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Fourteen Faculty and Alumni Honored at MU Awards Ceremony

October 9th, 2014

Story Contact: Nathan Hurst, 573-882-6217,

By Sarah Clinton

COLUMBIA, Mo. – The Mizzou Alumni Association (MAA) will honor 14 outstanding faculty and alumni at its 47th annual Faculty-Alumni Awards Ceremony on Oct. 10 in the Reynolds Alumni Center. The Distinguished Service Award, Distinguished Faculty Award and 12 Faculty-Alumni Awards will be presented to outstanding MU faculty and alumni.

Harvey P. Eisen, who earned a bachelor’s degree from the MU Trulaske College of Business in 1964, will receive the 58th annual Distinguished Service Award, the highest honor presented to an alumnus by the MAA. Established in 1956, the award recognizes outstanding service by an individual whose efforts have added to MU’s excellence.

Eisen, who has more than 30 years of asset management experience, is one of the leading investment professionals in the country and was a regular panelist on “Wall Street Week with Louis Rukeyser” for more than 20 years. His opinions on the direction of the global economy have been published by national media including The Wall Street Journal, Business Week, CNBC, Bloomberg Television, Fox Business News and CNN. After the market crash in 1987, The New York Times published a front-page article about Eisen, “Market Turmoil; Back In: The Strategy of One Trader.” Eisen has played a significant role in enhancing the prestige of the Trulaske College of Business through his contributions as a curriculum innovator, financial supporter of Cornell Hall and member of the Strategic Development Board since 1996. More than a decade ago he developed the idea for a new course, “Investment Strategies of Warren Buffett,” and worked with the Department of Finance and Mr. Buffett to establish it. Eisen served as Vaughn Executive in Residence at the Trulaske College of Business in 1994-1995 and received the college’s citation of merit in 1997. Eisen received a Faculty-Alumni Award in 2001 and was a member of the For All We Call Mizzou Capital Campaign Committee from 2002-2009. Throughout his career, Eisen has held executive positions with companies including Primerica, SunAmerica Corp. and Integrated Resources Asset Management, and was a senior vice president for Travelers, Inc. Eisen is a Jefferson Club Ambassador and Davenport Society patron and is a member of the Columns Society and the Mizzou Alumni Association.

Marilyn J. Rantz, Curators’ Professor at the MU Sinclair School of Nursing, will be honored with the 54th annual Distinguished Faculty Award, the highest honor presented to a faculty member by the MAA. Established in 1960, the award recognizes a faculty member whose sustained efforts in teaching, research and service have added to MU’s excellence. The award places special emphasis on the recipient’s relationships with students.

Rantz is a recognized gerontology researcher who has been at the forefront of developing knowledge about quality care in nursing home settings for 30 years. She serves as associate director for the Interdisciplinary Center on Aging at MU and is the executive director of the Aging in Place Initiative, which won the American Academy of Nursing Edge Runner Award in 2008. Her team’s research at TigerPlace continuously leads to the development of new technologies to assist older adults in remaining independent, active and healthy. TigerPlace, an innovative independent living environment for local senior citizens, also provides opportunities for students from diverse professional areas to interact with older adults.

In 2012 Rantz secured a $14.8 million grant, the largest ever received by MU, for her team’s initiative to reduce avoidable hospitalizations among nursing facility residents. Rantz, a professor in the MU Department of Family and Community Medicine, was inducted as a fellow into the Gerontological Society of America in 2007 and was accepted into the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies of Science in 2012. She has received numerous awards throughout her career, including a 2006 Faculty-Alumni Award, four Book of the Year Awards from the American Journal of Nursing, the National Gerontological Nursing Association Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Distinguished Contribution to Research Award from the Midwest Nursing Research Society. Rantz received the Nurse Leader in Aging Award from the American Academy of Nursing in 2011, and in 2012, became the only individual to receive the Edge Runner Award for two different innovations. Rantz is an ambassador for the Jefferson Club and Nightingale Society and is a member of the MU Legacy Society and the Mizzou Alumni Association.

MAA Faculty-Alumni Awards recognize the achievements of faculty and alumni. Assistant, associate and full professors are considered for their work as teachers and researchers and their relationships with students. Alumni are considered for their professional accomplishments and service to their communities and alma mater. This year, 12 awards will be presented:

  • Denny Alberts, BA ’71, BS BA ’71, MBA ’72; Trulaske College of Business; president and CEO of Silverstone Capital Group, LLC (alumnus).
  • Morris F. Burger, BS ’57; College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources; chairman of the board for Burgers’ Smokehouse; (alumnus).
  • Margaret E. Duffy, professor and chair of strategic communication; School of Journalism (faculty member).
  • Stephen Paul Ferris, professor of finance and J.H. Rogers Chair of Money, Credit and Banking; Trulaske College of Business (faculty member).
  • Wanona S. Fritz, BSN ’68; Sinclair School of Nursing; senior vice president of operations and clinical services for HCCA Management Company (alumna).
  • Jerry Dale Kennett, MD ’73; School of Medicine; senior partner and cardiovascular specialist at the Missouri Heart Center (alumnus).
  • Mitchell S. McKinney, professor and chair of the Department of Communication for the College of Arts & Science (faculty member).
  • Donna C. Otto, BS Nursing ’72, MS(N) ’81; Sinclair School of Nursing; emerita teaching instructor at the Sinclair School of Nursing (faculty member).
  • Vicki S. Russell, BJ ’72; School of Journalism; publisher at the Tribune Publishing Company; (alumna).
  • Jeremy F. Taylor, Curators’ Distinguished Professor of Genetics and Wurdack Chair of Animal Genomics at the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources (faculty member).
  • James Garrett Thorne, Sr, BS ’60, DVM ’61; College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, College of Veterinary Medicine; associate professor emeritus of veterinary pathobiology (alumnus).
  • Michael Anthony Williams, BA ’95, JD ’98; College of Arts and Science; School of Law; principal attorney and practice manager at Williams Dirks LLC (alumnus).

(NOTE: Biographies of the Faculty-Alumni Award winners are available upon request.)

The Mizzou Alumni Association (MAA) strengthens MU by supporting the best interests and traditions of Missouri’s flagship university. MU is the state’s largest and oldest university and the state’s major public, land-grant research institution. The MAA, the voice for nearly 270,000 MU alumni worldwide, keeps alumni connected to each other and their alma mater. Since 1853, the MAA has influenced generations of students and alumni by preserving their traditions.

The MAA Faculty-Alumni Awards celebrate outstanding faculty and alumni who work to advance the arts, sciences and humanities. At Mizzou, scholarship and teaching are driven by a responsibility to public service—the obligation to produce and disseminate knowledge that will improve the quality of life in the state, the nation and the world.