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K-State’s Human Ecology celebrates Thursday, Friday

By Jelani Yancey

The College of Human Ecology at Kansas State will recognize seven alumni and one company at a dinner in their honor Thursday at Justin Hall.

The event kicks off the college’s Celebration of Excellence. The $5 million, privately-funded Justin Hall expansion will be dedicated at 2 p.m. Friday.

The annual awards pay tribute to alumni who have made significant professional contributions to their fields.

Honorees and their awards are:

• Scott Rice Office Works, Partner Award. The partnership between Kansas State University’s department of apparel, textiles and interior design and Scott Rice Office Works began more than a decade ago. The company hires graduates from the department, provides internships and tours to student groups each year, hosts “hot careers nights” to recruit students to the university and the interior design major, and hosts meetings of the interior design program’s Professional Advisory Board. This year the company helped the College of Human Ecology acquire furniture for the Justin Hall expansion.

•Mary Vanier, Friend of the College Award. A 1989 graduate in hotel and restaurant management, Vanier is president of Grand Mere Development Inc. in Manhattan. She has established endowments and provided leadership for the Gamma Phi Beta International Society and its Kansas State University chapter. At the university she has made significant gifts to the Johnson Cancer Research Center, the Golf Course Management and Research Foundation and Kansas State Athletics.

•Shawn Sullivan, Public Advocacy Award. As secretary of the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services in Topeka, Sullivan heads a $1.67 billion dollar state agency responsible for promoting the security, dignity and independence of older adults and persons with disabilities. Sullivan has a bachelor’s degree in management and secondary major in gerontology from Kansas State University and a master’s degree in gerontology from the University of North Texas.

•Josh Umbehr, Young Professional Award. A board-certified family physician, who graduated from Kansas State University with a degree in human nutrition in 2003, owns Atlas MD Concierge Family Practice in Wichita. The award honors significant contributions in the field of human ecology by a graduate in the early stages of a career.

•Diane Parks, Executive Leadership Award. Vice president of sales in the nephrology unit at Amgen, Parks has been an executive for large pharmaceutical and biotech companies for more than 30 years. The native Kansan received a bachelor’s degree from Kansas State University in fashion merchandising in 1974. As vice president of sales for the hospital and health systems team, she and her team represent oncology and nephrology products. Parks is a strong advocate for developing women as leaders.

•Nancy Scally, Entrepreneur Award. Scally grew up on the family farm and ranch in western Kansas and graduated in 1983 from Kansas State University with a degree in dietetics. Today, she owns an electrical engineering company called Colorado Engineering Inc. in Colorado Springs, Colo. The company develops high-end electronics systems for the U.S. Department of Defense. Currently the company is designing, fabricating, testing and integrating a pulsed Doppler radar for the Air Force’s Global Hawk unmanned air vehicle program.

•Lora Gilbert, Distinguished Service Award. As senior director of food and nutrition services for the Orange County, Fla., Public Schools, Gilbert works with an annual budget of about $76 million, serving nearly 157,000 meals a day to students. For her work she has received the Silver Plate Award in School Food Service from the International Food Manufacturers Association, considered one of the food service industry’s highest recognitions. Gilbert received her master’s degree in 1981 from Kansas State University in human nutrition.

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