The director of the state’s largest environmental policy and regulatory agency, a retired insurance executive, a Texas school superintendent, the Provost Marshal of the 39th Brigade Combat Team of the Arkansas National Guard, and a retired administrative law judge have been selected to receive the 2012 Alumni Awards for Achievement and Merit from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.
Teresa Marks, director of the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality; M. L. Mann, retired general manager of The Hartford Insurance Group; Jody Clements, superintendent of the Kilgore, Texas School District; Lieutenant Colonel Tommie Brasfield of the Arkansas National Guard, and Judge Eugene Mazzanti, will be honored during UAM’s Homecoming celebration. Also honored will be Monticello businessman W. J. McKiever, who will receive the Continuing the Connection Award, presented annually to the alumnus who best keeps alive the connection between UAM and Arkansas A&M, UAM’s name before joining the University of Arkansas System in 1971.
The awards will be presented during the annual “Welcome Home Dinner” for Arkansas A&M / UAM alumni on Friday, October 12 at 7 p.m. in the John F. Gibson University Center. Tickets for the dinner and a reception at the Chancellor’s home at 6 p.m. are $15 and may be purchased by contacting the Office of Advancement at (870) 460-1028.
“This is a distinguished group and each has earned the right to be honored by the university,” said Chancellor Jack Lassiter. “We are honoring individuals who have excelled in business, education, law, public service and the military. We are honored to be able to recognize their achievements.”
Teresa Marks is a 1980 UAM graduate with a degree in history and social science. She later earned a juris doctorate from the UALR Bowen School of Law. As director of the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality, Marks oversees the work of more than 400 employees with the task of protecting, enhancing, and restoring Arkansas’ environment.
Marks began her professional career as a high school teacher before attending law school. She is a former deputy prosecutor with the Pulaski County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office and worked briefly in private practice before joining the law school faculty at UALR in 1990. In 1995, Marks joined the staff of the Attorney General’s Office, drafting legislation and working the areas of consumer protection and antitrust. She eventually became the Deputy Attorney General overseeing the Department of Public Protection before her appointment as director of ADEQ by Governor Mike Beebe in 2007.
El Dorado native M. L. Mann spent 37 years in the insurance business as a claims representative, field manager, regional manager, and finally general manager for The Hartford Insurance Group before retiring in 1992.
A 1949 graduate of Pine Bluff High School, Mann was a prep football star who accepted a scholarship offer from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville before transferring to Arkansas A&M in 1950. He was called to active military duty in 1951 and fought in Korea before returning to Monticello in 1954. Mann was an All-Arkansas Intercollegiate Conference tackle for the Boll Weevil football team and helped the Weevils capture the 1955 AIC championship. He earned a bachelor of science in education degree in physical education in 1956. He is a member of the UAM Alumni Association board of directors, The Centennial Circle, the Campaign for Athletics, and the UAM Sports Association.
Jody Clements became superintendent of the Kilgore (Texas) Independent School District in 2007. A Kilgore native, Clements attended UAM on a track scholarship and earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting in 1987. He also holds an MBA in accounting from Louisiana Tech.
Clements began his professional career on the faculty at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Tex., where he earned teaching certification in math, business administration and physical education. He joined the Kilgore School District in 1992 as a mathematics teacher and coach. He spent two years at Kilgore High School and one at Maude Laird Middle School before joining the Trinity School of Texas as assistant headmaster and athletic director.
Clements returned to the Kilgore School District in 1997 as principal of Elder Alternative School, a post he held for four years. He spent six years as principal of Maude Laird Middle School, then moved to the central administration office as director of human resources before becoming superintendent.
Lieutenant Colonel Tommie Brasfield is a 20-year veteran of the Arkansas National Guard. He was deployed to Bagdad in Iraq at the time of the capture of Saddam Hussein and served as chief of police during his capture.
A 1995 UAM graduate with a degree in accounting, Brasfield served as a trainer for the Iraqi Police Force and has been deployed four times. He is currently the Provost Marshal of the National Guard’s 39th Brigade Combat Team. As Provost Marshal, Brasfield serves as a principal advisor to the Arkansas National Guard’s senior leadership in issues related to force protection, law enforcement, anti-terrorism, physical security, and domestic threats.
Lake Village native Gene Mazzanti was part of the beginning of an Arkansas A&M football dynasty in the 1950s. He lettered four years as a fullback and linebacker under head coaches Jim Benton and Convoy Leslie. Mazzanti was part of the Weevils’ 8-2 team in 1951 and the school’s first conference championship team in 1953.
Mazzanti earned a bachelor’s degree in economics and business administration in 1955 and later earned a law degree from the Arkansas Law School, which became the UALR School of Law. He went on to build a successful career as both an attorney and judge, receiving an appointment from Governor Winthrop Rockefeller to the State Claims Commission. He was appointed to an administrative law judge position by Governor Frank White, conducting hearings in a five-county area in northeast Arkansas. He retired from active practice in 1999.
W. J. McKiever, this year’s Continuing the Connection recipient, is a well-known Monticello pharmacist and businessman who attended what was then Arkansas A&M in 1955-56 before moving on to pharmacy school at the University of Tennessee-Memphis. He returned to Monticello shortly after receiving his pharmacy degree in 1959 and began a lengthy career as a pharmacist in his hometown.
A Drew County native and graduate of Drew Central High School, McKiever owned City Drug for 21 years before selling the business and opening McKiever’s Drug in 1984. He sold the business in 2007 and is currently semi-retired, working one to three days a week as a pharmacist at Save-Mart in McGehee.