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Marshall University and the Marshall University Alumni Association (MUAA) are set to host the 85th annual Alumni Awards Banquet on Saturday, April 13, beginning at 6 p.m. with dinner and awards at the Brad D. Smith Foundation Hall.

The Marshall University Alumni Awards Banquet recognizes outstanding alumni, university supporters and students during an evening of celebration and reverence of the great things being accomplished by the Marshall University alumni community.

“We are thrilled to recognize a few special members of our Marshall family at this year’s awards banquet,” said Matt James, executive director of alumni relations. “Each of our honorees represents the grit, determination and success often attributed with Marshall alumni and I’m honored by the opportunity to celebrate each of their achievements and service to our alma mater.”

Highlighting the list of more than a dozen honorees at the 2024 awards banquet are Dr. James M. Lester as the recipient of the Marshall University Distinguished Alumnus award. Joel M. “Woody” Woodrum has been selected as the recipient of the Distinguished Service to Marshall University award. Holly Mount has been selected as the recipient of the Outstanding Community Achievement award, and Kyle D. Powers will receive the Distinguished Young Alumnus award.

Individual Awards of Distinction will also be presented during the event to honorees from each of Marshall’s schools and colleges. This year’s Awards of Distinction will go to Josh Meredith (College of Arts and Media), Beth “Buffy” Hammers (College of Business), Hazel Shrader (College of Education and Professional Development), Alicia Cunningham (College of Engineering and Computer Sciences), Dr. William P. Marley (College of Health Professions), William Dodson (College of Liberal Arts), Dr. Thomas Lemke (College of Science), Dr. Larry D. Dial Jr. (Marshall University School of Medicine), and Dr. Jordan Sheppard (Marshall University School of Pharmacy).

Growing up in various regions of the South, East and Midwest, Lester graduated from Chesapeake High School in Chesapeake, Ohio. After he turned 17 years old, Lester enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps.

After a few years in the service, Lester started attending classes at Marshall in 2004. He worked while he was in school and eventually landed a job at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in Huntington. He earned a Regents Bachelor of Arts degree in 2007 and his master’s degree in counseling from Marshall in 2009.

Lester held many positions and roles at the VA, starting from GS-4, the most entry-level position. As he was passionate about helping others succeed, he eventually became a counselor at the VA, where he worked directly with hundreds of veterans struggling with their reintegration into civilian life. During this role, he developed an interest in improving the program and how we serve our veterans and their families. He began developing himself from a subject matter expert to an agency leader, and since then, he has been involved in many pilots, workgroups and innovations throughout different agencies and community organizations. For his contributions, he has received multiple accolades. His doctoral dissertation was an innovative study of specific cognitive variances in military veterans and its implications for rehabilitation and/or reintegration back to civilian life.

Lester also enjoyed teaching as an adjunct professor for Marshall University’s Graduate College and has served on advisories, committees and councils with dozens of organizations and agencies around the country, including several boards of directors and two international councils. Currently, he is the assistant director of the Philadelphia and Wilmington VA Regional Offices, where he serves more than 1 million veterans and their families in Pennsylvania, the state of Delaware and Southern New Jersey.

In other categories, Woodrum is the recipient of the Distinguished Service to Marshall University award, Mount is the recipient of the Outstanding Community Achievement award, and Powers is the recipient of the Young Alumnus award.

Over the past 50 years, Woodrum has served Marshall in numerous ways and has become an institution in the Marshall and local athletics communities. Most know him best during his time as a radio color commentator for Marshall football and basketball broadcasts, as well as hosting or co-hosting local pre- and post-game shows. He currently serves as a public address announcer for Marshall’s football, basketball, volleyball teams, among other sports. He has been a Marshall University Athletic Hall of Fame committee member since 1999.

In addition to his work at Marshall, Woodrum also worked full-time at Kindred Communications. At Kindred, Woodrum hosted Sportsline Daily Talk Show, wrote and edited the Herd Insider and did play-by-play and color for high school sports broadcasts. He currently works part-time for Kindred on Marshall pre- or post-game shows, as well as being the play-by-play voice of Huntington High School. For his work with Marshall and at Kindred, he has received numerous awards including West Virginia Broadcaster of the Year from the National Association of Sportswriters & Sportscasters.

Mount graduated from Marshall in 2004 from the College of Health Professions and went on to receive her Master’s in Nursing Informatics. She began her career in nursing in the pediatric intensive care unit and has worked as an air and ground transport nurse, clinical sales manager for North America, and in health care leadership. She now works as a director with the West Virginia Health Information Network. She serves as vice chair of Huntington City Council and chair of the Planning and Zoning Committee. She is a member of the City of Huntington’s Planning Commission, Mayor’s Council for Public Health & Drug Control Policy, and the City Council Drug Control Policy Committee. She also serves on the advisory panel for the Cabell-Huntington Health Department Harm Reduction Program. She coaches volleyball at St. Joseph Catholic School and softball majors for Huntington Little League.

