Congratulations to the 2011 Alumni Association Awardees!
Five alumni and one friend of Fort Hays State University will be honored with awards from the FHSU Alumni Association at the Alumni Awards and Recognition Banquet Friday, Oct. 7, during Homecoming celebrations.
In addition, Gary Sherrer, former lieutenant governor and former chair of the Kansas Board of Regents, will receive the Presidential Award, the university's most distinguished recognition.
Three alumni will receive Alumni Achievement Awards, the association’s highest honor, for outstanding, unselfish contributions in service to community, state or nation, both as citizens in their chosen careers and through philanthropy. Recipients are Les Anderson ’70, Valley Center, a professor in the Elliott School of Communication at Wichita State University; Patty (Sander) Billinger ’92, ’94, Overland Park, regional management officer for the Social Security Administration Office of Disability Adjudication Review in Kansas City, Mo.; and Lyle Staab ’77, Hawthorn Woods, Ill., vice president of Global Instrument Manufacturing for Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics, Tarrytown, N.Y.
One alumnus will receive the Young Alumni Award, which recognizes 10- to 15-year graduates for professional and educational achievement, community activities, honors and awards or other accomplishments. This year’s recipient is Jesse Shaver '01 M.D., Ph.D., Cary, N.C., a scientist with Vadum Inc., Raleigh, N.C.
Larry Dreiling ’80, ’80, ’85, Hays, senior field editor for High Plains Journal, Dodge City, will receive the Nita M. Landrum Award for alumni or friends who have provided sustained volunteer service for the betterment of the Alumni Association or FHSU, especially in their home communities.
Steve Shields, Manhattan, CEO and principle of Action Pact Development, LLC, with offices in Milwaukee, Wisc., Atlanta, Ga., and Manhattan, will receive the Distinguished Service Award, which recognizes individuals, alumni or not, known as friends of the university who demonstrate a continuing concern for humanity on a universal, national, state or community level, who support spiritual, cultural and educational objectives, and who endorse and exemplify the highest standards of character and personal attributes.
Alumni Achievement Award
Les Anderson, Valley Center, graduated from FHSU with a Bachelor of Arts in English in 1970. He earned a Master of Arts in journalism in 1971 from the University of Missouri, Columbia. He is a professor of communication at the Elliott School of Communication at Wichita State University, where he has taught writing, editing and community journalism courses for more than 30 years. He joined the faculty in 1977.
He worked at The Hays Daily News while studying at FHSU and at The Missourian, at the sports desk, while earning his master's degree at the University of Missouri. From 1971 until 1974, he worked at The Wichita Eagle. He helped start the weekly Wichita Sun in 1974 and, in 1975, he and his wife, Nancy, started The Ark Valley News, Valley Center, a weekly they published until selling it in 2007.
He was president of the Kansas Press Association for 1996-97 and was a member of its board of directors for eight years. He was also president of the Kansas Newspaper Foundation from 1997-98. He has been a member of the Society of Professional Journalists since 1970.
Anderson has been a member of the National Newspaper Association since 1977, serving as a member of its Telecommunications and Journalism Education committees. As president of the KPA in 1997, he also served on the NNA's National Leadership Council.
The KPA has awarded him several honors: the Clyde M. Reed Jr. Master Editor Award; the Karl and Dorothy Gaston Outstanding Mentor Award; the Boyd Community Service Award (awarded by the KPA and the Huck Boyd Foundation); and the Victor Murdock Award for Excellence in Kansas Journalism.
He has also received the Burton Marvin News Enterprise Award from the William Allen White Foundation of the University of Kansas.
He was the 2011 winner of the John R. Barrier Distinguished Teaching Award in Humanities and Social Sciences at WSU, and he was awarded the first-ever Elliott School of Communication Teaching Award in 2009. He received the Board of Regents Excellence in Teaching Award for WSU in 2004.
In addition to teaching, he is a member of the WSU Faculty to Student Mentoring Program, the primary media coordinator for Kansas 30th Judicial District and president of the advisory board of the monthly Active Aging, a publication for senior citizens in Sedgwick, Butler, and Harvey counties. He is a life member of the FHSU Alumni Association.
