Official Newsletter of the Marshall University Alumni Association | April 2023

Integrity - Respect - Diversity - Pride

Award Season

In this jam-packed edition of the Marshall University Alumni Newsletter, we are excited to honor all of the recipients of alumni awards at the annual Alumni Awards Banquet, as well as look to the future as we get ready to welcome thousands of new alumni to the Marshall family during commencement at the end of this month.

But first, we want to take this time to congratulate all of the outstanding alumni, students and supporters that joined us on April 1 for the Alumni Awards Banquet to honor some truly exceptional individuals. We were also thrilled to see so many members of our alumni family supporting students at the Scholarship Honor Brunch hosted by the Marshall University Foundation earlier that same day.

We would also like to congratulate Jimmy Black who was named president of the Marshall University Alumni Association Board of Directors at the spring board meeting, and thank outgoing president Mikala Shremshock for her outstanding service. At the board meeting, we also welcomed Jane McDaniel, Reeves Kirtner, Dave Collins, Misty Ferguson, Rebecca Hayes and Jordan Wooldridge to executive positions.

Lastly, we hope you will join the entire Marshall community on April 26-27 as we make a real difference at Marshall during a special Day of Giving dedicated to recognizing those who make a philanthropic impact at the university.

Enjoy reading this edition of the Marshall University alumni newsletter. GO HERD!

MU Office of Alumni Relations

Marshall's Day of Giving set for April 26-27

Help make a difference for Marshall!

Marshall University alumni and supporters will have an opportunity to make their mark on the university during the second-ever day of giving across two days April 26-27.

Hosted by the Marshall University Foundation, this event is an opportunity for the Marshall family to join together and make a lasting impact on the students of Marshall and to help shape the future of the institution. Beginning at noon on Wednesday, April 26, Marshall’s Day of Giving will feature 36 hours of giving thanks, with stories, updates and interactive elements throughout the event on the Foundation and Marshall University social media feeds and websites.

Marshall University alumni and supporters are encouraged to participate in this transformational day by visiting

“Philanthropy is near and dear to my heart,” said Marshall University President Brad D. Smith. “It is an opportunity to give back and support the things we love. On April 26-27, I encourage the entire Marshall family to come together and support our great university on Marshall’s Day of Giving as we recognize those who support our students, our campus and our mission through giving.”



Nike CEO will be featured speaker at Marshall's spring commencement

NIKE, Inc. President and Chief Executive Officer John Donahoe, a longtime leader in the global business world, has been selected as the keynote speaker for Marshall University’s Spring 2023 Commencement.

Marshall President Brad D. Smith made the announcement last month.

“John is truly a titan of industry – a visionary who understands what it means to bring purpose to life,” Smith said. “His business acumen is top tier, and his daily actions at Nike show he genuinely cares for people, the planet and community success.”

Donahoe is a graduate of Dartmouth College and the Stanford Graduate School of Business. He started his career at Bain & Company before becoming the firm’s president and CEO in 1999. Later, Donahoe led ServiceNow and eBay before being chosen to lead NIKE, Inc. in January 2020, having served on the company’s board of directors since 2014. As CEO, he is responsible for the continued growth of NIKE’s global business portfolio, which includes the Nike, Jordan and Converse brands.


Annual Scholarship Honor Brunch celebrates donors and scholarship recipients

Student scholarship recipients were honored at Marshall University during the 2023 Scholarship Honor Brunch, hosted by the Marshall University Foundation on April 1. This annual event recognizes those students who are beneficiaries of privately funded scholarships, as well as the donors and families who made the awards possible.

Dr. Ron Area, CEO and senior vice president of development of the Foundation, delivered a special welcome to more than 400 students and donors who attended the event in the Don Morris Room of the Memorial Student Center. This year’s brunch marked the 28th occurrence of the event, originally started in 1993, missing the annual occasion in 2009, 2020 and 2021.

“The Scholarship Honor Brunch brings together scholarship beneficiaries and award benefactors and highlights our mission to maximize continuous financial support for Marshall University and its students,” Area said. “We are absolutely committed to increasing the accessibility of education for our students and are thankful for the benevolence of our donors who truly support their Marshall family through their donations as well as their presence here today.”


Kim Stephens to lead Marshall women's basketball program

Marshall University Director of Athletics Christian Spears announced that Kim Stephens has signed an agreement to lead Marshall's women's basketball program.

