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ASU's Distinguished Alumni to be honored at Homecoming, Sept. 20

Aug. 15, 2008 -- The Arkansas State University Alumni Association will honor four outstanding individuals in its 25th year of recognizing distinguished alumni. The Distinguished Alumni presentation ceremony will be held at halftime of the Homecoming football game on Saturday, Sept. 20. This year’s honorees are Rosalie Barber of Jonesboro, a community leader; Bob Earwood of Collierville, Tennessee, a business executive; Maj. Gen. Elder Granger of Fort Belvoir, Virginia, deputy director officer of TRICARE Management, the healthcare provider for the military, and J. Steven McFerron of Jonesboro, a banker and civic leader.

Rosalie Gorham BRosalie Gorham Barberarber of Jonesboro knows Arkansas State University inside and out. She received a bachelor of science degree in education in 1960 and a master's of secondary education in 1968. As a student, she was the Wilson Award winner for 1960, the university's highest student recognition. "ASU has been an important part of my life for 52 years," she says. "I have been truly blessed to have the opportunity to receive two degrees from ASU, and then to have the privilege of being a faculty member for 31 years."

Now she has been named as one of this year's Distinguished Alumni. Her reaction was highly enthusiastic:  "I am deeply appreciative of the great honor that has been bestowed upon me. I am thrilled to be an ASU Distinguished Alumna!"

She has many fond memories of her student days. "To name just a few, I recall playing bridge in the Wigwam, and also late at night in the dorm, seeing Chief Big Track ride around the old track whenever touchdowns were made at football games, participating in campus activities, intramurals, plays, dances, etc.," she says. "Really too numerous to recount.

Barber returned to the A-State campus as an instructor in the Health, Physical Education and Recreation Department in the College of Education from 1969 through 2000, as well as directing men's and women's intramurals, the first woman to head a men's program at the university level. She has very warm memories of two special women in her department, the late Gladys Hudgins and the late Evelyn Prescott. "Mrs. Gladys McPike Hudgins was a wonderful mentor for me in the HPER Department," Barber says."She was also my 'dorm mom' and a very special lady in my life.  Dr. Evelyn Prescott was also a great role model for us. She expected our best work in every class she taught. One semester, she conducted a class in her office for one other student and me. You see, we couldn’t work the required class into our schedules because we were both working our way through college, so she took the time each week to meet with us in her office to provide the course for us."

Barber also recalls a legendary ASU figure whom many feared but who had a warm, compassionate side. "Dean Robert Moore was also helpful to me," Barber says. "Back then for registration, every semester we had to stand in long lines at each department’s table to get a desired registration card for classes we needed. Dean Moore would pull my class cards for me each semester so I could work an extra full day at my job downtown."

She is formerly a member of the ASU Alumni Association board of directors, is a 1924 Sustaining Life Member and serves on ASU's Beck PRIDE Center for America's Wounded Veterans National Advisory Council.  For five years, she directed the ASU Cheerleader Summer clinics and was a member of the University Athletic Committee, the first female faculty member to serve. She was a member of the ASU 75th Anniversary Committee, and was a donor for the construction of Indian Stadium.

But along with her service and achievements in Jonesboro, the story everyone wants to hear has to do with a certain resident of Tennessee. "In 1957, two of my college friends and I were visiting another friend in Memphis, and while she was at work, we decided to go to Graceland," Barber says. "The gates were open, so we went up the drive as far as the guard would allow us, along with about 50 other people. A few minutes later, one of Elvis’ friends came down in a golf cart and asked if I would like a tour of the grounds, so I hopped into the cart, and off we went. While looking at the Cadillacs in front of the house, another of his friends came outside and asked me if I would like to meet Elvis - whereupon he escorted me into the house and into the music room where Elvis was sitting.  I sat down beside him on the couch, and we visited for 45 minutes or more. At one point in time, my friends sent word that they were leaving, but I decided I could catch a taxi if I needed to. Elvis was very courteous and answered all my questions, which I’m sure he had heard many times before. Needless to say, I was walking on Cloud Nine when I left him. He walked me to the door with his arm around me, and said 'Goodbye, sweetheart.'  This was indeed a notable event for me when as an undergrad - I was the envy of all my friends! When I was on the Alpha Omicron Pi International Executive Board, our executive director would have me tell my 'Elvis story' each year to our new group of traveling consultants. They all loved hearing it, even though they never saw Elvis. Most of them couldn’t wait to tell their mothers, because the mothers had all been huge Elvis fans."

