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K-State Today

August 28, 2012



Honoring the best: College of Human Ecology recognizing outstanding alumni at celebration of excellence Sept. 6

By Communications and Marketing

The College of Human Ecology at Kansas State University will recognize six alumni and one company at a dinner in their honor on Thursday, Sept. 6, at Justin Hall.

The event will kick off the college's Celebration of Excellence. At 2 p.m. Friday, Sept. 7, the new $5 million, privately-funded expansion to Justin Hall will be dedicated.

The annual awards pay tribute to alumni who have made significant professional contributions to their fields.

"We are recognizing highly accomplished alumni and friends who give back to our students and enrich their education in our college," said Virginia Moxley, dean. "This year's honorees work in a broad range of fields, from medicine to gerontology. We are proud to celebrate these accomplishments."

Honorees and their awards are:

  • Scott Rice Office Works, Partner Award. The partnership between Kansas State University's department of apparel, textiles and interior design and Scott Rice Office Works began more than a decade ago. The company hires graduates from the department, provides internships and tours to student groups each year, hosts "hot careers nights" to recruit students to the university and the interior design major, and hosts meetings of the interior design program's Professional Advisory Board. David Dieckman, organizational space strategist for Scott Rice Office Works in Lenexa, served on the Interior Design Professional Advisory Board for more than 10 years.  This year the company helped the College of Human Ecology acquire furniture for the Justin Hall expansion. Ron Burns, vice president of marketing and business development, heads the Manhattan office, which opened in May. The local team includes university alumnae Kristen Just, director of business development and interior design solutions, who is an interior design graduate; and Natalie Shoemaker, lead designer, who has a master's degree.
  • Mary Vanier, Friend of the College Award. A 1989 graduate in hotel and restaurant management, Vanier is president of Grand Mere Development Inc. in Manhattan. Before returning to Manhattan in 1999, she worked at The Broadmoor Resort in Colorado Springs, Colo., in special events, marketing and public relations. Among her awards is the North American Interfraternity Conference Foundation's Outstanding Philanthropist Award for her exceptional generosity and philanthropic leadership within the Greek community on a national and international level. She has established endowments and provided leadership for the Gamma Phi Beta International Society and its Kansas State University chapter. At the university she has made significant gifts to the Johnson Cancer Research Center, the Golf Course Management and Research Foundation and Kansas State Athletics. She donated land for Manhattan's first hospice, the Good Shepherd Hospice House. Vanier currently serves on the board of Boys and Girls Club of Manhattan, Kansas State University Foundation and the Gamma Phi Beta Foundation. She is a founder of the Manhattan Community Foundation and the Flint Hills Area Panhellenic Association, and has served on the boards of Kansas 4-H Foundation, Manhattan Area Chamber of Commerce, St. John's Military School and Mercy Health Foundation.
  • Shawn Sullivan, Public Advocacy Award. As secretary of the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services in Topeka, Sullivan heads a $1.67 billion dollar state agency responsible for promoting the security, dignity and independence of older adults and persons with disabilities. Prior to heading the state agency, Sullivan was an award-winning administrator and executive director of four different aging service providers, helping lead the way for transforming senior-living communities from traditional institutions to residential homes where elders make decisions about their own lives. Sullivan has a bachelor's degree in management and secondary major in gerontology from Kansas State University and a master's degree in gerontology from the University of North Texas.
  • Josh Umbehr, Young Professional Award. A board-certified family physician, who graduated from Kansas State University with a degree in human nutrition in 2003, owns Atlas MD Concierge Family Practice in Wichita. At the university he minored in biology and conducted research on the effects of vitamin A on lung cancer. After graduation from the University of Kansas School of Medicine, Umbehr completed his internship and residency with Wesley Family Medicine in Wichita. He is involved with the Wichita Down Syndrome Society and is a board member of Rainbows United, a developmental training center for children with special needs. The award honors significant contributions in the field of human ecology by a graduate in the early stages of a career.
  • Diane Parks, Executive Leadership Award. Vice president of sales in the nephrology unit at Amgen, Parks has been an executive for large pharmaceutical and biotech companies for more than 30 years. The native Kansan received a bachelor's degree from Kansas State University in fashion merchandising in 1974. She received a master's in business administration marketing from Georgia State University. She joined Amgen, a multinational biopharmaceutical company headquartered in Thousand Oaks, Calif., in 2007. As vice president of sales for the hospital and health systems team, she and her team represent oncology and nephrology products. Parks is a strong advocate for developing women as leaders.
  • Nancy Scally, Entrepreneur Award. Scally grew up on the family farm and ranch in western Kansas and graduated in 1983 from Kansas State University with a degree in dietetics. Today, she owns an electrical engineering company called Colorado Engineering Inc. in Colorado Springs, Colo. The company develops high-end electronics systems for the U.S. Department of Defense. Currently the company is designing, fabricating, testing and integrating a pulsed Doppler radar for the Air Force's Global Hawk unmanned air vehicle program. In 2011, Scally received the Small Business Administration's Tibbetts Award for exemplifying the best in the small innovative business research programs. The company's Mentor Protege program received the Department of Defense's Nunn-Perry Award.
  • Lora Gilbert, Distinguished Service Award. As senior director of food and nutrition services for the Orange County, Fla., Public Schools, Gilbert works with an annual budget of about $76 million, serving nearly 157,000 meals a day to students. For her work she has received the Silver Plate Award in School Food Service from the International Food Manufacturers Association, considered one of the food service industry's highest recognitions, and the Golden School Food Service Director of the Year Award, the top honor at the 22nd annual National Foodservice Achievement Management Excellence award program. Gilbert received her master's degree in 1981 from Kansas State University in human nutrition. She has worked as a nutritionist for the Northwest Area Agency on Aging, Salina Family Physicians as clinical dietitian and Schwan's as a corporate nutritionist.