September 22, 2005

Association to honor five Distinguished Alumni

by Greg Scott

david lee murphy

David Lee Murphy

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- The Southern Illinois University Alumni Association will recognize five prominent graduates as Distinguished Alumni during the University's homecoming activities Friday and Saturday, Sept. 30 and Oct. 1.

The SIU Alumni Association will honor the alumni at 2:30 p.m., Sept. 30, at a public reception and induction ceremony in the Student Recreation Center's Alumni Lounge. Their framed photos will become part of the University's Distinguished Alumni wall in the Student Recreation Center.

The 2005 SIU Distinguished Alumni are: Wade Horn, assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for Children and Families; H.S. Muralidhara, co-inventor of 24 U.S. patents and vice president of corporate plant operations/process technology at Cargill, Inc., a major food processor headquartered in Minneapolis; David Lee Murphy, a premier country music recording star who has released four albums in Nashville during the last 10 years; R. John Reynolds, president of Salem International University, in Salem, W.Va., who has earned a reputation for turning around financially troubled small private colleges and universities in more than 35 years as a higher education administrator; and Walter C. Rodgers III, who attained almost 40 years as a respected broadcast journalist before retiring this month as the senior international correspondent for CNN based in London.

Here is a closer look at this year's honorees:

Wade F. Horn has demonstrated a lifelong commitment to the well-being of children as a husband, father, child psychologist, college professor, public policy expert and federal official. Horn serves as assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for Children and Families, a position for which he was nominated by President George W. Bush in 2001 and confirmed by the U.S. Senate. He oversees 65 social programs and a $46 billion annual budget. Horn plays a key role in implementing President Bush's initiatives to enhance the well-being of children, including efforts to increase the effectiveness of the Head Start program, promote positive youth development and encourage responsible fatherhood and healthy marriage. Horn formerly served as president of the National Fatherhood Initiative, whose mission is to increase the number of children growing up with responsible fathers in their lives. In addition to having published numerous articles, essays and books, Horn has served on the National Commission on Children, the National Commission on Childhood Disability and the U.S. Advisory Board on Welfare Indicators. He has previously served as a psychology professor at Michigan State University and George Washington University, and adjunct professor of public policy at Georgetown University. He earned a master's degree in psychology from SIUC in 1979 and a doctorate, also in psychology, in 1981. Horn and his wife, Claudia, are proud parents of two grown daughters, Christen and Caroline.

A native of India, H.S. Muralidhara's first experience on U.S. soil came as a graduate student at SIUC, where he earned a master's degree in engineering in 1974. A co-inventor of 24 U.S. patents, "Murali" is vice president of corporate plant operations/process technology at Cargill Inc, a major food processor headquartered in Minneapolis, with more than 100,000 employees worldwide. He specializes in separations technology research. Murali is also actively involved in developing innovative separations technology applications of membrane technologies and membrane-fouling research, in addition to separation/purification of natural products and water-related processes. The editor of two books on advances in solid/liquid separation, Murali won the illustrious Hausner Award in 1996. In October 2003, he won the TEKNE Award, presented for the category of Technology leadership in the State of Minnesota. He is a member of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, and obtained a doctorate in chemical engineering from West Virginia University in 1977. Murali and his wife, Dr. Ponnamma Kurian, a 1975 SIUC graduate, have a son, Shilesh, and a daughter Shubha. Murali is an annual member of the SIU Alumni Association.

