Alumni Association hosts dinner for distinguished graduates

Alicia Steele, Assistant News Editor

The Murray State Alumni Association hosted its annual 2016 Distinguished Alumnus award dinner Friday in the Murray Room of the CFSB Center. This year, Murray State recognized four graduates as distinguished alumni: David Beck, class of 1977; Bill Cunningham, class of 1966; Janice Padgett Harper-Smith, class of 1963 and 1968; Dennis Jackson, class of 1966 and 1971.

This year the named its award winners a Kentucky Supreme Court justice, Murray State’s first African-American athlete, a Kentucky Farm Bureau Association executive and an international opera star.

Shawn Reynolds, president of the Murray State Alumni Association, said the organization looks to recognize alumni who have been successful since graduating and who continue to be involved with Murray State.

“I think all these folks tonight are involved and will be going forward,” Reynolds said.

Three of the four alumni were able to attend the dinner. Padgett Harper-Smith, who lives in Europe, was unable to attend.


“It’s a humbling experience,” Beck said. “It’s very much an honor, and it’s hard to imagine where the years have gone.”

Cunningham said it is a humbling experience because there are numerous other alumni deserving of the honor. He said he feels like he is representing many other people.

Jackson said he is proud getting his education at Murray State. 

“This is something like dreams are made of,” Jackson said. “Because when I grew up I had no idea that it would even be possible for me to go to Murray State University.”

He said the university prepared him for his life accomplishments because of the great teachers and mentors who have supported him.

“Even now if I have a question, I just call them and ask them,” Jackson said.

Beck is still involved with Murray State and makes visits to campus to interact with administration and faculty.

“I am proud that I am an alumni of Murray,” Beck said.