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University of Central Missouri
Warrensburg, MO 64093
Contact: Jeff Murphy
WARRENSBURG -09/12/2007 - An award-winning college educator, NASA engineer, State Farm Insurance Company executive, and a couple who have dedicated their lives to music will receive the highest honor bestowed by the University of Central Missouri Alumni Association. They are being recognized as Distinguished Alumni during 2007 Homecoming festivities Oct. 19-20.
Distinguished Alumni Dinner Planned for Oct. 19
Tickets are on sale now for the Distinguished Alumni Dinner 6:30 p.m., Friday, Oct. 19, in the Elliott Union ballroom. Individuals who will be recognized as Distinguished Alumni are Mike Davidson, Bloomington, IL.; Ted and Betty Meyer, Blue Springs, MO; and Phil Sumrall, Huntsville, AL. Samira Hussein, an Overland Park, KS, resident who grew up in Pakistan, will receive the Distinguished International Alumni Award recipient.
Formerly of Richmond, Mike Davidson graduated in 1972 with a physical education degree. After beginning his career as a high school coach and teacher in Excelsior Springs, he returned to his hometown in 1978 to become a State Farm agent. He left the agency in 1983 and began his ascent up the corporate ladder for the seventh largest insurance company in the world.
After holding a number of regional leadership positions, in 2003 he became senior vice president at the corporate headquarters in Bloomington, IL, working closely with the company chair and chief executive officer on the company’s marketing functions. Since 2005, he has served as vice chairman and chief agency and marketing officer at State Farm’s national headquarters, supervising all agency and marketing functions. In addition to his work for State Farm, he is a board member for the St. Jude Children’s Hospital Midwest affiliate and a member of the American College Board of Trustees in Bryn Mawr, PA..
For the past 41 years, Ted and Betty Meyer have owned and operated Meyer Music Company, which includes the store they began in Blue Springs, and stores operated by their children in North Kansas City and Overland Park, KS. In addition to instrumental sales and rental, on-site repair facilities and private lessons, the company works with school music departments in Missouri and Kansas to provide instruments for marching bands and orchestras.
The Meyers have won numerous awards and are known for their public service efforts, which include offering free music lessons in the summers to Girl Scouts, sponsoring the New Horizons Band for senior citizens in Kansas City, and working with the Kawai Piano Company to establish a college piano loan program, which also benefited UCM for many years. The couple both earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Central Missouri.
After graduating from UCM with a bachelor’s degree in 1961, Phil Sumrall began his career as a school teacher. A rare opportunity to meet famed Saturn rocket inventor Wernher von Braun led to a position at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, AL., in 1962, where he held positions that included flight dynamics specialist for the design, development and flight planning for the Apollo Saturn I, Saturn IB and Saturn V launch vehicles.
More recently, he has been spending his time developing space transportation systems. He became manager of advanced planning in NASA’s Ares Launch Projects Office at Marshall Space Flight Center in 2005. In this capacity, he is responsible for the near-term planning for development of NASA’s follow-on, heavy-lift Ares V cargo launch vehicle, which will deliver hardware and supplies into space for exploration missions to the moon and Mars.
An award-winning educator with a passion for business and cultural understanding, Samira Hussein grew up in Pakistan, and graduated from UCM with a master’s degree in clinical psychology in 1983, and a master of business administration degree in 1986. After faculty experiences at Missouri Valley College in Marshall and St. Mary’s College in Kansas, she joined Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, KS., in 1998. The professor of business administration and program facilitator for business administration has been instrumental in launching the college’s new international business curriculum. Since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Ms. Hussein has sought to strengthen understanding of issues that are close to her as a Muslim woman living in the U.S. through invitations to speak to civic groups, at churches and college campuses.
The cost to attend the Distinguished Alumni Dinner is $35 per person. Find out more about making reservations by contacting the Office of Alumni Relations and Development in the Smiser Alumni Center at 660-543-8000.