‘It’s All About the UMKC Students’

Photo by Janet Rogers, Division of Strategic Marketing and Communications

Scholarship donations double from last year

With the goal of raising scholarship funds, University of Missouri-Kansas City alumni and friends celebrated the achievements of 17 individuals, one family and a dedicated husband and wife team at the 2015 Alumni Awards and Chancellor’s Medal Luncheon.

This year’s Alumni Awards raised a total of $141,435 for scholarships. The portion collected during Thursday’s event, $31,435, was twice as much as was raised live during the event last year.

Ralph Reid (J.D. ’87), luncheon event chair, set the tone at the outset saying “It’s all about the UMKC students.”

That theme progressed throughout the event as UMKC Chancellor Leo E. Morton welcomed alumni back to campus. As he thanked students, friends and family, he reminded attendees of the potential of students and the excellence they achieve as alumni.

“There’s greatness around us. Think about where people would be if these honorees had not been able to finish their degree,” Morton said, as he a stressed the need for scholarships and to mentor students.

Over the years, the luncheon has raised more than $600,000 to support UMKC students across all the university’s schools and colleges. A large portion of that support has been awarded in immediate aid grants to worthy students who were at risk of not re-enrolling due to serious financial issues.

“I have had excellent role models,” said Nicholas Comninellis (M.D. ’82), UMKC Alumnus of the Year. He stressed the importance of role models, and the need for people to view role modeling as a cyclical process: “Find one, become one, inspire one.”

UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance musicians provided accompaniment during lunch.

Following are the 2015 UMKC Alumni Awardees:

Nicholas Comninellis (M.D. ’82): Alumnus of the Year – Dr. Nicholas Comninellis is changing the face of global health in the world’s poorest places. As President and CEO of the Institute for International Medicine (INMED), Comninellis leads this Kansas City-based organization dedicated to equipping professionals to serve those who are impoverished, marginalized or neglected. Under his leadership, INMED has become a widely recognized leader in international health training and mentorship, providing instruction in international public health, diseases of poverty and community health development, as well as international service-learning experiences for healthcare students and professionals at over 45 training sites in 20 low-resource countries. The Alumnus of the Year is UMKC’s top alumni recognition honoring eminence in one’s field and contributions to society.

Eugene Agee (M.B.A. ’98): Defying the Odds Award – Growing up on Chicago’s South Side, Agee survived gang violence and racism, joining the military at age 17. Today, Agee serves as Vice President of Procurement and Real Estate at Sprint, where he manages $17 billion in spending and 20 million square feet of commercial, retail and technical space.  A 25-year Sprint veteran, Gene is a champion of small and minority owned business, of minorities and women working within Sprint, served on Sprint’s Executive Inclusion and Diversity Council and has responsibility for Sprint’s supplier diversity initiatives. The Defying the Odds Award honors a graduate who overcame significant obstacles to achieve his or her success.

Fehr Family: Legacy Award – The Legacy Award honors a family with a history of attending UMKC. The Fehr family legacy began with Irene “Dolly” Fehr, who received a degree in economics in 1947.  Her son, Don Fehr, a graduate of the UMKC School of Law, is one of the most prominent figures in professional sports law.  The former executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association, Don Fehr is currently the director of the National Hockey League Players’ Association.  Don’s wife, Stephanie, holds degrees from the College of Arts & Sciences and the School of Education.  She currently serves on various boards in the state of New York, often representing the PTA in various issues and serving as a consultant on education and special education issues.  Their son, David Fehr, and his wife, Kathryn, both earned Masters of Fine Arts in Acting and Directing in 2008 from UMKC and founded the Linchpin Theater in Chicago.  In all, 12 alumni members of the extended Fehr family were honored at the luncheon.

David D. McIntire (D.M.A ’09) and R. Andrew Lee (M.M. ’06, D.M.A.’10): Spotlight Award – Lee and McIntire met at UMKC in 2005 and soon after founded a record label specializing in minimal and electroacoustic music. Their Irritable Hedgehog label has established itself as a significant voice in its genre. To date, the company has released 11 albums that have made “best” and “top” lists of respected critics. Their recording of “The Time Curve Preludes” was named a 2012 Critics Choice by Gramophone magazine, the gold standard in classical music reviews. Lee is Associate University Minister for Liturgical and Sacred Music at Regis University in Colorado, and McIntire is Director of Music Technology Studies at Missouri Western State University. The Spotlight Award honors alumni who have caused national or international attention to be focused on UMKC or the region.

Annie Presley (M.P.A. ’95): Bill French Alumni Service Award The Bill French Alumni Service Award honors graduates who have contributed time and effort back to the university. Among her many volunteer efforts for her alma mater, Presley led the UMKC Alumni Association’s efforts to refresh and rebrand the Disney Kangaroo and launch a new apparel line. An author, fundraiser and political consultant having worked as an entrepreneur and on behalf of for-profit and not-for-profit clients, Presley also was National Deputy Finance Director for President George W. Bush’s presidential campaign.

