Alumni Awards Banquet
Every year at Homecoming, the Missouri Western Alumni Association honors accomplished alumni for outstanding contributions to their field, their university and/or their community.
All Griffon alumni and friends are invited to attend the next Missouri Western Alumni Association awards banquet on Friday, October 16, 2020.
Congratulations to the 2020 Alumni Award Honorees!
Pat Modlin '88
Distinguished Alumni Award: Pat Modlin ’88, retired local businessman
Pat graduated in 1988 with a BSBA in Accounting. A St. Joseph native, Pat relocated to Kansas City right after graduation when he was recruited by the Cerner Corporation. Pat remained at Cerner until 2016 when he retired as Vice President of Engineering Strategy and Operations. While at Cerner, Pat met his future wife Terri. They married in 1995 and moved back to St. Joseph in 2006. In August of 2017, Pat purchased property in downtown St. Joseph and started two businesses. Along with his wife, Pat opened Felix Street Gourmet Wine Shop and Dessert Bar and Room 108, which is a private club and event space. Downtown St. Joseph is important to Pat as evidenced by his volunteerism on many boards and downtown organizations. Pat and his wife are chairs of the United Way 2020 Campaign. Pat is active at the Cathedral of St. Joseph, serving on the Pastoral Council, president of the School Board and multiple planning, stewardship and marketing committees, as well as many other parish and Diocesan objectives. Pat is on the MWSU Foundation Board of Directors and the Foundation Development Subcommittee, the Executive Advisory Council for the Craig School of Business and Technology and is an active member in the MWSU Gold Coat, Arts Society, Ambassadors and Western League of Excellence. Pat is also on the boards of Northwest Health, InterServ and Commerce Bank. Pat and his wife Terri live in St. Joseph, Mo. and have two sons.
Dr. Regan Dodd
Distinguished Faculty Award – Dr. Regan Dodd, associate professor, MWSU Health, Physical Education and Recreation
The thing that makes Dr. Dodd worthy of this award is that she would never ask for it. Recognizing that sort of character in a teacher, and nominating her, is one of the best ways a student can say thank you. Regan started her academic career at Johnson County Community College then went to Northwest Missouri State University, Baker University and then the University of Kansas where she received her Ph.D. with an Emphasis in Health Education. Regan has presented at state and other conferences nearly 30 times since 2008. She has been published in college and athletics journals since 2010 and currently has two manuscripts in review. Regan is such a personable teacher. This is such a key factor because she really gets to know her students and what is important in their lives. Knowing her students helps Regan show them how to see the bigger picture. She has been the Missouri Western Faculty Athletics Representative (FAR) since 2015 and was recently named the next chairperson of the Faculty Athletics Representative Council (FARC) which consists of the 14 member institutions in the MIAA. Regan has been in charge of the Chiefs Camp internship program (RSM 450 Independent Research/Project/SFM 680) for six years. She not only teaches in-class work to up to 60 students per summer but also supervises them during training camp. Hundreds of students apply for this opportunity and come from all over the country to participate in this program.
Isaac Collins '11
GOLD (Graduate of the Last Decade) – Isaac Collins ’11, owner, Yogurtini
Isaac graduated in 2011 with a BSBA in Management and Marketing. Isaac competed in the franchise program competition in 2012 and won the opportunity to purchase a Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory store in Williamsburg, Ia, and he was only 22 years old. Three years later he sold that business and returned home and used the profits to purchase a Yogurtini store in Kansas City. At 31, he now owns three Yogurtini stores and is the co-founder of Superhero Yoga. Isaac has a passion for helping our community and specifically under-privileged students in the inner city schools. He has taken his yoga teaching skills into the classroom. Isaac and his team have created Superhero Yoga to fill the need for trauma-informed yoga in the Kansas City schools. As a black business owner, Isaac supported the peaceful protests on the Plaza this past summer. He said the protests are a wake-up call of sorts and is hopeful for change. Isaac and his wife Rachel live in Kansas City.
Herb ’35 and Peggy Iffert Award for Outstanding Service to the University – Mary Shuman, retired
Mary serves as a liaison in a number of ways and supports the university with her time, talent and treasure. She has been a member of the MWSU Ambassadors since 2006, served as president for three years and remains a vital member of the Ambassadors Executive Board where she has served as chair of the Scholarship Committee since 2007. Mary is a patron of the arts and is a charter member of the Missouri Western Arts Society and serves as membership chair. Mary’s philosophy of participating in community for the betterment of all is evident. She has waded in and continues to get her hands dirty and help out wherever she is needed. Her efforts are tireless – she keeps a busy schedule with her volunteer endeavors. Although not an alum, Mary is an advocate and asset to Missouri Western. Mary and her husband Charles live in St. Joseph, Mo.
