Seven alumni and friends of Fort Hays State University will be honored at the Alumni Awards and Recognition Banquet on Friday during Homecoming celebrations.
Four honorees will receive the Alumni Achievement Award, the association’s highest honor, established in 1959 to recognize graduates who have made outstanding and unselfish contributions in service to their community, state or nation as citizens, in chosen career fields or through philanthropic work.
One alumna will receive the Young Alumni Award, which is granted to graduates of 10- through 15-year reunion classes to recognize those early in their career for significant business or professional accomplishments or for service to the university and the Alumni Association.
The Nita M. Landrum Award is given to alumni or friends who have provided sustained volunteer service for the betterment of the Alumni Association or FHSU, especially in their home communities or at any local level.
The Distinguished Service Award recognizes a graduate or friend of the university who has demonstrated a continuing concern for humanity on a universal, national, state or community level; who supports spiritual, cultural and educational objectives; and who endorses and exemplifies the highest standards of character and personal attributes.
Roger Barta, Smith Center, graduated from FHSU in 1967 with a B.S. in mathematics. He went on to earn an M.S. in math education in 1971 from the University of Georgia-Athens, where he also was awarded a National Foundation Institute Grant. He is a retired math teacher and football coach and is one of the most renowned high school football coaches in the history of the sport.
Over 34 years as Smith Center’s coach, from 1978 until retiring in 2012, his teams won 323 games (against 68 losses) and eight state championships, including five straight from 2004 to 2008. From 2004 until 2009, his teams won 79 straight games.
He began his teaching and coaching career as a math teacher and assistant football and basketball coach with Rawlins County USD 105 from 1967 to 1970. In 1971, he was a math teacher and football coach with Tonganoxie USD 464. From 1972 to 1977, he was a math teacher at Trego Community High School, WaKeeney.
He began his Smith Center career in 1978. In addition to coaching, he also was a math teacher there until 2007.
He was inducted into the National High School Athletic Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2011 and into the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame in 2014. In 2008, the U.S. All-American Bowl Selection Committee named him the National High School Football Coach of the Year. His story has been featured in The New York Times and in Reader’s Digest. He and his teams were also the subject of the 2009 book, “Our Boys: A Perfect Season on the Plains with the Smith Center Redmen,” by Joe Drape.
James “Jim” Gillen graduated from FHSU with a B.S. in physical education in 1974 and an M.S. in physical education in 1976. Since 2014, he has been the associate athletic director for facilities and community engagement for Metropolitan State University, Denver.
For 23 years he was the head athletic trainer and team travel coordinator for the Denver Nuggets of the National Basketball Association, responsible for working with the team’s medical staff to treat injuries and help players during rehabilitation. He retired from that position in 2014.
Before that, he was the assistant athletic trainer for the Denver Broncos, during which time the Broncos played in three Super Bowls, and was part of a staff which was named the NFL’s Athletic Training Staff of the Year in 1987. He was an athletic trainer for the AMI/Denver Broncos Sports Medicine Clinic and was head athletic trainer at Overland High School from 1982 to 1986, and at Aurora Central High School from 1980 to 1982. After graduating from FHSU, he was head athletic trainer at Roosevelt High School in San Antonio.
During his career, he was an athletic trainer at three NBA All-Star games — two of them as head trainer — and, in both 2002 and 2007, he received the Joe O’Toole NBA Athletic Trainer of the Year Award. He was also an athletic trainer in 2002 for U.S.A. basketball at the world championships in Indianapolis.
Pamala (Thurman) Larsen, Ph.D., graduated from FHSU with a B.S. in Nursing in 1969. She is a professor emeritus of the Fay W. Whitney School of Nursing at the University of Wyoming, Laramie. She earned an M.S. in nursing from the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver, in 1984 and her Ph.D. in human rehabilitation from the University of Northern Colorado in 1989.
Her career in nursing education began as an LPN clinical instructor and RN refresher course instructor at the Larimer County Vocational-Technical Center, Fort Collins, Colo. She was a staff and charge nurse at Poudre Valley Hospital, Fort Collins, from 1979 to 1983 and a Relief House supervisor for the hospital 1990-1995. She taught at the University of Northern Colorado, Wichita State University and the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, as well as at the University of Wyoming.
While at Wichita State, she won the Rodenberg Teaching Award for the College of Health Professions and was director of the undergraduate nursing program. She was director of the School of Nursing and associate dean of the College of Health and Human Services at UNC Charlotte and was also nominated for UNC’s Woman of the Year Award.
She and her co-author, Ilene Lubkin, received The American Journal of Nursing Book Award for the seventh edition of their book, “Chronic Illness: Impact and Intervention.” The ninth edition of the graduate nursing textbook was published in November 2014. Larsen is also the author of “Finding a Way through Cancer, Dying and Widowhood: A Memoir,” published in December 2013. The memoir chronicles her late husband’s, Randall E. Larsen, and her journey through his cancer, his death and ultimately her first year of being a widow.
Jon Rosell, Ph.D., graduated from FHSU in 1977 with a B.S. in elementary education. He went on to earn an M.S. in special education from Kansas State University and a Ph.D. in special education administration from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Since 2006, he has been the executive director of the Medical Society of Sedgwick County.
In his position, he is responsible for a variety of programs and services to the community on behalf of 1,200 physician members of the MSSC. Rosell works extensively with other health care organizations and hospitals in the Wichita metropolitan area in order to improve health and health care.
