The Alumni Medallion

Posted November 01, 2004

The highest honor K-State bestows on its graduates for lifetime humanitarian service is the Alumni Medallion. Wayne H. Freeman '38, Gatlinburg, Tenn., and Dr. Dan W. Upson '52, '62, '69, Manhattan, Kan., were recognized as 2004 recipients during the spring commencement ceremonies. They received the medallion at their respective agriculture and veterinary medicine exercises on May 21-22. Since the program was started by the Alumni Association in 1969, a total of 51 medallions have been bestowed.

Wayne Freeman '38
Wayne H. Freeman, Gatlinburg, Tenn., spent a lifetime developing the capabilities of poor nations to feed their people. Freeman earned a bachelor's degree in agriculture in 1938 and pursued graduate studies at the University of Illinois, earning a master's degree and doctorate in agronomy.

Freeman started his career at the Mississippi Agricultural Experiment Station, followed by an appointment as a corn breeder with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He developed Dixie 18, the first yellow hybrid corn adapted to the lower southern Corn Belt. It was widely used from South Carolina to Louisiana for 20 years.

After achieving significant success as a corn breeder in the United States from 1941 to 1961, Freeman joined what became known as the "Green Revolution," taking the sciences of plant genetics and crop management to the poorest corners of the earth with the purpose of enhancing the nutritional status of all people.

"Within the international agricultural research community, it is well recognized that Dr. Freeman is one of the unsung heroes of the Green Revolution that dramatically improved the lives of hundreds of millions of poor people around the world," said Robert Zeigler, former head of the K-State department of plant pathology.

Colleagues said Freeman has done so with great humility, great efforts and great dedication.

In 1961, Freeman joined the Rockefeller Foundation to serve in the foundation's agricultural program in India. This was four years after the foundation began playing a role in modernizing India's agricultural research. With virtually no seed industry in India, Freeman initiated a seed program that today is the Indian Seed Industry, producing seed of five major cereal grains, seven legume crops, cotton, six oil seed crops and 20 vegetable crops.

He spent 15 years (1961-1976) developing this work in India and another six years (1976-1982) with the Rockefeller Foundation working with the national research programs in Nepal, where he continued as an active consultant for yet another 10 years.

"The Nepal experience of Dr. Freeman tends to characterize his special capacities and leadership abilities," said Colin McClung, a former colleague in Nepal. "He was dealing with a country of a diverse climate with limited resources of trained men, power and finances. Yet Dr. Freeman's warm personality, strong character and tireless energy melded these elements into an effective team."

In retirement, Freeman continues a life of public service. He holds a director position with the Mahyco Research Foundation in India. He also serves on the Gatlinburg Gateway Foundation, which promotes citywide improvements and economic development. He returns to K-State annually to talk to rice geneticists about the latest scientific results in Asia.

A native of Smith County in Kansas, Freeman married his 1938 K-State classmate Eleanor Glass Freeman. They have two daughters, Anna Belle and Sara Jane, and a son, Charles.

Dan Upson '52, '62, '69
Dr. Dan W. Upson, Manhattan, Kan., was in private veterinary practice in Kansas at Hutchinson and Pretty Prairie from 1952 to 1959. Afterward he began a 35-year tenure on the K-State veterinary faculty. Upson earned a doctor of veterinary medicine degree at K-State in 1952, as well as a master's degree and doctorate in 1962 and 1969 respectively.

Appointed by Gov. Bill Graves, Upson was the first veterinarian to serve on the Kansas Pharmacy Board, the unit that oversees regulation of human and animal prescription drugs. Upson helped rewrite the regulations to standardize procedures for proper drug use in food animals.

"Dan was a godsend to our board in that we were facing major issues concerning the distribution of animal medications in Kansas," said Dr. Barry Sarvis, Kansas Pharmacy Board president. "He brought the major players together from the feedlots, veterinarians, wholesalers and drug manufacturers to meet with the board. Everyone knew and respected Dan, and his presence added instant credibility to the board's efforts."

His impact on pharmaceutical safety stems from his research and advocacy of proper drug therapy in animals. Consequently, 16 companies asked Upson to serve as a consultant. He has presented more than 250 talks, seminars and invited papers. His widely used Handbook of Clinical Veterinary Pharmacology is in its fourth edition.

While high technology classrooms are common place on campus today, Upson pioneered technology-based education in the College of Veterinary Medicine in the 1970s, long before it became integrated throughout the rest of the university.

In 1982, the Kansas Veterinary Medical Association named Upson the veterinarian of the year. As the recipient of many honors throughout his career, Upson received the Norden Distinguished Teaching Award in veterinary medicine three times and the All-University Teaching Award.

"Dan's love is the field of veterinary medicine, whether it pertains to educating students, performing research on food safety, being a spokesperson or organizing fund-raisers for scholarships," said Dr. Linda M. Johnson, director of the Veterinary Medicine Instructional Technology Center. "I have been inspired by Dr. Upson's integrity, fairness and sincere interest in the promotion of people, society and safe environment."

Upson's history of service to K-State is a long one. It includes a term as president of the K-State Alumni Association board of directors during which he helped create Tradition Founders, the Association's annual giving program. He is a member of the KSU Foundation's President's Club. Upson officiated Big 8 football for 17 years and worked 10 bowl games, including the 1979 national championship in the Sugar Bowl.

Raised in Hutchinson, Kan., Upson is married to Stephanie Clayton Upson, a 1955 K-State graduate in family and child development. Their three children attended K-State: Connie '75, Ron (fs) and Elizabeth '87.