Tarleton Alumni Association recognizes distinguished alumni, friends of university

2014 Distinguished Alumni

Tarleton State University

Thursday, January 30, 2014

STEPHENVILLE, Texas—The Tarleton Alumni Association hosted its Distinguished Alumni Gala Jan. 25 and paid tribute to six former students and members of the university community, as well as the university’s official class ring provider.

The event annually celebrates the accomplishments of Tarleton’s most outstanding alumni and members of the university’s faculty and staff for contributions to their fields, the community and their alma mater. Welcomed by TAA president Mike Kornegay ’66, this year’s honorees celebrated with more than 200 guests at the Barry B. Thompson Student Center ballrooms and were joined by past award recipients, alumni and university representatives.

The association honored the following:

George Brinegar – Distinguished Alumnus
Brig. Gen. (Ret.) George A. Brinegar, was raised in Waco and graduated from Richfield High School in 1978 before enrolling at Tarleton the fall of that year, following in his father Lou Brinegar’s footsteps. He attended Tarleton his freshman year before transferring to Texas A&M in fall 1979. Upon graduating from A&M in 1982, he received his military commission from the U.S. Army. He later returned to Tarleton as a graduate student before earning his master’s in 1987. In 2004, he received a second master’s degree from the U.S. Army War College.

His military service spans 28 years as an armor officer. He was deployed multiple times to Korea and Iraq. Brinegar’s expertise lies in the operations arena, where he served as a tank battalion operations officer, maneuver brigade operations officer, and operations officer for mobilization, readiness and force integration. He served as chief of staff, 36th Infantry Division from 2004-05, and served with Multi-National Corps Iraq from 2007-08. His distinguished military service was recognized with many award and decorations, including the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, Defense Meritorious Service Medal and the Meritorious Service Medal with 5 Oak Leaf Clusters.

Ronnie Isham – Distinguished Alumnus
Ronnie Isham, class of 1969, spent 36 years working for the citizens of Stephenville. He began in recreation while still a Tarleton student in the mid-60s, and was made parks and recreation director in 1965. Isham immediately set out to improve the quality of life in Stephenville, securing grants to improve parks and enlisting the support of civic and community groups to build pavilions, playgrounds, walking trails and sports fields. In 1990 he became community services director, which gave him additional duties of managing city cemeteries, the library and airport.

Throughout his career he was active in the Amateur Softball Association as a coach, district commissioner, and Texas ASA commissioner. In 1986 he was named Texas at-large player representative and in 1992 began to serve on various selection committees. He helped select players for the first-ever U.S. women’s Olympic team for the 1996 games in Atlanta. The team won Olympic gold. Isham was inducted into the ASA/USA National Softball Hall of Fame in 2010.

Burnaby Munson – Distinguished Alumnus
Burnaby Munson, class of 1952, has had a long, distinguished career as a professor of chemistry at the University of Delaware. Born and raised in Wharton, Texas, Munson came to Tarleton in 1950 “because it was a small school” and his sister had previously gone there. He was the editor of The Grassburr and remembers that “Aaron Grant was the best teacher I ever had—world civilization, as a freshman.”

From Tarleton he went on to the University of Texas at Austin, where he earned a Ph.D. in 1959. He was employed as a research chemist at Humble in Baytown, Texas, from 1959 until 1967, when he accepted a position in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Delaware. He has authored or co-authored more than 100 scientific articles in academic journals, many focusing on aspects of mass spectrometry, of which he is considered a leading authority. Through the years, he has been the recipient of dozens of teaching awards, and was director of the Honors Program at the University of Delaware from 1986-89.

G. Shawn Tate – Outstanding Young Alumnus
Capt. G. Shawn Tate, 2014 Outstanding Young Alumnus, earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice in 2004 while attending school on an Army ROTC scholarship. He then enrolled in law school at Texas Wesleyan University and received his juris doctorate in May 2007.

Tate began his legal career as chief of legal assistance with the U.S. Army’s Aviation Center of Excellence at Fort Rucker, Ala. In 2010, he transitioned to Fort Drum, N.Y., where he eventually became chief of military justice, overseeing seven prosecuting attorneys, 10 paralegals and five court reporters. He moved to Fort Meade, Md., in January 2012 to serve as command judge advocate, a position he currently holds.

Tate advises commanders and staff on all operational aspects of computer network operations to include network attacks and defense. He also acts as a liaison to various members of the intelligence community regarding the offensive use of technology in cyberspace, and provides legal services to a military intelligence brigade regarding government ethics, fiscal and labor laws, military justice and other administrative law issues.

B. R. Kirkland – Distinguished Faculty
Dr. B.R. Kirkland began his career at Tarleton in 1979 as an assistant professor in the College of Business Administration. During his 30-plus years at Tarleton, he taught a variety of graduate and undergraduate classes in management and influenced thousands of students, helping them prepare both academically and personally for life beyond the gates.

In addition to creating an excellent teaching environment, Kirkland was always looking for ways to provide support outside the classroom. He advised students, served on numerous university committees, supported international students and, as a former Marine, was actively involved in the Tarleton ROTC. He was also instrumental in the development of the Small Business Institute and the Small Business Development Center at Tarleton.

Kirkland received the prestigious O.A. Grant Excellence in Teaching Award for the College of Business Administration in 2011. The board of regents of The Texas A&M University System named him emeritus associate professor of management at Tarleton in 2013.

Tom Robinson – Distinguished Staff
Tom Robinson began his career at Tarleton in 1995 as an electrician in the maintenance department. After four years, the Vietnam War veteran was promoted to electrician foreman, and in 2000 he was named electrician and mechanic supervisor. During his years, many new buildings were built on campus and the student population grew dramatically, but Robinson and his department served with distinction despite limited staff and resources.

In addition to his job responsibilities, Robinson became a mentor to students as the adviser to the Plowboys from 2001-13. He has also served on the Staff Council and the Facilities Maintenance Safety Committee. His awards include Tarleton Employee of the Month, May Jones Advisor of the Year in 2001, the Student Life Award in 2005-06, and the Facilities Maintenance Lifetime Safety Award in 2007.

Jostens Inc. – Distinguished Friend
Jostens Inc. has served as the official class ring supplier for Tarleton since the late 1980s. Since being named the university’s official class ring supplier, Jostens has supported several special awards on campus and recently donated the John Tarleton Lifetime Membership Award, a diamond ring that was presented to Paul Koonsman. And the company provided President F. Dominic Dottavio with his own university class ring. Jostens has also been instrumental in organizing and underwriting the annual ring ceremony. Each year, Jostens has also served as sponsors of the Clyde H. Wells / Tarleton Alumni Association Golf Classic.

“(Sales representative) Tamela Herczeg has driven many times from Sherman or Arlington to deliver a student their ring due to the student’s error or a mistake on the part of Jostens,” wrote one nominator. “The customer service department is extremely helpful to students ordering their rings or when repairs or replacements are needed. Tamela goes the extra mile and has spent many hours helping the alumni association improve their sales of class rings.”

The alumni association invites nominations for future awardees from former students, faculty, staff, students or friends of the university. The deadline for 2015 award nominations is June 15, 2014. Nomination materials may found at: www.tarleton.edu/org/alumniassociation/PDFs/distinguishednominationform2011.pdf.

For more information about the TAA or how to become a member, visit the association’s homepage at: www.tarleton.edu/org/alumniassociation/.


Tarleton State University
A member of The Texas A&M University System

Contact: Jessica Evans, Director of Development & Alumni Engagement

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Tarleton Alumni Association recognizes distinguished alumni, friends of university - Media Relations - Tarleton State University