He and his wife, Nancy, have five children – Spike, Maggie, Ben, Seth and Patrick.
Patty (Sander) Billinger
Patty Billinger, Overland Park, earned a Bachelor of Arts in political science from FHSU in 1992 and a Master of Science in political theory in 1994. She is the regional management officer for the Social Security Administration Office of Disability, Adjudication, and Review in Region VII, one of only 10 similar positions in the nation.
She began her federal career as a claims representative in the Hays field office from 1994 until 2000, then was promoted to management support specialist and operations supervisor in the Wichita office. She then was promoted to field management officer and regional director for operations and administration in the Kansas City Regional Office of Disability Adjudication and Review. She oversees the operational, workload and strategic planning activities for the Kansas City Region, consisting of approximately 400 employees, including 72 judges in hearing offices located in Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Iowa. Most recently, she has lead Region VII in opening two new hearing offices in Topeka, Kansas and Columbia, Missouri. She also serves as the management chair of the National American Federation of Government Employees Health and Safety Committee.
In 2007 through 2009, while working with the Office of the Chief Administrative Law Judge, she was named to the Commissioner’s backlog reduction team, which was charged with eliminating the backlog of thousands of pending hearings. She was instrumental on both the national and regional levels in Social Security’s transition from paper folders to an electronic disability hearing process.
She was presented with numerous performance awards during her career and three Regional Commissioner Awards while in Hays and another Regional Commissioner Award in 2005 for educating the homeless about Social Security programs. She has received numerous Commissioner’s and Deputy Commissioner’s Citations and other national awards for leadership pertaining to the hearings operation.
She volunteered at the Kansas City Rescue Mission, educating the homeless about Social Security programs, the Heartland Book Bank, Harvesters Food Pantry and Distribution Center, the Genesis Young Women’s Center, the Children’s Museum of Kansas City, and the Dictionaries for Kids Program. She worked with the Special Olympics Basketball Tournament in Hays as a member of the games evaluation team, and volunteered with the Kansas Special Olympics Summer Games in Wichita.
Billinger volunteers with a prison outreach program in the Kansas City area and is a member of the FHSU Alumni Association.
She and her husband, Ken, have one son, Blaine.
Lyle Staab, Hawthorn Woods, Ill., graduated with a Bachelor of Science in finance from FHSU in 1977. After completing a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Notre Dame in 1979, he started with Corning, Inc. as a Supervisor of Accounting. His career since has led him to leadership positions in manufacturing, restructuring, accounting, and commercial operations in the medical diagnostics and consumer products industries.
He is Vice President for Global Instrument Manufacturing for Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics, responsible for analyzer and parts manufacturing and repair activities at six plants in the United States, Ireland, the United Kingdom, and Belgium. Previously, he was Vice President, Integration, managing the consolidation of commercial, manufacturing, and product development activities around the globe after Siemens' acquisition of three leading in-vitro companies in 2006 and 2007 for €11 billion.
In other roles he has served as Managing Director of commercial and manufacturing companies in Ireland and Canada; as Executive Director of Manufacturing Operations for a facility producing both instrumentation and biological reagents; as Business Controller for worldwide diagnostics and housewares businesses and for Latin American operations; and as Plant Controller for Corning’s largest packaging and distribution center.
Staab is active in Alpha Kappa Psi Professional Business Fraternity, speaking frequently at its Principled Business Leadership Institutes. He is a senior member of the American Society for Quality and is a member of the Association for Manufacturing Excellence. Staab served on the Board of the Irish Medical Devices Association from 2003-2007.
In 1987, he received the Alumni Association’s Young Alumni Award. He holds life membership status in the FHSU Alumni Association. He is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Fort Hays State University Foundation.
Staab is a member of the Rotary Club of Long Grove,Ill., was a Scout leader both in the US and Canada, and is active in community and church choirs.
He and his wife, AnnMarie, have three children – Carl, Caitlin, and Kelley.