Greg VerMulm '89
Craig School of Business – Greg VerMulm ’89
Greg VerMulm ’89 Greg graduated in 1989 with a BSBA in Accounting. He is currently a partner and chief product officer with MarketSphere Unclaimed Property Specialists. Greg has spent much of his career leading projects to analyze, select and implement technology to automate accounting, human resources and payroll. He is currently leading technology initiatives to provide improved efficiency and software applications in the MarketSphere unclaimed property practice. Greg is a very proud and active Griffon. He served on the Alumni Board for 12 years, with two years as president and also served on the Missouri Western Foundation Board of Directors. Greg is currently serving his second term on the Craig School of Business Advisory Committee, where he served two terms as Chair. He truly cares about the school, its students and alumni. Greg also serves on many other boards including the Finance Committee Chair and Church Council at St. Paul’s Methodist Church in Lenexa, Ks. Greg and his wife Joleen reside in Shawnee, Ks. and have two children.
Brett Esely '01
College of Professional Studies – Brett Esely ’01
Brett received his BS in Sports Marketing and Management from Missouri Western in 2001 and his master’s degree in the same from the United States Sports Academy in 2006. Brett is currently the senior associate athletic director for external affairs at Missouri Western where he has been employed for 17 years. Brett’s wife Kate ’00 is also a graduate of Missouri Western. Brett handles the day-to-day functions related to marketing, advertising, public relations, corporate partnerships, event management, ticketing for Griffon events and outside operations for the Kansas City Chiefs Summer Training Camp hosted by Missouri Western. He also has oversight of the Sports Information Office, men’s and women’s golf programs and the Griffon Cheer Squad. Brett is active in the St. Joseph Chamber of Commerce as a Chamber Diplomat, Past Chamber Diplomat Chairperson and chaired several committees. Brett and his wife Kate live in St. Joseph, Mo. and have two children.
Lee Murdock '10
School of Nursing & Health Professions – Lee Murdock ’10
Lee graduated in 2010 with a BSN in Nursing and a minor in Biology. Lee’s wife Emily is also a 2010 graduate of Missouri Western. Lee started his nursing career at Heartland Health shortly after graduation. In 2011-2012, Lee was working on both the Ortho/Neuro floor and on the Community Health Line (CHL) team. As a CHL RN, he helped implement Heartland Health’s first telehealth solution. Lee is now part of the KU Health System as a Knowledge Manager – a brand new role at KU and in the HealthcareIT field. Lee is planning to pursue his Master’s degree from Missouri Western and consistently interacts with the university on social media platforms. Lee and Emily live in Liberty, Mo and are expecting their fourth child this summer. They have both been active in local churches since 2011, as well as many other community-based volunteer engagements.
Jay Alford '20
Clifford Hughes ’55 Award – Jordan (Jay) Alford ‘20
Jay graduated in 2020 with a BGS with concentrations in Strategic Communication and Journalism, with minors in Dance and Entrepreneurship. As a student, Jay was a highly engaged member of the community. She was a Resident Assistant in Scanlon Hall, a Student Ambassador, Program Assistant for the Center for Student Involvement as well as a Co-Producer and Hostess of the Griffon Newscast. She was a captain of the Mystics Dance Team and later founded the Missouri Western Dance Company. Jay also demonstrated her leadership ability and commitment to Missouri Western as a member of the Diversity Committee, the Griffon Yearbook, Alpha Phi Gamma Honor Society, The Society for Collegiate Journalists – MWSU Chapter, Black Student Union, the Mystics Dance Team, Homecoming Royalty/1st Place 2019 and a member of the Barbara Sprong Leadership Class of 2020.
Merle Phillips '20
Graduating Student of the Year – Merle Phillips ’20
Merle graduated in 2020 with a B.S. Chemistry. As a student, Merle engaged in awarding-winning research both at Missouri Western as well as Harvard Medical School. He was also recognized multiple times with awards from the American Chemical Society. Merle served in a variety of critical leadership roles and was a frequent volunteer at outreach events. Merle will be attending Harvard in pursuit of his Ph.D. beginning this fall.
Federica Salmaso '20
International Student of the Year – Federica Salmaso ’20
Federica graduated in 2020 with a B.S. in Psychology. As an international student-athlete, Federica was involved in community service and volunteer opportunities with the tennis team. Federica graduated Magna Cum Laude and served as an officer for the Psychology Honors Program. She also served as Program Coordinator for International Student Services and organized many events. Federica understands the importance of balancing her academic, athletic, professional and personal lives.