2022 Distinguished Alumni recognized at alumni banquet

By Rachel Rudd | News Editor

By Caroline Averitt | Staff Writer

As part of the Homecoming festivities, Arkansas State University celebrated the 2022 Distinguished Alumni at the annual Distinguished Alumni Awards Dinner last Thursday. The Distinguished Alumni were Gilbert Fowler Ph.D., Chad Niell and the late Herman W. Strickland Jr. 

Fowler majored in journalism in 1971, then worked as a television reporter. In 1978, he became an A-State professor, before serving as interim dean of the Honors College, Graduate School and the College of Communications. After a 43-year-long career, he retired in 2021.

In addition, Fowler obtained grants that funded more than 25 student enrichment trips to the Middle East. He also serves as president and founding director of the American Business Leadership Institute, which works with students and businesses in Pakistan. 

“It’s a distinct honor to be recognized as one who has had successes and can relate a lot of that to Arkansas State University,” Fowler said. 

Niell majored in marketing in 1991. He served in the United States Marine Corps and as a sales trainer for Lanier, a Fortune 100 company. After leaving Lanier, he founded Tiger Correctional Services in 1999 with five employees. It is now a multi-million dollar company and employs more than 250 people across 30 states. 

Niell is also involved with the community, having served on the Jonesboro Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Jonesboro Economic Development Corp and the Downtown Jonesboro Association. He has also served as chairman of the American Red Cross Northeast Arkansas chapter.

“I owe (my success) from what happened at A-State and the support I got from this university,” Neill said. “I didn’t really think I’d get (the award)… so when I got it I was pretty shocked. It’s a pretty humbling experience. It’s an unbelievable honor.”

Herman Strickland majored in management in 1981 and earned a master’s in finance at the University of Memphis. He served as senior vice president of First Tennessee Bank, with a career spanning 34 years. He then served as senior vice president of Pinnacle Bank for five years, as well as being an instructor at the Barrett School of Banking. 

Herman Strickland was deeply involved in the community, serving on the boards of Lemoyne-Owen College, the Urban League, Benjamin Hooks Institute and Rise Foundation. He was also involved with the Arkansas State University and Southwest Tennessee Community College foundations. 

Herman Strickland passed away in 2020. 

“He was one that was very involved with community service,” said Rhonda Strickland, Herman Strickland’s wife. “Not just here at A-State, but also in Memphis as well as all over the United States.”

Every year, A-State alums are nominated for the Distinguished Alumni award. After being voted on by a selection committee, the final alums are voted on by the Alumni Association Board of Directors. There can be up to three Distinguished Alumni each year. 

“It’s an average of their success within their career, as well as giving back to their community and what they have done to give back to the university,” said Lindsay Burnett, executive director of the Alumni Association, when describing the recipient selection process.

Along with the presentation of awards at the dinner, the alumni were also recognized at halftime during the Homecoming game. 

“It’s a nice event to recognize these alumni and their achievements,” said Amanda McDaniel, director of alumni events and affinity relations.



Categories: News

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