Southeastern Alumnus of the Year, others honored

Tuesday, October 20, 2015 Alumnus of the Year 2015
by: Rene Abadie

SOUTHEASTERN HONORS ALUMNUS OF THE YEAR – Stanley John Whidden, second from right, was recognized as Southeastern Louisiana University’s Alumnus of the Year at the Alumni Association’s annual Awards Evening during Homecoming Week. Pictured, from left, are President John L. Crain, who holds the Military Order of the World Wars presented by Whidden on behalf of the military for patriotic support; Alumni Association Director Kathy Pittman; Whidden; and Association President Josie Mercante.

     HAMMOND -- Col. Stanley John Whidden of Fairfax, Va., a U.S. Army physician and scientist and an expert in incident management, chemical and bioterrorism risk analysis, was recognized at Southeastern Louisiana University’s annual Alumni Awards Evening Friday (Oct. 16) as Southeastern’s Alumnus of the Year.
    The event was one of the highlights of Homecoming Week and capped an evening where a variety of awards were presented, including recognition of the various distinguished alumni from each college.
    “SLU was my rallying point and it helped build the courage that lasted me throughout my life,” said Whidden, who completed a 38-year career as an enlisted soldier and officer and who served in a variety of senior staff and command positions. “Southeastern prepared me to see, serve and never yield.”
    Whidden is a double graduate of Southeastern, earning a bachelor’s degree in physiology in 1970 and master’s in biology in 1973 at Southeastern. He later earned a doctorate in Physiology at Auburn University and his doctor of medicine degree from the Autonomous University of Ciudad Juarez in Mexico.    
    He served in a variety of civil affairs and military operations positions in the Middle-East, in Operation Just Cause in the invasion of Panama, In Operation Desert Shield in Saudi Arabia, and in Operation Desert Storm in Kuwait, where he helped manage the country’s reconstruction and recovery. He has also served with U.S. Forces and the United Nations Somalia Logistics Command in Somalia.
    Also recognized at the event was Matthew Magnuson of Baton Rouge as the association’s Young Alumnus of the Year. A 2006 graduate with a degree in computer science, Magnuson currently serves as chief technology officer for Associated Terminals, a large, diverse cargo handling and logistical solutions company operating on the lower Mississippi River. He holds several patents for helping to determine vessel draft and amount of cargo in a vessel.
    At the event, individual distinguished alumni from each of Southeastern’s five academic colleges were honored. They include:
    -- College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences: David Armand of Hammond, Southeastern instructor of English and author of several novels, including the “The Pugilist’s Wife,” “Harlow,” and “The Gorge,” as well as a book of poetry titled “Deep Woods.” He received his bachelor’s degree in English in 2004 and his master’s degree in 2006.
    -- College of Business: Robert Watkins of Robert, a 1975 graduate in accounting, is managing partner of Wegmann Dazet & Company, where he oversees the operations and finances for this top public accounting firm in New Orleans. He is a member of the board of the Southeastern Foundation.
    -- College of Education: Patrice Pujol, superintendent of the Ascension Parish School System and the 2015 Louisiana Superintendent of the Year. Pujol has worked in education for 38 years as a teacher, principal and in other supervisory positions. She received her bachelor’s degree in1976 and her doctorate in educational leadership in 2013.
    -- College of Nursing and Health Sciences: Samone Cammon, a 2010 graduate of Southeastern’s Kinesiology and Sports Management program, where she was named the graduate of the year. She is currently a marketing specialist with The Wendy’s Company in Alpharetta, Ga., and has worked with the company in various capacities since 2010.
    -- College of Science and Technology: Ralph J. Daigle of The Woodlands, Texas, a geophysical consultant for the oil industry, worked to form Petrus Energy, a privately held company involved in Gulf coast exploration. He worked for other energy companies, including PetroQuest Energy where he served as a director and vice chairman of the board. He earned his bachelor’s degree in math with a minor in physics in 1970 after attending Southeastern on an athletic scholarship.
    James E. Smith of the Mason School of Business at the College of William and Mary was recognized with the association’s first Excellence in Academics Award. A graduate in accounting from Southeastern, he later earned an MBA and doctoral degree. He teaches in both the undergraduate and graduate programs and William and Mary, where he has consistently been ranked as one of the universities top teachers.
    Other awards presented at the event include:
    -- Distinguished Service Award – Terry Brown of Ponchatoula for an outstanding alumnus who has generously donated his or time and talent to the betterment of the Alumni Association. The Association has re-named the award in honor of Kathy Pittman, who has served 20 years as director of the organization and expects to retire next year.
    -- L.E. Chandler Award – Lee Lind, director of Student Publications, for his work in assisting students in their efforts and accomplishments in extracurricular activities.
    -- Friendship Oak Awards were presented to Kappa Alpha Order on the occasion of their 35th anniversary; Alpha Sigma Tau on its 75th anniversary; Theta Phi Alpha on its 25th anniversary; Chris Bentley, associate professor of general studies and assistant to the Athletic Director; Stephen Smith, former vice president for administration and finance; and David Faucheaux of the College of Business for his recognition as the No. 2 ranked professor by the web site


More News...