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Alumni and faculty honored by Mizzou Alumni Association

November 7th, 2018

Story Contact: Sheena Rice, 573-882-8353,

By Erica Jones

COLUMBIA, Mo. – The Mizzou Alumni Association will honor 14 distinguished faculty and alumni at the 51st annual Faculty-Alumni Awards Ceremony on Nov. 9.

The 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.

Catherine A. Allen, BS ’68 and DHL ’05, chairwoman and chief executive officer of The Santa Fe Group, will receive the 63rd Distinguished Service Award.

Allen has been an outstanding leader in business innovation, technology strategy and the financial services industry. Allen was the founding CEO of BITS, a financial services industry consortium. Earlier in her career, Allen served in several senior executive positions at Citicorp and Dun & Bradstreet and was a consultant to CBS, Inc. She represented Citibank as founding chair and president of the multi-industry Smart Card Forum. She currently serves as a board member of Synovus Financial Corporation, El Paso Electric Company and Belief Agency. She also serves as the Chair of the Security Committee for El Paso Electric. She formerly sat on the Advisory Committee for Houlihan Lokey and served on the boards of Stewarts Information Services, NBS Technologies, Analytics Pros and 3G Technologies. Since 2013, she has served as a member of the Dean’s Strategic Leadership Council for the MU College of Human Environmental Sciences. She co-founded the Mizzou Alumni Association’s Griffith’s Leadership Society for Women in 2005, and she received the Society’s Spirit of Martha Leadership Award in 2015.

James A. Birchler, Curators’ Distinguished Professor of Biological Sciences, will receive the 59th Distinguished Faculty Award.

Birchler has made experimental and theoretical contributions to genetic studies of both the maize and fruit fly systems. He is recognized for developing the first engineered synthetic plant chromosomes, a technology that promises to have many applications in science. His work has been cited more than 14,000 times and he has written more than 250 scientific articles and book chapters, including three in Science Magazine and 10 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. His studies have provided insight into gene silencing, centromere epigenetics, heterosis, dosage compensation, aneuploidy syndromes and the evolutionary fate of gene duplications. MIZZOU Magazine named him a “Mizzou Teaching Legend.” In 2017, he was named the Southeastern Conference Professor of the Year. He has mentored more than 20 graduate students and has supervised 37 post-doctoral fellows and 46 undergraduate research students in his lab. Birchler taught at Harvard University before joining Mizzou’s faculty in 1991. Through many honors and awards, he has been recognized for his tangible impact on the quality of life, economic development and welfare of society.

Mizzou alumni honored for their professional achievements and service to their community and alma mater are the recipients of the 51st Alumni Award.

Glenn A. Blumhorst, BS ’85 and MPA ’87, president and chief executive officer of National Peace Corps Association

Jim Fitterling, BS ’83, chief executive officer of The Dow Chemical Company and chief operating officer of the Materials Science Division of DowDuPont

Elsa J. Hennings, BS ’82, senior systems engineer at Naval Air Warfare Center

Bobbette K. Ranney, BS ’65, retired clinical professor of pediatrics at the University of Colorado

Richard Webber, BS BA ’64 and JD ’67, senior United States district judge for the eastern district of Missouri

Bruce P. Whittle, DVM ’94, veterinarian at Honey Creek Veterinary Hospital in Trenton, Missouri

Mizzou faculty members honored for their work in the classroom, research endeavors and relationships with students are the recipients of the 51st Faculty Award.

Lori S. Eggert, professor of biological sciences and director of graduate studies in the Division of Biological Sciences

Anne-Marie C. Foley, BA ’82, MA ’84 and ’86, and PhD ’92, founder and director of the Office of Service-Learning at MU

Rafael Gely, James E. Campbell Missouri Endowed Professor of Law and director of the Center for the Study of Dispute Resolution in the School of Law

Debra Parker Oliver, MSW ’85 and PhD ’00, Paul Revere Family professor of family and community medicine

James Sanford “Sandy” Rikoon, dean of the College of Human Environmental Sciences, Curators’ Distinguished Teaching Professor of rural sociology and director of Interdisciplinary Center for Food Security

Stacey Woelfel, BJ ’81, MA ’90 and PhD ’06, professor of radio-television journalism and director of Jonathon B. Murray Center for Documentary Journalism

The Mizzou Alumni Association strengthens Mizzou by supporting the best interests and traditions of Missouri’s flagship university. It serves as the voice for nearly 318,000 Mizzou alumni worldwide, keeping alumni connected to each other and their alma mater.