Alumni Award Recipients: 2009

Columbia College honored several outstanding alumni with distinguished, community and professional achievement awards at the annual Alumni Awards Dinner, Saturday, April 25, 2009. The awards recognize the exemplary accomplishments of Christian College and Columbia College alumni.

Distinguished Alumni Award

For outstanding regional and national career recognition

Clinton ("Clint") G. Herbert '88
In a long and distinguished military security career spanning 12 years, Herbert served in Germany, Korea, Africa, Middle East and stateside as a patrolman, investigator, VIP protector, Special Response Team lead and undercover narcotics investigator. Herbert separated from the military in 1983, and remained in the Far East (Korea, Japan, Hong Kong) as a professional model and nightclub manager. He returned to the U.S. to start his federal career shortly thereafter.

For the next 20 years, Herbert’s career kicked into high gear with career-enhancing stops in security, law enforcement, counterintelligence and counterterrorism and emergency preparedness at several Navy research and development laboratories, a NASA R&D center in northern California, and a final tour of duty as deputy assistant administrator in the Office of Security and Program Protection at NASA headquarters. Herbert retired at the highest federal employee level.

Herbert has been awarded the Army Achievement Medal, the Army Commendation Medal and several overseas service ribbons. In 1990 he was awarded the Army’s Civilian Achievement Medal and, in 1998, NASA’s Outstanding Leadership Medal.

Professional Achievement Award

For oustanding regional and national recogition in one's career field

Sergeant Major Michael David (ret.) '91
In an outstanding 30-year human resources career with the United States Army, David served in positions from unit clerk to assistant human resources director and attained the highest rank an enlisted person can obtain, sergeant major. This rank is attained by only 1 percent of all enlisted soldiers.

David was instrumental in coordinating the design and set up of a one-stop, $2.5 million facility at Fort Stewart, Ga. for over 30,000 incoming and outgoing soldiers, civilians, family members, contractors and retirees. He also was instrumental in recovering over 80 percent of crucial missing life insurance forms of soldiers deployed in the war on terrorism.

David has received numerous awards, certificates, commendations, medals and promotions for implementing human resource systems, procedures and policies to help the Army transition smoothly into the 21st Century. David retired in 2007 and was awarded the Horatio Gates bronze medal from the Adjutant General Corps for his outstanding contributions to human resources and for implementing the first electronic awards processing program in Korea. David also received the Legion of Merit Award, the Army’s second highest peace-time award for outstanding contributions in his profession and for his service to the nation.

David’s retirement lasted six months. Due to his love for this great nation and his desire to give back to the soldiers who sacrifice their lives daily, he currently serves as a training specialist in the Warrior Transition Battalion, Fort Stewart, Ga., helping wounded soldiers regain proficiency while they transition back to their parent unit or to civilian life.

David also found the time to graduate from the United Christian International Bible Institute in 1989 and was granted an honorary doctorate in theology. Today, “Elder David” impacts the lives of soldiers, civilians, family members and friends through regular Bible studies, witnessing and ministering.

David also has received letters of recognition from the president and vice president, the governor of Florida and the mayor of Daytona Beach, Fla.

Professional Achievement Award

For oustanding regional and national recogition in one's career field

Ruth Purschwitz Meissen '79
Meissen always had a passion for art and knew from an early age she would pursue it. As a high school student she read about noted painter and teacher Sid Larson in a Columbia College brochure and knew that was the school for her. She completed her bachelor’s degree in art in just three years, graduating with honors with commercial art as a major.

Within weeks, Meissen was a commercial artist in Indianapolis. She worked her way up the corporate ladder for various corporate art departments and by age 28, Meissen was art director for a major toy manufacturer in Rockford, Ill. She was thrilled when a toy truck she had created artwork for was featured on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. Her artwork also could be seen on toys and packaging internationally. At age 29, Ruth was elected vice president of the Northern Illinois Advertising Council.

