And the 2011 Alumni Award Winners are...
A national security expert.
A scientist whose breakthroughs are combating malaria.
A nurse leader making healthcare more accessible to children in poverty.
These honorees are among UMKC’s 2011 Alumni Award recipients,
whose achievements were celebrated at a luncheon on April 27, 2011.
Each year, the UMKC Alumni Association and the campus honor alumni from each school, along with five overall campus award winners, for their accomplishments.
The 2011 Chancellor's Medal Recipient was also honored at the luncheon.
Read more about Dr. E. Grey Dimond, founder of the UMKC School of Medicine.
Meet the Alumni Awards Class of 2011:
2011 Campus-Wide Alumni Awardees
Alumnus of the Year Award
Cynthia Watson (B.A. ’78)
Watson is chair of the Department of Security Studies at The National War College in Washington, D.C. The National War College educates future leaders of the Armed Forces, State Department and other civilian agencies for high-level policy, command and staff responsibilities. Watson is being recognized with the University’s highest alumni award for her achievements as one of the world’s leading security policy analysts. She is an internationally renowned expert in civil-military relations with particular expertise regarding China and Latin America. Watson has written many articles and books including U.S. National Security, which won the CHOICE award for academic book of the year in 2003.
Bill French Alumni Service Award
Michelle LaPointe (B.A. ’80)
LaPointe is being honored for tireless and long-term volunteer service to UMKC. LaPointe served as co-chair of the University’s 75th anniversary year-long celebration, planning and attending many events throughout the campus including the planting of 75,000 tulips and 75 trees. For four years, LaPointe chaired the UMKC Alumni Awards Celebration events, honoring alumni award recipients. She has been president of the UMKC College of Arts & Sciences Alumni Board and is an officer of the UMKC Alumni Association Governing Board. Professionally, LaPointe is development director for the Lyric Opera. (Pictured with Chancellor Leo Morton.)
Defying the Odds Award
Mutuku Mutinga (M.S. ’68)
Born and raised in a small Kenyan village where few managed to complete the fourth grade, Mutinga was determined to pursue an education. He built himself a one-room mud hut in Uganda to live in while he attended the only high school he could. After high school, he worked and saved to travel to the United States for college, which would lead him to a career in science. His breakthroughs regarding insect-disease cycles and his patented inventions, including the MBU cloth, are combating malaria in his native Kenya. He is being honored for his personal and professional success despite tremendous obstacles. (On right with Chancellor Morton.)
The Salazar Family
The Legacy award is presented to a family with a tradition of attending UMKC who have rendered outstanding service to the University, community and profession. Twelve members and two generations of the Salazar family are UMKC graduates. In addition to their service to their alma mater, family members have rendered extensive volunteer support and advocacy to the Kansas City community through a range of efforts and organizations. Family members include Arthur Salazar (B.A. ’75), Carlos Salazar (B.A. ’78), Irene Salazar Caudillo (M.P.A. ’90), Macario Salazar (M.B.A. ’77), Tony Salazar (B.A. ’74), Virginia Salazar Bellis (B.A. ’84), Melissa Salazar (B.S.N. ’06), and Arthur Salazar Jr. (B.A. ’07).
Jacki Witt (M.S.N. ’87, J.D. ’92)
Witt is being recognized for the regional and national attention her work has garnered for UMKC and the Kansas City community. She has been a driving force behind the nationally recognized Women’s Center for Excellence in Health at UMKC and Truman Medical Center as well and as the project director for the U.S. Department of Health’s National Clinical Training Center training clinicians in family planning clinics. A faculty member at the UMKC School of Nursing, she helped found the Helen Gragg Clinic at Operation Breakthrough, which provides care to the underserved.
2011 Alumni Achievement Awardees
College of Arts & Sciences
Durwin Rice (B.A. ’78)
Rice is a nationally known decoupage artist whose works have included special commissions from the New York Public Library, Pierpont Morgan Library and Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum. He is the founder and executive director of the Tulips on Troost project, which has attracted regional and national attention for efforts to beautify Troost Avenue in Kansas City. (On left with Dean Vorst.)
