Pittsburg State University honored four graduates with the 2009 Outstanding Alumni Award during Homecoming festivities.
This year's recipients were selected based on their professional achievements, as well as their community and organizational involvement. They were recognized at a reception at 6 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 23, in the Heritage Room of the Overman Student Center, as well as at the Homecoming game on Saturday, Oct. 24, at Carnie Smith Stadium.
Susan Dechant, a graduate of the College of Business, serves as vice president of administration and as the chief accounting officer for NPC International, Inc. (NPC) in Pittsburg, Kan.
NPC is the world's largest Pizza Hut franchisee operating nearly 1,200 Pizza Huts in 28 states. As vice president of administration, Dechant is responsible for the accounting operations which are primarily handled in NPC's Pittsburg restaurant service center, which has more than 150 employees. As the chief accounting officer, she is responsible for all external public reporting requirements with the SEC and its investors.
Dechant earned her bachelor of business administration degree in accounting in 1992. After graduation, she worked for the public accounting firm Grant Thornton, LLC, in their audit department. In 1996, she joined NPC as corporate controller. She advanced to the position of chief accounting officer and director of restaurant services in 2000, and was promoted to vice president in 2006.
She is a former board member of the Central Plains region of the American Red Cross, and is currently a board member of the Pittsburg Area Chamber of Commerce. She is also a member of the Pittsburg Area Young Professionals.
Dechant lives in Frontenac with her children Dyson and Emily.
C.J. Huff, a graduate of the College of Education, is superintendent of schools for the Joplin School District in Joplin, Mo.
Since 2008, Huff has overseen the educational development of 7,500 students at the district. His responsibilities also include leading a team of 1,200 teachers and staff.
Before accepting the position at Joplin, Huff served as superintendent of the Eldon (Mo.) School District. He worked as principal for Espy Elementary School in the Nixa (Mo.) School District, as well as the Doling/Weaver Elementary Schools in the Springfield (Mo.) School District. Prior to that, he worked as an elementary school teacher and assistant principal at the Bolivar (Mo.) and Pleasanton (Kan.) School Districts.
Huff received his bachelor of science degree in elementary education from PSU in 1996. He earned a master's degree and specialist's degree in education administration from Missouri State University in Springfield. He finished his doctorate in education leadership at the University of Arkansas in 2003.
Dr. Huff has garnered a long list of professional accomplishments including, most recently, initiating legislative changes to raise Missouri standards regarding high school drop-out criteria. (The bill is awaiting the governor's signature.) In 2007, he was recognized for his leadership and contributions to Missouri education by the Missouri House of Representatives.
He has received many awards and recognitions by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, and his district was the 2007 winner of the prestigious Magna Award by the American School Board Journal. Huff has been a contributor to and reviewer of multiple education journals. In 1995, his family was named PSU's Honorary Family.
In addition to his professional achievements, Huff is involved in multiple civic and non-profit organizations, including the Joplin Chamber Leadership Class of 2009, the Joplin Chamber of Commerce, Joplin Noon Rotary, the United Way of Southwest Missouri, Joplin Big Brothers Big Sisters, and many more.
Huff lives in Joplin with his wife Jennifer Wilbourn Huff (BS '97) and children Savannah, 9, Keaton, 7, and Julianne, 7 months.
Clayton Tatro, a graduate of the College of Education, is the president of Fort Scott Community College in Fort Scott, Kan.
Prior to assuming this role in 2007, he served as dean of learning services and chief academic officer at Garden City Community College from 1998-2007, and as a social science instructor at GCCC from 1995-1998.
As the leader of FSCC, Tatro is responsible for managing the educational functions of the college, implementing programs, developing the school's operating budget, and serving as the school's top administrator. He serves as a liaison between the Board of Trustees, the college and the community; the Kansas Board of Regents; the Legislature; and other agencies that affect higher education.
Tatro earned his bachelor's degree in psychology from Pittsburg State University in 1994, and a master's degree in psychology from PSU the following year. He completed his Ph.D. in the Community College Leadership Program at Colorado State University in 2007. He is a native of Glasco, Kan.
Professional highlights while at FSCC include the fundraising and construction of the Danny and Willa Ellis Family Fine Arts Center, the college's receipt of a $2 million Department of Labor Community-Based Job Training Grant, and a $900,000 Kresge Foundation Challenge Grant. He has also led the creation of the NJCAA-sanctioned Citizens Bank Bowl football game and the re-affirmation of the college's accreditation through the Higher Learning Commission.
Tatro has been highly involved in the Fort Scott community, serving as a founder of the Fort Scott Community Visioning Steering Committee, the Youth Activities Team, and as a member of the Good Neighbor Action Team. He serves on the boards of Mercy Health Systems of Kansas, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Bourbon County, the Bourbon County Economic Development Corporation, and the Presbyterian Village Retirement Community. He is the incoming vice president of Fort Scott Kiwanis and is a past board member of the Fort Scott Area Chamber of Commerce.
At PSU, Tatro was repeatedly honored as an outstanding student by the Department of Psychology and the College of Education. He was also a PSU Presidential Scholar.
He and his wife, Melissa, are the proud parents of three sons, Garrett, Ethan and Evan. The Tatro family is active in the First United Methodist Church in Fort Scott.
William Sullivan, a graduate of the College of Arts and Sciences, is an osteopathic physician for Medical Consultants of Pittsburg, LLC.
He graduated from Pittsburg State University with a bachelor of science degree in biology in 1986. He earned a doctor of osteopathy degree in 1990 from the University of Health Sciences in Kansas City, Mo. He performed an internship at Riverside Hospital in Wichita in 1991, and his residency at Deaconess Hospital in St. Louis from 1991-1994, where he was nominated for Outstanding Resident.
Dr. Sullivan returned to Pittsburg in 1994, where he spent the next 10 years at Pittsburg Internal Medicine before joining Medical Consultants of Pittsburg. In addition to his work with Medical Consultants, he is also a consulting physician with the Community Health Clinic of Southeast Kansas.
Sullivan, a Lieutenant Colonel (Ret.) with the Kansas Army National Guard, served with the U.S. Army as a physician for the Operation Iraqi Freedom camp in 2005. In 2007, he did the same for Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. He is a highly decorated military officer with recognitions including the Meritorious Service Medal, an Army Commendation Medal, and an Army Achievement Medal, among many others.
Sullivan has held many roles with Mount Carmel Regional Medical Center, including leadership roles with the Medical Staff of Mount Carmel Regional Medical Center. He has also served as Chief of Medicine and as a member of the Board of Trustees. He has been a leader of the Crawford/Cherokee County Medical Association and is a Fellow with the American College of Physicians. Sullivan is a member of the American Medical Association, the American Association of Medical Review Officers, and the American Medical Directors Association.
Actively involved in the community, he is past president of the Pittsburg Family YMCA Board of Directors, a member of the YMCA Board of Trustees, a board member for Community National Bank, and serves on the USD 250 Health Education Advisory Board.
Dr. Sullivan has been published in Who's Who in America, Who's Who in the World, and Who's Who in Medicine and Healthcare. He has also been named twice as a top physician in his specialty by the Consumers' Research Council of America.
Through PSU, Sullivan has played an instrumental role in creating the Pittsburg Free Clinic, which is staffed largely by PSU pre-medical students. He has been a physician advisor for pre-med students since 1994, and served for 10 years as physician advisor for the Department of ROTC. He has also held leadership roles with the PSU Alumni Association, and has helped many other departments and programs through his volunteer work and private giving.
Sullivan and his daughter Lauren, 13, live in Pittsburg.
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