CU Alumni Association announces CUAA Award honorees

The Cameron University Alumni Association is pleased to announce the winners of its 2014 Distinguished Alumni, Outstanding Young Alumni and Faculty Hall of Fame Awards, which will be presented during the university’s homecoming festivities. Commander (Ret.) Joseph Lawrence and Lonny Morrison will receive Distinguished Alumni Awards; Jennifer Meason and Steve Merchant have been named Outstanding Young Alumni; and Dr. Leon Fischer and Benson Warren will be inducted into the Cameron University Faculty Hall of Fame. The awards will be presented during the Aggie Family & Friends Awards Lunch on Saturday, March 1 in the McCasland Ballroom. The ceremony starts at Noon and is open to the public. Tickets are $15 and must be purchased in advance by calling 581-2988.

“The accomplishments and contributions of these six deserving award-winners reflect the best of Cameron University,” says Jennifer McGrail, Director, Cameron Office of Alumni Relations. “Their successes and achievements are representative of their alumni and faculty peers”

The Distinguished Alumni Award and the Outstanding Young Alumni Award are presented to former Cameron students who have made significant contributions to society and whose accomplishments have brought credit to Cameron by distinguishing themselves in their careers and/or in service to their communities and/or through continued support of Cameron University. The Distinguished Alumni Award is presented to Cameron alumni who are 40 years of age or older. The Outstanding Young Alumni Award is presented to Cameron alumni who are 39 years of age or younger. The Faculty Hall of Fame Award emphasizes teaching effectiveness, positive impact on students’ lives and involvement at Cameron outside of the classroom and in the community.

Distinguished Alumni Award: Commander (Ret.) Joseph Lawrence, PharmD, MBA, BCPS, FAPhA, MSC, U. S. Navy

Photo of Joseph LawrenceAlthough his time as a Cameron student was relatively short, attending CU from Summer 1990 to Summer 1992, Joseph Lawrence has gone on to maximize the educational background he received as an Aggie. After completing his general education requirements, Lawrence left Cameron to pursue a degree in pharmacy.

Prior to his recent retirement, Lawrence had risen to a top leadership position in the Department of Defense. A member of the U.S. Navy, he served as the director of the Department of Defense Pharmacoeconomic Center, where he oversaw the direct operational support for all DoD pharmacy points of service, including more than 57,000 military, community/retail and mail-order pharmacies.

Lawrence also served as the Designated Federal Officer (DFO) for the Uniform Formulary Beneficiary Advisory Panel, which reviews and comments on the development of the Uniform Formulary by the DoD Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee.

He is board-certified in Pharmacotherapy by the Board of Pharmacy Specialties and a Fellow of the American Pharmacist Association. Among the many honors he has been accorded throughout his distinguished career are the Navy Junior Pharmacist of the Year; the Navy Specialty Leader Award, and numerous Navy and Marine accolades.  

Distinguished Alumni Award: Lonny Morrison, Class of 1962

photo of Lonny MorrisonArriving at Cameron College in 1960, Lonny Morrison excelled both on the football field and in the classroom. He served as class president, ROTC company commander, a member of the student Senate and captain of the football team. After receiving an Associate of Arts degree from Cameron, he earned a B.A. from Washburn University, an M.B.A. from Oklahoma State University and a law degree from the University of Texas.

A member of Cameron’s 1961 national championship football team, Morrison was instrumental in the 2011 establishment of the Cameron University Foundation’s Endowed Scholarship of the 1961 Junior Rose Bowl and National Championship Football Team.

Morrison became a highly successful attorney with his own firm, Morrison & Shelton. His service to his profession was twice recognized by the State Bar of Texas with the Presidents’ Award, the highest honor awarded by the Bar to recognize exemplary service.

He served in leadership roles for numerous organizations, including the State Bar of Texas, the House of Delegates of the American Bar Association, the Texas Bar Foundation (of which he is a Fellow), and the Texas Commission for Lawyer Discipline. He is also a Fellow of the American Bar Association.

Retiring from his law practice in 2006, Morrison now operates Testa Rossa Ranch, Ltd. and Offenhauser Oil & Gas, LLC, an active exploration company.

