Spring 2012

Shocker Honors

For the 56th time, the WSU Alumni Association presented its alumni and university awards to outstanding Shocker individuals.

Alumni Award winners

The 2011 honorees are, shown from the left in the photo above, Nancy Anderson and Spike Anderson, who accepted on behalf of Les Anderson the University Recognition Award, presented posthumously; Linda Matson, Distinguished Service Award; Joe Hand, Young Alumnus Award; Bernard Nichols, Achievement Award; and Jacque and Dr. Sam Kouri, Alumni Recognition Award. More than 300 well-wishers attended the gala awards banquet Feb. 2 at the Wichita Marriott.

Among the alumni and university dignitaries who addressed the banquet crowd were WSU President Don Beggs, Tyler Heffron '02, alumni association president, and Debbie Kennedy '94, association executive director.

Dick '61 and Bonnie Bing '70/76 Honeyman served as masters of ceremonies for the awards presentations; Larry Hatteberg was the voice-over talent for the video presentations; and student musicians for the evening's festivities were Ashlee Baysinger, Nicole Feryok and Anna Jeter. Cocoa Dolce Artisan Chocolates, Standard Beverage, WSU Marketing and Chauncey Photography were offered special thanks for their contributions to the success of the event.

Alumni Achievement

Bernard "Bernie" NicholsBernard Nichols

Bernard "Bernie" Nichols '61 credits much of his success to teachers and his family.

His parents, he says, instilled in him a strong work ethic and sense of integrity, while a favorite teacher at Valley Springs High School in Arkansas encouraged him to study law. "I didn't know how I would do that," Nichols says. "My parents had modest means, but my teacher would say, ‘Where there's a will, there's a way.'"

Nichols had the will, and he found his way to college, although business instead of law was to become his focus. In high school, he involved himself in sports and academics. He played basketball, was the school's delegate to American Legion Boys State during his junior year and finished near the top of his graduating class. Offered an FBI-sponsored scholarship to George Washington University, Nichols, although tempted, declined. He explains, "J. Edgar Hoover had a stipulation that FBI recruits remain single for nine years. That blew the deal for me!"

So Nichols went to work, but a chance meeting with a friend led him to a working scholarship to a two-year college in Beebe, Ark. During his freshman year, the school became Arkansas State University-Beebe, where he thrived. He made the Dean's Honor Roll, served as student body president and won four categories of Who's Who: Most Studious, Friendliest, Best All-Around and Most Likely to Succeed.

The fifth of nine Nichols children, he ran into financial difficulty after the fall 1956 semester at Arkansas State. His parents and several of his siblings were living in Wichita, so he decided to finish his studies at the University of Wichita. To pay his way, he worked evenings at Continental Trailways.

It wasn't long before he met another influential teacher. "I had a wonderful counselor," Nichols says. "He suggested I take a business correspondence course with Lucille Gossett. She probably didn't have to teach, because she and her husband had enough money without it — but she did it for the pure intrinsic value of it. She helped me tremendously."

After graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics in 1961, Nichols continued to work at Continental Trailways in a number of different management positions. It was also at Continental that he met his future wife, Alberta. The couple married in 1963 and raised two sons, Kevin and Jason. Loyal Shocker basketball fans, Bernie and Alberta have had season tickets for more than 40 years.

Nichols began his investment career in 1966 after he graduated from the New York Institute of Finance and became a Registered Investment Adviser with Harris, Upham & Co. During this time, he taught investment classes in the evenings at Kansas Newman. Four years later, he joined PaineWebber before being offered a position with the Fourth National Bank as portfolio manager.

He had been with the bank only about a year when the newly formed WSU Endowment Fund was established with $700,000 to invest. Nichols was asked to manage it as a balanced fund. He gladly accepted the responsibility, and the fund was ranked in the top 5 percent in the United States of all balanced-funds performance during his nearly seven years of management.

Bob Gadberry, a retired nonprofit executive from Overland Park, Kan., has high praise for Nichols: "He's 14-karat gold. I don't know anyone more reliable, more consistent and more faithful than Bernie. He was never an arm-twister. He won people over by quiet persuasion."

Grant Stannard of Park City-based Stannard Construction also lauds Nichols' professional expertise and commitment to community and church. "Bernie and I first met in 1970," he says. "Bernie showed an interest in helping build a better place to work and live, and joined our board and church endowment foundation. He's been a real asset in managing our fund's growth through the years."

In 1974, Nichols was promoted to head of trust investments at Fourth National. Among his responsibilities was managing a fund that was ranked No. 1 for similar funds in the United States during his three years in charge. Then in 1977, he returned to PaineWebber. In 1993, his oldest son, Kevin, joined him as a partner in forming the Wichita-based Nichols Investment Group at PaineWebber, which was later acquired by UBS.

