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University of Central Missouri
Administration 302
Warrensburg, MO 64093
Phone: 660-543-4640
Fax: 660-543-4943


Alumni Richard Phillips, Roger Bell to be Honored at Commencement

Contact: Jeff Murphy
WARRENSBURG, MO (Dec. 11, 2013) – Two University of Central Missouri alumni, Richard P. Phillips, a longtime educator and former president of the university’s Board of Governors from Lake Tapawingo, and Lt. Roger L. Bell, a military pilot and employee of Cerner Corporation from Lee’s Summit, will receive special awards during 2013 Fall Commencement exercises. UCM’s graduate and undergraduate ceremonies take place the weekend of Dec. 13-14 in the university’s Multipurpose Building.

Richard Phillips
Richard Phillips

Phillips, recipient of the Distinguished Service Award, and Bell, who will receive the Outstanding Recent Alumni Award, will be recognized during the undergraduate commencement ceremony for new graduates of the Harmon College of Business and Professional Studies and the College of Education at 10 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 14. Degrees will be conferred upon graduates of the College of Health, Science, and Technology, and the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences during the 2 p.m. ceremony. University President Charles Ambrose will present the commencement address at both ceremonies, and will recognize the special award recipients.

The graduate ceremony begins at 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 13. It will feature special remarks by Robin Hargrave, candidate for the Education Specialist in Human Services/Learning Resources.

The Distinguished Service Award was established by the UCM Board of Governors to recognize individuals who have rendered exemplary and extended service to their communities, the state, and sometimes, throughout the world. The recipients of this award must be people of such integrity, stature, and ability that UCM faculty, staff, students and alumni take pride and are inspired by their recognition.

Richard Phillips has dedicated approximately 50 years in service to the education field, which includes a commitment to public school students and the students at his alma mater. He graduated from UCM with a Bachelor of Science in Physical Education degree in 1965, and completed a Master of Science in Physical Education in 1967, followed by an Education Specialist in School Administration in 1972. The former Mules football letterman served

 the team as an assistant coach from 1970 to 1972, and in 2013 he was inducted into the UCM Athletic Hall of Fame for Distinguished Service in recognition of his outstanding accomplishments and service to Central Missouri Athletics.

 His commitment to his alma mater also includes service as a member and former president of the UCM Alumni Board of Directors, and service on the UCM Board of Governors, where he was twice named board president. He currently serves on the UCM Foundation Board of Directors, where he is a member of the Executive Committee and chair of the Governance Committee.

 Phillips’ devotion to the education of children includes serving as a former public school teacher, assistant superintendent and superintendent, and service to the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. His roles with DESE have included supervising the design and implementation of the Missouri School Improvement Program, the third classification program in the state’s history, and being appointed in 2010 as interim deputy commissioner. Mr. Phillips in 1997 was instrumental in establishing The Show-Me Curriculum Administrators Association, which initiated a statewide focus on improving student performance through curriculum development, implementation, and administration, and served as the association’s president for two years. 

Roger Bell
Lt. Roger Bell

The Outstanding Recent Alumni Award recognizes any alumnus/a whose endeavors in business, professional, civic, philanthropic organizations, performing arts, public service, volunteer, political or similar activities are worthy of recognition and have brought honor to UCM.

Now working for Cerner Corporation in Kansas City as a test analyst,  Lt. Roger  Bell credits UCM’s aviation program for giving him the right mix of technical science and aviation art, as well as interpersonal and leadership skills necessary to become an officer and successful jet fighter and helicopter pilot in the United States military. Bell graduated from UCM in 2006 with a Bachelor of Science degree, having majored in aviation – flight operations management.

In 2006, the same year he completed Airmen Leadership School, Bell became a USAF crew chief for the Air National Guard in St. Louis, Mo. There, he maintained an F-15 fighter jet; was responsible for launch and recovery procedures; and completed pre-flight, post flight, and phase inspections. Trained to fly the A-10 Warthog attack aircraft, Bell became a USAF pilot with the Indiana Air National Guard in Fort Wayne, Ind., in 2009. In April 2013, he joined the U.S. Army National Guard with the 1-108th Aviation Battalion in Topeka, Kan., as a Black Hawk helicopter pilot.

Bell’s combat-ready flying skills were developed through year-long Euro-NATO Joint Pilot Training. There he made a strong, positive impression on the commander of the 89th Flying Training Squadron, Lt. Col. Patrick A. Testerman, who witnessed Bell’s character and quality firsthand. Testerman praised Bell for his outstanding leadership qualities, and noted that his “performance as a pilot, officer, and citizen bring credit upon UCM and speak well of the institution and its values.” He further notes, “Lt. Bell is a superb example of the type of officer I want to lead our force in the future. His integrity and willingness to put service to his country and compatriots are hallmarks of his character, making him an outstanding role model for superiors, peers and subordinates.”