Young Alumni Award
Jesse Shaver, Cary, N.C., earned a Bachelor of Science in chemistry from FHSU in 2001. He earned a Ph.D. in molecular physiology and biophysics in 2007 and an M.D. in 2009 from Vanderbilt University in Nashville. He is a scientist with Vadum, Inc., Raleigh, N.C., a defense firm that provides research and engineering solutions for counter-electronic warfare, radio frequency measurement and signatures intelligence.
The 10 years since his graduation from FHSU have included not only his postgraduate studies, but also research and development of optical, mechanical and electronic instruments and systems. He holds two patents on a device to measure physiological characteristics of the cornea (transparency, hydration and thickness). During his doctoral research, he also designed and built new general-purpose signal recovery systems for measurement of extremely weak optical signals in the presence of strong noise and interference. This system is patent-pending.
His broad-based research includes the areas of robotics, low-level photodetection, optical and electronic medical device development, corneal biophysics; microfluidic devices, micro electro-mechanical systems, advanced microscopy, and ophthalmic device development. He has experience with a variety of laser-based instruments used in medical and military applications.
Shaver has co-authored papers and given presentations on numerous topics, including effects of dispersion and aberrations in ocular focusing of femtosecond pulses and the impact on damage mechanisms; retinal damage thresholds for ultrashort laser pulses; a low-cost optical pachymeter for the diagnosis of glaucoma and ocular hypertension using optical disc laser technology; quantitative imaging of zinc secretion from pancreatic islets, and neural electrophysiology experiments with pulsed neurotransmitters generated using PDMS microfluidics.
During all four years of his undergraduate career at FHSU, Shaver was a Robert C. Byrd Scholar, FHSU Presidential Scholar, and a Dane G. Hansen Scholar. He was a National Merit Scholar, and was awarded the FHSU Tomanek Award during his freshman year. Other academic awards include the Outstanding Senior Award of the American Institute of Chemists and the American Chemical Society Senior Award in Chemistry. His doctoral studies were supported through the Vanderbilt Vision Research Center and the National Institutes of Health Medical Scientist Training Program.
Shaver is married to Kelley (Crispin) ’04, ’04.
Nita Landrum Award
Larry Dreiling, Hays, earned two degrees from FHSU in 1980, a Bachelor of Arts in political science and a Bachelor of Arts in communication, and added a Master of Science in communication in 1985. He is a senior field editor for High Plains Journal, Dodge City. He joined the Journal as an associate editor in 1989 and was named a senior field editor in 2001.
He was news director for KAYS Radio and Television, 1980-1984, where he covered the Kansas Legislature and was awarded the College Media Advisors National Award for Business and Economics. Before joining High Plains Journal, he worked at The Hutchinson News and The Ellsworth Reporter.
Dreiling was the 2000-2001 president of the American Agricultural Editors Association and the 2005-2006 president of the Association of North American Agricultural Journalists, the first person to hold the presidency of both organizations. He received the NAAJ's J.S. Russell Memorial Award, the organization's highest honor, in 1999, and in 2004 he was named an AAEA Master Writer the same time that he won the group's writing contest for Best Internet Breaking News Reporting. In 2002 he won first place in the Livestock Publications Council Critique Contest for Best Regular Column.
In 2011, he was the recipient of the Association for Communication Excellence in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Life and Human Sciences (ACE) Rueben Brigham Award, given to a communicator who has made a major lifetime contribution in the field of agriculture, natural resources, or life and human sciences at the regional, national or international level.
Dreiling led the U.S. delegation to the 2001 Congress of the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists, in Finland, and was also a U.S. delegate to congresses in Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Germany, Australia and New Zealand. He has been a contributing analyst to agricultural broadcasts on Radio Tirana, Albania, and Radio New Zealand.
During his years at FHSU, Dreiling was the Tiger mascot and later provided funds for a new Victor E. Tiger suit. He served two four-year terms on the FHSU Alumni Association Board of Directors, holds a platinum life membership in the Association, and was communications director of the Boot Hill Chapter. He was a member of the FHSU Athletic Association Advisory Board and currently serves as an alumni representative on the Tiger Auction Planning Committee. He has been a member of the FHSU Tiger Athletic Club since 2004 and is an advocate in FHSU's Legislative Support Network.
