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(West Plains) – Missouri State University-West Plains has announced the recipients of the Distinguished Faculty/Staff and Alumni awards.

Rita Fugate, former assistant professor of mathematics at Missouri State University-West Plains, will receive the Distinguished Faculty/Staff Award, and Mountain Grove dentist Dr. Tom Todd will receive this year’s Distinguished Alumni Award during the Missouri State University Alumni Association’s annual spring picnic for alumni and friends at 6 PM Thursday, May 2, under the big tent at the corner of West Main Street and Pennsylvania Avenue near the Smith-London Centennial Bell Tower.

The awards recognize extraordinary service among former employees of Missouri State-West Plains and alumnus who has made extraordinary achievements in his or her personal and professional endeavors.

RITA FUGATE

Fugate, who received her bachelor’s degree in education from Missouri State University and her master’s degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia, spent over 30 years in education, both at the secondary and collegiate levels, before her retirement in February 2009.  She joined the campus full time as an Instructor of Mathematics in 1993 and quickly earned a reputation as a positive, upbeat and sincere educator.

Her efforts in the classroom and her willingness to serve as a mentor to other educators earned her the respect of her colleagues at the university and led to their unwavering support of her tenure as chair of the Math Department, Faculty Senate Chair, and her two terms as acting dean of academic affairs in 1999-2000 and 2007-09. During her tenure as dean, she led the effort to expand the faculty’s professional development program, developed an organized instructional program for an evening college at the Mountain Grove Extended Campus, implemented a student contact program for faculty, and directed a standardization of the university’s online programs.

Her strong reputation as an outstanding educator also earned her the first ever Educator of the Year Award from the West Plains Area Chamber of Commerce in 2007.

The annual picnic is free and open to all Missouri State University alumni and friends; however, reservations should be made prior to the event. For more information or to make reservations, call the Missouri State-West Plains development office at 417-255-7240.

TOM TODD

Todd attended Missouri State-West Plains from 1976-78 and completed a Bachelor of Science in Education degree from Missouri State-Springfield in 1979, just three years after taking his first college class. He was hired by the Thayer School District upon graduation to take over head coaching duties for the football team. A year later, he was accepted into the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Dentistry and completed his Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) degree in 1984. He then moved back to his hometown of Mountain Grove to begin his practice.

Since returning to his hometown, Todd has been an active member of the community, joining the Mountain Grove Chamber of Commerce and serving on the Mountain Grove School Board from 1998-2003, the YMCA advisory board and the Missouri State-West Plains’ Chancellor’s Advisory Board. In 2000, he was named Outstanding YMCA Member of the Year, and also contributed to the creation of the Mountain Grove Alumni Park and Panther Stadium at Mountain Grove High School.

The annual picnic is free and open to all Missouri State University alumni and friends; however, reservations should be made prior to the event. For more information or to make reservations, call the Missouri State-West Plains development office at 417-255-7240.

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