2021 MSU Texas Distinguished Alumni

Honoring the Arthur F. Beyer, GOLD Award, and Spirit Award winners

Arthur F. Beyer Distinguished Alumnus

George Cunningham is Professor and Senior Assistant Provost for Graduate and Professional Studies at Texas A&M University.

George graduated from Midwestern State University in 1998 with a bachelor’s degree in sport and exercise science and earned his master’s in kinesiology at Texas A&M. He completed his doctorate in physical activity and educational services at The Ohio State University.

His research focus is on diversity and inclusion in sport and physical activity, and he has published more than 200 peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters. He authored an award-winning book, Diversity in Sport Organizations.

George has accumulated many honors, including the Armstrong Scholar Award (2006, 2010), the SEC Academic Leadership Development Program Fellow (2013-14), Team Diversity Service Award (2014) and the Earle F. Zeigler Lecture Award from the North American Society for Sport Management (2013).

 

GOLD AWARD

The Graduate of the Last Decade (GOLD) Award is new in 2021. It was created to recognize the outstanding accomplishments of a recent MSU Texas graduate. The GOLD recipient demonstrates what it means to make a difference in their community, their profession, and at MSU Texas.

Matt Oliver is a program management senior for Lockheed Aeronautics in Fort Worth, Texas, and the deputy program manager for F-16 Block 70 Production supporting the armed forces of the Republic of Slovakia and the Republic of Bulgaria. He is responsible for the cost, schedule, and technical performance of new production military aircraft, as well as the customer relations contact to ensure a strong relationship with the Minister of Defense, Parliament, and the United States.

Matt earned his bachelor’s from MSU Texas in 2015 and his master’s from Southern Methodist University in May 2021. As a Fort Worth native, he is the President of LMents of Fort Worth, a Lockheed Martin organization focused on the development of employees from 0-5 years of experience.

 

Alumni Spirit Award

The Kiowa Kooks were a staple at MSU Texas events for almost four decades, serving more than 135,000 meals. They began cooking in 1979 and stopped in 2020, but not before laying a deep foundation for the future at MSU.

The Kooks began as an affiliate of the Alumni Association with nine members. They met their original fundraising goal of $100,000 during the 2007-2008 school year. They had a secondary goal – to represent MSU Texas in a positive manner to students, parents, and members of the Wichita Falls community.

Founding members of the group include Dr. Art Beyer as the faculty sponsor, Mike Birdwell, Carlton Carr, Woody Gossom, Steve Holland, Eugene McNabb, Rob Neal, Carl Nichols, and Terry Walker.

They ran the race for more than 40 years. And they made sure MSU Texas was on pace to continue its success into the future. Interest income from the endowment is used to award an average of five scholarships per year.

2021 Distinguished Alumni

This is one story in a three-part series on the 2021 MSU Texas Distinguished Alumni Award winners.

Feature photo

Arthur F. Beyer honoree George Cunningham, GOLD Award winner Matt Oliver, and Larry Dodson of the Kiowa Kooks, the group honored for the Spirit Award in 2021. (Design by Ashley Lindsey/MSU Texas)