By Jeff Murphy, October 4, 2017
WARRENSBURG, MO – Five special awards honoring outstanding University of Central Missouri
alumni who have excelled in their careers and in service to others will be presented
during the annual Distinguished Alumni Dinner Friday, Oct. 13 in the ballroom of the
Elliott Student Union. Part of UCM’s 2017 Homecoming celebration, tickets are required
for the event, which begins with a reception at 5:30 p.m., followed by the dinner
at 6:30 p.m.
During the recognition ceremony, Barry Davis, Class of 1981, and Major General Karen LeDoux, Class of 1983, will receive Distinguished Alumni Awards; Rob Ruth, Class of 1975, will be honored with the Distinguished Alumni Award for Service; and Chang Bin Yim, Class of 1963, will receive the Distinguished International Alumni Award. LaTanya Buck, Classes of 2002 and 2004, will receive the Early Achievers Award.
The UCM Distinguished Alumni Award is the highest honor bestowed upon alumni, and is presented in recognition of those who are considered the “brightest and most distinguished” in their fields. The Distinguished Alumni Award for Service honors individuals who have given generously of their time, talent and resources to enhance the university, their community or both, and are a true inspiration to alumni. Recipients of the Distinguished International Alumni Award graduated from UCM as international students, and are individuals who achieved professional distinction, either nationally or internationally, and exemplify the strength of their education at UCM. Formerly known as the Outstanding Recent Alumni Award, the Early Achievers Award recognizes UCM alumni who achieve early success and must be 40 years of age or younger at the time the award is received.
Barry Davis is a regional managing partner for BKD in Kansas City, one of the nation’s largest certified public accounting and advisory firms with 35 offices in 16 states, more than 2,700 employees including 270 partners, and more than $550 million in annual revenues. Davis joined BKD two years after earning an undergraduate accounting degree from Central Missouri in 1981.
In his more than 30 years of experience, Davis has provided business and financial solutions to manufacturing, distribution, construction and service companies. As a regional managing partner, he provides leadership and direction for BKD offices in Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Wisconsin.
An avid believer in community service, he has played major roles in many nonprofits, including United Way of Greater Kansas City, Civic Council of Greater Kansas City, and the Helzberg School of Management at Rockhurst University. He also is a constant supporter of the UCM Harmon School of Business and Professional Studies, leading giving efforts by BKD employees and other UCM alumni to fund the university’s first distinguished professorship, an accounting lab in Ward Edwards Building, and scholarships and assistance to help faculty and students attend professional conferences. A sports enthusiast, he is a member of the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame Executive Committee and Kansas City Sports Commission Board of Directors.
Karen LeDoux is a major general in the U.S. Army. Her last assignment was as the commanding general of the 88th Regional Support Command at Fort McCoy, Wis., overseeing base operations for the Army Reserve across 19 states. As a civilian, she is a program vice president at the Logistics Management Institute with an ERP business modernization portfolio.
She graduated from UCM in 1983 with a degree in music, thinking she would become a professional violinist. Instead, she found a calling in the Army. Her first assignment in 1983 was the 1st Armored Division in Germany. After advanced officer training at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, she joined the 5th Infantry Division, 83d Army Reserve Command and 1st Brigade 2d ROTC Region, after which she transferred to the Army Reserve. In 1997, she mobilized and deployed to Germany, serving in the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, Logistics of the U.S. Army Europe in support of operation Joint Guard. Later, she was mobilized and deployed twice to Southwest Asia in support of military operations in Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom and New Dawn.
Her military leadership roles include serving as a company commander, deputy commander and commander (forward) of the Logistics Civil Augmentation Program Support Unit, G3 Operations 310th Expeditionary Sustainment Command, brigade commander of the 55th Sustainment Brigade, commanding general 103rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command, commanding general of the 94th Training Division, Commanding General of the Army Material Command – Southwest Asia and Third Army G4. Among her many decorations are the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Army Commendation Medal and Army Achievement Medal.
Rob Ruth keeps busy between his family, career, community, church and alma mater. This 1975 alumnus graduated from Warrensburg High School in 1971. At UCM, he pledged Sigma Phi Epsilon and was president of the Physical Education Club. He also was a four-year starter for Mules baseball and all-MIAA player in 1974-75, helping the team win the MIAA title and make its first appearance in the World Series. That 1974 team, including Ruth, is now a member of the UCM Athletic Hall of Fame.
Upon his UCM graduation, he was in charge of student recruitment for two years, starting the Student Ambassadors Program. His career with State Farm began in 1977 where he worked as an agent, agency manager, agency director and agency field executive until he retired in 2013. He served as president of the Columbia, Missouri, and Abilene, Texas, Life Underwriters Association and currently is a representative for Service King Collision Repair.
As a volunteer, he has been president of the UCM Alumni Association and served on the Board of Directors of the UCM Alumni Foundation. He also has played a major role in establishing and encouraging the growth of the DFW Mule Nation Alumni Club. In addition to generous gifts to the Fund for Excellence, Mules Baseball and various scholarships, he also is helping to advance the university’s future through his estate.
Chang Bin Yim is the retired vice president of Textile Rubber and Chemical, a chemical and technology company with manufacturing and distribution facilities throughout the world. He came to Warrensburg from Seoul, South Korea, and earned degrees in math and chemistry in 1963. After earning a master’s degree in statistics from the University of Missouri, he started his career with Textile Rubber.
While working his way to vice president, he started some 25 companies that involved exchanged goods between America and Asia. Through his side ventures, which most notably includes Numatex, Inc. in Japan, Korea Texacort in South Korea and Chanhua Company in China, he became a millionaire many times over. In 2000, he became involved with the Korean American Chamber of Commerce and served as its president from 2000-01. His job involved working with small and medium Korean manufacturing companies and helping to organize the 4,500-some Koreans who travel overseas to do business.
As a result of his achievements, Yim was awarded the Ellis Island Medal of Honor. Winners of this prestigious award are recognized by the U.S. Congress and listed in the Congressional Record. He also received the South Korean government’s highest honor, Mukkungwa, for his work. His ultimate goal is to unite South and North Korea and the 10 million families separated by the Korean War.
LaTanya Buck is the first person appointed as dean of diversity and inclusion at Princeton University, an Ivy League school considered one of the nation’s oldest and most prestigious. She holds two degrees from Central Missouri: a bachelor’s in public relations in 2002 and a master’s in college student personnel administration in 2004. She earned a Ph.D. in higher education administration from Saint Louis University.
Buck, originally from St. Louis, has made an impact on a variety of college campuses. Following stints at Maryville University, Missouri State and Morehead State, she became director of the Cross Cultural Center at Saint Louis University. She joined Washington University in St. Louis in 2014 where she founded the Center for Diversity and Inclusion.
Throughout her professional career, she has dedicated her work to developing strategic initiatives that engage and support students of color and other underrepresented and marginalized populations. She also has established collaborative partnerships to identify and create efforts to engage all students around identity, difference and inclusion. She is a member of ACPA College Student Educators International, the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education, and the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators, among others.
Tickets for the dinner can be reserved by visiting the UCM Alumni Foundation website at ucmfoundation.org/events-and-news/-distinguished-alumni-dinner. They also can be obtained by calling 660-543-8000 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.