The Alumni Association at Missouri Western State University held its 35th annual Alumni Awards Banquet Friday, Oct. 27. Eleven individuals and one couple were honored.

Awards presented were:

Distinguished Alumni Award

James Sheehan ’78

James Sheehan ’78, chief financial officer, Hormel Foods, Minnesota

Shortly after graduating from Missouri Western with an accounting degree in 1978, Sheehan was hired as an accountant for Hormel Foods and today is the senior vice president and chief financial officer for the Fortune 500 company. His current leadership role oversees the critical financial and accounting functions, which includes five departments: accounting, treasury, internal audit, investor relations, and information technology services.

Established in 1983, the Distinguished Alumni Award is the highest award given to an alumnus/alumna by the Missouri Western State University Alumni Association. The Distinguished Alumni Award recognizes living alumni for their career/professional achievements; civic contributions within their local community, state or nation; service to Missouri Western State University, and other qualities which elicit pride from others who attended a Missouri Western State University Institution.

Graduates of the Last Decade (GOLD) Award

John Klindt ’11

John Klindt ’11, facility maintenance manager, FedEx Ground, Kansas City, Missouri

In 2008, Klindt realized that if he wanted to advance his career, he needed to earn a degree. So, at the age of 40, he enrolled at Missouri Western and earned a Bachelor of Science in Electronics Engineering Technology. Shortly after earning his degree, he began working for FedEx Ground in Kansas City as a maintenance service manager and today is the facility maintenance manager for the company. In that position, John oversees the repair and maintenance of all material handling equipment, buildings and grounds with a staff of 12. He has received numerous awards for his work.

The GOLD award recognizes those early in their career who have had outstanding achievements and accomplishments. The award is based upon professional and educational achievements, community activities, honors and awards received and other noteworthy items of merit since graduation. The nominee must have received his or her initial degree from Missouri Western State University within ten years of June 1 of the year of recognition.

Herb ’35 & Peggy Iffert Award for Outstanding Service to the University

Patsy ’95 and Tom Smith

Tom & Patsy ’95 Smith

Tom and Patsy have served Missouri Western, specifically Missouri Western Athletics, for more than two decades. Tom retired in 2012 as the head men’s basketball coach, a position he held for 25 years, and Patsy retired in 2014 as the senior associate director of athletics and senior woman administrator after a 20-year career. In those very visible positions, Tom and Patsy have been outstanding ambassadors for and representatives of Missouri Western across the country.

The Iffert Award recognizes an alumnus/alumna, retiree, or other friend of the University who has shown outstanding and continuous commitment to Missouri Western State University’s mission, vision, and legacy. This award recognizes one’s service as a positive liaison between the University and the region of Northwest Missouri as well as consistent dedication to the advancement and preservation of Missouri Western State University.

Distinguished Faculty Award

Dr. Jeff Poet, professor of mathematics

Dr. Jeff Poet, professor of mathematics

Poet joined the Missouri Western faculty in 2002, and helping students succeed has been at the forefront of his career ever since. In 2006, he teamed with Dr. Todd Eckdahl, professor of biology, and colleagues from Davidson College in North Carolina to guide undergraduate students in synthetic biology research. That collaboration led to the team obtaining three National Science Foundation research grants totaling about $2.3 million and publishing in several prestigious publications.

Established in 1983, the Distinguished Faculty Award is given to a current faculty member by the Missouri Western State University Alumni Association in recognition of one’s lasting influence on students, excellence in teaching, professional/career accomplishments, and professional and ethical standards.

Great Griffon Award

  • Craig School of Business – Corky Marquardt ’84, market president, Commerce Bank, St. Joseph
  • Liberal Arts and Sciences – Mary Elizabeth Porter ’99, clinical coordinator, Liberty Hospital
  • Nursing & Health Professions – Diane Waddell ’66 & ’91, nurse practitioner, Mosaic Life Care and moderator, Presbyterians for Earth Care
  • Professional Studies – LaShaundra Randolph ’03, project coordinator, Metropolitan Community College-PennValley
  • School of Fine Arts – Marrita Black ’75, professional sculptor

Corky Marquardt ’84, Mary Elizabeth (Schmitz) Porter ’99, Diane Waddell ’66 & ’91, LaShaundra Randolph ’03, and Marrita Black ’75

New in 2017, the Great Griffon Awards recognize alumni from each college and school who exhibit outstanding contributions to the workforce, society or the University. Nominees must have completed at least 24 credit hours at any Missouri Western institution and do not have to work in the area in which they studied. Nominees can be recognized for career achievement, service to local communities, state or nations or the University. At least one year is required between attendance and award nomination.

Student Leadership Awards

  • Clifford Hughes ’55 Award – Bre’Auna Watkins ’17
  • International Student of the Year – Deir Monteil Dominguez ’17
  • Graduating Student of the Year – Reyhan Wilkinson ’17

Bre’Auna Watkins ’17, Deir Monteil Dominguez ’17, Reyhan Wilkinson ’17

New in 2017, the Student Leadership Awards recognize graduating students who have made a significant impact on the life of the University during their tenure though leadership, volunteerism, or humanitarianism. Nominees for the Student Leadership Awards must be graduating seniors (either May or December) and have shown exemplary leadership, volunteerism, or humanitarianism.

Missouri Western State University is a comprehensive regional university providing a blend of traditional liberal arts and professional degree programs. The university offers student-centered, high quality instruction that focuses on experience-based learning, community service, and state-of-the-art technology. Missouri Western is located in St. Joseph, Mo., and is committed to the educational, economic, cultural and social development of the region it serves. Visit