Merit Awards to Honor Alumni, Faculty


CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., Oct. 5, 2007 — Eight alumni and one faculty member will receive Merit Awards presented by the Southeast Missouri State University Alumni Association Oct. 19 at the Copper Dome Society/Merit Recognition Program. 

Since 1958, Alumni Merit Awards have been presented to Southeast graduates who have brought distinction to themselves and to the University. The Faculty Merit Award is presented for excellence in teaching.

This year’s Alumni Merit Award recipients are: R. David Crader of Perryville, Mo., Robert Crawford of Cincinnati, Ohio, Cynthia Davie of Carbondale, Ill., Shari Francis of Washington, D.C., Dr. George Hand, Jr., of Birmingham, Ala., Cedric “The Entertainer” Kyles of Woodland Hills, Calif,, Rosetta Kyles of Florissant, Mo., and W. Russell Withers of Mt. Vernon, Ill.  The Faculty Merit Award winner is Dr. Tamara Baldwin of Cape Girardeau.

Alumni Merit Award Winners

Photo of David Crader R. David Crader ’73, who majored in agriculture and business, is the chief executive officer and chairman of the board of Bank of Missouri.  Crader began his banking career in 1974 and is a 2006 graduate with a master’s degree from The Graduate School of Banking at Louisiana State University.  He is vice chairman of the Missouri Independent Bankers Association and a board member of the Missouri Bankers Association Foundation. Crader also plays an active role in his community.  His involvement includes, but is not limited to, serving as vice president of the Mid-America Teen Challenge Board, as vice president of the Missouri Veterans Home Foundation, as secretary of the Saint Francis Medical Center Foundation and as treasurer of the Perry County School District #32 Foundation.  Photo of Robert Crawford Robert Crawford ’57, who majored in business administration, is retired director of professional relations at Procter & Gamble. In 1957, Crawford began his 37-year career with Procter & Gamble as a sales representative. Crawford was promoted to western sales manager in 1960 and to national professional sales manager in 1967.  In 1987, he was promoted to his final position with Procter &Gamble, which he retired from in 1994.  Since retiring, Crawford has served as a consultant to Professional Dental Technologies, Inc., in Batesville, Ark., Harftst Associates, Inc., in Troy, Mich., and Laser Centers of America in Cincinnati, Ohio.  He is the 1957 class chair for the 2007 Homecoming project, as well as a board member of Southeast Missouri University Foundation.  Crawford served on a number of advisory committees and boards of directors including the American Academy of Periodontology Foundation, American Dental Association Health Foundation, Harvard School of Dental Medicine and Northwestern University Dental School, among others. As a student at Southeast, Crawford was president of Sigma Tau Gamma fraternity in 1956 and president of the student body in 1957.   Photo of Cynthia Davie Cynthia (Steffens) Davie ’78, who majored in secondary education with an emphasis in speech pathology, is vice president at the Center for Comprehensive Services, Inc. ᾰ Carbondale, Ill./Paducah, Ky. locations. The Center for Comprehensive Services is part of MENTOR ABI, a national network that provides post-acute residential brain injury rehabilitation services.  Davie began her career with the Center for Comprehensive Services 28 years ago as a graduate assistant.  She was named a director at the Center in 1996 and became vice president in 2001.  Since 1985, she has given several presentations at conferences nationwide.  In addition, she served as an adjunct professor to Southeast Missouri State University from 1993 to 2001 and at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale from 1988 to 2001.  Davie is certified with the American Speech- Language-Hearing association and is a licensed speech pathologist with the state of Illinois.  She is also a member of the Brain Injury Association of America and Delta Kappa Gamma Honorary Education Sorority.  Photo of Shari Francis Shari (Macku) Francis ’70, who majored in education, is the vice president for state relations for the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) in Washington D.C.  NCATE is the only agency authorized by the U.S. Department of Education to accredit colleges and universities of teacher education.  Francis works with state departments of education and educator standards boards to establish and maintain agreements for conducting joint state and NCATE evaluations of teacher education institutions.  She was an elected member of the board of directors for the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards and serves as NCATE’s liaison to the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification, the Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.  Prior to joining NCATE, Francis was a classroom teacher and reading specialist in Arnold, Mo., served in the U.S. Department of Education Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, and worked as a senior staff member of the National Education Association in Washington, D.C.  Francis was a member of Sigma Sigma Sigma Sorority while attending Southeast.   Photo of Dr. George Hand

Dr. George Hand, Jr. ’58, who majored in biology education, is professor emeritus of cell biology at the University of Alabama School of Medicine (UASOM).  Hand retired as assistant dean for medical admissions of the UASOM in 2001.  He was chair of the UASOM admissions committee for 13 years and served more than 20 years as course master for medical microanatomy.  Hand was elected to Alpha Omega Alpha, a national medical honor society, and to Phi Kappa Phi national honor society.  He was awarded UASOM’s Most Caring Professor Award, Best Basic Science Teacher Award and Outstanding Teacher Award. Hand received his master of arts degree in education (science) from Washington University in St. Louis in 1961.  He earned his doctoral degree in embryology from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, in 1967, where he served as a teaching fellow.  In 1969, Hand completed a two-year National Institutes of Health post-doctoral fellowship at the California Institute of Technology.