A member of the Sigma Omicron chapter of Alpha Omicron Pi women's fraternity at ASU, Barber served for eight years on the Alpha Omicron Pi International Executive board and was president of the Alpha Omicron Pi International Foundation board. "My most enjoyable activities while at ASU involved my sorority, Alpha Omicron Pi," she says. "This sisterhood has remained close to my heart throughout the years. Some of my AOII sisters from those college days still get together each year, just to enjoy each other's company. Those AOII sisters became lifelong friends."

While in Canada for the organization's international conference, she ordered a totem pole that was later presented to ASU in recognition of AOII's tenth anniversary on campus. "Most people don’t know that I actually ordered the ASU totem pole from real Indians in Victoria, British Columbia, while attending the AOII International Convention in June, 1959.  Our chapter was celebrating its tenth anniversary on the ASU campus, and we wanted to present a memorable gift to the university. When I spotted a totem pole outside a store, I knew this would be that memorable gift, so I sent a message to the chapter treasurer, telling her that I could order an original totem pole for $10 per foot, but I needed to know how tall to order it. She sent back a telegram with the following message: 'Heap Much Money Get ‘Um Plenty Tall.'  So I ordered an 8-foot tall totem pole which arrived six months later, at which time we officially presented it to ASU."

She and her late husband Michie Barber, ASU class of 1961, are the parents of Chris Barber (ASU class of 1992) of Jonesboro, and Allyson Barber Goodin (ASU class of 1986) of Wynne. Along with her late husband, Mrs. Barber founded the Children's House Montessori School in Jonesboro, which they owned for 18 years, and the Montessori Children's House in Blytheville, which they owned for eight years.

Mrs. Barber's community involvement includes serving on The Learning Center board of directors in Jonesboro and at First Baptist Church.  At St. Bernards Medical Center, she is a member of the Auxiliary Board, the Women's Advisory Council, and is chair, volunteer and buyer for the Auxiliary Gift Shop.  Along with serving on the Northeast Arkansas Breast Cancer Support Group board of directors, she is a member of the Pink Warriors team, sponsored by St. Bernard's, which participates in the Susan G. Komen Foundation's Race for the Cure. She was included as one of the '100 Arkansas Women of Achievement' in Horizons, a book published by the Arkansas Press Women Association in 1980, and was featured in the World Who's Who of Women.

When notified that he had been named a Distinguished AlumnuBob Earwoods of Arkansas State University, Bob Earwood of Collierville, Tennessee, thought at first that he was being demoted.

Earwood, a long-time member and past president of the ASU Alumni Association board of directors, said, "I was taken totally by surprise, especially in the way that I was notified. I was having lunch with Alumni Association executive director Beth Smith and current board president Gary Pugh in preparation for a construction meeting on the Cooper Alumni Center. Beth told me that I had been on the Alumni Board too long, and that it was time for me to roll off and give someone else the opportunity to serve. Then she handed me the notification letter about being named a Distinguished Alumnus and told me that this was the real reason why I was being asked to relinquish my board seat. A person can’t be a sitting member of the board and be nominated for the honor. It is a very humbling experience to have the very people you respect, day in and day out, nominate you for an honor such as this. I’ll always be grateful."

Earwood graduated from Arkansas State University in 1980 with a bachelor of science degree and was a member of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity. A native of Memphis, he was a four year letterman on the ASU football team, being elected permanent captain of the 1978 conference champion team. "The most notable event of my time at ASU was clearly the opportunity to participate on the 1975 undefeated football team," he says. "That was such a euphoric feeling to go through the entire season wiping out our opponents and then to play our most hated conference rival, Louisiana Tech, in the final game of the year to win the conference. The atmosphere around Jonesboro was electric and everyone pulled together to cheer for the Indians – even some dyed-in-the-wool Hog fans."

Not surprisingly, athletics contribute to his favorite college memories. "I have so many good memories, but most of the really great ones seem to center around football," he says. "It was a part of my life that I really enjoyed and it was such a pleasure for me to be able to represent Arkansas State University on the playing field. I had the opportunity to play with a lot of extremely talented guys, many of whom have gone on to make their mark on the world."