Terry (M.B.A. ’73) and Peggy (B.A. ’72) Dunn: Chancellor’s Medal – Terry and Peggy Dunn have given much to UMKC as individuals and as a couple. As alumni, the Dunns have served in countless ways, chairing the university’s 2000-2006 capital campaign that surpassed its $200 million goal and funding a special 80-seat tiered classroom for graduate and executive education offered by the Bloch School of Management.

Each year, every UMKC school and college presents an Alumni Achievement Award to one graduate:

Jacquelyn Boan (M.S.N. ’95): School of Nursing and Health Studies – Boan has been a family nurse practitioner for 17 years. She is known for her expertise in Advanced Nursing Practice in Geriatrics and is certified in wound, ostomy and continence nursing. A national presenter, Boan’s passion for the treatment of geriatric patients led her to work with state and federal regulatory agencies to improve care in long-term settings.

Karen Daniel (M.S. ’81): Henry W. Bloch School of Management – Daniel serves as Chief Financial Officer and a member of the Board of Directors of Black & Veatch, a Kansas City area-based, multi-billion dollar global engineering, consulting and construction company.  Daniel is equally known for her leadership at Black & Veatch and her dedication to the Greater Kansas City metro area.  As a member of the Kansas City Missouri Parks Board, she led the $80 million restoration of the Liberty Memorial.

Steve Edwards (B.S.E.E. ’78): School of Computing and Engineering (SCE) – Edwards is chairman and CEO of Black & Veatch, just the seventh person to lead the company since its inception in 1915. He is a member of the SCE Executive Advisory Council and through his support, the Black & Veatch Scholarship was established.  His company regularly recruits SCE students and partners with UMKC for continuing education classes at Black & Veatch’s world headquarters.

Toni Erickson (B.S.D.H. ’93): School of Dentistry – Dental Hygiene – Erickson is a Clinical Assistant Professor at the UMKC School of Dentistry, providing instruction to undergraduate dental hygiene students. In addition, she is an entrepreneur who started HealthStaff Dental Staffing Solutions, which specializes in the permanent and temporary placement of dental professionals in the Kansas City metropolitan area.

Larry Long, Jr. (Ph.D. ’97): School of Education – Long’s life work focuses on the wellbeing of university students. As Senior Director of Counseling and Educational Support Services for KU Medical Center, he coordinates education, psychological, psychiatric, writing and career services for more than 3,000 health science students, residents and post-doctoral students. He also established Positions in Counseling Centers (PICC), a first of its kind website that informs students and professionals about employment openings in counseling centers around the world.

Timothy G. Mitchell (B.S.P. ’96): School of Pharmacy – Mitchell is a strong supporter of the Neosho, Mo., community and of independent pharmacy. After the Joplin, Mo., tornado, Mitchell was among the first responders, setting up emergency dispensaries, giving tetanus shots and providing medications – some from his own stock. Mitchell has established two annual scholarships through the UMKC Pharmacy Foundation.

Bert W. Oettmeier, Jr. (D.D.S. ’78): School of Dentistry – Oettmeier received the Harry M. Klenda Award for Outstanding Council Service for his efforts supporting “patient rights” in the Kansas legislature, and serves as National Vice President of the American College of Dentists, an organization that represents ethics, professionalism and the scholarship of learning. 

Narong Prangcharoen (D.M.A. ’10): Conservatory of Music and Dance – A former Guggenheim Fellow whose music is performed world-wide, Prangcharoen is Composer-in-Residence with the Pacific Symphony in California and the Thailand Philharmonic and is recognized as one of the “national” composers of Thailand. The Chicago Sun Times called his music “absolutely captivating.”

Raymond T. Wagner, Jr. (J.D. ’85): School of Law – Wagner, vice president of Government and Public Affairs at Enterprise Holdings, turned a difficult experience into good public policy. After his son developed a life-threatening staph infection during a hospital stay, Wagner worked with the Missouri General Assembly to pass “Raymond’s Law,” requiring hospitals to keep track of their rates of infection and make that information available to the public.

William R. Ward (B.S. ’68): College of Arts & Sciences – Known among his peers for his contributions to our understanding of how planets and satellites form and evolve, Ward is one of the originators of the giant impact theory of the moon’s formation. He has studied the climate variations on Mars and has been honored for his achievements in advancing the understanding of planetary systems.

Jonathan M. White (B.S. ’98): School of Biological Sciences – At MRIGlobal, one of the nation’s leading research institutes, White is a principal investigator on three National Cancer Institute (NCI) programs. The grants support the search for new cancer therapies through research and development. White is an expert in GMP pharmaceutical chemistry, organic analytical and synthetic chemistry and drug discovery/development.

Kimberly Wiele (M.D. ’81): School of Medicine – As an assistant professor of Radiology at the Mallinckrodt Institute at Washington University and Staff Radiologist at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, Mo., Wiele has dedicated her career to breast cancer imaging and has helped build awareness around breast cancer.  She is described as being among the best breast imagers in the country for her ability to detect malignancy on a screening examination, evaluate findings with diagnostic imaging and perform multi-modality breast procedures.

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