"We have something really special at Marshall and sometimes, you find people who recognize that instantly. Kim Stephens is one who recognized it instantly," Spears said. "And, as an athletic director, sometimes you recognize that a coach has something really special – a persona, a system, a set of core values, a personality filled with innate qualities that you absolutely know will lead to success. That's what we have in Coach Stephens.

"She will meet this opportunity at Marshall and she will build this program into a point of pride for our community, our region and for our state. We are honored to introduce Kim as the 8th head coach in Marshall women's basketball history."

Stephens said she's excited for her new challenge in coaching, which is to lead the Thundering Herd in its quest for championships in the Sun Belt Conference.

"Marshall has been my dream job for a long time and I am looking forward to continuing my career in my home state," Stephens said. "Christian Spears and (Marshall President) Brad Smith are leading Marshall in the right direction and I am honored to be a part of it. I can't wait to get to work."

Stephens' agreement is a seven-year deal, which has been approved by Marshall University's Board of Governors.


Herd softball surpasses 30 wins

Don't look now, but the Marshall University softball team is 31-3 and is currently enjoying a 21-game win streak, a new program record.

The streak was built to 21 games with a weekend sweep of the Georgia State Panthers by a pair of 5-1 and 6-0 scorelines at Dot Hicks Field.

Dr. Dot Hicks was in the stands to see Coach Megan Smith Lyon's team cap off a perfect 7-0 homestand. The Herd is 17-0 at home in 2023. 

There are still plenty of opportunities to catch a game at Dot Hicks Field, check out the full schedule below.


Alumni News, Chapters

and Member Benefits

Outstanding alumni, supporters honored at Alumni Awards Banquet

The 84th annual Alumni Awards Banquet, hosted by the Marshall University Alumni Association, took place April 1 at Brad D. Smith Foundation Hall in Huntington.

In total, more than a dozen individuals were honored during the annual spring event recognizing outstanding alumni, supporters, students at Marshall. In addition to the individual awards found below, several special recognitions were presented at the event including a special recognition of outgoing MUAA President Mikala Shremshock and recognition of Richard Plymale as this year's Unsung Hero award recipient.

You can rewatch the entire 84th Alumni Awards Banquet by clicking on the link below.



Bill Noe

Born in Ashland, Kentucky, and raised in Huntington, Bill Noe is the chief aviation officer at Marshall. Noe, an accomplished pilot and business executive, is the former president and chief operations officer for NetJets, a global private jet company based in Columbus, Ohio.

Before Noe reached for the skies, he dove below the waters of the Huntington Olympic Pool at the age of 4. Noe began breaking local and state records at a young age, which led him to attending Marshall and joining its swim team. One of Noe’s biggest accomplishments while at Marshall was the 1983 Southern Conference Swimming Championship, where he set six pool, six school and six conference records while leading Marshall to the championship. He also won the “Most Valuable Swimmer” award. Noe was inducted into the Marshall Athletics Hall of Fame in 2020.

Noe left Marshall his junior year, though he returned and earned his Regents Bachelor of Arts degree in 2005, to work for an industrial contractor. The owner of the company was a pilot who invited Noe on his plane one day, which led to his decision two years later to attend the FlightSafety Academy in Vero Beach, Florida. Noe later worked for American Flyers, a well-known training academy, but had his eye on a bigger prize – working for NetJets – which he ultimately achieved. He climbed the NetJets ladder, eventually becoming president and chief operating officer in 2006.

Before becoming chief aviation officer at Marshall, Noe served on the university’s board of governors. Marshall’s flight school is named in his honor.


Dr. Randi D. Ward

Dr. Randi D. Ward is an educator, chancellor of World University of Leadership and Management, best-selling author, editor and entrepreneur. She graduated from Marshall in 1971 with a bachelor’s degree in language arts, setting forth her 37 years as an educator in West Virginia and Georgia.

In 2011, Ward taught English as a second language in Cairo, Egypt. Her time in Egypt had a profound impact on her, and as such, she wrote her memoir, “Because I Believed in Me (My Egyptian Fantasy Came True).” In 2013, Ward founded Rise Up, an adult English language center, as well as 6 October English Institute which opened in 2014.

Ward has many varied interests and passions. She is a world traveler and has toured and visited 61 countries on four continents, including four trips to Egypt. She penned a second book, “Dream Bigger,” and is working on a new novel “Random Wanderings.” She is also a writer and the chief editor for Morocco Pens, an online Moroccan magazine featuring educational articles and essays in English. She is also a professional motivational speaker.


