College of Education and Health Professions Honors Outstanding Alumni

May 9, 2019 | Alumni News

The College of Education and Health Professions celebrated outstanding alumni at the college’s spring commencement as well as at its annual Alumni Awards reception on Friday, May 10.

Three people are named each year, representing the two halves of the college plus a noteworthy recent graduate. The awards honor alumni of the college for exceptional professional and personal achievement and extraordinary distinction in their fields.

The 2019 winners are Dave Gearhart, Mark O’Neal and Meredith Brunen.

A reception was held on May 10 to honor the three recipients (see below for more details on each winner). Here are some shots from the event:

Dean Miller, Dave Gearhart, John Donaldson

L to R: Dean Miller, Dave Gearhart, John Donaldson

L to R: Dean Miller, Mark O'Neal, Al Gordon

L to R: Dean Miller, Mark O’Neal, Al Gordon

Dean Miller, Meredith Brunen, John Donaldson

L to R: Dean Miller, Meredith Brunen, John Donaldson

Dean Miller gives a champagne toast

Dean Miller gives a champagne toast

Outstanding Alumni Award in Education

The Outstanding Alumni Award in Education recognizes a graduate with exceptional professional and personal achievement and extraordinary distinction in the education professions.

7645-Chancellor David Gearhart Official Portrait for releaseThis year’s recipient is G. David Gearhart, former University of Arkansas chancellor. Gearhart received a B.A. from Westminster College and a J.D. in law and Ed.D. in higher education from the University of Arkansas. He also received a Fulbright Fellowship to Oxford University in England.

Having worked in university development throughout his career, Gearhart returned to the University of Arkansas after serving as the vice president for development at Pennsylvania State University. In his role as vice chancellor for university advancement at the U of A, he led the completion of a $1 billion capital campaign, the Campaign for the Twenty-First Century. He then served as chancellor from 2008-2015. Accomplishments during his tenure include increases in university enrollment, six-year graduation rates, university fundraising, research expenditures, the number of faculty members and the number of new or renovated buildings on campus.

During this time, the university reached the Carnegie Foundation’s highest classification of research institutions. Gearhart is currently a professor of higher education and has authored three books and nearly a dozen articles. He is also the founder and director of the National Lab for the Study of the College President.

Outstanding Alumni Award in Health and Human Services

Cubs

The Outstanding Alumni Award in Health and Human Services recognizes a graduate with exceptional professional and personal achievement and extraordinary distinction in the health and human service professions.

Mark O’Neal holds a B.S. in kinesiology with an emphasis in athletic training from the University of Arkansas. Since graduation, he has spent his life giving back to and helping others in numerous ways. His career with Major League Baseball began in 1994 as an athletic trainer.

Over the last 25 years, he has participated in many speaking engagements related to athletic training and sports medicine, including the University of Arkansas’ graduate athletic training program.

O’Neal currently serves as the senior director of medical operations/athletic training for the Chicago Cubs, as well as the president of the Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers Society. Along with his incredible passion for his career, he has received numerous awards, including the National League’s All-Star Athletic Trainer in 2009 and Major League Baseball Athletic Trainer of the Year in 2008.

Outstanding Young Alumni Award

The Outstanding Young Alumni Award recognizes an individual who graduated within the past 10 years and is engaged in their first career, and has demonstrated exceptional professional and personal achievement and extraordinary distinction in the education or health and human service professions.

Meredith Brunen earned a B.A. in international relations and Middle East studies, as well as an M.Ed. and Ed.D. in higher education from the University of Arkansas. Brunen has significant experience in fundraising at the collegiate level, where she has excelled tremendously through the different positions she has held. She began her career in development at NorthWest Arkansas Community College before assuming the role of assistant vice president for development at the University of West Florida. In this position, she secured a $3 million gift that supported international student scholarships. She is now the vice chancellor for university advancement at the University of South Carolina-Upstate, one of the fastest growing universities in the United States.

The Dean’s Advisory Council of the college established the awards with the first presented in 2011. Dean Michael T. Miller and a committee of the council selected the recipients.

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