March 31, 2017 8:45AM
Pittsburg State University announced today that Marty Bicknell and Lemuel Sheppard have been selected to receive the 2017 Meritorious Achievement Award, the university’s highest honor. Bicknell, a 1991 graduate, is the founder and chief executive officer of Mariner Wealth Advisors in Leawood, Kansas. Sheppard, a 1982 and 1983 graduate, is an award-winning musician.
Bicknell and Sheppard will be honored by the university with a public reception at 3:30 p.m. on Friday, April 7, in the Heritage Room of the Overman Student Center.
“This year’s honorees are a vivid example of the many ways that the more than 60,000 Pittsburg State University have an impact on the world,” said Jon Bartlow, director of alumni and constituent relations. “One is a pioneer in the field of wealth management. The other is pioneer in music and culture. Each has left an imprint that will be long-remembered.”
A political science major, Marty Bicknell was considering a career in law until he served an internship at Edward D. Jones. During that internship, Bicknell discovered his passion and upon his graduation in 1991, he joined A.G. Edwards & Sons.
Bicknell worked at A.G. Edwards, ultimately as senior vice president of investments, until he left to found his own firm, Mariner Wealth Advisors, in 2006.
At Mariner, Bicknell sets the strategic direction for several distinct business entities, analyzing and anticipating market trends and opportunities in the financial services industry. Known as an innovator with an entrepreneurial spirit, Bicknell has guided Mariner as it has exploded in size from $300 million to more than $44 billion in assets under advisement. Mariner, as a holding company, is comprised of Mariner Wealth Advisors, nine asset management firms and seven customized solutions, such as a Mariner Trust Company, Mariner Retirement Advisors, Allied Business Group, and several others.
Bicknell was named one of the Top 25 Influential People in the investment/financial industry by Investment Advisor in 2016 and the Kansas City Business Journal included Bicknell on its 2016 and 2015 Power 100 List. Under Bicknell’s leadership, Mariner Wealth Advisors was ranked eighth on wealthmanagement.com’s Top RIAs of 2015 and in 2016, Barron’s ranked Mariner first on its inaugural Top 20 Independent Advisory Firms list and Forbes included Mariner on its 2015 list of Top Wealth Managers.
Bicknell serves on the board of directors for the Advancement Board for the University of Kansas Medical Center and on the MRIGlobal Board of Trustees. He is a member of the Young Presidents Organization and is a board member for the Civic Council of Greater Kansas City. He is also involved in supporting several organizations through his sponsorship and committee participation, including the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, KU Med Cancer Care, Youth Entrepreneurs, Global Orphan Project, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Kansas City, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and Marillac.
Bicknell has two children, Savannah and Zach, and one granddaughter, Parker. Bicknell’s parents include Gene Bicknell, his wife, Rita, and Marie Brinkman.
Born in Kansas City, Kan., Lemuel Sheppard grew up immersed in the rich blues culture of his hometown. By the time he was 9, Sheppard played guitar regularly with Kansas City blues veterans and was familiar with the music and stories of Kansas City blues icons.
Sheppard came to Pittsburg State University with dreams of earning a degree in music theory and here he met Dr. Eva Jessey, the original choral director for the folk opera "Porgy and Bess," who was an artist in residence.
In 1979, Sheppard began performing as a member of the Eva Jessey Choir. Sheppard was an accompanist for the choir and when the ensemble performed at the Kansas Folk life Festival, the festival promoter invited Sheppard back the next year as a soloist. A music major studying saxophone, music theory and composition, Sheppard had not considered singing until that moment.
Sheppard earned a bachelor’s degree in music from PSU in 1982 and spent the next year completing the requirements for his graduate degree while building a repertoire suitable for the folk life festival.
The work ethic Sheppard gained from that experience has served him well. He has become popular as a national touring folk music performer and has earned honors from the Kansas Folklore Society and the Oklahoma Blues Hall of Fame for his scholarship and educational contributions to his art.
Sheppard has performed at the Kennedy Center, and also composed the sound track to the PBS documentary on the 50th anniversary of the Brown vs. The Topeka Board of Education, "Black/White & Brown.”
Audiences remember the way Sheppard blends his acoustic blues with humor, wit, history and storytelling.
The U.S. Embassy in Brazil referred to Sheppard as “The perfect touring artist, talented, flexible, knowledgeable of his own culture and interested in others."
The Eisteddfod International Music Festival in South Africa called Sheppard “an example in international and inter-cultural relations."
A public reception in honor of the 2017 Meritorious Achievement Award recipients will be held at 3:30 p.m. on Friday, April 7, in the Heritage Room of the Overman Student Center.