But after 12 years, Ruth took time to have a second child and, away from the insane deadlines and treachery of corporate politics, considered a career change. She enrolled at Rockford College, Ill. in 1997, where she was awarded Outstanding Student Teacher of the Year. Meissen then became an art instructor at Harlem Middle School in Loves Park, Ill. and was so successful the Illinois State Board of Education named her 2007-08 Teacher of the Year. Meissen was honored by former President Bush and earned a one-year sabbatical, traveling across Illinois and the U.S. to speak at public schools and universities.

Meissen also serves as advisor to the student council and founded the S.M.ART Club, an after-school program for students interested in using their artistic talents for charity. After Hurricane Katrina hit, Meissen got her students to adopt Edward Hynes Charter School in New Orleans. Meissen and her students have also raised thousands of dollars for new books and classroom supplies and recently, her students completed their third year working with the Rockford Area Habitat for Humanity. In May 2007, the Harlem Board of Education awarded Meissen her with the 2006/2007 Heart of Harlem Award for classroom teacher.

Community Service Award

For outstanding leadership and service to community

Ronald A. Monnig '77
Monnig has owned and operated numerous small businesses in the past 30 years and has been active in community and civic affairs. He is currently serving a sixth term on the Slater, Mo., City Council and on the Missouri Municipal League’s Board of Directors. In 2006 he was elected president of the MML. He also has served on the National League of Cities Economic Development Committee and led the Missouri delegation to annual and Congressional conferences.

Monnig also serves on the board of directors of Missouri One Call Systems and as treasurer of the Mar-Saline Branch of the NAACP. He was a member of the Governor’s Commission on Intergovernmental Cooperation and served as a member of Governor Nixon’s Citizens Transition Advisory Committee and Inaugural Celebration Committee. He also has completed courses and training in emergency management through the Department of Homeland Security and the Municipal Leadership Program of the Truman School of Public Affairs.

For his civic and community contributions, Monnig earned an entry in the official history of Slater. These include Glasgow Lions Club (past president), Glasgow’s fire department, Slater Optimist Club (past president), Slater Youth Center Board of Directors, Slater Chamber of Commerce, Slater Renaissance Festival (chairman), Slater Veteran’s Memorial Park Development and Mural Project, Slater’s 125th anniversary committee (co-chair), Slater’s ‘Wall That Heals’ Committee (co-chair) and its community betterment program.

Community Service Award

For outstanding leadership and service to community

Penny L. Pitman '65
Like what you see in faithfully restored St. Charles, Mo., the first capitol of Missouri? Thank Pitman, whose work in historic preservation and restoration has been a life-long commitment, beginning with the 1970 purchase and rehabilitation of an 1895 four-square Victorian home in St. Charles.

In 1975 she and a small group of other passionate individuals began the restoration of Main Street, St. Charles. As prime mover on numerous projects and partner in others, Pitman has completed the renovation of 13 commercial buildings in St. Charles National Register Historic Districts, most including full-facade reconstruction that returned the buildings to their original late 1800s- early 1900s designs. She also has been involved in several important and early projects in downtown St. Louis, has completed two projects in St. Charles residential neighborhoods and several projects in St. Charles County.

Pitman served for 11 years on the Landmarks Preservation Board and 30 years on the Historic Downtown Association Board. She also has served on the St. Louis Home Builders Association Advisory Board, as chairman of the Riverfront Planning Board, on the St. Louis Regional Chamber and Growth Association Advisory Board, as chairman of Mosaics Art Festival and in numerous local organizations. Her work was recognized in 2008 by the Missouri State Preservation Organization with an Archie Scott award; and with several St. Charles awards.

It would not be an exaggeration to say that St. Charles bears her personal stamp. She continues to advise in the design of new restoration projects and is often called upon for her expertise and ideas. Her ability to recreate authentic storefronts and facades when little original architecture exists, her correct and sensitive designs and attention to detail and use of materials sets her projects apart from others and establishes a standard of excellence.