Alumni and Faculty to Be Honored at 76th Annual Alumni Awards Celebration

The Arkansas Alumni Association will host its 76th annual Alumni Awards Celebration at 5:30 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 14, at the Fayetteville Town Center. 

During this annual awards ceremony, the association recognizes those individuals who continue to bring national and regional prominence to the U of A and the Arkansas Alumni Association through their research, exemplary public and community service, and valued leadership.

This year’s celebration will honor the accomplishments of 12 alumni, faculty and friends and includes recipients in seven award categories. This class of awardees was selected in 2020; however, the celebration in their honor was deferred until 2021 due to COVID-19.


The Citation of Distinguished Alumni recognizes exceptional professional and personal achievement and extraordinary distinction in a chosen field. The awardees are:

  • Pam McGinnis B.S.I.E.’90, vice president of global marketing for Phillips 66.
  • Barry Switzer B.S.B.A.’61, retired collegiate and professional football coach.
  • Mike Utley B.A.’69, musician, producer and composer.


The Andrew J. Lucas Alumni Service Award acknowledges significant contributions of time and energy on behalf of the university and the Alumni Association. The awardees are Rev. Leslie F. Belden B.Arch.’79, Ph.D.’05, stated clerk of Presbytery of Arkansas, and Ted Belden B.Arch.’81, owner and chairman of the board for LOMANCO.


The Community Service Award recognizes unselfish and extensive service by alumni to their community and to humankind. The awardee is Tjuana C. Byrd B.A.’91, attorney and 8th Division Circuit Court Judge Juvenile Division.


The Young Alumni Award recognizes exceptional achievements in career, public service and/or volunteer activities that bring honor to the U of A. The honoree is Olivera Jankovska B.S.A.’09, director of the Mayor’s Office of Education for the city of Houston.


The Honorary Alumni Award is presented to non-alumni who have served, promoted, developed and loved the U of A in the tradition of an Arkansas graduate. This year the association pays tribute to Rear Adm. Mike Johnson, associate vice chancellor emeritus for facilities/professor emeritus civil engineering at the U of A.


The Distinguished Faculty Achievement Award recognizes exceptional faculty members for teaching, research and service.

  • For achievement in service, Ro Di Brezzo, former university professor in the Department of Health, Human Performance and Recreation in the College of Education and Health Professions. 
  • For achievement in research, Greg Thoma B.S.Che.’80, M.S.Che.’86, professor in the Ralph E. Martin Department of Chemical Engineering in the College of Engineering.
  • The rising teaching award, Benjamin Runkle, associate professor of Biological and Agricultural Engineering in the College of Engineering.


The Charles and Nadine Baum Faculty Teaching Award recognizes outstanding teaching and is designated for a faculty member whose status is professor, University Professor or Distinguished Professor. The awardee is Jeannie Whayne, University Professor in the Department of History in the Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences.

About the Arkansas Alumni Association: The Arkansas Alumni Association Inc. is a not-for-profit organization that seeks to connect alumni, friends and students to the University of Arkansas. The association’s mission is to connect and serve the University of Arkansas family.

About the University of Arkansas: As Arkansas' flagship institution, the U of A provides an internationally competitive education in more than 200 academic programs. Founded in 1871, the U of A contributes more than $2.2 billion to Arkansas’ economy through the teaching of new knowledge and skills, entrepreneurship and job development, discovery through research and creative activity while also providing training for professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the U of A among the top 3% of U.S. colleges and universities with the highest level of research activity. U.S. News & World Report ranks the U of A among the top public universities in the nation. See how the U of A works to build a better world at Arkansas Research News.


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