Randy Dunfee

Randy Dunfee is a Huntington native, entrepreneur and businessman. He graduated from Huntington East High School while working in the afternoons and evenings. His ambition led him from being a stock boy at Fabric Town Interiors to purchasing the company when he was just 21 years old. He is still president of the company and fully active in the day-to-day operations. Dunfee has worked with notable clients, including Jay Rockefeller when he was governor of West Virginia, and Warner Bros. where he provided set décor for “We Are Marshall.” The famous green carpet at the movie’s premiere in 2006? That was all Dunfee.

Randy is also a lifelong Marshall fan, and his support for the university has only grown the more involved he has been through the years. Dunfee has worked extensively with the Big Green Foundation and the Quarterback Club, as well as supporting Marshall through the Vision Campaign. In addition to his support to Marshall, Dunfee also supports Hospice of Huntington, Facing Hunger Foodbank and the Boys and Girls Club.


Mendy Aluise

Mendy Aluise is a partner at the Huntington-based accounting firm Somerville & Company PLLC. She began her career with Somerville after she graduated from Marshall in 2004. During her career, she has been involved with several professional organizations, including the Huntington Chapter of the West Virginia Society of CPAs, which she served as president from 2015-2016. She currently serves as treasurer of the West Virginia Society of CPAs and is slated to become president in 2025.

Mendy has also been involved with several local nonprofit organizations, including Hospice of Huntington, the Marshall Artists Series and Generation Huntington, which is a subcommittee of the Huntington Regional Chamber of Commerce. She served on the Marshall University Alumni Association board of directors. For many years, Aluise was a board member and vice president of Girls on the Run of Cabell and Wayne Counties, which aims to empower elementary school-aged girls.


Christopher Taylor

Christopher Taylor is the chief technology and information officer at Saint Augustine’s University in Raleigh, North Carolina. He graduated from Marshall in 2008 and earned a bachelor’s degree in computer forensics. After leaving Marshall, he worked with the Transportation Security Administration and Department of Homeland Security. As part of his work, Taylor, who grew up in Keyser, West Virginia, was able to travel to several major cities across the country. He also owns his own company, Melanin Travels LLC, which encourages all people, but specifically people of color, to travel more.

After leaving TSA and DHS, Taylor moved to South Korea and taught English as a second language at Noble Academy. When he returned to the U.S., Taylor moved to Washington, D.C. and worked at the Securities and Exchange Commission as a government contractor. In 2014, he received his Cisco certification and moved to San Francisco. In 2017, he returned to the East Coast and moved to North Carolina. His ultimate goal is to become the chief technology officer or chief information officer of Google or Samsung, which are his two favorite tech companies.


Sassa Wilkes

College of Arts & Media

C. Zachary Meyers

College of Business

Lucianne Call

College of Education

Adam Weible

College of Engineering

Denise Hogsett

College of Health Professions

Dr. Janine Janosky

College of Liberal Arts

Jody Ogle

College of Science

Dr. Robert J. Cure

School of Medicine

Dr. Sarah Dunaway

School of Pharmacy


Cam Henderson Scholarship Award: Abigail Hugh

Nate Ruffin Scholarship Award: Destinee Leggett

Janis Winkfield Scholarship Award: Jaedyn Harris

Fran Jackson Scholarship Award: Tia Wooding

Nancy Pelphrey/Herd Village Scholarship Award: Jaeden Fleenor

Nancy Pelphrey/Herd Village Scholarship Award: Kenneth Johnson


Mid-Ohio Valley, Southern Coalfields Alumni and Big Green Chapters take home Chapter of the Year Awards

The Marshall University Southern Coalfields Alumni and Big Green Chapter, located in Beckley, West Virginia, and the Marshall University Alumni of the Mid-Ohio Valley Chapter, located in Parkersburg, West Virginia, have been named MUAA’s 2023 Chapters of the Year.

Mid-Ohio Valley Chapter

One of the most successful Marshall University Alumni Association chapters ever, there is nothing this group of dedicated individuals can't do. Through highly successful events and online outreach, this chapter supports alumni in Parkersburg and the surrounding communities.

In 2022, the chapter awarded eight scholarships for students in the area, bringing their lifetime total to 112 scholarships awarded. The chapter also raised more than $20,000 for Marshall University through innovative events like a hybrid fundraiser which included an in-person rally and online auction.

Southern Coalfields Chapter

Since its formation in 2017, this chapter has experienced tremendous growth and was named the MUAA Chapter of the Year for the first time in 2022. Through outstanding annual events, a tremendous online presence, and dedicated members, this chapter has truly brought Marshall University to southern West Virginia!

