Four alumni and one faculty member will receive Merit Awards presented by the Southeast Missouri State University Alumni Association Oct. 12 at the Copper Dome Society/Merit Recognition Dinner during the University’s Homecoming celebration. The dinner will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the Show Me Center.
Alumni Merit Awards (AMA) have been presented annually since 1958 to Southeast alumni who have brought distinction to themselves and the University.
This year’s Alumni Merit Award recipients are: Dr. James Henry, ’87, of St. Louis, Missouri, associate professor and director of choral studies at the University of Missouri–St. Louis; Col. Kimberlee Joos, ’91, of Argyle, Texas, retired U.S. Air Force intelligence officer; the Honorable Tim Patterson, 63’, of Hillsboro, Missouri, retired Circuit Judge, 23rd Judicial Circuit, Division 1, Jefferson County, Missouri; and Dr. Ron Wagner, ’98, of St. Louis, associate professor at California University of Pennsylvania.
Receiving the Faculty Merit Award will be Dr. Peggy Hill, Southeast professor of physics. The Faculty Merit Award is presented for excellence in teaching.
Dr. James Henry
Henry received a Bachelor of Music in theory and composition and a Bachelor of Music Education, both from Southeast in 1987. He earned his doctoral degree in music composition from Washington University.
He is an associate professor and director of choral studies at the University of Missouri–St. Louis (UMSL) where he conducts the University Singers concert choir and Vocal Point a cappella ensemble. In addition to his duties at UMSL, Henry is the musical and artistic director of the four-time Barbershop Harmony Society’s (BHS) International Chorus Champions the Ambassadors of Harmony, a 120-voice men’s chorus.
Henry’s singing experience spans multiple genres. He currently sings bass with and arranges for BHS’ International Quartet Champions the Crossroads. Crossroads has performed around the world and is the 2016 recipient of the National Association for Music Education’s prestigious “Stand for Music” award for their efforts on behalf of music education.
Henry previously sang with the Gas House Gang, also BHS International Quartet Champions. The Gas House Gang performed in all 50 states and 15 countries in venues from the Grand Ole Opry to Carnegie Hall. Their numerous television and radio appearances include NBC’s “Today Show,” NPR’s “At the Creation” and several PBS specials. Henry has also served as bass section leader for the Saint Louis Symphony Chorus.
As a composer, Henry has won awards for his songs and piano pieces. He served for three years as composer-in-residence at Central Visual and Performing Arts High School under the aegis of Washington University, the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra and the Buder Foundation. He was also a music mentor for the “Music, Words, Opera” educational program sponsored by Opera Theatre of Saint Louis.
Henry travels the world as a guest conductor, clinician and lecturer. He is a contributing author for the Encyclopedia of American Gospel Music and the Grove Dictionary of American Music. He has won several awards, including the International Leadership Network’s “Dare to Lead” and the Missouri Governor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching.
Col. Kimberlee Joos
Joos, who graduated from Southeast in 1991 with a Bachelor of Science in psychology, is a retired U.S. Air Force intelligence officer. In 2002, she earned a Master of Arts in National Security Studies from Georgetown University, Washington, D.C., and earned diplomas the Air University in 2006 and National Defense University in 2011.
Joos received her officer commission in 1991 through the Reserve Officer Training Program (ROTC) at Southeast and entered active duty service in 1992. She served as an intelligence officer from 1992 to 2015, retiring at the rank of colonel.
During her 23 years of military service, she was selected to command on three separate occasions, and served in numerous overseas locations, including Korea, Japan, Germany and Saudi Arabia. Her final position as commander of the 17th Training Wing, Goodfellow Air Force Base, Texas, included responsibility for the Department of Defense Fire Academy and multi-service intelligence technical training, which graduated more than14,000 students annually. She managed real property, equipment, supplies and contracts in excess of $1.09 billion with an annual operating budget exceeding $106 million.