From 2003 to 2006, he was the owner of Professional Rehabilitation Consultants LLC, Wichita, and was the vocational expert for Social Security Appeal Hearings for the Wichita office of the Social Security Administration. Prior to that, he served as the executive director of the Shaklee Institute for Improving Special Education from 1996 to 2003, and executive vice president for Heartspring, Wichita, from 1993 to 2003.
He was vice president of program services for the Institute of Logopedics, Heartspring, from 1991 to 1993 and assistant director of special education for the Leavenworth County Special Education Cooperative from 1986 to 1991. His career has also included teaching stints at the University of Nebraska, Wichita State and, in 1977, as a special education teacher in Clay Center.
Lacie (Robinson) Gregory, M.D., Wellington, earned a B.S. in biology from FHSU in 2003. She then earned a medical degree from the University of Kansas School of Medicine, Wichita, in 2007. She is a family practice physician in private practice at the Sumner County Family Care Center. She served her residency at Via Christi, Wichita, where she was selected by her peers as chief resident.
In 2007, she received the P.G. Czarlinsky Family Award, presented to a senior student at the Wichita campus for outstanding performance as a student clinician, recognizing skill in patient care and management and understanding of the scholarship and application of the “principles of clinical science.” During her medical school education, she also received the competitive Olive Ann Beech Scholarship, which provides funds for a medical student who promises to serve in an inner-city or rural underserved area of Kansas. In 2009, she received an American Academy of Family Physicians Bristol Meyer Squibb Graduate Medical Education Award. This award is given annually to the 20 top family medicine residents in the nation, out of about 3,000 candidates. And, in 2010, she was also presented with an Award of Excellence in Graduate Medical Education from the Wichita School of Medicine.
After her three-year residency, she was recruited to join the faculty of the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the KU School of Medicine-Wichita, but, said the chair of the department, she declined in order to enter private family practice in Wellington. “The entire reason Dr. Gregory went to medical school was to practice medicine in a rural community, so she is living her dream,” said Dr. Rick Kellerman, a 1975 FHSU graduate.
Her special interest is maternal healthcare and women’s healthcare. Faculty at Wichita during her medical school career noted, “Her strength is her compassion and empathy for patients. She exhibits that old-school special commodity of ‘bedside manner.’ ”
Nita Landrum Award
Don Bickle, Hays, a past president of both Warehouse Inc. and S&W Supply and is the current chairman of the board for both businesses. He has a long and distinguished record of generosity and support for Fort Hays State University, the Hays community and the state and nation.
He holds Platinum membership in the FHSU Alumni Association and received the Association’s Distinguished Service Award in 1995. He is a member of the FHSU President’s Roundtable, the College of Business and Entrepreneurship Advisory Board and the FHSU President’s Club. He is also a member of Tiger Club and a Difference Maker for the university’s athletics. In 2010, he was inducted into the Tiger Sports Hall of Fame.
His community service includes membership on the board of directors for the Hays Medical Center Foundation. He is a past member of the Ellis County Historical Society, a past president of the Kansas Association of Realtors and Hays Realtors, and state chair of the Realtors Political Action Committee. The Kansas Realtors named him Realtor of the Year in 1988, and he was twice named Hays Realtor of the Year.
He is a former member of the Commerce Bank Board of Directors and a past member and vice president of the Ellis County Coalition for Economic Development. He has also been a member of the board of directors for the Hays Area Chamber of Commerce.
He and his wife, Chris, have made numerous contributions to the betterment of the university, including financial support for athletic scholarships and the Schmidt/Bickle Indoor Training Facility. Additionally, the Bickles have donated generously to the Beyond Medicine Capital Campaign of HaysMed and are major donors to the Bickle/Schmidt Sports Complex.
Lyle Dilley, Hays, a retired professor of music at FHSU, is the Distinguished Service Award winner. His music education was at Wichita State University, earning a Bachelor of Music Education in 1948 and a Master of Music Education in 1957. His career as an educator started in 1948 in Belle Plaine, where he taught vocal music for grades 1 through 12 and instrumental music for grades 4 through 12 in addition to teaching world history and supervising a study hall.
By 1951, the Belle Plaine band had increased from 30 to 60 members. He began teaching in Wellington that year, teaching band and orchestra in five grade schools as well as in junior high and senior high schools. He also directed a junior high choir.
He came to FHSU in 1961 as director of bands and instructor of low brass. By 1970, the band had grown from about 50 to 150 members. His other duties came to include conducting the Hays Symphony Orchestra and conducting and supervising student teaching. He became director of the High Plains Band Camp (now High Plains Music Camp) in 1975.
He organized the second Kansas High School Marching Band competition in 1962 and the first Kansas High School Invitational Concert Band workshop in 1963. In 1985, he organized the Hays Symphony Guild to support the work of the Hays Symphony Orchestra. The FHSU Symphonic Band, Hays Symphony Orchestra and Low Brass Choir performed at the Kansas Music Educator’s Association state conventions numerous times under his baton.
The Symphonic Band also was selected to perform for several regional music conventions across the central United States sponsored by the Music Educator’s National Convention.
Music education has not been just a career for him, it has been a cause and a mission. Professionally, this has meant membership and leadership in the Kansas Music Educators Association as president and vice president; president of KMEA District 6; state chair of the College Band Directors National Association; and membership with the American School Band Directors Association.
His musical career also included 11 years as a bass trombonist in the Wichita Symphony Orchestra.