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Alumni Association to honor eight during 2015 Awards Banquet

March 27, 2015
By cnp
Posted in Alumni

The University of the Ozarks Alumni Association will present honors to eight of its distinguished alumni during the 2015 Alumni Weekend Awards Banquet, scheduled for Friday, April 17.

The annual awards banquet will begin at 5 p.m. in the Rogers Conference Center. For the first time, the university’s Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony will be held during the awards banquet.

Tickets to the banquet are $18 each and can be purchased by calling the Alumni Office at 479-979-1234 or on-line at

This year’s alumni award recipient will include, Bill Crowder ’56 and the late Col. Ernest Lee "Mac" McDaniel ’40 with the Achievement Award; Jimmy Powell ’74 with the Merit Award; Mario E. Molina ’98 with the Young Alumni Service Award; and Charlene McMillan Watson ’44 and John "Jack" Phillips, Jr. ’50 with the Alumni Legacy Award. This year’s inductees into the Sports Hall of Fame will be former women’s basketball standout Alicia (Haney) Skinner ’95 and former soccer great Rickey Herrera ’04.

In addition, Lady Eagles Softball Coach Laurie Adkins will be presented with the Alumni Enrichment Grant and Professor of Environmental Studies Dr. Kim Van Scoy will be given the Faculty Enrichment Grant.

Bill Crowder '56 src='data:image/svg+xml,%3Csvg%20xmlns=%22' data-src=

Crowder, who went on to earn a master’s degree from the University of Arkansas after graduating from Ozarks, was a long-time college baseball coach in Fort Smith. Crowder compiled an impressive record of 1,003-559 in 33 years of coaching baseball at Westark College (now UA-Fort Smith).  He also held head coaching positions at Springdale and Ozark high schools. Crowder is a member of U of O’s Sports Hall of Fame, the NJCAA Baseball Coaches Association National Hall of Fame, and UA-Fort Smith Sports Hall of Fame.  He has written numerous publications, including, "Success is More Than Wins."  Crowder currently serves on the U of O Alumni Association Board and lives in Fort Smith with his wife, Jean.  They have two children, five grandchildren, and one great-grandson.

Col. Ernest Lee "Mac" McDaniel '40 src='data:image/svg+xml,%3Csvg%20xmlns=%22' data-src=

McDaniel, who died in 1967, was a multi-sport standout in the late 1930s at Ozarks. After college, he attended infantry school, as well as the Command and General Staff College as part of the National Guard.  He went on to serve his country for more than 30 years. At the time of his death, he was a plans officer with the Arkansas National Guard.  McDaniel and his widow, Jeanne, have two children: James Lee and Mary Elizabeth.

Jimmy Powell '74" src='data:image/svg+xml,%3Csvg%20xmlns=%22' data-src=

Powell, who graduated from Ozarks with a degree in business administration, began a career with the Department of Justice Federal Bureau of Prisons soon after graduation in 1974 and continued to work for the Federal Prison System for the remainder of his 33-year professional career. Among the positions he held included, the Deputy Bureau Personnel Director in Washington D.C., Regional Human Resource Manager and Director of the Bureau’s Staff Training Academy in Georgia, and the Director of Management and Specialty Training Center in Aurora, Col.  In 2005, he became responsible for consolidating the agency’s Human Resource Management Programs.  He activated the Consolidated Employee Services Center in Grand Prairie, Texas, as its first chief.  He received both the Director’s Special Recognition Award for his leadership in the activation of the Consolidated Employee Services Center, and the Director’s Meritorious Service Medal, which is the highest award the agency can give to an employee. Powell is now retired and lives on Lake Toledo Bend Reservoir in East Texas with his wife, Rose. 

Mario E. Molina ’98 src='data:image/svg+xml,%3Csvg%20xmlns=%22' data-src=

Molina is the director of the Climate Reality Project’s leadership corps program. Based in Colorado, the Climate Reality Project was founded by former U.S. Vice President Al Gore to effectively communicate the climate crisis and engage the public in demanding urgent action towards solutions. As the Director of the Leadership Corps, Molina is responsible for the strategic design of international trainings led by Gore to convene high-level influencers and decision-makers. Prior to joining the Climate Reality Project, Molina was deputy director at the Alliance for Climate Education, a program that reached over 1.3 million students across the U.S with climate science curriculum. Molina has a master’s degree in biology from Appalachian State University, where he focused his research in GIS modeling of wetland ecosystems. 

 John "Jack" Phillips, Jr. '50" src='data:image/svg+xml,%3Csvg%20xmlns=%22' data-src=

Phillips went on to a long and successful career as an oil and gas engineer after graduating from Ozarks. He is a former member of the University’s Board of Trustees, and is an active member of the Clarksville First United Methodist Church.  Phillips is also a former recipient of the Alumni Achievement Award and the Alumni Merit Award.  He and his wife, Ann, are retired and live in Clarksville.  They enjoy spending time with family and gardening.

Charlene McMillan Watson '44" src='data:image/svg+xml,%3Csvg%20xmlns=%22' data-src=

Watson currently lives in Arlington, Texas.  After receiving her degree in music from Ozarks, she went on to earn a master’s degree in music education and taught at various schools for 41 years.  She was married for 62 years, has two children and one grandchild.  Watson spends her time volunteering at the library, as an Alliance for Children member, and reading to students.

Alicia (Haney) Skinner '95" src='data:image/svg+xml,%3Csvg%20xmlns=%22' data-src=

Skinner, who lives in Russellville, was a standout on the women’s basketball team from 1991-95 and remains the program’s career leader in both rebounds and assists. She was a member of the Arkansas Intercollegiate Conference’s all-freshman team in 1991-92 and earned all-conference honors in 1994 and 1995. The Lady Eagles went a combined 77-42 during her four-year career.

 Rickey Herrera '04" src='data:image/svg+xml,%3Csvg%20xmlns=%22' data-src=

Herrera, a state trooper in Las Cruces, N.M., starred on the men’s soccer team from 2000-2003 and was a three-time American Southwest Conference all-conference honoree. He is the program’s career goal-scorer (54) and had 14 game-winning goals in his career. The Eagles went a combined 59-24-3 during his four-year career.

Van Scoy will be awarded the Faculty Enrichment Grant to assist her in developing a community garden on campus. In her proposal, Van Scoy said the community garden would, "teach our students the principles of sustainable agriculture and…further support Ozarks’ strong commitment to community and social justice by focusing on food security.  Students will have the opportunity to give food to our local community, supporting low-income families with nutritious and healthy food alternatives."

Adkins will receive the Alumni Enrichment Grant for her proposal to develop a strategy to improve alumni relations for the women’s softball program.

For more information on the 2015 Alumni Awards Banquet, please contact the Office of Alumni Relations at 479-979-1234.