Her military awards include the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, The Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Air Force Meritorious Service Medal with Five Oak Leaf Clusters, the Joint Service Commendation Medal, the Air Force Commendation Medal, the Air Force Achievement Medal, the National Defense Service Medal with One Service Star, the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and the Korean Defense Service Medal. In 2014, she received the “Women of Achievement Celebration Award” from the Zonta Club of Cape Girardeau for her accomplishments throughout her military career.
Joos was recently appointed by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to a six-year term on the Texas Veterans Commission, which serves as the state-appointed advocate of Texas veterans as they attempt to secure the benefits rightfully earned in exchange for their service in the nation’s armed forces.
Joos makes her home in Argyle, Texas, but remains a passionate St. Louis Cardinals fan. She enjoys traveling, gardening and golf. She volunteers with the Argyle High School Band and Athletic Boosters, Saint Mark Catholic Church and serves on the board of the Denton County Master Gardener Association. She also continues to support Notre Dame Regional High School in Cape Girardeau, where she is a 1987 alumna, through their Education Fund Foundation.
The Honorable Tim Patterson
Patterson, a 1963 graduate of Southeast with a Bachelor of Science in Education, secondary education, with majors in history and social science, is a retired Circuit Judge, 23rd Judicial Circuit, Division One, Jefferson County, Missouri.
While attending Southeast Missouri State College, now Southeast Missouri State University, he served as consul (president) of the Sigma Chi fraternity, president of the Newman Club and was inducted into Cardinal Key men’s honor society.
After graduation, Patterson taught for two years before enrolling in the School of Law at the University of Missouri–Kansas City (UMKC). His plans to attend law school were interrupted by the draft, and he joined the U.S. Air Force. He received a Russian language certificate from Syracuse University in New York while in the service and then served overseas in Turkey. Upon completion of four years of military service, he returned to UMKC and graduated with a Juris Doctorate in 1972.
He served as chief auditor and counsel for the probate court in Kansas City. In 1973, he was hired as the first assistant prosecutor in Jefferson County, Missouri. In 1974, he was elected for a four-year term as prosecuting attorney for Jefferson County. In 1978, he joined the private practice of Anderson, Brooking, Hammon and Dieffenbach Law Firm in Hillsboro, Missouri.
In 1982, he was elected Circuit Judge of Division One, 23rd Judicial Circuit serving for a period of 24 years. During that time as presiding judge, he founded the Drug Court in Jefferson County, brought mediation into dissolution cases, and Children First, an education program to ease the effects of divorce on children. He served on the Community Treatment Center (COMTREA) Board of Directors for more than 20 years.
Upon retirement, Patterson served six years on the Jefferson Regional Medical Center Board of Directors in Crystal City, Missouri. In 2013, the hospital was sold to Mercy Hospital System, and the Jefferson Foundation was created as a permanent non-profit foundation. He is presently serving on the Jefferson Foundation Board of Directors, and in the past six years, it has funded more than $30 million to local charities, food pantries and agencies in Jefferson County.
Upon the death of his wife, Carole, in 2004, he established the Carole Patterson Excellence in Education Fund Award which is presented each year to an outstanding primary teacher in the Hillsboro School District where she taught for 26 years.
A scholarship in both of their names is also established through the Southeast Missouri University Foundation. Patterson is also a member of University Foundation’s Copper Dome Society and the President’s Council. As an active member of the Sigma Chi Alumni Association, Patterson is the chairman of their scholarship committee for the chapter.
He enjoys singing with the Our Lady Catholic Church Choir and serves as eucharistic minister and lector. Patterson has sung in the Southeast Missouri University All Alumni Choir for the last three sessions and sings on occasion with the Jefferson College Community Choir in Hillsboro. An active member of the Hillsboro Rotary for almost 40 years, he has hosted many Rotary events at his home including visiting Rotarians from Brazil and Argentina. He also sponsored a Russian exchange educator at his home.
Dr. Ron Wagner
Wagner, a 1998 graduate of Southeast with a Bachelor of Science in health management, athletic training option, is associate professor at California University of Pennsylvania.
For 20 years, Wagner has focused his life and career on the principles of giving back through the advancement of higher education and offering students the opportunity to not only pursue a degree, but also to learn to find success with that degree. The foundation for this work began at Southeast Missouri State University, which he credits as being the catalyst for all he’s accomplished to date and for planting the seeds that became his vision for the future of higher education.