Today, the company is Nichols Investment Group — UBS Financial Services. At the age of 76, Nichols has no immediate plans to retire; he still enjoys the work. "There's a challenge in this business," he says. "No one ever really masters it. Not even Warren Buffet. It's a constant challenge. It's hard to do this part-time, you have to do it full-time or not at all."

Among his many civic activities, he has been notably involved with the Wichita Jaycees, the Wichita Area Chamber of Commerce and the Wichita Crime Commission. He says he counts his longtime involvement with WSU and the alumni association — which he served as president in 1972-73 — as being one way of "repaying a civic debt."

Debbie Kennedy, alumni association executive director, says Nichols has more than repaid his debt on campus: "We thank Bernie for his years of steadfast, quiet commitment."

Alumni Recognition

Dr. Sam and Jacqueline Kouri Jacque & Sam Kouri

Dr. Sam and Jacqueline Kouri are such tried-and-true Shockers, it may come as a surprise to learn that their alma mater is the University of Oklahoma. But ever since the young couple decided to make Wichita their home some 50 years ago now, it is Wichita State that has been enriched by their longstanding — and widespread — support.

"Every time I see Sam and Jacque," says Debbie Kennedy, alumni association executive director, "they are so warm and embracing. It doesn't matter if it's at a Shocker basketball or baseball game, at a formal university dinner or at the grocery store — wherever it is, they are so sincere and gracious. They effortlessly make you feel as if you are family. Actually, they are family. They are a wonderful part of our Shocker family."

Sam and Jacque, both native-born Oklahomans, were married June 16, 1957, the weekend after his graduation from medical school.

They came to Wichita for his one-year internship at Wesley Hospital and then returned to Oklahoma City for his four-year surgery residency through the OU Medical School. In 1962, the Kouris moved to Wichita for good. Dr. Kouri built a successful practice as a general and colo-rectal surgeon and practiced for 41 years, the last 16 of which he worked as a member of the Wichita Surgical Specialists Group.

He retired from practice in 2003 and is a consultant at the Wichita-based Hinkle Law Firm. During his earlier years as a physician, he also worked as a Shocker athletics physician, an activity that laid the foundation for decades of service to Wichita State.

Active supporters of all Shocker sports through the years — especially football, basketball and baseball — the Kouris have endowed a men's basketball scholarship, contributed to the Roundhouse Renaissance project, as well as to the renovation of Eck Stadium and the construction of WSU's indoor baseball practice facility. But that short listing doesn't even scratch the surface of their athletic support — much less the full scope of their university-wide contributions.

It seems that the Kouris answer the call to champion nearly every WSU enterprise. Their range of participation spans involvement as alumni association Shocker Partners to major contributors in the Ulrich Museum of Art's restoration of Miró's grand glass-and-marble mosaic. They have each logged hundreds of volunteer hours serving on university, WSU Foundation, WSU Athletics and alumni association boards, committees and projects. Jacque, to mention just one of her Shocker commitments, has served on the Foundation's National Advisory Council for a full decade.

"Jacque and Sam are truly genuine and authentic people whose characters are defined by their faith and their commitment to family," says Elizabeth King, president and CEO of the WSU Foundation. "We are fortunate," she adds, "that Jacque and Sam also believe in and cherish their hometown university, Wichita State. We are the beneficiaries of their gifts of time, talent and resources. The Ulrich Museum and Shocker athletics have been the primary recipients, but Jacque and Sam have also created a fund to assist physically disabled students and have given to numerous other areas across campus. The Kouris are such warm and caring people that a hug from either Sam or Jacque will brighten anyone's day."

In 1998, the Kouris were recognized with the university's prestigious Fairmount Founder's Award, and in 2001 the alumni association honored them with honorary alumni status. "Sam and Jacque have given so much to our university," says James Rhatigan, WSU dean emeritus of students and a consultant at the WSU Foundation. "Probably the first substantive relationship I had with them was at the dedication — years ago now — of the Kouri Outdoor Fitness Paracourse. And the last was at the dedication of the university's Evelyn Hendren Cassat Speech-Language-Hearing Clinic this past September. I was delighted then to find out that their granddaughter is a master's degree student in communication sciences and disorders here at Wichita State. And we've had a great friendship in between those events."

In the wider community, the Kouris are well known for their devotion to their family and church. Sam is a trustee on the board of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, and he and Jacque are the proud parents of four children — Debbi, Tami, Sammy and Stephanie. Sam and Jacque enjoy golf, traveling and sports — but nothing more than their 10 grandchildren and one great-grandchild. Just before the February awards banquet, Jacque announced with obvious relish: "And our second great-grandchild is due in March!"

