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Meritorious Achievement Award winners announced

Three Pittsburg State University alumni will be recognized during the upcoming 2008 Winter Commencement ceremony with the university's prestigious Meritorious Achievement Award.

Three Pittsburg State University alumni will be recognized during the upcoming 2008 Winter Commencement ceremony with the university's prestigious Meritorious Achievement Award.           

Commencement activities will be held at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 19, in the Weede Physical Education Building. The award winners will be recognized during the ceremony, as well as at an earlier reception at 5 p.m. that day at the Wilkinson Alumni Center.

The Meritorious Achievement Award is given to a small number of recipients each year to commemorate outstanding achievements in their careers, communities, and lives. The recipients for this year are as follows:

Sutipong Ittipong

Sutipong Ittipong BA '72, MS '74

Sutipong Ittipong is the senior executive vice president of the operations group of Siam City Bank Plc. (SCIB) in Bangkok, Thailand. Prior to beginning his work at SCIB, Ittipong worked with the Industrial Finance Corporation of Thailand, then helped modernize the credit department of the Thai Military Bank Plc. (TMB) and became general manager of Nava Finance and Securities Co., Ltd., a subsidiary of TMB, at the age of 30.    

Since starting his career at SCIB, Ittipong has expanded the branch network of SCIB from 100 branches to 250 branches and then merged the 250 branches of SCIB with 150 branches from the Bangkok Metropolitan Bank (BMB). He has represented SCIB in donating money to victims of the Tsunami, to the Thai Red Cross, to victims of unrest in the four southern provinces, and in donating books to remote schools.

Ittipong has served in a variety of director positions and currently serves as vice president of the Australian-Thai Chamber of Commerce, director of Charan Insurance Plc., chair of S Factors Co. Ltd., and chair of both Best Western Samui Bayview Resort and Spa and Samui Laguna Resort.

Under his leadership, shareholders have contributed profits from both the Samui Bayview Resort and Spa and Samui Laguna Resort to build a well-stocked library in the local community.

Ittipong graduated from with a Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in economics in 1972, and then received a Master of Science degree with a major in economics in 1974.  

Ittipong and his wife, Vipa, live in Bangkok. They have two daughters, Jidapa and Nattaporn, and one son, Pavaris.

Duane David Thiessen

Duane David Thiessen, BSE '74

Lt. Gen. Duane D. Thiessen serves as assistant deputy commander for programs and resources for the United States Marine Corps at the Pentagon. He leads the staff agency responsible for developing and defending the Marine Corps' financial requirements, policies and programs.

Born in Goessel, Kan., Thiessen was commissioned as a second lieutenant after graduating from college. He then completed flight training and began his initial assignment as a Harrier pilot with VMA-542 at Marine Corps Air Station in Cherry Point, N.C. During his assignment at VMA-542, Thiessen performed in both operational and maintenance billets while completing two deployments to Okinawa and participating in a Mediterranean deployment aboard the USS Nassau.

After a three-year assignment with the Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron 1 at Marine Air Station in Yuma, Ariz., where he served as an AV-8 tactics instructor, Thiessen returned to MCAS Cherry Point as the Operations Officer for VMA-231. While with VMA-231, he led a detachment of six AV-8Bs and deployed to the Mediterranean Sea as part of the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit.

In 1988, Thiessen returned to the United States and, after graduating from the Naval Command and Staff College in Newport, R.I., he reported to Naval Air Systems Command, Washington, D.C., to serve as assistant to the AV-8B program manager. Thiessen attended the National War College and was subsequently assigned as the Marine requirements officer in the joint strike fighter program office.

He then served as the Commanding Officer of Marine Aircraft Group-13 in Yuma, Ariz. Following this command, he served in the Aviation Plans and Policy Branch of Headquarters Marine Corps until he was appointed to the position of deputy assistant secretary of the Navy for Expeditionary Force Programs. After being promoted to Brig. Gen., Thiessen assumed the duties as the deputy director of operations for the National Military Command Center. After that command, he served as the deputy naval inspector general for Marine Corps matters/inspector general of the Marine Corps until 2004.

Personal decorations include the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit with gold star, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal with gold star, and Navy Commendation.

Thiessen received a Bachelor of Science in Education degree with a major in history from PSU in 1974.

He lives in Springfield, Va. with his wife Lynn. They have two children.

Gary Heine

Gary Heine BST '82

Gary Heine is the quality assurance powertrain manager at Toyota Motor Sales, USA, Inc., in Torrance, Calif. Before beginning his career at Toyota in 1985, Heine worked as a city/district parts and service manager for the American Motors Sales Corporation, managing all phases of service and parts operations and evaluation and analysis of early production new models. 

Heine received the Corporate District Parts and Service Manager of the Year Award while working for American Motors in 1984. He was recently awarded, along with two other associates, the Top Toyota President's Award for the Product Quality and Service Support (PQ&SS) Technical Information System (TIS) Techstream Enhancement called MILi.

His team is currently investigating a patent on the unique process that makes it possible to streamline the failure data collection process and to dynamically send messages to dealership technicians as they encounter specific vehicle/diagnostic trouble code conditions. This new innovation could dramatically benefit Toyota in its first year.

Heine has served on the Pittsburg State University Automotive Technology Advisory Committee since 2004 and is now chairman of the committee. In 2004, he established the Gary Heine/Toyota $1,000 Annual Scholarship at PSU. 

Since 2004, Heine has been directly responsible for Toyota donating numerous components, including complete engines, transmissions, TIS access cards and one Prius vehicle, to the PSU Department of Automotive Technology.

Heine graduated in 1982 with a Bachelor of Science in Technology degree with a major in automotive technology.

He lives in Redondo Beach, Calif.

---Pitt State---

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