Earwood continues to make his mark on ASU. A former member of the Intercollegiate Athletics Committee, he currently serves on the ASU Lettermen's Club board of directors and has served on the board of directors of the Indian Club in which he was vice president for one term and president for two terms. As a now-former member of the Arkansas State University Alumni Association board of directors, he served as both president and vice president. He is a 1924 Sustaining Life Member of the ASU Alumni Association, a member of the ASU Legacy Society, the College of Business Alumni Association, the Arkansas State University Foundation board of directors, and of course the Touchdown Club.

But football was not his only college passion. "Athletics was great but my involvement in Pi Kappa Alpha is a lifetime experience," he says."The relationships that were made with my Pike brothers will always be there."

After graduation from ASU, Mr. Earwood was employed by Holiday Inns Worldwide in Memphis as a project manager, and was responsible for construction and renovation of hotels throughout the U.S.  He was a member of the original design team that developed the Crowne Plaza, Embassy Suite, Hampton Inn, Homewood Suite and Perkins Restaurant concepts, and participated in Holiday Inn’s acquisition of Harrah’s Gaming Corporation.

He formed Earwood Contractors in 1989 to continue work in developing and managing the construction of hospitality-related projects for brands such as Hilton, Intercontinental Hotel Group, Marriott, Hyatt and others.  He has been involved in over $700 million of development and construction in the past 28 years, including Harrah’s Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas and the Sandestin Beach Hilton, one of the largest franchise Hiltons in the world.

A member of the American Society of Civil Engineers, Mr. Earwood has been assisting the ASU Alumni Association in the design and construction of the Cooper Alumni Center, which will open this fall, as well as assisting the athletic department in the design and construction of the football fieldhouse. Fittingly, Earwood will be in the very first group of Distinguished Alumni to be honored at the Alumni Center he helped to build.

Even with his many successes, some of his college mentors remain with him in spirit. "Dr. William Byrd was my first adviser at ASU when I entered the Science Department as a freshman. He was very helpful in getting me acclimated to college life and always had a lot of good suggestions on how to win football games, at least he thought they were good suggestions," laughs Earwood. "Also, my life was forever changed by the coaches that I served under. Bill Templeton, the late Bill Davidson and the late Gary Withrow played a major role in my life and I credit them for keeping me motivated through many difficult times. They weren’t the easiest coaches to play for but they instilled a high work ethic in me that still drives me today. Thanks to them, I can’t go to bed before 11 p.m. or sleep past 6 a.m., because I can still hear them banging on the door at curfew and to wake me for breakfast."

While Earwood has had great success in the construction industry, his career path could have taken a different turn. "Most people don’t know that I actually enrolled at ASU in the pre-med program," he says. "I had always wanted to be an orthopedic surgeon and spent several years in the program until my advisor, Dr. Byrd, suggested that I might be more suited to something that didn’t involve the risk of human life. I took his advice and somehow ended up in hotel development. However, I’m still a doctor 'wanna be' and take every available opportunity to practice my first aid techniques on pets and gullible family members."

Two of those family members and potential patients are his wife Tammy, a graduate of Ole Miss, and their daughter Natalie, who is a senior at St. Mary's School in Memphis. Earwood is a member of First Baptist Church of Collierville where he serves on the building and transportation committee and in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes ministry.

Major Maj. Elder GrangerGeneral Elder Granger, class of 1976, has had a career that combined his commitment to the military with a love for medicine. He currently serves as Deputy Director of TRICARE Management Activity, a Department of Defense (DoD) field activity responsible for operating the Military Health System as a fully integrated health care system within DoD.  He is also responsible for TRICARE health and medical resources, supervising and administering TRICARE programs, funding and other resources. Gen. Granger directs a staff of more than 1,800 people and an annual Defense Health Program budget of $22.5 billion with oversight including the effective provision of high-quality, accessible health care for 9.2 million beneficiaries worldwide.

A native of West Memphis, Gen. Granger began his military career in 1971 as a combat medic with the Arkansas National Guard.  He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in zoology (Cum Laude) from Arkansas State University and distinguished himself by receiving several recognitions while attending ASU.  Some of the recognitions that he received included a three-year ROTC Scholarship, Superior Freshman Cadet, Military History Award, Distinguished Military Student, Distinguished Military Graduate and being named to Who’s Who in American Colleges and Universities, 1976.

Granger's attitude towards his studies reflects a serious nature that led to his many distinctions. Some students link their college years with nonstop parties and fun. Granger says, "My favorite memory of ASU was being with a group of like-minded students who shared the same dream and passion for going into the healthcare field. I will never forget the long hours of study in the lab, the library and in our dorms together."