School of Biological Sciences
Stephanie Karst (Ph.D. ’00)
Karst is a virologist at the University of Florida, where she is associate professor in the department of molecular genetics and microbiology. Her work on the virus that causes 90 percent of all non-bacterial epidemic cases of gastroenteritis has been instrumental to the understanding of how the virus avoids immune response and causes repeat infections. (On left with Dean Dreyfus.)
Bloch School of Management
Joe Freeman (B.S. ’93)
Freeman is chief operating officer at Pioneer Services, which provides services to 1.3 million military families. He has provided volunteer leadership to the Bloch School’s Council for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, the Bloch Advisory Council, the Entrepreneur of the Year Advisory Committee and to the School’s alumni association board. (On right with Dean Tan.)
School of Computing and Engineering
Len Rodman (M.S. ‘78)
Rodman is the Chairman, President and CEO of Black & Veatch, a global engineering, consulting and construction company, ranked by Forbes as one of the 500 largest private companies in America. Rodman has led the company since 2000, during which time it has seen growth and expansion in global markets. He is a graduate of the former coordinated engineering program between UMKC and MU. (On right with Dean Truman.)
Conservatory of Music and Dance
Mikel Rouse (Cons ’78)
A New York-based composer and performer, Rouse has developed a trilogy of multimedia operas that played in theaters and festivals around the world. His compositions have been performed throughout the United States, Europe and the Pacific Rim. (On left with Dean Witte.)
School of Dentistry
Paulette Spencer (D.D.S. ’78, Ph.D. ’93)
Spencer is known internationally for her work in bioengineering. A Fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering, Spencer’s work focuses on the interface of tissue-materials interactions. Spencer is director of the KU Bioengineering Research Center and Ackers Distinguished Professor of Mechanical Engineering. (On left with Dean Pyle.)
Ann Battrell (M.S. ’07)
The executive director of the American Dental Hygienists’ Association, Battrell is distinguished as the first dental hygienist and first former ADHA president to hold the office of executive director. In her role, she represents 150,000 dental hygienists across the country and has worked at a national level to address access to oral health. (On left with Dean Pyle.)
School of Education
Steve Obenhaus (B.A. ’88, M.A. ’96)
Obenhaus harnessed his passion for math and teaching to serve humanitarian needs as a volunteer in Haiti using mathematics to track poor water conditions and discover fresh water. A Presidential Award winner for excellence in math and science teaching, he recently completed a year as an Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellow in Sen. Joseph Lieberman’s office in Washington, D.C. (On left with Dean Blanchett.)
School of Law
Pete Levi (J.D. ’69, L.L.M. ’71)
For 19 years, Levi served in the highly visible role of President and CEO of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, representing 2,500 businesses, civic organizations and nonprofits and working to build Kansas City’s economy. Prior to the Chamber, he served as executive director of the Mid-America Regional Council. He is currently a shareholder at Polsinelli Shughart PC. (On left with Associate Dean Glesner-Fines.)
School of Medicine
Mamta Reddy (M.D. ’98)
Reddy is Chief of Allergy/Immunology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine/Bronx Lebanon Hospital in Bronx, NY. Reddy leads the South Bronx Asthma Partnership, which coordinates more than 60 community-based partners, and she is the developer of a DVD-tutorial on New York’s asthma guidelines, which has been distributed to more than 23,000 health providers. (On right with Dean Drees.)
School of Nursing
Debra White (M.S.N. ’99)
White is Chief Nursing Officer at Saint Luke’s Health System. Under her leadership, St. Luke’s Hospital twice achieved national recognition from the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Magnet Recognition Program. This elite honor has only been awarded to approximately two percent of all healthcare organizations in the United States. (On right with Acting Dean Wilson.)
School of Pharmacy
Samuel Strada (B.S.P. ’64, M.S. ’68)
Strada is Dean of the College of Medicine at the University of South Alabama, where he established a pharmacy mobile campus satellite program on the SA campus to help combat the pharmacy shortage along the Gulf Coast. He also is known internationally for his work in cyclic nucleotide phosphodiesterase-related research and in cellular signaling mechanisms. (On left with Dean Melchert.)