In 2022 alone, the chapter awarded four $1,500 scholarships to incoming freshmen in the four southern West Virginia counties, and has made significant contributions to Marshall, both in academics and athletics through a partnership between Marshall University Alumni Association and Big Green Scholarship Foundation.


The Marshall Artists Series is one of the nation's leading college-town arts and entertainment series and the second oldest, dating back to 1936. Housed in the historic Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center (pictured) in downtown Huntington, the series offers a full schedule of performances and films. Students at Marshall receive tickets to the MAS as part of their tuition and fees.

See more throwback photos and #HerdHistory every week on the Marshall University Alumni Association social media channels.


Marshall Foundation

News and Updates

American Water award to boost RCBI's annual Makes Festival

Marshall University’s Robert C. Byrd Institute (RCBI) has announced Friday, Oct. 6, as the date for the 10th annual West Virginia Makes Festival, the state and region’s largest maker fair. Officials say this year’s event will be bigger and better than ever, thanks to a sizeable STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) grant from the American Water Charitable Foundation.

The foundation, the charitable arm of American Water, parent company of West Virginia American Water, has awarded $14,000 to the Marshall University Foundation to support RCBI’s annual community-based event that promotes innovative West Virginia-based STEM entrepreneurship.


Marshall grads and State Farm agents announce alumni scholarship

Five Marshall University graduates who live in the region and work as State Farm agents recently came together to establish the State Farm Agent’s Alumni Scholarship.

The agents who made this scholarship possible are Rob Bowers of St. Albans, West Virginia; Brandon Huffman of Cross Lanes, West Virginia; Bill Mangus of Dunbar, West Virginia; Jeff Smith of Huntington; and George Swain of Williamson, West Virginia.

“We are all very proud of Marshall and individually contribute to the Marshall Foundation or the Big Green Foundation,” Smith said. “We do our part to give back to Marshall and the community.”


Alumni establish medical school scholarship

Marshall University alumni Patrick A. Stone, M.D., and Cynthia E. Coleman, MSN-FNP, know the determination it takes to achieve your dreams amid the curveballs life can throw. They have established a new scholarship at the Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine dedicated to students with demonstrated financial need.

Stone was president of his class when he graduated from Marshall’s medical school in 1999. He lost his mother as a young child, sparking his interest in medicine.

As a teenage mother, Coleman was determined to achieve. Her love for patients has been evident throughout her career and was passed down to her daughter, who now is a registered nurse.




U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit visits Marshall

Nearly two hundred people, including local high school students, university students and area lawyers attended a special oral argument session of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit at Marshall University last month.

It was the inaugural visit by the court to Marshall University, an event usually reserved for universities with law schools.


Board of Governors approves athletics contracts

The Marshall University Board of Governors approved personnel athletics contracts including a three-year extension for veteran men’s basketball coach Dan D’Antoni. The 75-year-old coach led the men’s basketball program to its best regular season win total in 76 years. 


President Brad D. Smith visits area high schools for Academic Signing Days

According to Marshall University President Brad D. Smith, student-athletes aren't the only ones who should get to partake in a special signing day.

Throughout the month of March, President Smith and members of his staff visited West Virginia high schools for a special Academic Signing Day to welcome incoming freshman to the Marshall family. Smith visited high schools in Wayne and Raliegh counties in March, and plans to visit other high schools in the future.

Additionally, Smith and Matt James, executive director of alumni relations at Marshall, met with local alumni at each stop as the university continues to grow its alumni chapter network, both locally and throughout the country.

Woodlands Retirement Community

A premier Continuing Care Retirement Community in Huntington
The Marshall University Alumni Association is proud to partner with Woodlands Retirement Community located in Huntington, West Virginia.

Woodlands Retirement Community is a premier Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) for people 55 and over that sits atop 171 acres of spectacular property overlooking hilltops and valleys in the area. Woodlands is a community that offers peace of mind by catering to three defining areas of living. First, encouraging wellness through an active, independent lifestyle and the companionship of close friends. Second, spacious cottages and apartments and providing services, events and special amenities to provide an unparalleled independent living experience. Finally, providing every resident access to onsite assisted living and memory support, should health care services ever be required.

Woodlands has the distinction of being the region’s only LifeCare community. Residents who choose LifeCare have the security of knowing they will always be able to stay in their Woodlands home – near friends, old and new – even if their health care needs change and they outlive their financial resources.

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