Alumni Association Honoring Alumni, Faculty with 2013 Merit Awards


CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., Oct. 14, 2013 — Seven alumni and one faculty member will receive Merit Awards presented by the Southeast Missouri State University Alumni Association Oct. 25 at the Copper Dome Society/Merit Recognition Program during the Homecoming celebration.

Since 1958, Alumni Merit Awards have been presented to Southeast graduates who have brought distinction to themselves and the University.

This year’s Alumni Merit Award recipients are: Cynthia Boren, ’75, of Alexandria, Va., deputy sports editor of The Washington Post; Dr. Bernard DuBray, ’69, of St. Peters, Mo., superintendent of the Fort Zumwalt School District in O’Fallon, Mo.; Dr. Julie Harper, ’91, of Birmingham, Ala., practicing dermatologist and associate professor of dermatology at the University of Alabama-Birmingham and founding director of the American Acne and Rosacea Society; Rodney Hudson, ’71, of Syracuse, N.Y., a faculty member with the Syracuse University Drama Department; Dr. Randal Otto, ’77, MD, FACS, of San Antonio, Texas, professor and chair of the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio; Jim Piatchek, ’63, of Lakeland, Tenn., co-founder and chief executive officer of the Senior Advisory Group and The Professional Disturber as well as a Chartered Life Underwriter, a Chartered Financial Consultant and a Chartered Mutual Fund Counselor; and Dennis J. Kehm, ‘65, of Festus, Mo., retired Circuit Judge, 23rd Judicial Circuit, Division 4, Jefferson County, Missouri.

Receiving the Faculty Merit award will be Dr. Michael Aide, professor of agriculture and chair of the Department of Agriculture at Southeast.

Cynthia Boren 

Boren, a 1975 Southeast graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in English, is deputy sports editor of The Washington Post, focusing on real-time national and local sports coverage.

She has spent her career in journalism as a sportswriter and sports editor and considers herself extraordinarily lucky to be paid to watch sports and think about sports all day — and most evenings. She has worked as a writer and editor at every stop, Kansas City, St. Louis, Hartford, New York City and Washington, D.C. Since 2000, she has been employed at The Washington Post, where she began as the editor in charge of baseball, NFL and Redskins coverage. For the last three years, she has written The Early Lead for the Post as well as contributing to Redskins game coverage. Her present mission has been helping The Post meet the challenge of advancing into the digital age by taking content, community access, commentary and analysis across all platforms — to the Web, mobile devices and social media.

Dr. Bernard DuBray

DuBray, a 1969 Southeast graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Education with a double major in social science and history and a minor in biology, is superintendent in the Fort Zumwalt School District in O’Fallon, Mo.

Subsequently, he received two master’s degrees from the University of Missouri-St. Louis in 1974 and 1977. He received a Doctor of Education in 1984 from the University of Missouri-Columbia.

He is completing 45 years as an educator in three Missouri school districts. During his career, he has served as a teacher, coach, principal, assistant superintendent and most recently, superintendent. This year is his 29th year as superintendent in the Fort Zumwalt School District, and he is currently the longest serving superintendent in the same K-12 school district in the state of Missouri. At the district office level, he has experience in special education, personnel, finance, public relations, federal programs and curriculum.

DuBray has been the subject of three resolutions by the Missouri House of Representatives and numerous awards from organizations including the Boy Scouts of America, the St. Charles County Amateur Sports Hall of Fame, the St. Charles Business Magazine, Phi Delta Kappa, the St. Peters Chamber of Commerce and the Southeast Missouri State University Alumni Association.

He currently serves as chairman of the board for the Missouri United Schools Insurance Council (M.U.S.I.C.), vice chairman of the Great Rivers Greenway District and chairman of the Twin Rivers District of Learning for Life Scouting. He is a current and contributing member to the Greater St. Charles County Chamber of Commerce, the O’Fallon Chamber of Commerce and the St. Louis Regional Chamber.

He has been married for 45 years to his wife, JoAnn, and has three children who are all graduates of the Fort Zumwalt School District and currently in professional positions.

He says he is most proud of directing the school district through a rapid growth period that has seen the district become the sixth largest in the state with nearly 19,000 students. During that time, the district has passed $315 million in bond issues to support the growth and seven tax increases for operating expenses. He has been directly involved in designing and constructing eight elementary schools, two middle schools and four high schools.

Dr. Julie Harper

Harper, a 1991 Southeast graduate with a Bachelor of Science in interdisciplinary studies, is a practicing dermatologist and associate professor of dermatology at the University of Alabama-Birmingham and founding director of the American Acne and Rosacea Society.

After completing her studies at Southeast, Harper earned a medical degree from the University of Missouri in 1996.

