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Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources

DASNR selects 2016 Distinguished Alumni and Champions

STILLWATER, Okla. – The Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources at Oklahoma State University has a rich tradition and history of improving the quality of life for all Oklahomans through conducting and disseminating science-based research.

This is not possible without the achievements and excellence of its alumni, as well as other leaders around the world who are not alums of the college, but contribute to its mission. To acknowledge some of these outstanding alumni and friends of the university, DASNR recently selected its Distinguished Alumni and DASNR Champion award winners.

Recognized as 2016 Distinguished Alumni of the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources are Larry Ferguson, Sen. Ron Justice and Matthew Waits. The 2016 DASNR Champions are Randy Byford, Dick Fischer and Malinda Berry Fischer and Helen Hodges.

“I am extremely pleased to recognize each of these unique honorees who are making lasting impacts in their professions. They also have had a dramatic impact on our programs in DASNR,” said Tom Coon, DASNR vice president. “Celebrating the successes and support of our distinguished alumni and DASNR Champions is an opportunity for our students to glimpse their own futures. By connecting with our honorees, they are better equipped to reach similar heights in their own careers.”

Ferguson earned his bachelor’s degree in animal science from OSU in 1975. Upon graduation, he began his career as a production supervisor with Schreiber Foods, the world’s largest employee-owned dairy company. In 1999, Ferguson became president and CEO of the company before retiring in 2007. In 2014, on behalf of the Ferguson Family Foundation, he provided funding to upgrade the OSU Dairy Center.

Justice received both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from OSU in agricultural education in 1967 and 1968, respectively. Upon graduation, he became the OSU Cooperative Extension educator for Grady County until he retired in 2003. In retirement, Justice ran for office and served as an Oklahoma senator and is retiring from public service this year.

Waits earned a bachelor’s degree from OSU in agricultural economics in 1999. After graduation he was appointed director of the Information Lab program for SST Software, an industry leader in agricultural information management. In 2012, Waits was named CEO of SST, which manages site-specific data for approximately 100 million acres spanning 23 countries.

Owner of Byford Auto Group in Oklahoma City, Chickasha and Duncan, Byford has been a strong supporter of OSU since purchasing his first dealership in 2005. He has supported DASNR, OSU, the Spears School of Business, the College of Arts and Sciences and the Athletics Department. Byford received the Distinguished Service Award from OSU’s Department of Animal Science and is a Lifetime Member of the OSU Alumni Association.

Malinda Berry Fischer’s grandmother was the second woman to graduate from Oklahoma A&M College in 1898. Following in those footsteps, in 1960, she also graduated from OSU with a degree in secondary education before earning a degree from Harvard-Radcliffe Program in Business Administration in 1962.

Dick Fischer, 1959 and 1963 graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School, was an adjunct professor in the OSU School of Business for six years after a 30 career with the law firm of Nixon, Hargrave, Devans and Doyle in Rochester, New York.

Through matching investments from T. Boone Pickens, the Fischer family gifted $1 million in endowed funds toward the Thomas E. Berry Professorship in Water Research and Management in honor of her father. A former interim president and CEO of the OSU Foundation, Berry Fischer previously served as the president of Marietta Royalty Company and chairperson of Thomas N. Berry and Company.

A 1979 OSU accounting graduate, Hodges continued her education at the University of Oklahoma to obtain her law degree in 1983.  During and after a successful career in law, Hodges has continued to support OSU and was a 2014 OSU Medallion recipient for the Dillon and Lois Hodges Professorship in Plant and Soil Sciences, in honor of her parents. Since its inception, the professorship has directly strengthened the Oklahoma Wheat Improvement Team through cutting-edge technologies and next generation sequencing.

The awards will be presented to the winners during the second DASNR Honors night, Oct. 21 at 6 p.m. in the Student Union Ballroom.


Sean Hubbard
Communications Specialist
Agricultural Communications Services
157 Agriculture North
Oklahoma State University
Stillwater, OK 74078
Phone: 405-744-4490
Fax: 405-744-5739

Oklahoma State University - Stillwater, OK 74078