BALDWIN CITY, Kan. — Baker University will recognize four dignitaries for distinguished service at the University’s 33rd Annual Awards Banquet Friday, Oct. 28, at The Fairmont Kansas City on the Plaza.
This year’s award recipients are: Thomas McDonnell, president and CEO of DST Systems Inc.; Phil Witt, news anchor and senior reporter at FOX 4 News; Murray Blackwelder, senior vice president of advancement at Purdue University; and his wife, Diane Wilson Blackwelder, assistant dean of students at Purdue.
McDonnell will receive the Distinguished Leadership in Business Award. As president and chief executive officer of DST Systems Inc. McDonnell oversees a business that operates offices in 14 cities worldwide with 8,500 associates domestically and 1,500 associates internationally. DST is a leading provider of information processing and computer software services and products serving financial, communications and healthcare industries.
McDonnell serves as chairman of the Harry S. Truman Library Institute and as board member of the Midwest Research Institute, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.
He has been recognized with several honors including his selection as Kansas Citian of the Year in 2003 and the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce Centurian Leadership Award in 2002.
Witt will receive the Distinguished Civic Leadership Award. He recently celebrated 25 years reporting news at WDAF-TV. Since 1973, he has worked in various capacities in broadcast journalism, including news anchor, reporter, news photographer, weatherman, sports reporter and promotion manager.
Witt, who recently received the Kansas City Spirit Award by Gillis Center, has been honored for his work in youth employment campaigns and the Youth Advocate Award of the Kansas City Council on Youth Development. He has earned honors in the Kansas City Press Club’s Heart of America Awards for Journalism Excellence. The Learning Disabilities Association of Missouri named Witt journalist of the year.
Murray Blackwelder, a 1969 Baker graduate, and his wife, Diane, a 1970 Baker graduate, will receive the Distinguished Alumni Award.
Murray has been involved in university relations for more than 30 years. At Purdue, he oversees the development office, university relations and is the liaison to the Purdue Alumni Association. He developed plans and implemented the largest capital campaign in Indiana at $1.5 billion. He has also served at Iowa State, Wichita State, Rockhurst College and Baker University.
Murray is recipient of the Board of Governors Award from Iowa State University and was named Alumnus of the Year by the Gamma Theta Chapter of Delta Tau Delta fraternity. He also received the Distinguished Service Chapter Award from Delta Tau Delta.
Diane taught for 18 years in Kansas elementary schools and later supervised student teachers at Iowa State University. She also served as Director of Development for Youth & Shelter Services Inc.
She is a past National Vice President of Alpha Chi Omega Sorority, past national Pan-Hellenic Conference Delegate of Alpha Chi Omega, past President of the Alpha Chi Omega Foundation and former board member of her American Red Cross chapter.
Diane is board member of the YWCA Foundation, member of PEO and board member of Tippecanoe Arts Federation.
The Awards Banquet will begin with a social hour at 6:30 p.m., followed by dinner and the awards ceremony at 7:30 p.m.