She was elected, based on her academic performance, into the prestigious Alpha Omega Alpha honor society and was the vice president of her senior medical school class. She completed an internship in Internal Medicine and a dermatology residency at the University of Missouri. Upon completion of her medical training she joined the faculty of the University of Alabama-Birmingham and was promoted to associate professor of dermatology during her tenure at the university.

Harper is now in a private dermatology practice in Birmingham where she treats skin cancer, acne, eczema and other common and not-so-common dermatology maladies.

She is widely published in the medical literature and frequently quoted in the lay press. She lectures across the country, South America and Europe and has even made red carpet appearances at the Grammy Awards, SAG Awards and the Oscars. Most recently, she was cast in the CeraVe skin care national television advertisement.

Harper is respected as a national and international thought leader in acne and rosacea disorders, and is a fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology. She volunteers at annual free skin cancer screenings in her community, teaches Sunday school and recently participated in a medical mission trip to Urubamba, Peru.

Harper was named Cape County’s Junior Miss and Missouri’s Junior Miss in 1987, giving her a full four-year scholarship to Southeast Missouri State University.

Harper says Southeast was part of Harper’s life even before matriculation. She took private oboe lessons for many years in the Department of Music and attended summer marching auxilliaries camps on campus. Her older sister and now brother-in-law both earned degrees from Southeast and another sister, brother, mother and two nieces have also graduated from the University.

She was a member of the Phi Eta Sigma, Alpha Chi and Beta Beta Beta biological honor societies. While at Southeast, she was involved in the Student Government Association and was elected Student Government treasurer. She completed the Emerging Leaders program and was active in the Baptist Student Union and College Republicans. Off campus, she competed in the Miss Missouri pageant for two years and enjoyed traveling the state and performing with the Missouri Girls.

Harper is married to Vincent Pappalardo and has two children, Luke, 9, and Claire, 7. She is the daughter of Paul and Pam Harper.

Rodney Hudson

Hudson, a 1971 Southeast graduate with a Bachelor of Music Education, has been a faculty member in the Syracuse University Drama Department for 20 years, teaching musical theatre performance, acting and directing. Over the years, he has distinguished himself as an actor playing principal roles in a number of regional theatres and festivals. He also has performed with several orchestras and operas and has had television and film roles.

He attributes his success to his Southeast professors, Doyle Dumas and Donald Schulte, who encouraged him to pursue a professional career, now lasting nearly 40 years.

After graduating from Southeast, Hudson completed a master’s degree in theatre in 1974 at the University of South Dakota. He headed to New York City in 1975 after earning his Equity card. Finding a theatre home base in Greenwich Village’s 31 Perry Street Theatre, Hudson acted the title character in Eugene O’Neill’s “The Emperor Jones” directed by Schulte. He acted at Joseph Papp’s Public Theatre with composer/director Elizabeth Swados in her “Dispatches” and “Alice in Wonderland,” playing multiple characters opposite Meryl Streep’s “Alice,” later televised by NBC as “Alice at the Palace.” He also played Calchas in director Andrei Serban’s Greek tragedy “Agamemnon” at Lincoln Center.

In the late 1980s, Hudson joined the acting company of Harvard University’s American Repertory Theatre for three seasons, performing Servan’s “The King Stag” and Samuel Beckett’s “Endgame.” Hudson also worked with theatre auteur, Robert Wilson, in his “Alcestis,” playing Death, which won Best Foreign Production at the Autumn Festival in Paris in 1987.

A “character-actor gypsy,” Hudson has spent years on the regional theatre circuit. He has performed 15 Shakespearean roles, including Bolingbroke in “Richard II” in the Actor’s Outlet in New York City, Bottom in “A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream” in the Williamstown Theatre Festival, Malvolio in “Twelfth Night” on the Syracuse Stage, Don Pedro in “Much Ado About Nothing” at the La Jolla Playhouse and Boyet in “Love’s Labours Lost.” He also has played dramatic roles, including Lenny in “Of Mice and Men” at the Cider Mill Playhouse, Mephistopheles in “Faust” at the 31 Perry Street Theatre, Big Daddy in “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” at Theatre Virginia and Bynum in “Joe Turner’s Come and Gone” at Theatre Virginia.

A lyric tenor, Hudson has performed musical roles as Tony in “West Side Story” at the Black Hills Playhouse, Captain Hook in “Peter Pan,” Fagin in “Oliver!” and the Cowardly Lion in “The Wizard of Oz” on the all Syracuse Stage, Macheath in “The Threepenny Opera” with the Canadian Stage Company in Toronto and Leading Player in “Pippin” with the Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera.