Their hard work paid off. "I will always remember the summer we attended the Harvard Health Care Summer Program 1974-75," he says. "We had a lot to prove, that we could perform at the same level, and we truly enjoyed demonstrating our worth."

Not that his college days were all work and no play. "I have two notable highlights during my time at ASU," he recalls. "The first was taking my future wife, Brenda Williams, to the ROTC Ball. The second was graduating on the same day as my mother-in-law, Nellie Williams. She received her master's degree the same day that I received my bachelors of science."

He cites professors who contributed to his success. "I was truly blessed to have great teachers in a variety of different colleges throughout my education at ASU," he says."Some of the most memorable who come to mind are Dr. Olsen and Dr. Barton from the College of Science; Dr. Rosso, my math professor; Ms. Eleanor Lane of the English Department, who taught me how to take my writing to a whole new level; Dr. Herman Strickland; Dr. Calvin Smith; my teacher and mentor Coach Wilbert Gaines, and my ROTC instructor and professor of military science LTC Leech."

Even in college, he managed to serve and give back to the academic community. "I greatly enjoyed being a member of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, serving as the vice president of the Black Student Association, and as a student representative to the Board of Trustees under Dr. Ross Pritchard," he says.

After attaining his Doctor of Medicine degree from the University Arkansas for Medical Sciences in 1980, he was commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Army and has held several leadership positions of significant importance before being selected to serve in his current position. These positions include Division Surgeon, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colorado; Commander, Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Landstuhl, Germany; Commander/Command Surgeon, European Regional Medical Command/7th Army, Heidelberg, Germany; Commanding General/Command Surgeon, 44th Medical Command/XVIII Airborne Corps, Fort Bragg, NC and Commander, Task Force 44th Medical Command and Command Surgeon for Multinational Corps-Iraq, in Baghdad, Iraq.

He has received more than 30 military and community service awards including the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Man of the Year; named to Outstanding Young Men of America; Department of Defense Superior Service Medal; U.S. Army Legion of Merit with Three Oak Leaf Clusters, and Bronze Star Medal.

He has been honored by his alma mater several times this year, including being named ASU's commencement speaker last spring and recently being inducted into the ROTC Hall of Heroes.  When notified that he was chosen to be one of this year's Distinguished Alumni of the university, he said, "I felt blessed, humbled, elated and extremely grateful that among the many exceptional graduates who have gone through the doors of ASU, they saw fit to nominate and select me."

With all his accolades and work with many of today's younger veterans, he holds a special place in his heart for those who have gone before. "Most people do not know that I have always had a true love, passion, and compassion for the elderly. They are a source of wisdom and knowledge, and even as a child, my closest friends have always been elderly."

Some of that wisdom and knowledge has become a part of his personal credo. "I try to live always keeping in mind what I call the 'dash of life.' On your tombstone, people will not remember the date of birth or the date of your death. What they will remember is that short 'dash 'in between," he says. "It is important to go through life with a serving attitude and to dedicate yourself to a cause greater than yourself. Your life should be an ongoing attempt to improve the world around you - in your community, your state, your country and even the world. We should all strive to make sure that our 'dash' has made a positive impact on the world we will leave behind."

General Granger and his wife, Brenda, are the parents of two children, attorney Elder Granger II, a public defender in Rockville, Illinois, and Dr. Eldesia Labren Granger, an M.D. specializing in pediatrics. Both of his children have followed in the tradition of this Distinguished Alumnus in a desire to serve others and to improve the world.

Banker J. Steven McFerron's years at Arkansas State University were memorable ones, both on the national and personal level. "The Vietnam War was at its peak. After graduation in 1971, I spent the summer in Alaska making enough money to buyJ. Steven McFerron an engagement ring. I had met my future wife, Martha Wofford McFerron, during our senior year of high school and we dated throughout our four years at ASU." Apparently, McFerron earned enough money for that ring, adding, "We married in the fall of 1971."

A recent event at ASU also brought back memories. "I was one of the first occupants of Twin Towers, and recently watched its implosion." Twin Towers residence hall, built in 1967, was demolished last May because its time had come and gone. Thankfully, McFerron, one of its former occupants, just kept going and going.

received his bachelor's degree in 1971 and a master's in business administration in 1974. Today, he is senior vice-president for lending at BancorpSouth in Jonesboro and has been involved in banking in northeast Arkansas for 34 years.  He is a past president of the ASU Alumni Association and is a 1924 Sustaining Life Member. He is an Outstanding Alumnus of the College of Business, serves on the College of Business Advisory Board, and is a former board member of the McAdams-Frierson Chair of Banking.