  Photo of Cedric “The Entertainer” Kyles

Cedric “The Entertainer” Kyles ’87, who majored in mass communication, is better known as actor and comedian, Cedric “The Entertainer.”  Kyles has had major roles in such hit films as “Be Cool” with John Travolta, “Barbershop” with Ice Cube, “Madagascar” (animated feature) and “Intolerable Cruelty” with George Clooney. He was most recently in the movie “Talk To Me” with Don Cheadle.  Upcoming projects include “The Better Man” with Martin Lawrence, “Night Watch” opposite Keanu Reeves, “Johnson Family Vacation 2,” “Madagascar 2” and “Flash” co-starring Nelly.  Kyles was star and producer of the box office hit, “Johnson Family Vacation,” in 2004.  A few of his accolades include the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) Award of Excellence in Television Programming for his Fox Television series, “Cedric The Entertainer Presents…” and four NAACP Image Awards for “Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy” on “The Steve Harvey Show.”  In 2002, Kyles released his first comedy book, which sold out across the country.  He founded Cedric “The Entertainer” Charitable Foundation, Inc., in 1996, which provides scholarships and outreach programs to enhance the lives of inner-city youth and their families in his hometown of St. Louis.  Kyles was a member of the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity while at Southeast.

   Photo of  Rosetta (Boyce) Kyles Rosetta (Boyce) Kyles ’75, who received her master of arts in education degree, is retired after 32 years as an educator.  She taught for eight years in her hometown of Caruthersville, Mo., prior to moving to St. Louis where she worked with the Ferguson-Florissant School District. She held the position of Reading Recovery Teacher Leader and was a certified reading specialist through the University of Missouri-St. Louis and the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana.  Kyles is a board member of the Cedric “The Entertainer” Charitable Foundation, Inc., and remains an advocate for the reading education of young children.  She is currently working on a project, which entails writing faith-based curriculum for all ages.   Photo of Russ Withers W. Russell Withers ’58, who majored in English and history, is the owner of Withers Broadcasting Companies.  Withers began his career as a disc jockey for KGMO Radio in Cape Girardeau, Mo., in 1956. After serving two years in the U.S. Army, Withers began working for LIN Broadcasting Corporation in 1959.  In 1963, Withers became president of Gregg Cablevision, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of LIN Broadcasting, where he franchised and built 50 cable television systems in seven states.  In 1967, Withers became president of Schertle Galleries, Inc., and franchised 150 art galleries in the United States and Canada.  He served as the executive vice president of Laser Link Corporation, New York, from 1969 to 1972, where Withers took Laser Link Corp. public.  In 1972, he founded Withers Broadcasting Companies, which owns and operates 12 radio stations covering southeast Missouri, southern Illinois and western Kentucky.  Withers also owns a number of other radio and television stations in Iowa, Michigan, Texas, New Mexico and West Virginia.  He was named Broadcaster of the Year in 2005 by the Illinois Broadcasters Association and Broadcaster of the Year in 2006 by the West Virginia Broadcasters Association.  In June 2007, Withers was elected radio board chairman for the National Association of Broadcasters.  He has been listed in Who’s Who in Finance and Industry, Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in Entertainment and Who’s Who in the World.  Withers sits on the Board of Trustees of the Lincoln Academy of Illinois and was recently reappointed to a third term as a regent by Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

Faculty Merit Award Winner

Photo of Tammy Baldwin  Dr. Tamara Baldwin ’78, ’80, became a Southeast faculty member in 1980 as an adjunct instructor in the Department of English and Journalism. She became a full-time faculty member in 1983 when she joined the Department of Mass Communication, now the Department of Communication.  In 1991, she became an assistant professor, which sparked a quick climb to associate professor and ultimately full professor in 2000.  Aside from teaching, Baldwin also has written several articles that have appeared in such publications as Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly, the Intelligencer, American Journalism and the Southeast Missourian. Baldwin belongs to many professional organizations including the Association of Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, the Society of Professional Journalists and the Broadcast Education Association.  Baldwin has been highly involved with the American Journalism Historians Association and becomes president-elect this month.  Baldwin currently sits on the University Studies Committee, Women’s Studies Committee, Library Committee and the Multicultural Task Force at Southeast.  She is the co-founder and co-advisor for the southeast chapter of the Association for Women in Communication student chapter.  In addition, Baldwin became a part of the Honors Faculty at Southeast in 2006.  Baldwin is married to Dr. Henry Sessoms Sr., professor emeritus of English at Southeast.