Recipients of the 1982 Alumni Medallion Award Announced

Posted July 01, 1982

Three individuals — Milton Eisenhower, Velma Good Huston, and Don McNeal — were named recipients of the Kansas State University Alumni Association's Alumni Medallion during May 15 commencement exercises.

The Medallion is the most prestigious of the alumni association's honors. Twelve individuals have received the award since the program was initiated in 1969.

The selections were made by a secret panel of prominent KSU alumni and faculty members. The awards are based on a criterion of humanitarian service to society. Service to Kansas State University is not a requirement.

Eisenhower, the only alumnus to serve as president of Kansas State University, was not able to attend the exercises because of health reasons. His medallion will be presented in special ceremonies at a later date.

Velma Good Huston, who resides in Skamania, Wash., holds two home economics degrees from K-State, a B.S. in 1943 and a master's in 1950. She established an extension program in the nation of Israel in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Her overseas task followed successful efforts, as assistant state leader, to establish a strong extension program in the Upper Peninsula region of Michigan.

"Mrs. Huston's willingness to make personal sacrifices to help other people caught the attention of the judges," Larry Weigel, executive director of the alumni association said. "It came through very clearly that extension work was more than a job to her — it was a commitment to serving.

"Among the background material reviewed by the judges was a feature article about Mrs. Huston which was published  in the Jerusalem Post. It quoted her as saying, 'An extension worker must never approach her work as a supervisor from above who gives orders. She must enter the daily lives of the people among whom she works, learning from them as she teaches them.'

"Here attitude and actions convinced the judges that Mrs. Huston has a genuine appreciation for people. She is a true humanitarian."

Don McNeal has served as editor and published of the Council Grove Republican since 1946. He has an extensive record of public service on the local, state, and national levels.

The 1936 KSU graduate has been especially diligent in his efforts on behalf of his alma mater. He is a former national president of the alumni association and is currently chairman of the association's legislative network.

"When Kansas State University has looked for leadership over the past four decades we've tended to turn to Don McNeal," Weigel said. "He is a people person — he cares about the feelings of others. I believe that's why he is so successful in bringing people together and persuading them to work from the common goal.

"Those of us at Kansas State University are especially appreciative of his volunteer efforts on behalf of the university, but his interests extend far beyond higher education. I was struck by the diversity of his contributions to society when I attended Don McNeal Day in Council Grove a few years ago. People were there from all walks of life and from many communities throughout the state, but it was obvious they all had one thing in common — a high regard for Don."

Eisenhower, a 1924 KSU graduate who now lives in Baltimore, Md., has compiled a distinguished record in both education and public service. During his seven-year tenure as president, from 1943-1950, he transformed K-State into a comprehensive educational institution by revising all 51 curriculums and establishing Ph.D. programs in philosophy, political science, economics and other areas. He later served as president of Pennsylvania State University and John Hopkins University. His public service record included special assignments carried out on behalf of eight U.S. presidents.

"The contributions of Milton Eisenhower to education and the welfare of the nation speak for themselves," Weigel said. "By any measure, he would have to be considered one of this institution's best-known and most influential alumni.

"Even though he has never sought elective office, he has had a voice in shaping national policy through a major portion of this nation's history. We all know that his brother, President Dwight Eisenhower, greatly valued his counsel. But I think the fact that seven other presidents — also called upon him for advice and assistance says a great deal about the worth of the man."