After graduating from Southeast, Wagner earned a Master of Physical Education from Eastern Kentucky University; a Master of Instructional Technology from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania; and a doctorate in kinesiology from the University of Arkansas. In addition, Wagner is currently pursuing his Executive Master of Business Administration at Washington University in St. Louis.
This education solidified his belief that the experience and student-professor relationships, not the degree itself, create the platform for success. As an educator, Wagner has served as a faculty member at Eastern Kentucky University, University of Arkansas and University of Tennessee at Martin. In his current position at California University of Pennsylvania, he combines his passion for exercise science and educational technology by teaching in the online exercise science graduate program.
In 2008, his passion for student success led him to establish a company that would bring his vision for the future of higher education to life. Relearnit is a firm which develops and manages online education programs for colleges and universities across the United States. Relearnit is driven by educators and focuses on academic excellence, creating an environment in which it’s not exclusively about enrollment, but rather about supporting the success of students once they complete their coursework. This approach creates a formula for long-term financial sustainability for the institutions the firm serves.
Today, Wagner gives back to Southeast in a variety of ways to support the University he believes provided him with opportunities he may not have been afforded elsewhere. In 2015, he established the Dr. Ronald Wagner Endowed Scholarship to support students interested in athletic training. He also serves as chair of the Advisory Board for the former College of Health and Human Services, a group of alumni who provide industry perspective on what qualities and experience they’re seeking in the workforce to help better prepare graduates for success. In addition, through his non-profit organization, Athleticare Sports Health Foundation, Inc., he leads high school students interested in athletic training on trips to Southeast, allowing them to learn about the University’s athletic training program and experience the campus environment.
He resides in Ferguson, Missouri, with his wife L’Erin. They are parents to Ronald Jr, who is a junior at Crossroads College Preparatory School in St. Louis. In his free time, he serves on the board of directors for Lift for Life Gym and ACCESS Academies and enjoys barbecuing, fishing and collecting fine art related to the Olympic Games.
Dr. Peggy Hill
Hill was born and raised in Richmond, Virginia, and attended the College of William and Mary, where she received her Bachelor of Science in physics in 1976. She then held a series of teaching positions where she taught physical science, physics and geometry in diverse environments such as a college preparatory academy, a metropolitan urban middle school and an all-boys Catholic high school.
During her high school teaching years, she developed an avid interest in astronomy and became an active member of the St. Louis Astronomical Society, where she built her own six-inch Newtonian reflector telescope through a class offered there, which she still uses today.
In 1989, she earned her Master of Science in physics and in 1994 a doctoral degree in molecular science, both at Southern Illinois University–Carbondale, where she developed a love of physics research and the study of novel magnetic materials. Following graduation, she taught for three years at the University of Northern Iowa.
She joined the faculty at Southeast in 2000 and currently is a professor of physics in the Department of Chemistry and Physics. Her research lab contains facilities for synthesizing and characterizing new magnetic alloys such as the transition metal based magnetocaloric materials, which have the promise of replacing the current vapor-cycled refrigerators with ecologically friendly and energy efficient counterparts, and with nickel-manganese based materials that have the potential for use as magnetic switches.
Her research on magnetic materials has resulted in 17 peer reviewed articles and more than 29 state, regional and national conference presentations. She has been the recipient of three external grants and two Southeast grants.
In 2017, she served as a lead volunteer for the Citizen Continental America Telescope Eclipse (CATE) Team-040 in Perryville, Missouri, during the Aug. 21 total solar eclipse. This Southeast student and faculty member team collected data and images for the National Solar Observatory as part of a nationwide endeavor of 68 separate teams to study the time evolution of the inner solar corona over the 90-minute duration of the eclipse across America.
In addition, she was a member of the University’s SEclipse Committee that organized campus activities for the eclipse, and led or participated in numerous public lectures, magazine and newsletter articles and outreach activities for the community and University during that time.
In her spare time, she enjoys reading, jogging and traveling with friends.