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Cantu ’99 named Business Leader of the Year by University’s business division

March 17, 2014
By cnp
Posted in Business Administration

Leonel Cantu, a 1999 University of the Ozarks graduate and the branch manager for Regions Bank in Clarksville, was named the 2013-2014 Business Leader of the Year by University's Division of Business, Communication and Government.

During a brief ceremony in the Baldor Business Building on March 17, members of the U of O business faculty as well as business student organizations Enactus and Phi Beta Lambda (PBL) presented the award to Cantu.

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Leonel Cantu (holding trophy) was recognized as the 2013-2014 Business Leader of the Year by the University’s Division of Business, Communication and Government during a ceremony on March 17. Among those who presented the award were (from left) Professor of Business and Management Dr. Rickey Casey, PBL President Kurt Shemanske, U of O President Richard Dunsworth, Enactus President Jose O’Connor, and Assistant Professor of Management and Business Cynthia Lanphear.

Dr. Rickey Casey, professor of management and business, helped recruit Cantu to Ozarks from Mexico in the mid-1990s. Cantu received a Walton International Scholarship to attend Ozarks.

"From the first time I met Leonel, when he was in high school, I could tell there was something special about this young man," Casey said. "I saw a commitment to making a difference in the world and a passion for God. He and two other students started the Alpha & Omega Christian organization when they were students here because they wanted to share the good works of God. He still has that same kind commitment and passion for God and for helping others."

Cantu, who earned a master’s degree in information technology from Arkansas Tech University after graduating from Ozarks, has served as branch manager at Regions Bank since 2011. Previously he served as branch manager and vice president for a bank in Arlington, Texas.

Cantu also volunteers as the chair of the Johnson County Single Parent Scholarship committee and as a member of the area’s Community Service Foundation.

"I am extremely humbled to receive this award," Cantu said. "I truly believe that we should try to make a positive difference every day, in what we say and what we do."

The University’s Division of Business, Communication and Government began awarding the Business Leader of the Year Award in 2003, following the business program gaining accreditation by the International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education (IACBE). The award is modeled on the IACBE Business Leader of the Year Award guidelines.

Past recipients of the U of O Business Leader of the Year Award are:

2003-2004: Don Soderquist of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
2004-2005: Ray Hobbs, alumnus, president and CEO of Daisy Outdoor Products
2005-2006: Ramesh Retnam, alumnus, president of Varsity Company International
2006-2007: John McFarland, president and CEO of Baldor Electric Company
2007-2008: Jack Shewmaker, executive consultant, Board of Directors, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
2008-2009: Greg Jensen, alumnus, co-founder, and executive vice president of logistics and transportation, Propak Logistics
2009-2010: Joe Allbright, vice President of international real estate, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
2010-2011: Rendi Black, vice president, agency, State Farm Insurance Companies, Inc.
2011-2012: Carol Spieckerman, president and CEO, newmarketbuilders
2013-2014: Leonel Cantu, branch manager and banker at Regions Bank in Clarksville