David Lee Murphy, a premier country music recording artist, does not make a big fuss over his stardom. In a Southern Alumni magazine feature entitled "A Common Man," the Herrin native said: "I took many trips down I-24 to Nashville and came back too many times with my tail between my legs. You develop a strong sense of humility. I have always tried to keep things in perspective." After some initial struggles, his blue-collar approach paid off. Murphy's first album, Out With A Bang, included the hit songs, "Party Crowd," which was the most-played country music song of 1995, and "Dust On the Bottle," which became Murphy's first No. 1 single. Out With A Bang became the best-selling album by any new male artist in 1995, and was certified as a gold record by the RIAA. He was nominated by the Academy of Country Music as Top New Male Vocalist for 1996. Murphy's second album, Gettin' Out the Good Stuff, spawned the Top 5 singles "Every Time I Get Around You" and "The Road You Leave Behind," a song dedicated to his late father, Jack. The country music star has released four albums during the last 10 years. His most recent, Tryin' To Get There, features the hit single, "Loco", which climbed to No. 5 on the national country music charts and the title track which Murphy wrote with the late Waylon Jennings. Murphy wrote or co-wrote all the songs on his four albums. His compositions have also been recorded by superstar country artists Reba McEntire, Hank Williams, Jr., Brooks & Dunn, and Kenny Chesney to name a few. Murphy's first taste of Nashville came through a music business class at SIUC; he earned his bachelor's degree in speech communications in 1983. The class traveled to Nashville four times a semester, where Murphy says he made crucial connections in the industry. Murphy lives with his wife, Donna, and their three sons in Franklin, Tenn.

After a stint as a high school teacher in Wisconsin from 1961 to 1964, R. John Reynolds began a splendid career in higher education that has spanned more than 35 years at institutions across the United States. Reynolds, whose career features presidential roles at five universities and colleges since 1982, is currently president of Salem International University, in Salem, W. Va. He has earned a reputation for turning around financially troubled small private colleges and universities. As president of Huron University in South Dakota from 1984 to 1993, he turned nine years of deficits into a surplus, increased enrollment by 1,020 students, and opened branch campuses in London, Tokyo, and Sioux Falls, S.D. He assumed the presidency at Tri-State University in Angola, Ind., in 1993, and turned two decades of financial deficits into seven years of surpluses. Reynolds served as interim president of Millikin University in Decatur in 2002-2003, turning around another financially troubled institution. Nationally recognized as an authority on off-campus development, he has established or supervised the implementation of more than 30 branch campuses in 12 states and two international sites. Reynolds, who earned a doctorate in education from SIUC in 1971, held various leadership positions in SIUC's School of Technical Careers from 1969 to 1982. Reynolds' entire family including his wife Carol '76, son John '80, and daughter Katherine, 1998 doctorate, all received degrees from Southern.

After earning a bachelor's degree in history in 1962 and a master's in history in 1964 from SIUC, Walter C. Rodgers enrolled at the University of Washington in Seattle to work on his doctorate in history and serve as a teaching assistant. He soon decided, however, to move to Washington, D.C., to "try to live some history instead of writing about it." Influenced by his stepfather's experiences as a longtime staff member at CBS, he began pursuing a career in broadcast news. Rodgers, who attained almost 40 years as a respected broadcast journalist, retired in September of 2005 as the senior international correspondent for CNN based in London. In London, he's covered the war against Osama Bin Laden in Afghanistan, the buildup of U.S. military forces in Kuwait, and terrorist threats. Rodgers, named to his London post in September 2000, previously served as the CNN bureau chief in Jerusalem and ABC News bureau chief in Moscow. He covered major stories for CNN, including war in the former Yugoslavia. During his 12 years at ABC, Rodgers appeared regularly on ABC's World News Tonight. He witnessed combat in Lebanon in the 1980s. As the network's Moscow bureau chief and correspondent, he covered an array of stories originating from the Soviet Union, including programs instituted by Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and the Soviet war in Afghanistan. In the U.S., Rodgers has covered U.S.-Soviet presidential summits, Iranian hostage stories, and Watergate court proceedings in 1974. He was a White House Correspondent for Associated Press Radio from 1974 to 1981, covering the Ford, Carter and Reagan Administrations. Rodgers has written a book, "Sleeping with Custer and the 7th Cavalry: An Embedded Reporter in Iraq," depicting his account of the war from the Kuwaiti border to the Iraqi capital of Baghdad. Rodgers and his wife, Eleanor, live in Vienna, Va.


H.S. Muralidhara


R. John Reynolds


Wade F. Horn


Walter C. Rodgers