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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.
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
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
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."
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.
that he had been named a Distinguished Alumnus
of Arkansas State University, Bob Earwood of
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
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
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
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
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
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,
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
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
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
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
years at Arkansas State University were memorable ones, both on the
national and personal level. "The
was at its peak. After graduation in 1971, I spent the summer in Alaska
making enough money to buy
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
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
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