Outstanding Alumni 2012
Arthur F. Beyer Distinguished Alumnus
Dr. Tom Delizio graduated summa cum laude from Midwestern State University in 1991 with a Bachelor of Science in Biology. He earned his medical degree from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in 1995 and graduated from the Wichita Falls Family Practice Residency Program in 1998.
Delizio could have attended other colleges to obtain his pre-med degree, but is happy to call MSU his alma mater. “I chose MSU because of its excellent pre-med program, small class size, and accessible professors,” he said. “Wichita Falls is my hometown, and I have seen MSU grow into a beautiful campus that is well-recognized and outstanding in academics and athletics. I am proud to say that it is my university.” Delizio was a member of MSU’s pre-med advisory board and is a current member of the MSU President’s Excellence Circle.
Delizio and his wife Kelly moved to Electra to raise their six children and so he could practice medicine in a setting where he is most needed – a rural community. For the past 15 years, he has practiced family medicine at the Electra Medical Clinic and is chief of staff at Electra Memorial Hospital. Earlier this year the hospital began an $11.4 million expansion project, one that is vital to Electra’s future as the hospital is one of the town’s largest employers. As chief of staff, Delizio realized the importance of keeping the hospital in compliance with patient privacy laws and other requirements and was instrumental in obtaining the necessary community and municipal support for the expansion. Delizio served as city commissioner of Electra from 2000-2006, and mayor from 2010 until earlier this year.
The Kids Across America program allows disadvantaged youth and children from urban areas to experience attending a Christian camp. Delizio has served as a volunteer physician in the Missouri camp since 2004 and in 2007 founded Electra Kids Across America to raise funds to send Electra youth to the camp. “It’s the best thing I do all year,” Delizio said. He also volunteers as the Electra High School Tigers’ team physician.
In nominating Delizio for the Arthur F. Beyer Distinguished Alumni Award, Dr. Fred Stangl called Delizio “one of our most valuable citizens of North Texas” because of his volunteerism and dedication to his community.
Dillard College of Business AdministrationDr. Carol Carlson Gunn earned her Bachelor of Business Administration in 1966 and Master of Business Administration in 1987, both from Midwestern State University, and her doctorate from the University of North Texas in 1993.
Gunn has continued her involvement with MSU through her appointment by Governor Rick Perry for two terms on the MSU Board of Regents, serving as chairman of the Board from 2010-2012, and through her current memberships on the MSU Foundation Board of Trustees and the Dillard College of Business Community Advisory Board. Gunn is a founding board member of the MSU President’s Excellence Circle.
In the community, Gunn has served on numerous boards including those for United Regional Health Care System, North Texas Area United Way, and the Red River Authority of Texas. She has published numerous articles in her special interest areas of management, organizational theory, and public policy.
As Gunn looks back 50 years ago to her freshman year at Midwestern University to today’s MSU, she is proud of what she sees and is optimistic about its future. “What a privilege it has been to witness 50 years of development of the strong foundations of Midwestern State University,” Gunn said. “MSU is certainly now poised for growth and the achievement of prominence among Texas universities and beyond. Our significant academic accomplishments and accreditations, the gorgeous campus and enviable community support, competitive dominance in our athletics program, and devoted and fearless leadership with ambitious plans under way, bode well for the future of Midwestern State.”
College of Health Sciences and Human Services
Ms. Betty Dowdy earned her Associate of Science in Nursing degree in 1971 – a graduate of Midwestern University’s first nursing class – and for the past 41 years she has played a part in the births of thousands of babies in Wichita Falls hospitals.
Through Dowdy’s career as a labor and delivery nurse, she has served as a teacher and mentor to staff and student nurses. She was named the Nursing Employee of the Year in 1990, the President’s Award recipient as Wichita General Hospital Employee of the Year in 1991, and received Nursing Excellence awards at United Regional in 2008 and 2009.
Student nurses through the years have been motivated by Dowdy’s excitement for her profession, and in 1998 she was named Texas Nurses Association District II Mentor of the Year. “I want my enthusiasm for nursing to be infectious,” Dowdy said. “As I visit with student nurses during their time on our unit, I remind them just how vast the nursing profession has become and how important it is to search for the area they love in order to shine and love what they do.”
As Dowdy now cares for a third generation of families, she gives credit to her own teachers for being role models. “I can only hope that I am also preparing the way for others so that they might enjoy the rewards of participating in this miraculous event in a patient’s life,” she said.
College of Science and Mathematics
Mr. Michael K. Obeng earned his Bachelor of Science from Midwestern State University in 1997, graduating cum laude with a major in chemistry. He received his medical degree from the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, and completed post-graduate work in plastic and reconstructive surgery at the UT Medical Branch John Sealy Hospitals for Children before accepting a fellowship at Harvard Medical School.
He was Chief of Plastic Surgery at St. Elizabeth Boardman Health Center in Boardman, Ohio, from 2007 until earlier this year, when he moved his practice to Beverly Hills, Calif. His professional society memberships include the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the American Society for Surgery of the Hand, and the American Society of Reconstructive Microsurgery.
Obeng was named Outstanding Specialty Medicine Physician by the Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine in 2011, and named the Mahoning Valley “40 Under 40” Most Valuable Professional in 2010.