Aside from banking, McFerron also has a side dedicated to athletics. He is the incoming president of Arkansas State University's Red Wolf Club, is a past president of the Indian Club and has held membership on the board since 2001.  Presently, he is the Indian Club representative on the ASU Foundation Investment Committee. Athletics and extracurricular activities form a great part of his good memories of ASU.

His ASU memories include, "Great football teams with an undefeated national championship in my senior year of 1970-71; intramural sports between Greek organizations; leadership training in my fraternity, Kappa Alpha Order. My freshman year was the first for Arkansas State to have university status."

He also remembers other less noteworthy aspects of his time at ASU: "Watching the streakers run through campus; late nights at the Coffee Cup by the railroad tracks on Main Street; the new Reng Center. Freshman beanies were memorable but not enjoyable," he says, also recalling "the massive tornado that hit Jonesboro in 1968, which I slept through due to overextending myself in the Greek track meet earlier that day."

His fraternity was an important part of college life for McFerron. "Kappa Alpha gave me an opportunity to develop my leadership skills by attending summer events for additional training and working on the clean-up of Hurricane Camille on the Mississippi Gulf Coast," he says, adding "I enjoyed the athletic competition among the fraternities."

But he also paid attention to his classes and lessons his professors were able to impart. "I remember a number of professors with fondness, some of whom were Lonnie Talbert, Roland Mullins, John Kaminaredes, Dan Hoyt, Charles Ford, Sam Gennuso and Wayne McLaurin," he says. "One in particular was Dr. Herbert Price. He taught a business policy class where the students had case studies to complete and discuss with the class. Before each class, he wrote a student's name on the board to lead that day's discussion. A fellow student told me my name was posted so I skipped class since I was not prepared. However, I was prepared for every class thereafter - but he never called on me!  Dr. Price made his point and taught me a valuable lesson in the process."

Today, that lesson remains in McFerron's consistent commitment and follow-through.
His current community involvement includes serving as incoming president of Jonesboro's Church Health Center, board member of the Jonesboro Economic Development Corporation for the Jonesboro Chamber of Commerce, First United Methodist Church Administrative Board, and the Jonesboro Rotary Club.  He has been recognized twice as a Rotary Club Paul Harris Fellow.

Mr. McFerron is a former president of both the NEA American Institute of Banking Board and the Jonesboro University Heights Lions Club.  He is a past board member of the Arkansas Bankers Association, Jonesboro's City Youth Ministries, past treasurer of the Boy Scouts of America Eastern Arkansas Council, and past finance committee chairman for the American Red Cross Board.  He was a member of the Jonesboro Public Schools Board of Education from 1989-95 and is a former member of the City Water & Light board.  In 1980, he was named the Jonesboro Jaycees Outstanding Young Man. He is an active alumnus of Kappa Alpha Order, having served on the Building Corporation Board from 1974 to 2008, and previously as alumni advisor for ASU's Delta Eta Chapter. His guidance helped KA become one of the most stable Greek organizations on campus. He is a member of Kappa Alpha's Hamer & Feller Courts of Honor.

He and his wife Martha Wofford McFerron, his high school sweetheart, former cheerleader, and 1971 ASU graduate, endowed the Martha W. McFerron ASU Cheerleading Scholarship in 1997. "My wife has served ASU in a number of ways but notably as the adviser for the ASU cheerleaders in a voluntary capacity for the past 29 years," he says. They have a son, Matt, of New Orleans.

With all his accomplishments, was he surprised to be named a Distinguished Alumnus of his alma mater?  "After receiving the call from Alumni Association executive director Beth Smith in my office at the bank, I reflected on our conversation. I was in a state of shock, and overwhelmed to think that I have the privilege to be a part of such an accomplished group of ASU graduates. When I regained my composure, I called my wife to inform her and later told our son and my mother. I also e-mailed Paul Rowton of Harrisburg, who nominated me, to whom I will always be extremely grateful."

Since 1984, the ASU Alumni Association’s board of directors annually selects award recipients from nominations submitted by the public. Selection of nominees is based on community service, professional achievement and service to ASU. For more information, contact the ASU Alumni office at 870-972-ALUM (2586) or e-mail            



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