University Recognition

Les AndersonLes Anderson
Presented Posthumously

Elliott School of Communication professor Leslie Anderson, who died this past fall, meant so many things to so many people. As a professor, mentor, leading voice in community journalism, family man, friend and civic leader, his reach was far and wide — and his enthusiasm was evident in everything he did.

"He enjoyed a great news story as much as he appreciated pulling a prank on an unsuspecting student or friend," remembers Richard Hensley, a former WSU communication student who's now editor of Highlands Today in Florida. Hensley adds: "Les regaled us with stories concerning a headline he had written about a duck being assaulted in a city park: ‘quack, Quack, QUACK!'

"He told us stories of Valley Center's infamous Low-Speed Chase that he heard play out on the police scanner one night. The driver would stop just long enough for the officer to get out and almost within reach before pulling away again, reaching a speed of about five miles an hour. This went on for a good long while — Les would break down laughing retelling that story."

Along with the laughter, Anderson showed his students what a hard-work ethic was all about. A graduate of Fort Hays State and the University of Missouri, Columbia, he worked at the Wichita Eagle from 1971 to 1974 and helped set up an independent newspaper, the Wichita Sun, before starting — along with his wife, Nancy — the Ark Valley News. The News is a weekly publication that grew during their 28 years of ownership to feature not only his own award-winning stories and columns, but also the early efforts of many of his most promising Wichita State students.

"He would work us to death sometimes," says Dan Close, WSU associate professor of communication. "But we didn't care because we were doing real professional journalism and getting clips that invariably led to future jobs. Les demanded perfection from us, both on the job and in the classroom, and we were scared of him. He wanted great interviews, observations, editing and writing — and he wanted it on everything we wrote. He cared so much about his students getting it right and doing it ethically. He made us proud to be journalists."

Anderson joined WSU's faculty in 1977. For more than a decade, he served as adviser to the staff of the student paper The Sunflower and was recognized with teaching honors, including, in 2004, Wichita State's Teacher of the Year Award. He always took a keen interest in his students, whether they were enrolled in classic editing and beat-reporting classes — or in special field projects. It was Anderson who led a journalism class to tornado-ravaged Greensburg, Kan., to dig for new angles and stories that hadn't yet been told about the town's rebirth. And it was Anderson who helped lead students in documenting Symphony in the Flint Hills, an annual Kansas concert event.

"We are so fortunate to have had Les as our professor," says Shannon Littlejohn, publications editor at WSU. "He helped make us better students and journalists, and better human beings in the process. He also taught us the power of words used with precision and clarity, and consistently improved our grammar. All he asked in return is that we always try our best to be our best."

Born in Viola, Kan., Anderson graduated from high school and met his future wife in Valley Center, Kan. Small-town life was fertile ground for him — and his storytelling. Even after he and Nancy sold the Ark Valley News in 2001, he continued writing his "More or les" column about Valley Center news and personalities. His commentaries won state and national awards, and in 2010 while on sabbatical, he completed a compilation of his columns, "Never Take a Snake for a Ride." In true civic-minded, More-or-les-style, he donated the profits to the Valley Center city library.

In the book's acknowledgments, Anderson thanked his family for putting up with his so often making them the subjects of his column. As only he could write (with a wicked wink and a smile): "A special thanks to my children, who often made my column for saying or doing something that made me laugh. Sometimes, I'm sure, what I wrote caused them embarrassment, like the column I wrote when daughter Maggie started wearing a bra."

Les and Nancy raised their family of five children — Maggie, Spike, Ben, Seth and Patrick — just outside Valley Center. There were always animals around, probably because Les held to the opinion that "animals are always newsworthy, especially if they do something." He wrote about Violet the sheep, Henrietta the chicken, turkey, steers, dogs and cats, a parakeet — and at least one snake. Through the years, he told stories about, well, just about everything.

"We all own pieces of Les and hold them in our hearts," Hensley says. "Things he taught us or stories he told us populate our gray matter. We reach for the ‘Book of Les' from time to time like a well-worn AP Stylebook. We also reached for him when major life events happened. He was one of those people you just had to tell."

There is a tradition in print journalism of typing –30– at the end of a story. There is no –30– at the end of Anderson's life story. His influence as a journalist, teacher, community member, friend, husband, dad, grandpa — it all continues on. The 2011 University Recognition Award is presented in memory of Les Anderson.

Young Alumnus Award

Joe HandJoe Hand

Joe Hand has taken his business sense and entrepreneurial spirit from the front lawns of Derby, Kan., to the boardrooms of the world.

A business graduate, Hand is vice president of Carbon Products Global Supply at Koch Industries, Wichita. 

He was barely 10 years old when he started his first business, Hand Mowing Service. It was not quite the out-of-the-gate success he had hoped. He explains, "I went out and looked for business door to door. At the end of the first day, I had one lawn to mow." His maternal grandfather noticed his efforts, though, and offered him a deal to mow his rental property lawns.

