtime curator of The Ashby-Hodge Gallery of American Art, will garner the University Service Award.

All will be honored at the Alumni Awards Celebration, with a reception beginning at 6 p.m. in the Jacobs Conference Center of the CMU Student and Community Center. Reservations are available for $25 per person, and can be made by contacting Melanie Lawson at 660-248-6234 or by e-mail at not later than Wednesday, April 23.

Award recipients include:

Dr. Joe Geist, University Service Award

GeistOnly 25 individuals in the nearly 160-year history of Central have been given the University Service Award. Dr. Geist, who continues to work tirelessly on behalf of CMU, more than meets the award criteria: it must be bestowed "only upon persons whose service is extensive and extraordinary."

Geist began teaching at CMU in 1972 with a specialty in American literature. He chaired the Humanities division for 15 years, and retired from CMU in 1998. For more than 25 years he organized and led trips entitled "Literary Britain" and "Getting to Know the Arts in New York City" for Central; in recent years he has continued to coordinate tours for CMU, open to alumni and friends of the University and The Ashby-Hodge Gallery.

Geist was instrumental in the founding of The Ashby-Hodge Gallery in 1993, and served as its curator for many years. Today the Fayette resident serves as supervisor of its collection of works. He was a charter founder, board member, actor and director for the Fayette Area Community Theatre and is treasurer of the Howard County Library Board, among many other community service activities.

A graduate of Benedictine College (Atchison, Kan.), the Fayette resident received his master's degree in English from Emporia (Kan.) State University and his doctorate from the University of Kansas.

Dr. John Hutcherson, Distinguished Alumni Award

HutchersonWhen he graduated from then-Central College in 1956, John Hutcherson already had a long list of accomplishments and involvements. The Palmyra, Mo. native never slowed down after he collected his diploma.

Hutcherson went on to obtain a Doctor of Medicine degree from Vanderbilt University (Nashville, Tenn.). After residencies and fellowships in New York City and Nashville and a two-year stint with the U.S Army Medical Corps, he soon found himself doing a residency in cardiology at the University of Colorado Medical Center.

Colorado would remain Hutcherson's home for the rest of his career. He held an academic appointments at the University of Colorado Medical Center starting in 1966. Hutcherson was director of the coronary care unit for Swedish Hospital in Englewood, where he resides, from 1970-74.

Hutcherson later spent 11 years with a private cardiology firm until he started up his own practice in 1984, which he maintains to this day.

Yet Central always remained important to Hutcherson. He even served for 12 years on the CMU governing board, the Board of Curators/Board of Trustees, until his latest term concluded in 2012.

Earl Bates, Distinguished Alumni Award

BatesEarl Bates has gone far, literally and figuratively, since he graduated from then-Central College in 1961. But the bonds of this Bigfork, Mont. resident to his alma mater remain strong to this day.

Bates came to Central out of Ritenor High School in Overland, Mo. to complete a bachelor's degree in economics and political science. He took a job with Mallinckrodt Chemical in St. Louis after graduation, later working out of its San Francisco office before leaving in 1967 to start his own firm.

Bates headed American Scientific and Chemical from its Portland, Ore. headquarters for 13 years before selling it to a multinational corporation. He then devoted his energies to commercial real estate and cattle ranching interests in Washington and central and eastern Oregon.

An eight-year term on the Central governing board ended in 2004, but his interest in the University continues to this day in a very tangible fashion. In 2000, Bates and his wife Sunny purchased the more than 130-year-old Coleman Hall in Fayette, long a home to Central College presidents.

They allow the University to use the beautiful facility for guest accommodations, meetings, receptions and other social activities. The Bates' also support Central athletics, arts, theatre, and student financial assistance, along with fraternal and charitable interests in Oregon and Montana.

Ronald F. Knigge, Distinguished Alumni Award

KniggeRon Knigge has a special fondness for things that last, so it's only appropriate that he will be permanently recognized with the Distinguished Alumni Award from Central Methodist University.

When he graduated from Central in 1965, Knigge took a full-time job with The Young Group LTD, a business for which he had worked part-time for six summers. The Young Group was the only firm from which he drew a paycheck, retiring in 2006 as its executive vice president.

The company is a conglomerate of specialty contractors with 16 divisions in the midwest and southeast; Knigge specialized in commercial roofing and architectural sheet metal. He spent 22 years with its Louisville, Ky. operation, later returning to his native St. Louis to assist The Young Group's president on day-to-day operations of the firm.

