Alumni to Be Recognized Homecoming Weekend

alumni-awards-1.jpgOne of the most anticipated events of this month’s Homecoming weekend is the Alumni Awards Brunch, where two years’ worth of Central Methodist University’s Distinguished Alumni will be recognized. The event will be held at 11:30 a.m. on Sunday, October 31, in the Inman Student Center. Attendees for the event must register at

A total of seven Distinguished Alumni Award winners will be honored, as well as two Young Alumni Award recipients. Distinguished Alumni Award winners include Chris Lincoln, Mark Harbison, Greg Thurmon, Jana Fox, Clarence Smith, Mark Dempsey, and Deborah Dodge.

Chris Lincoln ’72 is a sports director, play-by-play announcer, and network television entrepreneur with almost five decades of experience in covering sports. Since graduating in 1972 with a Bachelor of Arts, Lincoln has written about sports for a variety of publications including local and national newspapers, magazines, and online. His love for sports led him to radio and television, and even secured him production credit for a number of Emmy Award winning documentaries. He is a member of the Oklahoma Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame. Lincoln has been married to his wife, Becky, since 1999. They have three children and four grandchildren.

Mark Harbison ’76 has been an active member of the Fayette community for more than 40 years. At the end of 2020 he retired from Commercial Trust Company, where he served as its Chief Executive Officer and member of the Board of Directors. He has held many offices in the Fayette community, including president of the Fayette Optimist Club and Fayette Round Table Club and treasurer of Linn Memorial United Methodist Church. Harbison was a member of one of the first soccer teams at CMU, an active member of Sigma Alpha Chi, and recipient of a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration. He and his wife, Rebecca ’77, have lived in Fayette for more than 40 years and have two grown children.

Greg Thurmon ’77 graduated from Central in 1977 after majoring in biology and education. As a CMU professor of marine biology, he was named the Carolyn and Tad Perry Fellow Award winner for the 2011-12 school year. Among his many state, regional, and national awards, Thurmon was presented with the Presidential Award for Excellence in Teaching Science by President George Bush in 1989. He and his wife, Barb ’02, have two sons and reside in Fayette.

Jana Fox ’82 has been sharing her love of music with young people through her teaching for more than 25 years. She has directed thousands of students in choir and other choral activities at Stover High School, Jefferson City High School, and currently at Helias High School, in addition to her duties as choir director for First United Methodist Church in Jefferson City. The 2018 Missouri Music Educators Association Outstanding Educator of the Year also served as the first CMU Alumni Choir director in 2018. She and her husband, David ’83, regularly contribute time, talent, and treasure to their alma mater.

alumni-awards-2.jpgClarence Smith ’84, musician and educator, is active in the jazz scene of Kansas City. In addition to gigging around KC, he is the coordinator of music at Metropolitan Community College-Penn Valley where he teaches and leads the jazz ensembles. Once an adjunct professor for the Swinney Conservatory, his enthusiasm for music and teaching engages students in the process of learning. Smith also leads the Kansas City Jazz Academy, an educational outreach of the American Jazz Museum, introducing young musicians to high quality music making. Focused on meeting students where they are and helping the discover the next step in their development as musicians and people, Smith has been and continues to be a positive influence on many. He is married to Janet Smith and has one son and two step-children.

Mark Dempsey ’85 is a graduate of Central who has spent his career in sports medicine and athletic training. He served as the athletic trainer for Central athletes while attending college, and later returned to Central after earning his Master’s degree. After being promoted to Director of Sports Medicine in Columbia, he hired Central’s next athletic trainer and has continued to support the program financially. He and his wife, Kathy ’86, are proud sponsors of the Outstanding Student Athletic Trainer Award and have three children, Kale, Tate, and Kadee ’20.

Deborah Dodge ’89 is an award-winning legal practitioner and advocate in the Southwest Missouri area. A partner at the Springfield firm Hall Ansley, she also serves on the Board of Governors of the Missouri Bar Association and is the president of the Southern Missouri Women Lawyers Association. Dodge also provides volunteer legal services through Legal Services of Southern Missouri and is a board member and advocate for Camp Barnabas, a camp focusing on the talents and gifts of children with physical and mental disabilities. She and husband Todd have two children.

The Young Alumni Award winners to be honored at the brunch include Brandon Ousley and Kiona Sinks.

Brandon Ousley ’11 earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science from CMU. During his time at CMU, he was a three year captain on the varsity soccer team, a cabinet member of the Student Government Association, and an active member of Alpha Phi Gamma. After graduation, his career focused on public service and coaching youth soccer. During his time working in IT at the State of Missouri, Ousley has held the positions of Software Developer, IT Project Manager, IT Director for the Department of Natural Resources, IT Director for the Department of Revenue, and currently the Director of IT Strategy and Planning. His career achievements include; 2020 Graduate of the Missouri Leadership Academy, 2014 State of Missouri Young IT Professional of the Year, 2017 finalist for the Missouri Youth Soccer Association Club Soccer Coach of the Year. Ousley and his Wife, Houston ’13, have one son, Murphy (2 years old), and expecting their second child in February of 2022.

Kiona Sinks ’18 recently celebrated her first anniversary as the Community Engagement Manager at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, but that’s only part of what has made her worthy of the Young Alumni Award for 2021. The founder of CMU’s African American Student Union, Sinks has continued her work of promoting diversity and inclusion in her professional life with NLBM and Elevate Consulting. In 2019 she launched Black Excellence Kansas City, a non-profit organization focused on connecting, engaging, informing, and empowering black professionals in Kansas City. The campaign won her a 2020 Stevie Award for Women in Business.

For more information on other Homecoming events, visit 

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