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PSU honors Outstanding Alumni

October 29, 2010 12:00AM

Pittsburg State University honored four graduates with the 2010 Outstanding Alumni Award during Homecoming festivities on Oct. 15-16.

The recipients were selected based on their professional achievements, as well as their community and organizational involvement. They were recognized at a reception on Friday, Oct. 15, in the Heritage Room of the Overman Student Center, as well as at the Homecoming game on Saturday, Oct. 16, at Carnie Smith Stadium.

This year's recipients are: Virginia Brackett, Ph.D., chairperson of the Department of English and Modern Languages and director of the Degree with Honors Program at Park University; Toby Cook, vice president of community affairs and publicity for the Kansas City Royals; Brendan Murphy, senior partner with Lippincott; and Dr. Steven Waldren, director of the American Academy of Family Physicians' Center for Health Information Technology.

Virginia Brackett

A prolific author and scholar, Dr. Brackett serves as the chairperson of the Department of English and Modern Languages and also as the director of the Degree with Honors Program at Park University. Brackett joined the Park University faculty in 2006. Previously, she served as the chairperson of the Department of English, the director of the Scholars Program and as a member of the faculty at Triton College in River Grove, Ill. She taught at Johnson County Community College, the University of Kansas and East Central University in Ada, Okla., previous to that.

Virginia BrackettBrackett is the author of numerous academic and nonfiction books and a contributor to many academic journals. Her nonfiction titles include: "Restless Genius: the Story of Virginia Woolf" (2004); "A Home in the Heart: The Story of Sandra Cisneros" (2004); "Menachem Begin" (2003); "Steve Jobs: Computer Genius of Apple" (2003); "F. Scott Fitzgerald: Writer of the Jazz Age" (2002); "John Brown, Abolitionist" (2002); "Jeff Bezos" (2001); and "Elizabeth Cary: Woman of Conscience" (2001).

Brackett's fiction writing includes a number of stories for young readers published in periodicals such as Junior Trails. Her story "The Great Moon Pie Eating Contest" won first place in the 17th annual Ozark Writers, Inc., fiction contest in 1990 and first place in the Sigma Tau Deltal national fiction context in 1991.

Brackett received a bachelor of science degree in medical technology from the University of Arkansas Medical Center in 1972, a bachelor of science degree in business administration with a management and marketing major and an English minor from Missouri Southern State College in 1989, a master of arts degree in English from Pittsburg State University in 1991 and a doctor of philosophy degree in English from the University of Kansas in 1998. Her academic specialty areas are the English Renaissance, Alexander Pope, women writers and women's literature, children's literature and creative writing.

Brackett lives in Kansas City, Mo.

Toby Cook

Toby Cook is the vice president for community affairs and publicity for the Kansas City Royals. Cook oversees community relations and publicity for the ball club, including player and staff appearances, partnerships with civic organizations and Royals Charities.

Toby CookCook received a bachelor of arts degree in communication from PSU in 1990. His interest in broadcasting began at an early age and by the time he was 16, he was on the radio in his hometown of Independence, Kan.

Prior to joining the Royals organization, Cook spent 15 years as a news anchor and reporter for four television stations. He helped start the first morning show at KOAM-TV in Pittsburg and was named Broadcaster of the Year while working at WSET-TV in Lynchburg, Va., before moving back to the Midwest in 1998. Cook had worked for WDAF-TV in Kansas City for nearly nine years when he was approached by Royals president Dan Glass about coming to work for the Royals.

Throughout his career, he produced, wrote and hosted thousands of newscasts and specials.  Cook was involved in number-one rated programs for most of that period and contributed to significant viewer growth at each station.  He is active in Catholic lay activities and serves on charitable boards and organizations, including Rotary, the Children's Center for the Visually Impaired, and the Kansas City Crime Commission.

Toby and his wife, Barbara (Winslow) BS '91, have four children: Adam, Molly, Annabelle and Andrew. They are expecting their fifth child this fall and live in Overland Park.

Brendán Murphy

A native of Dublin, Ireland, Brendán Murphy is a senior partner with Lippincott, worldwide consultants in corporate identity, brand strategy, design, and brand management. He joined the company in 1996, having previously worked for firms in the U.S. and Ireland that included Siegel Gale, Carbone Smolan, Bruce Blackburn, and Firehouse Design.

Brendan MurphyMurphy has more than 25 years of experience creating and implementing global corporate identity programs across the full range of media from print- and web-based applications to environmental graphics. He has designed logos and managed identity systems for companies across a wide spectrum of businesses including Ameriprise, Aptuit, CA, Columbia Management, Catapult Learning, The Bank of New York Mellon, Bayn, BD, Intuit, JohnsonDiversey, Medco, Neuberger Berman, Princeton National Rowing Association, Scripps Health, SK, Telmex, Time Warner, Vale, WANA, Wells Fargo, Windstream and Xohm.

His pro-bono work includes: Be the One, the Cure Alzheimers Fund, the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church, the Hole in the Wall Camps, Metafore, Pigtales, and Lighthouse International. 

Murphy's work has been featured in Design Management Journal, Graphis, Metropolis, Novum, PRINT and The Wall Street Journal. It was discussed on National Public Radio and published in numerous books on corporate identity design including Designing Brand Identity. 

His work for the Society of Environmental Graphic Design (SEGD), a series of symbols for the sight-, hearing- and physically-impaired and the concept of a universal access symbol, is now in use by many leading cities and organizations including The Museum of Modern Art. 

Murphy also has been a senior lecturer in information design and corporate identity at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, and a speaker for the Columbus Society of Communicating Arts and NYU. His work has received awards from the SEGD and the Type Directors Club of New York and has been exhibited at the Type Directors Club and the Oireachtas in Dublin.

Murphy received a bachelor of science degree in commercial graphics from Pittsburg State University in 1989 and a master of design degree from the University of Cincinnati. Murphy and his wife, Catherine Larimer, live in Bronxville, N.Y. They have two children, Aran and Rowan.

Dr. Steven Waldren

Dr. Steven Waldren is the director of the American Academy of Family Physicians' (AAFP) Center for Health Information Technology, based in Leawood, Kan.  The center is a national leader in computerizing physicians' offices to increase the quality and safety of health care and to reduce its cost. Dr. Waldren works on national standards for health information technology, advocates in the federal government and works with national information technology vendors.

Steven WaldrenIn his time with the AAFP, Waldren has helped the organization increase its members' adoption of electronic health records by 500 percent to more than 50 percent of the total, which is two-and-one-half times the national average. Under Waldren's leadership, the AAFP has become the leading physician organization in the area of health information technology.  Evidence of this is his appointment to the Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Plan Payment and Access Commission (MACPAC), which advises the U.S. Congress on these issues.

Waldren is a family physician, completing his family medicine residency at Wesley Family Practice in Wichita. Waldren earned a bachelor of science degree in biology from PSU in 1995, a medical degree from the University of Kansas School of Medicine in 1999 and a master of science degree in health informatics from the University of Missouri in 2004.

Waldren was a National Library of Medicine Fellow at the University of Missouri from 2002 until 2004 where he conducted research on the use of information technology in ambulatory medicine. He is a 2002 recipient of the Donald Lindburg Outstanding Student in Health Informatics Award at the University of Missouri and was nominated in 2007 as one of the 100 most powerful people in health care by Modern Health Care magazine.

Waldren and his wife, Stefanie, live in Kansas City, Mo.

©2010 Pittsburg State University