Powers grew up in Lavalette, West Virginia, with his parents Michael and Christine Powers. He attended Wayne High School and graduated in 2017. Powers stayed close to home as he would go on to attend Marshall that fall. Powers is a 2021 graduate of Marshall University obtaining a degree in criminal justice and minoring in political science.

In the summer of 2018, Powers would attend his first ever training camp as an equipment intern for the Pittsburgh Steelers, only this time not as an avid fan like years prior. Growing up as a Steelers fan, inspired by his mother who grew up in Pittsburgh, the Steelers always held a special place in Powers’ heart. Over the next two seasons, Powers would travel to and from Pittsburgh for home games and would attend training camps in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, with the Steelers. In the spring of 2020, he was elected student body vice president alongside President Anna Williams. Powers’ role within the Steelers organization continued to grow as he was asked to stay on for the full season during the pandemic of 2020 and would work in Pittsburgh. While working full time, attending class remotely, and governing a student body as student body vice president, he juggled quite a bit. Upon returning in the spring of 2021, Powers finished out his time at Marshall. Powers currently serves as a full-time member of the Pittsburgh Steelers equipment staff.

Other honorees at the annual alumni awards banquet include the inaugural “3 C’s” Award with Cathryn P. Easterling, Walker R. Tatum and Kathy G. Eddy as recipients. In addition to alumni chapter awards, Marshall University Black Alumni will also award Janet Gaither with the Fran Jackson Scholarship award, Chiana Bradley with the Nate Ruffin Scholarship award, and Ta’Marra Cook with the Janis Winkfield Scholarship award.

Marshall University’s student body president will move into an alumni role when he graduates with his bachelor’s degree next month.

Walker Tatum has been named as the university’s new director of alumni engagement. In addition to currently serving as student body president, Tatum also serves as student representative on the Marshall University Board of Governors and vice chair of the West Virginia State Advisory Council of Students.

Dr. Ron Area, CEO of the Marshall University Foundation, says he is looking forward to the new addition to the advancement team.

“His experiences and skill set complement us as we look for new avenues of alumni engagement and unlock new opportunities for growth and sustainability,” said Area.

In his new role, Tatum will be primarily responsible for continuing the expansion of alumni chapters across the country and developing a strategic plan to engage young alumni. He will work alongside Matt James, executive director of alumni relations.

“Walker is a rockstar who exudes the passion, skills and vision necessary to take our alumni engagement efforts to the next level,” said James. “We’re thrilled to keep his talents at Marshall.”

Tatum will also play a critical role in connecting alumni to various initiatives in support of President Brad D. Smith’s “Marshall For All, Marshall Forever” program, including alumni mentorship, high school student recruitment and increased scholarships.

“I’m honored to embark on this new chapter and join a group of dedicated individuals committed to fostering connections and celebrating the achievements of our alumni,” said Tatum. “I look forward to contributing to the rich tradition of Marshall and working collaboratively to strengthen the ties that bind our diverse and accomplished alumni network.”

A native of Wayne, West Virginia, Tatum will graduate on April 27 with his bachelor’s degree in biological sciences, with minors in chemistry, business and pre-professional health care studies. During his time at Marshall, he earned the prestigious Gilman Scholarship through the U.S. State Department and has been a consistent champion for food insecurity among college students. His leadership on this issue led him to the halls of the West Virginia Legislature earlier this year when he testified in support of the Hunger Free Campus Act. As a result of Tatum’s advocacy, the Marshall Food Pantry will undergo a comprehensive renovation over the next several months.

Tatum says he plans to utilize his advocacy and leadership experiences to further the mission of The Marshall University Foundation.

“I look forward to building impactful relationships with alumni around the world and to work closely with someone whose leadership I have always looked up to, Matt James,” said Tatum. “Together, the office of alumni relations will foster a legacy of pride, achievement, and lifelong connections to ensure every alumnus is valued and cherished for years to come.”

Tatum will assume his new role on May 1. He currently resides in Wayne with his bernedoodle, Ziti.

Marshall University has announced that its 2024 Homecoming contest will be Marshall Football’s Saturday, Oct. 5, contest against Sun Belt Conference rival Appalachian State University at Joan C. Edwards Stadium.

The pageantry and excitement of Homecoming returns to Marshall University beginning Monday, Sept. 30, and culminating with the crowning of Marshall Royalty at halftime during the Appalachian State game.