Hudson has sung Broadway repertoire with the Minnesota Orchestra, St. Louis Symphony, 92nd Street Y and Houston Symphony, Omaha Philharmonic, Buffalo Philharmonic, Milwaukee Symphony, Indianapolis Symphony, Phoenix Symphony and the New Jersey Symphony.

He was a series regular in NBC’s “Marblehead Manor, and his acting in the short film, “A Lady in Waiting” won an Academy Award nomination in 1992.

Dennis J. Kehm 

Kehm, a 1965 Southeast graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Education-secondary with majors in history and social science, is a retired Circuit Judge, 23rd Judicial Circuit, Division 4, Jefferson County, Missouri.

Kehm is a native of St. Louis. He attended the University of Missouri Normandy Residence Center, renamed the University of Missouri-St. Louis in 1960 before entering Southeast Missouri State College, now Southeast Missouri State University, in 1962. He graduated in 1965 with a Bachelor of Science in Education-secondary with majors in history and social science.

The next year he pursued a course of study at Washington University in Chinese and Japanese history and Japanese language. He then took a job with the Hillsboro R-III School District as a history teacher. He taught high school the next three years. It was while teaching that he met, fell in love and married his wife Dorothea.

In September 1969, he entered law school at the University of Missouri at Kansas City and graduated with a Juris Doctorate in 1972.

He was in private practice until returning to Jefferson County as an assistant prosecuting attorney. He served as a Prosecuting Attorney until he was elected Circuit Judge in 1986. During his 20 years on the bench in a court of general jurisdiction, he served as Presiding Judge, Judge of the Family Court, Probate and Juvenile Judge and Administrative Judge of the Family Court. He retired on Jan. 1, 2007, and served as a judicial educator and consultant thereafter.

Kehm and his wife Dorothea, a career educator, have been fortunate to work together on a number of innovative programs for the benefit of young people. They continue to work is this area as volunteers and are proud of their careers in public service.

While serving as the Chair of the Family Courts Committee of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, he hosted five national conferences on the Family Court. He also has worked in the field of domestic violence as an instructor, consultant and author. A life member of the Missouri Juvenile Justice Association, he is recipient of the prestigious Andrew Jackson Higgins Award for Excellence in Juvenile Justice. Kehm has been a member of the Missouri Division of Youth Services Statewide Advisory Board for more than 20 years and president of the Board for 10 years. He was a recipient of the Southeast Salutes Award in 2003. He is a board member and immediate past president of the Jefferson College Foundation.

Kehm and his wife have two children, Laura Flannery and Dennis Kehm, Jr., and five grandchildren.

Kehm says Southeast was a great learning experience in working with others. His mentors, Dr. Thomas Davis, Dr. George Ketcham and Dr. Thomas Isreal, imbued him with a sense of duty to students and provided exceptional support during difficult times. Kehm is a life member and former trustee of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges.

“The Alumni Merit Award means a great deal to me. I attribute my desire to continue my education, my work ethic, my devotion to public service together with any success I have achieved to my years at Southeast,” Kehm said.

Dr. Randal Otto

Otto, a 1977 Southeast graduate with a degree in chemistry, is professor and chair of the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, Texas, a position he has held since 2001. He holds the department’s Thomas Walthall Folbre, M.D. Endowed Chair.

“Education empowers, and SEMO was one of the many blessings I have received,” he said.

A Sikeston, Mo., native, Otto went on to earn a medical degree from the University of Missouri School of Medicine, followed by internships in pathology at the University of Hawaii and General Surgery at the University of Missouri School of Medicine with residency training in otolaryngology-head and neck surgery. His research interests are in head and neck oncology, diseases of the thyroid and parathyroid, and paranasal sinus disease; lecturing nationally and internationally on these topics. He previously has served as physician in chief of the Cancer Therapy and Research Center in San Antonio and has served as Major in the U.S. Army Reserve. He is an active participant of international medical missions and co-founded, with his wife, the Magdalena House-a shelter for battered women and children located in San Antonio Texas. He has been honored many times, including being selected as a member of the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society, a professional medical organization recognizing and advocating for excellence in scholarship and the highest ideals in the profession of medicine. He has also been consistently selected among the Best Doctors in America; America’s Top Doctors and America’s Top Doctors for Cancer over the last decade.

He is a member of the board of the Association of Academic Departments of Otolaryngology and Strong Missions, a fellow of the Triological Society, American Society for Head and Neck Surgery, the American College of Surgeons and the American Board of Otolaryngology and a member of the of the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, Bexar County Medical Society, the Society of University Otolaryngologists-Head and Neck Surgeons and the Texas Medical Association.