Outstanding Young Alumni Award: Jennifer Meason, Class of 2000

photo of Jennifer MeasonJennifer Meason attended Cameron University as a Regional University Baccalaureate Scholar, pursing a Bachelor of Business Administration degree with a concentration in marketing and a minor in communications. Recognized as one of Cameron’s Top 20 Students, she began an internship with Cotton Electric Cooperative during her senior year that has resulted in a fulfilling career in the utility industry. She is currently Cotton Electric’s Vice President of Marketing and also serves as Chief Operating Officer at CESI, a company subsidiary.  She has shown her gratitude to Cameron by offering internships to CU students on numerous occasions.

Her contributions to Cotton Electric are lauded by CEO Warren Langford, who says, “Her academic background in business, marketing and communication has been a tremendous benefit to our customers. Because of Jennifer, our customer satisfaction rate is one of the highest in the industry.”

A member of the Walters Rotary Club, Meason served as the organization’s president in 2008. She remains active in numerous civic organizations throughout the state. Her professional affiliations include participation in the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s Management Internship Program and membership on the Touchstone Energy Strategic Communications Advisory Committee.

Outstanding Young Alumni Award: Steve Merchant, Class of 2000

As Vice Prephoto of Steve Merchantsident and General Manager of Renal Solutions, Inc./SORB Technology Division, Steve Merchant is impacting lives every day. The company is an industry leader in the development of sorbent-based hemodialysis systems, and Merchant’s product research and development has played a significant role in that reputation.

After graduating from Cameron in 2000 with a Bachelor of Science in chemistry, Merchant went on to earn a Master of Science and a Ph.D., both in chemical engineering. He joined Renal Solutions/SORB Technology in December 2007 as a product development project engineer. His research has resulted in the development of an FDA-approved sorbent device used with hemodialysis systems. He has also conducted research on medical devices as well as the area of materials/process.

He was promoted to his current position in August 2011, where his responsibilities include organization management and leadership, project management which includes multiple new product development projects under FDA-approved design controls, and intellectual property.

John J. Maholtz, Chief Operating Office of Renal Solutions, Inc., relates that Merchant “has earned an excellent reputation for his technical depth, problem-solving skills and relationship management abilities…There is no question that Dr. Merchant strives for excellence in everything that he does.”

Faculty Hall of Fame: Dr. Leon Fischer, Chair, Department of Agriculture and Mary Dixie Mullin Endowed Chair in Sciences, School of Science and Technology

phot oof Leon FischerNow in his 23rd year of service to Cameron University, Dr. Leon Fischer has become one of Cameron’s most respected faculty members. For Fischer, students come first.

“Dr. Fischer has demonstrated in his many years with Cameron that he can be more than just a teacher of men and women,” says student Pershon Davis. “He has set the example for others to follow in that it takes hard work and devotion to the job to become a leader, supervisor and mentor.”

Student Courtney Landoll says, “He takes the time to listen to what we have to say and always gives good advice. He pushes us to do well, not only in the classroom and campus activities, but in our lives as well.”

“Working and interacting with our students has been the truly special part of being a university faculty member,” Fischer says. “It has always been my goal to know who my students are and what theirs interests and goals are early on. I have always tried to impress on my students that we never quit learning and that we should learn something new every day of our lives.”

Faculty Hall of Fame: Benson Warren, Professor of Art, School of Liberal Arts

photo of Benson WarrenNot only has Benson Warren played an integral role in the growth of Cameron’s Department of Art, he has been equally influential in the university’s growth for the past 40 years. His knowledge, expertise in his field and contributions to the university have made a positive and lasting impact on the lives of his students, his peers and both the Cameron and Lawton communities.

Monika Linehan, a fellow faculty member and a CU alumna who was one of Warren’s students, has high praise for him. “Having known Benson for close to 40 years in the roles of teacher, mentor, fellow faculty member and friend, I can honestly speak to his competence, effectiveness and dedication to the teaching profession, the students and this university.”

Known for his expertise in bronze and iron casting, Warren has exhibited his work nationally in major invitational and juried exhibitions and has received numerous awards for his artwork. During the 1980s, he coordinated a series of artist-in-residence workshops in which nationally renowned sculptors created large-scale outdoor works with the participation of Cameron art students. Not only did this result in a rich and unique learning experience for the students, it was the start of Cameron’s outdoor sculpture collection.

Throughout his career, Warren has selflessly given of his time and expertise for the betterment of Cameron University.  He has served multiple terms, often in a leadership capacity, on numerous significant university committees. His service was recognized in 2010 when he received the first Excellence and Innovation in University Service Award.

For more information about the Cameron University Alumni Association, call 580-581-2988.

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February 17, 2014

PR# 14-032