Each year, Pittsburg State University honors outstanding alumniand this year three alumni received the 2019 Meritorious Achievement award.
The three recipients were recognized in a ceremony at 3 p.m., Friday, April 5 at the Wilkinson Alumni Center.
David DeMoss, Colonel Kenneth Hart, and Vice Admiral Jeff Wieringa were all selected to receive the Meritorious Achievement Award. The award, which is presented annually, is given to alumni who are graduates of more than 25 years.
“The meritorious achievement award is our highest honor that we bestow as a university,” said Kathleen Flannery, vice president of university advancement and president of PSU Foundation. “It’s presented to our alumni who… have really ranked in their profession at such a high level that it truly is outstanding. We’ve only given less than one percent of the alumni base have received these awards. So, you can imagine it’s truly is the highest level. It’s someone who truly had made a mark in their chosen profession.”
The recipients of the award are selected from a list of nominees that have been nominated by classmates, colleagues, or friends. A committee comprised of faculty, staff, and alumni then narrow down the list to find alumni that have “have given back to their field”.
“We want to engage with alumni that… have made advancements in their field of study or in their chosen profession, so it really has to be someone who’s made a mark and made a difference,” Flannery said. “These folks have really taken the education they received here at PSU and utilized it for the betterment of wherever their home community is or wherever their field of endeavor is.”
David DeMoss graduated from Pitt State in 1970 with a degree in printing technology, and later with a master’s in business administration in 1971. DeMoss signed on as executive director at Greenbush, an education center, from its founding in 1976 until his retirement 33 years later. During his career, DeMoss helped facilitate growth and expansion at Greenbush and is still involved as trustee on the board of directors of the Learning Tree Institute. DeMoss also received PSU’s Kenneth K. Bateman Outstanding Alumni award in 1994 and returns to campus to speak to students in the College of Education.
DeMoss said he was surprised to hear he had been chosen to receive the award.
“Immediately, my first thoughts were I’m so honored but I’m also so humbled because I’m receiving this award on behalf of all the folks at Greenbush and all the folks that have been a part of my career including Pitt State faculty, school officials throughout the region and at a State level, this is a great, great award and I’m honored to receive it,” he said. “I felt honored just to be with the other two folks and have the chance to talk to Pitt State about how important they’d been in my career and to kids in Kansas.”
DeMoss said he was grateful for his education and time at Pitt State.
“Pitt State gave me my start,” he said. “I was attending a graphic arts and communications class… in Emporia. The instructor was a Pitt state graduate, so he really encouraged me to go to Pitt. I said none of my family has been to college and he said ‘Listen, you can do it.’ He said Pitt State faculty will look out for you and keep you on the right track and that’s how I ended up at Pitt State.”
Hart graduated from Kansas City University of Medicine and Bioscience in 1965 after studying in PSU’s pre-med program. Hart went on to have a career in aerospace medicine and served as a consultant to NASA at both Kennedy and Johnson Space Centers. Among his achievements are having served in the Air Force as a flight surgeon, worked as the deputy command surgeon at Andrews Air Force Base, as director of medical readiness at the Office of the Surgeon General HQ, and as the commander of the USAF School of Aerospace Medicine at Brooks Air Force Base.
Hart was surprised to hear that he had received the award.
“I was surprised very much, after all these years I didn’t expect it and I was particularly honored it came from Pitt State,” Hart said. “I knew a lot of the other recipients and I knew what they had accomplished, and I felt there was no way I could compete with them.”
Hart said he believes his education at PSU played a large role in his successful career.
“… The educators (at PSU) we had were extremely dedicated and all the places I’ve ever since then, they certainly couldn’t compare,” he said. “They’re just great. So, I believe it’s them and their guidance they gave me. I was so impressed with every one of them and they (kind of) gave me the direction I wanted to go, and so with that… I still have that image and I carried that image with me all the way through.”
Wieringa graduated PSU with a bachelor’s in physics in 1975 and went on to graduate from the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School. He has flown 65 types of aircrafts and has over 4,000 flight hours and 543 carrier landings. Wieringa has received other medals and awards including “Outstanding Naval Aviator United States Pacific Fleet”, the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, Marine Corps Commendation Medal, and others. He served as an aeronautical engineering duty officer, commanded the F/A- 18 Program, and supported the first combat deployment of the Super Hornet in Operation Iraqi Freedom. In 2007, Wieringa was the first Navy flag officer in more than 30 years to direct the Defense Security Cooperation Agency.
Flannery believes the alumni reflect the level of education students can receive at Pitt State.
“I think it’s especially important for our students, potential students and our current students, to understand that the education they receive at Pittsburg State will take them wherever they want to go in the world,” Flanner said. “Not only by location but by the field of expertise in their professions.”