In his homeland of Ghana, Obeng saw the pain caused by physical deformities and the helplessness of those afflicted as they lived with their situation with no money, and too few qualified physicians, to have the problem corrected. To help those, Obeng formed RESTORE (Restoring Emotional Stability Through Outstanding Reconstructive Efforts). RESTORE’s volunteer teams have traveled to Ghana and Guatemala to perform free reconstruction surgeries. Obeng credits the giving spirit of teachers, advisers, and fellow students during his time at Midwestern with instilling in him the need to help others. “I won’t forget where it all started,” he said.
West Collegeof Education
Dr. Harry Ryan earned his Master of Education in School Administration from Midwestern State University in 1990, and his doctorate from the University of North Texas in 2007.
Ryan was with the Wichita Falls Independent School District from 1990 until this past summer, serving as principal in five schools before being named Director of Special Education in 2007. As director, Ryan coordinated all matters of the WFISD special education program. He is now the Executive Director of Special Services for Allen ISD.
Many MSU graduates students were mentored and hired by Ryan at WFISD. Through the “Early Hire” program designed to employ teacher candidates prior to graduation, Ryan maintained a bond with MSU. Educational collaborations led by Ryan have strengthened teacher training and have been a positive influence on WFISD students. MSU faculty and WFISD worked together for three years to train schools on implementing Response-to-Intervention, which involves restructuring schools to provide early assistance for struggling learners.
Ryan’s professional memberships include the Texas Council of Administrators of Special Education, the Texas Association of School Administrators, and the Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association. He also has served with the Wichita Falls YMCA Advisory Committee and the YMCA “Back a Youth” program.
Longtime MSU educator Dr. T. Barlow Hill left his mark on Ryan. As a student in Hill’s class before his retirement, Ryan remembers Hill’s family coming to celebrate his last day and seeing the family bond present. “His strength and high expectations left a good, strong impression on me,” Ryan said.
Prothro-Yeager College of Humanities and Social Sciences
Ms. Ashley Burson earned her Bachelor of Arts with a double major in Sociology and Psychology from Midwestern State University in 2002, and her Master of Public Health from the University of Michigan School of Public Health in 2010. After graduation from UMSPH, she was named an Allan Rosenfeld Global Health Fellow with the Association of Schools of Public Health/Centers for Disease Control, working with African countries on strategic planning and reporting for HIV/AIDS programs.
Burson’s research on public health has taken her to The Gambia, West Africa, where she served as a Peace Corps volunteer and studied HIV/AIDS programs, and developed assessment forms to evaluate the needs of orphans and vulnerable children. In Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, she conducted epidemiologic studies on breast cancer. Burson serves as a strategic information adviser to countries included in the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).
Burson considers MSU as the first step in her journeys to faraway places, one she took with Dr. Beverly Stiles as Stiles’s first advisee in 1999. Classes with Stiles and Sociology Professor Dr. Emily LaBeff opened Burson’s eyes to “cultures and people unlike any I’d ever known,” she said, making her hungry to travel and learn different ways of life. Stiles’s class in medical sociology pointed Burson toward her career in epidemiology. “I count myself fortunate to have studied at such a great liberal arts university, to have taken classes I found immensely fascinating, and to have had so many wonderful professors and mentors,” Burson said.
Lamar D. Fain College of Fine ArtsMs. Dawn Hensley earned her Bachelor of Art in Mass Communication from Midwestern State University in 2001.
Since graduation, Hensley has worked as a weekend news anchor and producer for KFDX TV in Wichita Falls, and as studio director and television technical assistant at MSU where she assisted in building the curriculum for broadcast classes. She also worked as an anchor and producer at television stations in Amarillo and Waco before moving to WHP-TV in Harrisburg, Pa. As executive news producer at WHP-TV, Hensley managed a staff of seven and posted Web content and worked with social media.
In 2010 Hensley returned to Texas as the morning producer at KXAS, the Dallas-Fort Worth NBC affiliate. She is now the newscast producer of Nonstop Nightly, the station’s full-time news program, where she coordinates guest segments, works with reporters on content, and uses social media and the Internet to search for news and to gain an audience for the programs.
Professors who did not let Hensley “settle” for the status quo are one reason she stays at the leading edge of trends in broadcast news, recognizing the importance of social media and its contribution to news and promotion. “MSU shaped me in so many ways; there’s no way I would be where I am today had I not had the wonderful experience of attending MSU,” Hensley said.
Lamar D. Fain College of Fine Arts
Dr. Stacia L. Haynie earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Theatre 1981 and her Masters of Arts degree in Political Science in 1986 from Midwestern State University. She received her PhD. from the University of North Texas in Political Science in 1990.
Haynie is currently the Vice Provost for Academics and Planning, Political Science Professor at Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Her research interests include judicial politics with special emphasis on comparative appellate court decision-making. She is collaboration with several notable professors is creating an eleven-country appellate courts data set. She has conducted field research in South Africa, The Philippines, and India interviewing judges, journalist, advocates and lawyers.
Her professional society affiliations include the American Political Science Association, Midwest Political Science Association, Southern and Southwest Political Associations.
Dr. Haynie was awarded J.W. Annison, Jr. Family alumni Professor and LSU Distinguished Alumni Professor in 2005. She was previously named as the Outstanding Alumnus for Prothro-Yeager College of Humanities and Social Sciences in 1999.