Jim Piatchek 

Piatchek is a 1963 Southeast graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a major in marketing and a minor in economics. He, with his wife, Sally, is the co-founder and chief executive officer of the Senior Advisory Retirement Coach and The Professional Disturber. He is a Chartered Life Underwriter, a Chartered Financial Consultant and a Chartered Mutual Fund Counselor.

He is a nationally recognized author, financial advisor and motivational speaker. He also is a member of the Million Dollar Round Table, an honor received by less than one percent of the world’s most successful insurance and financial services professionals in 76 nations and territories. He has qualified for “Top of the Table,” which means he earns at least six times the base production required to be in the Round Table.

He has 40 years of business experience in sales and marketing. He and his wife, Sally, have conducted hundreds of retirement seminars for seniors and pre-retirees and reached thousands of individuals seeking financial advice before and during retirement. Piatchek started his own publishing company, “The Professional Disturber,” in 2004, the name under which his four books, CDs and DVDs are published. In 2011, he was named the “5 Star” Professional Wealth Manager of the Year by Memphis Magazine. Piatchek and his company also were selected for the “2013 Best of Memphis Award.”

He has been recognized by “Who’s Who” among Executives and Professionals and has been a member of the International Association of Financial Planners, Shelby County Council on Aging, The Memphis Estate Planning Council and the National and Memphis Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors. A member of the National Ethics Bureau, Piatchek has hired and trained more than 1,000 professional advisors.

Piatchek currently serves on the Southeast Missouri State University Alumni Association Board of Directors. He founded the Memphis Alumni Association, established an annual scholarship program for needy students and is a member of the Copper Dome Society and the President’s Council at the Heritage Club level. In addition, he and his wife have donated and furnished a separate wing of entrepreneurial books, materials and courses to the University’s Douglas C. Greene Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and Piatchek has spoken to students and faculty in Southeast’s Donald L. Harrison College of Business. He is also known for forming a group of students who dribbled a basketball 180 miles to Evansville, Ind., for the NCAA College Division National Tournament for the 1960-1961 men’s basketball team which recently was inducted into the University Hall of Fame. This event has been featured in his book, “Winning the Rejection Olympics” with many articles published in newspapers and the Center for Regional History.

He is a permanent ordained deacon in the West Tennessee Catholic Diocese, serving St. Francis of Assisi and St. Brigid parishes in Memphis, and is the director of the St. Vincent de Paul Food Mission in Memphis that serves up to 250 homeless every day. He was also a founding member and first president of the Big Brothers/Big Sisters in Mississippi and the originator and first chairman of the St. Francis of Assisi Oktoberfest, the largest in the Mid-South.

Piatchek and his wife, Sally, are ardent St. Louis Cardinals fans, motorcyclists and avid runners. They have five children and four grandchildren, and are 30-year residents of the Mid-South.

Dr. Michael Aide 

Receiving this year’s Faculty Merit Award will be Dr. Michael Aide. The Faculty Merit Award is presented for excellence in teaching.

Aide is an educator and scientist devoted to introducing students to the discipline of soil science and crop production. He has undergraduate degrees in mathematics, chemistry and soil science from the University of Wisconsin and graduate degrees in soil chemistry from Mississippi State University.

Aide’s professional life began in 1982 when he accepted an assistant professor position in the Department of Agriculture at Southeast. Now as chair of the department, he oversees development of the department’s faculty, programs and auxiliaries. The Department of Agriculture’s teaching and research holdings include the David M. Barton Agriculture Research Center, the Charles Hutson Horticulture Greenhouse, the Charles Nemanick Alternative Agriculture Garden and the Biomass/Biofuels Research and Demonstration Field at Southeast’s Sikeston campus.

He also administers the agribusiness program at Southeast’s Sikeston, Malden and Kennett, Mo., campuses. The Bootheel agribusiness program was launched in 2010 and has served as a major boost to the plant and soil sciences curriculum.

Aide and Southeast’s agriculture faculty support the Missouri Rice Research and Merchandising Council in operating the Missouri Rice Research Farm and the Missouri Rice Breeding Program.

Aide’s research interests are soil chemistry and rice soil fertility. He teaches courses on soils, soil fertility and plant nutrition, plant pathology, weed science and water management. He is the author of numerous grants, all of which serve the interests of the Department of Agriculture and Southeast.

Recently, he has had several articles published on modeling of lead (Pb) speciation and surface adsorption on phyllosilicate assemblages, the soil chemistry of arsenic and its uptake patterns in rice, and nitrate mitigation in irrigation systems.

Aide is past president of the Missouri Academy of Science and an adjunct professor in the Department of Soil Science and Atmospheric Sciences at the University Missouri-Columbia.