It wasn't surprising that Hand showed an early aptitude for business — his father and both his grandfathers were business professionals. "Growing up around them," he says, "set the stage for me to have a passion for business." But business wasn't young Joe's only interest, of course. He liked to sing, enjoyed the outdoors and loved all kinds of sports, including basketball, which he played in high school.

Hand knew he wanted to attend Wichita State, but with two brothers already in college he also knew it would be a financial burden on his parents. In 1995, he was awarded the Clay Barton Memorial Scholarship and his life, he says, was transformed.

At WSU Hand met many mentors, including Gerald Graham, Christine Schneikart-Luebbe, Dianne Coleman '84/88, James Rhatigan, Elizabeth King, and WSU President Don and Shirley Beggs. "I met many people who treated students like family," he says. "In my opinion, that's what makes WSU what it is today."

As a college student, he was active on campus, especially in his fraternity. To mention just two of his many honors: he was Greek Man of the Year in 1998 and a Senior Honor Man. Today, his involvement at Wichita State continues with volunteer service for SASO and the WSU Alumni Association.

Shortly after his college graduation, Hand joined Koch Investment Group as an accountant. A proud Shocker and family man, he took on his current position at Koch in 2010. "I manage one of Koch's global commodities, petroleum coke," he says. "We buy supply from all over the world and supply customers from all over the globe." His work has taken him to the Far East, Europe, North America, and Latin America. Despite his far-reaching travels, he hasn't moved too far from his roots. As he puts it: "I grew up in Derby, attended Wichita State and work at Koch. I joke that I'm gradually moving north."

As for the many accomplishments this Shocker has posted, he won't take full credit, saying his success has more to do with the people around him than his own efforts. He notes that his wife, Stacy, has been especially important in his career. "I travel frequently," he says, "and Stacy never complains, even though she has to take care of our three kids and our Jack Russell Terrier. It's a testament to the kind of person she is."

And being recognized with the Young Alumnus Award is a testament to the kind of person he is.

Laura (McMullen) Cross '25
Distinguished Service Award

Linda MatsonLinda Matson

Student recruiting trips were a familiar duty for Linda Matson '84/87 during her tenure working in Wichita State's office of Cooperative Education and Work-Based Learning. She enjoyed traveling with WSU admissions personnel and other university officials — but at least once she wondered about the quality of their accommodations.

It was on a recruiting swing through southwest Kansas, Matson remembers, that she noticed nothing seemed to work quite right in her motel room. Certainly not the lights, and even the bedding was uncomfortable. She recalls thinking: "Just what kind of place did the university put us up in?" It wasn't until the next morning she discovered that then-WSU President Gene Hughes and his wife Margaret Ann, among other fellow travelers, had loosened the light bulbs and short-sheeted the bed.

Whether it's laughing with Shocker co-workers or working for hours on end helping set students on a productive and rewarding career path, Matson found her calling at Wichita State, where she's worked for the past 25 years. "All my friends are here," she says. "And I think my car can drive itself to campus."

Matson, who earned both a bachelor's and a master's degree in sociology at WSU, first taught at the university as an award-winning graduate teaching assistant. She went on to teach sociology classes in the social work department, receiving the 1991-92 Mortar Board Outstanding Educator Award. She also taught sociology for a time at McPherson College, McPherson, Kan.

Yet her longest-running stint in education was 21 years as a coordinator in Co-op Ed and Work-Based Learning, a position she took up in 1987 and relinquished in 2007 to work halftime as a mentor in the WIN program with Shocker athletics.

While working in cooperative education, Matson developed and monitored educational placements for several hundred students each year. She also wrote proposals and grants, served as assistant director of the unit, conducted research projects, and had several articles published in the Journal of Cooperative Education. Today, as a WIN mentor, her work focus is on helping Shocker athletes develop time-management and study skills. "I couldn't be happier," she says. "I love these college students, and I'm thankful every single day for the chance to do what I do."

Matson, née Lininger, was born in Manhattan, Kan., the middle of three sisters. The Liningers moved to Wichita when Linda was a fifth-grader, and she has been immersed in the life of the city ever since.

A longtime community volunteer (especially with the Wichita Truancy Advisory Board, the American Heart Association and the Salvation Army Homeless Shelter), Matson likes to garden, bird-watch, cook, read and travel. And she loves rodeos — yes, rodeos!

Family, though, tops her priority list. The mother of two daughters, she married WSU sociology professor Ron Matson in 1988 and her family grew to include his son and daughter. Today, Linda and Ron are the proud grand-parents of eight grandkids.

For her cooperative Shocker spirit and proven professionalism, Matson is the Laura Cross Distinguished Service Award honoree.


Shocker Honors

For the 56th time, the WSU Alumni Association presented its alumni and university awards to outstanding Shocker individuals.