Skip to Main Navigation | Skip to Content
University of Central Missouri
Warrensburg, MO 64093
Contact: Jeff Murphy
WARRENSBURG - 9/29/2006 - In addition to a pep rally, parade, football game and other special activities, three individuals who have excelled in business, industry and education will be honored during the University of Central Missouri's 2006 Homecoming celebration Friday and Saturday, Oct. 13-14, with the theme, "Moving Forward, Giving Back."
Distinguished Alumni Honored
The Distinguished Alumni Dinner at 6 p.m. Friday recognizes the accomplishments of UCM alumni James R. Crane, Houston; Joe Vandepopuliere, Ph.D., Columbia; and Don Nissanka, Lee's Summit. Crane and Vandepopuliere are receiving Distinguished Alumni Awards, and Nissanka, who was born in Sri Lanka, is receiving the Distinguished International Alumni Award.
Dinner Reservations Available
Hosted by the UCM Alumni Association, the dinner takes place in the ballroom of the Elliott Union and is preceded by a reception for honorees at 5:30 p.m. in the Elliott Union atrium. Tickets are required for the dinner and can be obtained for $25 each from the Office of Alumni Relations and Development. Reservations should be made by Oct. 4.
A 1976 graduate with a bachelor's degree in industrial safety, Crane is a former Mules baseball standout and All-American. After beginning his career with a major insurance carrier, he took a chance on his own company, opening Eagle USA Airfreight in March 1984 in Houston. Now a public company known as EGL, Inc. (Eagle Global Logistics, Inc.), it is an organization that employs in excess of 10,000 people in more than 400 facilities around the globe. Crane serves as the chairman of the board, CEO and is the company's largest shareholder. In addition to his work with EGL, Inc., he is a strong supporter of the university's athletic programs providing contributions for baseball scholarships and major funding for the new baseball stadium.
Vandepopuliere, who earned a bachelor's degree in biology at UCM in 1951, became an inventor of internationally known products while serving as a research scientist for 15 years at Ralston Purina. Early in his career with the company, he was involved in extrusion research for companion animals and small animals that ultimately led to the production of the company's highly successful line of "Chows" for dogs, cats, monkeys and fish. His research in the area of primate nutrition also helped produce healthy rhesus monkeys for Dr. Jonas Salk's polio vaccine research. He left industry in 1972 and dedicated the next 25 years to students and research as a professor in the Department of Animal Science at the University of Missouri. His work in poultry science led to three U.S. patents, including one related to the "pasteurized egg" or methods of controlling salmonella in shell eggs.
After coming to the United States with only a suitcase and a lot of ambition, Nissanka earned a bachelor's degree in industrial engineering and technology management in 1991 and master's degree in industrial management in 1992 from UCM. Today he is the president of Kokam America Inc., a company he formed with three other individuals. The company supports a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in South Korea, and plans to build a plant in Missouri that will produce Superior Lithium Polymer Batteries. He learned the battery industry, beginning as an intern at Gates Energy Products in Warrensburg, then by working his way up the corporate ladder in executive positions when the company became Hawker Energy Products, Inc., then EnerSys, Inc.
Pep Rally Kicks Off Celebration
Immediately following the Distinguished Alumni Dinner, UCM supporters can journey to the Multipurpose Building for a pep rally, cheering contest and introduction of Homecoming royalty finalists at 8:30 p.m.
A Full Day of Activities on Saturday
Saturday's activities include:
Royalty Crowned at Halftime, Women's Athletics Celebrated
The halftime festivities will include the coronation of Homecoming royalty and a performance by the the Marching Mules, who will spell out "UCM" on the field for the last time. A dinner and program, "Celebrating the History of Women's Athletics at UCM" is planned for 6 p.m. at the ballroom of the Elliott Union.
Reunions Planned for Many Alumni Groups
A full slate of reunions for alumni from UCM academic and social groups and organizations are planned through the Homecoming weekend.
For More Information