Distinguished Service Award
Steve Shields, Manhattan, earned a Bachelor of Science in social work from Kansas State University in 1994, with a secondary major in gerontology and long term care administration. He attended FHSU from 1974 to 1976.
Shields is founding CEO and chair of Kinmundy Ralston Corporation of Milwaukee, Wisc. He is also CEO and Principle of Action Pact Development, LLC, an international company with offices in Manhattan, Atlanta, Ga. and Milwaukee, Wisc., which specializes in organizational and strategic planning, architectural design and construction, financial forecasting, and project development for the senior living service sector. Shields is a pioneer of the “Household Model,” which transforms institutional nursing homes into comfortable houses that provide good living for frail elders.
From 1994 until January of this year, he was CEO and president of Meadowlark Hills Retirement Community, Manhattan, which grew from a $3 million to a $60 million company and became an internationally-known senior living provider that pioneered and shaped the “Household Model” into reality.
Shields conducted a two-year international speaking tour in 28 states and abroad to communicate the need for change in long-term care. He has been featured on CBS, the Public Broadcasting System, and in the National Video Series of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. He is co-author of the book, In Pursuit of the Sunbeam, now in its third printing that is used as a textbook in at least 13 universities.
His service work takes many forms. He is a member of the Health Policy and Management Advisory Board for KU Medical Center and the Manhattan Community Foundation. He is a founding member of the Association of Healthcare Households International and has served as a board member for St. Isidore’s Foundation, the Kansas Foundation for Medical Care, and the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce. Shields is also an honorary Rotarian.
The Manhattan Area Chamber of Commerce recognized him as its 2010 Citizen of the Year, and the Kansas Association of Homes and Services for the Aging recognized his work with a Lifetime Achievement Award in May 2011. Shields also received the Manhattan Legacy Award in 2008 and the Public Advocacy Award from the College of Human Ecology at KSU in 2007. The Manhattan Mercury named him to its list of 30 most-admired citizens of 1999.
He has been a member of the Board of Trustees of the FHSU Foundation since 2006, most recently moving to emeritus status in 2011.
Gary Sherrer, Broomfield, Colo., recipient of only the sixth Presidential Award ever given by FHSU, is a former Kansas lieutenant governor and former chair of the Kansas Board of Regents. He became lieutenant governor in 1996, the first person in the state's history to be appointed to the position, before winning election in 1998. He served until 2003, which also made him the longest-serving lieutenant governor in Kansas history. He was appointed to the Board of Regents in 2007 by former Gov. Kathleen Sebelius and served until June 2011.
Sherrer began his career as a public school teacher, specializing in speech and debate, before entering the field of banking. He was also secretary of the Kansas Department of Commerce from 1995 to 2002 and led the efforts that resulted in 42,000 new Kansas jobs, training of more than 100,000 Kansas workers and $2 billion in capital improvements. He is a past chair of the National Association of Lieutenant Governors and received the Carl Perkins Humanitarian Award in 2000 for his contributions to the advancement of career and technical education.
Sherrer served on the Liberty Memorial Board of Governors and was a member of the Johnson County Community College Foundation Board. He has been involved in leadership training and development for more than 25 years. He was a founder of the Leadership Kansas program – one of the oldest and most prestigious statewide leadership programs in the country.
During his tenure as chair of the Kansas Board of Directors, Sherrer helped to initiate Foresight 2020, a strategic plan for all of higher education in the state of Kansas. He chaired two task forces on admissions, one of which resulted in legislation that gave the Board authority over admissions standards. The other task force raised admissions standards. He enhanced Regents institution’s CEO evaluations including “360” surveys and first semester visits by teams of Regents focused on CEO goals. He conducted Regent visits, for the first time, to all community colleges and technical college campuses.
Sherrer designed the Kansas Commitment, a Regents advocacy initiative for funding higher education and appointed an Articulation and Transfer Task Force that focused on enhancing the transfer of credits to universities from community colleges and technical colleges.
He earned a bachelor's degree from Emporia State University and has also received that university's Award of Excellence and Distinguished Alumni Award.
He and his late wife, Judy, have two children – Nancy and Stuart.