Inaugural Hilltopper Excellence Awards recognize 9 WKU alumni and benefactors

By Stephanie Smith, Building Kentucky

For more than 30 years, the Hall of Distinguished Alumni induction ceremony has been a highlight of WKU’s Homecoming weekend. The inaugural Hilltopper Excellence Awards celebration, which was held on Nov. 9, built upon this legacy and offered the opportunity to recognize nine esteemed alumni and dedicated benefactors of WKU. The event was generously sponsored by Franklin Bank & Trust and kicked off the “Big Red, White and Blue” Homecoming festivities.

Two individuals were recognized for alumni achievement:

  • Dr. Charles Coomer (’14) a visionary pediatric physician-scientist, received the Young Alumni Achievement Award for his contributions to the medical profession.
  • Dr. David D. Lee, WKU Distinguished Professor and University Historian, received the Honorary Alumnus Award for his service to WKU that spans nearly five decades.

Two alumni were recognized for their service to the University and the community:

  • Paul J. Just (’69, ’72), Sports Information Director Emeritus and WKU Sports Historian, was honored with the Distinguished Medal of WKU Service.
  • Romanza O. Johnson (’60, 68), received the Distinguished Medal of Community and Public Service Award for her exceptional volunteer service.

Richard J. Frockt (’67) of Las Vegas, N.V., was recognized as WKU’s Philanthropist of the Year, which honors the generosity, leadership and commitment of the recipient.

The 32nd class of the Hall of Distinguished Alumni included four noted inductees:

  • The late Admiral Claude Charles Bloch was former Commander in Chief of the United States Naval Fleet and was Commandant of the 14th Naval District in Pearl Harbor at the time of the Japanese attack on Dec. 7, 1941.
  • The late Justice Charles H. Reynolds (’48) was a distinguished attorney, decorated World War II veteran and Justice of the Kentucky Supreme Court.
  • Renee Shaw (’94, ’96) is Director of Public Affairs and Moderator at KET, as well as host of KET’s weeknight public affairs program Kentucky Edition, the signature public policy discussion series Kentucky Tonight, the weekly interview series Connections, election coverage and KET forums.
  • Dr. Amir Zaheri (’01) is an American composer, conductor, performer and educator of Persian and Appalachian lineages with a multifaceted career in professional, faith-based and academic settings.

Read more about each honoree at the Hilltopper Excellence Awards page.

WKU alumni and friends are encouraged to help identify fellow Hilltoppers who have demonstrated excellence in their career or service to WKU or their community. Recommendations will ensure that the amazing things Hilltoppers accomplish are acknowledged and that they are considered for one of the many ways the University celebrates and honors excellence. Please click here to recommend someone or to learn how you can support recognition efforts.

For more information, contact the WKU Alumni Association at (270) 745-2583.

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