This will be the fourth time in Marshall Football history that Appalachian State has served as the Homecoming opponent, but the first since the 1993 season when the Thundering Herd earned a 35-3 win over the Mountaineers. Marshall is 2-1 in Homecoming games between the teams.

“One of the best things about joining the Sun Belt was rekindling some of our historic rivalries,” said Christian Spears, Marshall University’s director of athletics. “No doubt, there’s mutual respect but also a sincere desire to get the win – not just because of talent, but because of heart and passion that goes with winning Homecoming for your school and community. There is tons of change happening in college athletics, but not with this rivalry. When it comes to App State and Marshall, spot the ball and let’s get after it!”

Homecoming weekend also serves as Parents and Family Weekend and there will be an Alumni and Family tailgate for the game.

A full schedule of events for Homecoming week, including information on the Homecoming Parade, will be shared as it becomes finalized.

“We are gearing up for one of the most exciting times of the year for our Marshall family,” said Matt James, executive director of Marshall University’s alumni relations. “This is a special time for us to celebrate with one another, cherish the Marshall moments that shaped us and ignite a flame of support for future generations. We welcome all alumni, students, community members and supporters to join us in October for another memorable Herd Homecoming!”

Marshall is coming off a season in which the team earned a bid to the 2023 Frisco Bowl, which established a new program record for consecutive years making it to a bowl game (7). The 2023 season also included a victory over Virginia Tech – the team’s second Power Five win in as many years (Notre Dame, 2022).

Since the opening of Joan C. Edwards Stadium in 1991, Marshall is 28-5 in Homecoming games and 9-1 over its past 10 games. Marshall’s all-time record in Homecoming games is 68-46-8.

For more information about Marshall’s 2024 Homecoming celebration and surrounding events, contact the Marshall University Alumni Association at (304) 696-3424. Also, follow the Marshall Foundation and Alumni Association on Facebook, X and Instagram by using @ForMarshallU for updates on Marshall events.

For all the latest information about Marshall Athletics, follow @HerdZone on X and Instagram.

To follow all Thundering Herd sports and get live stats, schedules and free live audio, download the Marshall Athletics App for iOS and Android.

The Marshall University Foundation has announced the establishment of the Alfred G. Duba Memorial Scholarship. This scholarship is generously endowed by the family and friends of Alfred Duba, a 1966 graduate and 1981 recipient of the Marshall University Alumni Association Distinguished Alumnus Award. Alfred Duba passed in August of 2023.

“My husband felt that anybody who is interested in going to Marshall should have a bit of extra help,” said Lucille Duba, wife of Alfred Duba. “He felt college was important. He thought it served as a pathway to a better life.”

Alfred Duba was born Jan. 26, 1940, in Braeholm, Logan County, West Virginia. The oldest of 12 children, he graduated from Man High School as valedictorian in 1958. From there, he enlisted in the United States Army and served as a personnel clerk posted in Heidelberg, Germany.

Under the GI Bill, Alfred Duba was able to attend Marshall and received his bachelor’s degree in physics in 1966. While at Marshall, he worked at Cabell Huntington Hospital where he met Lucille Duba, a fellow Marshall student, and they married in 1964. Alfred Duba later received his Ph.D. in geophysics at the University of Chicago.

After finishing his Ph.D. on the electrical conductivity of olivine, he completed research stays at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, Harvard University and the Australian National University in Canberra.

From 1972, he was employed as a research scientist at LLNL where he conducted experiments on how the earth behaved at high pressures and high temperatures and served various leadership roles. In 1981, he received the Marshall University Distinguished Alumnus award during Marshall University Alumni Association’s annual Alumni Awards Banquet. This year, Marshall will celebrate the 85th Alumni Awards Banquet on Saturday, April 13, 2024.

In 1985, he received an Alexander von Humboldt research award. In 1997, he was named Fellow of the American Geophysical Union. He also had visiting professorships in the Netherlands, France and Germany. In 2002, he retired early to return to West Virginia. For the next decade and a half, he worked at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, where he produced Earth news reports for the museums and schools across the United States. His research, collaborations and outreach brought him to locations across five continents and the North Pole.

Lucille Duba said her husband was an outgoing person and easily made friends anywhere they went. He often shared with them his love of Marshall and his home state.

“He was hardworking and very outgoing,” Lucille Duba said. “He thoroughly enjoyed life and enjoyed telling people about Marshall and West Virginia. He was never ashamed of where he was from. I think he gave people a good impression of West Virginia.”

The scholarship recipient shall be a full-time student in good academic standing with a 3.0 GPA or higher. The Office of Student Financial Assistance shall select the recipient and renew the award if full-time status and satisfactory academic progress are maintained.

For information regarding the Alfred G. Duba Memorial Scholarship, please contact Marshall University’s Office of Student Financial Assistance at 304-696-3162.