CU Alumni Association announces CUAA Award honorees

The Cameron University Alumni Association is pleased to announce the winners of its 2015 Distinguished Alumni, Outstanding Young Alumni and Faculty Hall of Fame Awards, which will be presented during the university’s homecoming festivities. Jay Johnson and Jon Kalbfleisch will receive Distinguished Alumni Awards; Denise Aguilar and Jon Horinek have been named Outstanding Young Alumni; and Dr. Jennifer Dennis and Dr. Michael Husak will be inducted into the Cameron University Faculty Hall of Fame. The awards will be presented during the Aggie Family & Friends Awards Lunch on Saturday, February 21 in the McCasland Ballroom. The ceremony starts at Noon and is open to the public. Tickets are $15 and must be purchased in advance by calling 581-2988.

“The success and achievement of these six individuals has had a far reaching impact on both our campus and the communities they serve,” says Jennifer McGrail, Director, Cameron Office of Alumni Relations. “These individuals showcase the quality of learning that is available at Cameron University.”

The Distinguished Alumni Award and the Outstanding Young Alumni Award are presented to former Cameron students who have made significant contributions to society and whose accomplishments have brought credit to Cameron by distinguishing themselves in their careers, in service to their communities and/or through continued support of Cameron University. The Distinguished Alumni Award is presented to Cameron alumni who are 40 years of age or older. The Outstanding Young Alumni Award is presented to Cameron alumni who are 39 years of age or younger. The Faculty Hall of Fame Award emphasizes teaching effectiveness, positive impact on students’ lives and involvement at Cameron outside of the classroom and in the community.

Distinguished Alumni Award: Jay Johnson, FACHE, Class of 1990

photo of Jay JohnsonLawton native Jay Johnson is a shining example of a community leader. In his role as President and Chief Executive Officer of Duncan Regional Hospital, Johnson is dedicated to providing the highest quality medical care possible to the residents of Stephens County. In doing so, he is committed to exceptional customer service, expanded healthcare initiatives and resources, and developing a comprehensive roster of medical practitioners who are experts in their fields of specialization.

Johnson’s desire to have a positive impact on his community can be traced to his days as a Cameron student. A PLUS scholar and an Aggie Ambassador, Johnson served as president of the Student Government Association as well as of Phi Delta Theta. Johnson earned a Bachelor in Business Administration in 1990. He has been a President’s Partner since 2005 and began serving on the Cameron University Foundation board in 2010.

He is active in the Duncan Rotary Club, the Duncan Chamber of Commerce and the Heritage Trails Committee. He is a member of the Board of Directors for the Duncan Public Schools Foundation and serves as chair of the Stephens County Mental Health Task Force and vice chairman of the Duncan Area Economic Development Foundation.

In 2014, he was honored with the Grassroots Champion Award from the American Hospital Association, and in 2013, he received the Advocacy in Action Award from the Oklahoma Hospital Association. Other honors include Leadership Oklahoma’s Community Service Excellence Award and the American College of Healthcare Executives Oklahoma Regent’s Early Careerist Award.

Distinguished Alumni Award: Jon Kalbfleisch, Class of 1985

photo of Jon KalbleischAs a Cameron student, Jon Kalbfleisch’s passion for music was evident. While pursuing a degree in piano performance, he distinguished himself as a talented musician, playing saxophone in Cameron’s marching band and bassoon in concert bands. After graduating from Cameron, he earned a Master of Music degree from Southern Methodist University.

Kalbfleisch has served as the Resident Music Director of the Tony Award-winning Signature Theatre in Arlington, Virginia, since 1991. In that post, he has conducted more than 1,000 performances of some 30 musicals, receiving 23 nominations for the Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Musical Director. He has been honored with the award on seven occasions.

Nationally, he served as associate conductor for the touring company of “Les Miserables” and as music director for “Putting It All Together” at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles. He has played and/or conducted at Carnegie Hall, The White House, Wolf Trap, The National Theatre, The Warner Theatre, The Smithsonian Institution, and the U.S. Supreme Court.

In 2006, he became music director and conductor for the Lawton Philharmonic Orchestra. In that role, he is involved in community outreach by directly involving local students with LPO programs.

Outstanding Young Alumni Award: Denise Aguilar, Classes of 1997 and 1998

photo of Denise AguilarDenise Aguilar, a history and Spanish teacher at Central Middle School, is a dedicated educator who has been recognized at local, state and national levels. Her love of teaching is evident as she strives to create exciting and stimulating learning environments for her students. She has been named Teacher of the Year at Central Middle School on three occasions, and she is the 2012 recipient of the National Council for Geographic Education’s K-12 Distinguished Teaching Award in Geographic Education.

