March 02, 2015 3:30PM
Pittsburg State University will honor three of its alumni this week for their volunteer service to the university. PSU’s Alumni Association will present its Ralf J. Thomas Distinguished Service Award to Jan Allai and Pete and Shirley Esch as part of PSU’s Apple Day celebration on Thursday, March 5.
The PSU Alumni Association established the Distinguished Service Award in 1991 and presented the first award later that year. In July 2000, the award was re-named the Dr. Ralf J. Thomas Distinguished Service Award in memory of retired faculty member Ralf Thomas, who volunteered his service to the Alumni Association for 22 years and was the first recipient of the award in 1991.
Jan Allai (BS in elementary education 1969, MS in elementary teaching 1977) and her late husband, Wayne, helped organize the university’s first capital campaign in 1985. At that time, they pledged their support for creating an endowment to provide scholarships for student athletes. Today, that effort has grown to become the Endowment for Excellence in Athletics, which plays a vital role in supporting student athletes across campus.
After Wayne’s death in 2003, Jan continued the couple’s support for PSU and its students and is a familiar face among the fans at most PSU athletic events. She has also given valuable service to the Alumni Association through the Alumni Association Board of Directors.
Pete Esch (BSBA 1951) and his wife, Shirley, have been faithful supporters of the university and the Kelce College of Business for decades. Pete has served on the Alumni Association Board of directors and he and Shirley are lifetime members of the President’s Club. They are also University Fellows in the Centennial Society and have established two scholarships in the Kelce College of Business, where they also funded a Faculty of Distinction position.
A loyal PSU alumnus, Pete continues to share his knowledge and business experience with PSU students and with the Kelce College of Business.
The PSU Alumni Association will host a public reception at 2 p.m. on Thursday, March 5, in the Wilkinson Alumni Center to honor this year’s award recipients. They will also be recognized at the Apple Day convocation at 3 p.m. that day in the Bicknell Family Center for the Arts.