But Knigge always had a special fondness for his grandparents' farm in rural Montgomery County near Wellsville, and in 2001 he and his wife Sonja bought a portion of it. Thus began several years of renovation and construction on what would become their home.

Another place nearby with a special place in his heart was the Bethel United Methodist Church, built in 1869. The Knigges spearheaded a project to restore the little country church, and later its adjacent Fellowship Hall.

The church reopened in time for Christmas 2007, and a few months later the restored structures were rededicated – with Central Methodist University music students performing at Knigge's invitation.

Kylar Broadus, Distinguished Alumni Award

BroadusKylar Broadus has spent much of his life dedicated to serving and supporting others, most recently as senior policy council and director of the Transgender Civil Rights Project at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force in Washington, D.C.

Broadus graduated from college in his native Fayette in 1985, and later obtained his law degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia. He served as professor of business law and chair of the business department at Lincoln University in Jefferson City.

He also maintained a law practice in Columbia for 16 years before moving to Washington D.C. in 2013 to champion the cause of transgender citizens. Broadus was the first transgender American to testify before the U.S. Senate in 2012, on behalf of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

In 2010 Broadus founded the Trans People of Color Coalition (TPOCC), the only national civil rights organization dedicated to the needs of Trans People of Color. A year later he was awarded the Sue J. Hyde Award for Longevity in the Movement by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, and the Pioneer Award at the Transfaith of Color Conference presented by the Freedom Center of Social Justice.

Broadus continues to present, train and educate to and for public and private agencies, organizations, schools, universities, and employers. He speaks and lobbies on the local, state and national levels in the areas of gender identity and sexual orientation law, race, class and advocacy. The Central alumnus has been featured on national television and radio programs.

Dr. Richard Wilson, Distinguished Alumni Award

WilsonRichard Wilson started his career teaching school in rural Missouri. His focus remains on young people, but today he spends his time and energy on the care and treatment of their eyesight.

Dr. Wilson, a 1986 Central Methodist graduate now living near Oak Grove, Mo., now heads up AdvancedEyecare, P.C. But it was hardly a straight line for the Lee's Summit native. In addition to teaching, he served in the U.S. Army during Operation Desert Storm before graduating from the University of Missouri-St. Louis College of Optometry 11 years after leaving Central.

Wilson received special training in pediatrics, ocular disease and contact lenses. He was one of the first optometrists to pass the American Board of Optometry's Board Certification examination. He has been principal investigator in dozens of clinical research projects regarding contact lenses, lens care solutions, and myopia reduction in children.

Wilson's peers in the field have certainly taken note. He was the Missouri Optometric Association Young Optometrist of the Year in 2001. Just two years later, the same organization named him their Optometrist of the Year. He subsequently served a term as President of the MOA Board of Directors.

Wilson also serves as an adjunct (part-time) clinical professor for the University of Missouri-St. Louis College of Optometry, helping educate and prepare the next generation of optometrists. He and his wife Janie also are developing a Christmas tree and energy farm near Oak Grove.

Shawn Griggs, Young Alumni Award

GriggsThis year's Central Methodist University Young Alumni Award recipient is Shawn Griggs, a Jefferson City resident and native and 2004 CMU graduate. He is Coordinator of the East Central Drug Task Force for the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

He joined the state patrol months after leaving CMU with a bachelor's degree in criminal justice. He spent several years in the south St. Louis County/northern Jefferson County region, gaining promotion to the rank of Corporal in 2010. Soon after he was assigned to the patrols Division of Drug and Crime Control as a narcotics investigator.

Griggs also worked security details for former President George W. Bush, Missouri Gov.'s Roy Blunt and Jay Nixon, and others. He worked as a marijuana eradication officer, and on several driving while intoxicated enforcement initiatives (earning accolades four times from Mothers Against Drunk Driving).

Griggs' current assignment with the East Central Drug Task Force began in September 2012. The Task Force is a multi-jurisdictional effort coordinated by the state patrol and encompasses nine different law enforcement agencies in the counties of Audrain, Montgomery, Warren, and Pike.

The former CMU football player and assistant coach has returned to campus on several occasions to speak to Eagle student-athletes about topics such as drinking and driving, and seat belt use.

To be eligible for CMU's Young Alumni Award, one must have graduated within the past 15 years.


Posted April 16, 2014