Since 2009, Aguilar has served as a teacher consultant for the Oklahoma Alliance for Geography Education. As a result of that participation, she was selected to serve as the Oklahoma State Representative, Policy Point Person, for the National Geographic Society for 2014-16.

Aguilar is also active in the community, serving as a Girl Scout troop leader and participating in the Junior League of Lawton, where she is currently serving her second term as President. She coaches a variety of sports through Lawton Parks and Recreation and at the YMCA.

A PLUS scholar and a member of the softball team, Aguilar earned a Bachelor of Arts in history with a minor in Spanish in 1997 and a Master of Arts in teaching in 1998. She was a member of the Student Government Association and Phi Alpha Theta, the national history honor society. Aguilar is a lifetime member of the Cameron University Alumni Association.

Outstanding Young Alumni Award: Jon Horinek, Class of 2003

photo of Jon HorinekJon Horinek has played a significant role in the lives of students at Oklahoma City Community College for the past decade. During that time, he has served as Coordinator of Service-Learning and Student Life Programs, Coordinator of First-Year and Student Life Programs, and Director of Recruitment and Admission, a post he has held since 2008.

He has been called an innovative and thoughtful professional and has “left an indelible mark” on OCCC. He was instrumental in bringing a number of new co-curricular development opportunities to students, including establishing a formal lecture series, a brown bag college success workshop series, and a leadership development certification program.

A native of Duncan, Horinek was a PLUS scholar at Cameron. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in communication in 2003. He has also earned a Master of Education in adult and higher education from the University of Oklahoma and is currently a doctoral candidate in Oklahoma State University’s educational leadership program.

Horinek is a lifetime member of the Cameron University Alumni Association. He serves on numerous OCCC institutional committees, including the Achieving the Dream Initiative, College Board Affinity Network, and is the president of the Oklahoma Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers.

Faculty Hall of Fame: Dr. Jennifer Dennis, Chair, Department of Education

photo of Jennifer DennisCameron graduate Jennifer Dennis has been a member of the CU faculty since 2005 and has served as chair of the Department of Education since 2009. In that time, she has demonstrated her commitment to the university through an extensive list of departmental and university service.

Within the Department of Education, Dennis manages three graduate and two undergraduate programs.  She is active with the Educational Leadership and Recruitment committees.  She has worked closely with alternatively certified teachers in southwest Oklahoma through grants she has received from the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education to provide training to alternatively certified teachers during their first years on the job.  She presented at the national conference of the National Association for Alternative Certification (NAAC) last year.

Her service to the university is extensive. She is a member of the Graduate Council and the Teacher Education Council and has served as chair of the Faculty Development Committee.  She also volunteers for numerous university initiatives and has made numerous presentations on behalf of the university as well as the Department of Education throughout the Lawton/Fort Sill community.

Dennis serves as secretary of the board of directors of the Lawton Public Schools Foundation and serves on the Pre-Education Program Advisory Committee at Great Plains Technology Center.  She is also active in PTA, is past-president of the Lawton Public Schools PTA Council, and is a lifelong member of Oklahoma PTA.

Faculty Hall of Fame: Dr. Michael Husak, Associate Professor of Biological Sciences

photo of Mike HusakAccording to 2013 Cameron graduate Alexandria Lamle, Dr. Michael Husak “truly has a passion for educating which, in my opinion, is far too rare in higher education.” Many would agree. Husak has already been awarded teaching accolades, including the Cameron University Foundation’s Hackler Award for Teaching Excellence, Cameron’s highest faculty honor. He is also the recipient of the Bhattacharya Endowed Lectureship for Excellence in Research Award.

In her nomination on behalf of Husak, Lamle notes that he “played a pivotal role in my success.” She also cited the level of investment that Husak demonstrates for his students, calling it unrivaled. “Dr. Husak is always pushing students to reach their full potential whether it be in the classroom or with independent research, and I believe that shows when you see what his former students have gone on to accomplish.”

Husak himself says, “I feel that I have been fortunate in my 10 years at Cameron University in that I have been allowed to pursue my academic career in a manner that allows me to focus on my students and give back to the professional societies and the community that have contributed so much to me and my life.”

For more information about the Cameron University Alumni Association, call 580-581-2988.

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February 5, 2015

PR# 15-017