The Cameron University Alumni Association will recognize the winners of its 2009 Distinguished Alumni, Outstanding Young Alumni and Faculty Hall of Fame Awards during CU's Homecoming 2009 celebration. The honors will be presented during the Aggie Family & Friends Awards Brunch on Saturday, February 21 in the Shepler Ballroom. The ceremony kicks off at 10:30 a.m.
R. Darrell Weaver, class of 1986, will receive the Distinguished Alumni Award, which honors Cameron alumni of 11 or more years who have made significant contributions to society and whose accomplishments have brought credit to Cameron by distinguishing themselves in their careers, in their service to their communities and through their continued support of Cameron University.
Sanjit Bhattacharya, class of 2000, is the recipient of the Outstanding Young Alumni Award, presented to Cameron alumni who graduated within the last 10 years.
The Faculty Hall of Fame Award honors current or retired faculty who have taught a minimum of five years at Cameron and emphasizes teaching effectiveness, positive impact on students' lives and involvement at Cameron outside of the classroom and in the community. The 2009 recipients are Dr. Matt Jenkins, Professor of Communication, and Dr. Vivian Thomlinson, Professor of English.
About R. Darrell Weaver, 2009 Distinguished Alumni
Shortly after graduating from Cameron University with a Bachelor of Accounting degree in 1986, R. Darrell Weaver was selected to attend the 199th session of the FBI National Academy, a 10-week law enforcement program, launching his career as one of Oklahoma's pre-eminent law enforcement leaders. Commissioned as an Agent with the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics in 1987, he has held various assignments throughout Oklahoma.
Weaver was promoted to Agent-In-Charge of the Oklahoma City enforcement unit and directed the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Intelligence Center for the State of Oklahoma in 1996. Under his direction, the HIDTA Intelligence Center continues to develop and coordinate the annual drug threat assessment for the state. He also implemented the statewide Deconfliction Center utilized by the majority of all federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to more safely coordinate enforcement activities.
In 1998, Weaver developed and coordinated an aggressive agent physical fitness program, which is the model for all of Oklahoma law enforcement.
Now in his 22nd year as a commissioned law enforcement agent, Weaver was appointed Director of the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control in 2006. He is currently co-chairman of the law enforcement subcommittee of Crystal Darkness Oklahoma, the groundbreaking anti-meth campaign. He also a member of the Oklahoma Meth Prevention Initiative Committee and was recently appointed to both the Oklahoma Youth and Gang Violence Coordinating Council and the Oklahoma Gang Intervention Steering Committee.
About Sanjit Bhattacharya, 2009 Outstanding Young Alumni
Sanjit Bhattacharya is an entrepreneur in every sense of the word, given the definition of "a person who organizes and manages any enterprise, usually with considerable initiative and risk." From his first day on the CU campus, the enterprising freshman and PLUS scholar earned a reputation as a true go-getter.
He'd graduated from high school at age 16 and was already a star in the circulation department at the Lawton Constitution. By the time he turned 18, Bhattacharya was a regional director with a phone service provider. While still a student, he established his own real estate building and development company, a firm he continues to oversee today.
Two years ago, Bhattacharya entered the field of oil and gas exploration, despite the risks involved. Today, he heads a rapidly growing company with drilling operations in five states.
In addition to his business endeavors, Bhattacharya sets aside time to give back both to his community and to his alma mater. He is a longtime advocate of the Boys Scouts of Lawton, the Lawton Food Bank and the Salvation Army. He also shares his philanthropy through the Lily Foundation, which supports education for low income children in India.
He supports the internship program in the School of Business, awarding two internships to date. Additionally, his generosity has established the Bhattacharya Endowed Lectureship for Excellence in Research, which will advance the quality of research and creative and scholarly activity at Cameron University and in southwest Oklahoma.
About Dr. Matt Jenkins, 2009 Faculty Hall of Fame
"Just do it" is a mantra that serves Dr. Matt Jenkins well. A professor in the Department of Communication, Jenkins provides his students with the opportunity to gain real-world experience, whether it's producing a feature-length documentary, writing and starring in a Spanish-language telenovela, or anchoring the news desk on CUTV.
For more than two decades, Jenkins has created award-winning documentaries and short movies which have been exhibited at film festivals across the United States, including The Brooklyn Underground Film Festival, The Greenwich International Film Festival and The Berkeley Video and Film Festival.
Jenkins has translated his experience and success in independent filmmaking into valuable learning opportunities and equal success for his students.
"There is nothing more amazing than watching them learn how to tell their own stories by simply giving them the right tools, directions and letting them loose on the world," he says. "I am so proud to see them go on, knowing that in some way I am responsible for their success by planting the seeds of inspiration while they were here at Cameron."
About Dr. Vivian Thomlinson, 2009 Faculty Hall of Fame
Dr. Vivian Thomlinson might be the first to say that she didn't choose teaching - teaching chose her. When she wasn't finding fulfillment in her position as a public relations executive, she followed her heart and changed careers.
"I never looked back," Thomlinson says. "It was the best decision I ever made. I think people who are good teachers are called to teach, much like good preachers are called to preach. This is my service, and I love it."
It's only natural, then, that accolades for her work in the classroom have followed. Thomlinson was named 2006 Oklahoma Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. Other honors include Phi Kappa Phi Distinguished Faculty Award, Hackler Award for Teaching Excellence, Student Government Association Professor of the Year, English Department Sigma Tau Delta Professor of the Year and the Command and General Staff College Award for Outstanding Teacher.
"I tell my students all the time that if they are even considering teaching, they should get certified," she says. "I am so glad I did, and no matter where I go, I will always have that."
February 19, 2009