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Union to honor five with alumni awards

JACKSON, Tenn.Feb. 15, 2005 – Five individuals will receive alumni awards Saturday, Feb. 19, as part of Union University’s 2005 Homecoming weekend.

“The conveying of alumni awards and the selection of recipients are not decisions taken lightly by the university,” said Gary Williams, Union’s associate vice president for university relations. “Recipients of the five awards are community leaders, successful professionals and loyal to the mission, vision and core values of Union University. This year’s recipients are held in the highest esteem and are outstanding examples of what these awards are all about.”

The winners were selected by the Union University National Alumni Association. Those receiving awards are:

-- Robert Simpson, Distinguished Faculty/Staff Award. A 1980 Union graduate, Simpson is the associate vice president for business and financial services at the university. He is a native of Memphis and earned a master of business administration degree from the University of Memphis in 1985.

Simpson began his tenure at Union in 1983. He and his wife, Paula, have three sons and are members of Englewood Baptist Church, where Simpson is a Sunday School teacher, deacon and trustee.

-- Jerry Kuykendall, Distinguished Service Award. Kuykendall is a Jackson native and graduated from Union in 1965. He spent 35 years in the food manufacturing industry and in 1977 was elected to the Hall of Fame for outstanding contributions to the Campbell’s Soup Corp.

Kuykendall has been active in local politics and has served as a delegate to political caucuses and conventions and as a campaign adviser in local races. He and his wife, Kay, live in Memphis and are active members of Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova. They have two children and four grandchildren.

-- William H. Walker III, Distinguished Alumnus Award. Walker is a 1955 Union graduate and he holds two degrees from the University of Tennessee’s College of Agriculture. Since 1961, Walker has operated a multi-faceted farming operation in Haywood County while serving in many professional, civic and community endeavors.

From 1975-77 Walker was the assistant secretary of agriculture for the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Washington D.C. He also served as Tennessee’s Commissioner of Agriculture from 1981-1987 and is a former member of the Tennessee House of Representatives.

He and his wife June have two children, six grandchildren and live in Brownsville.

-- Michael Weeks, Honorary Alumnus Award. A resident of Brentwood, Weeks is the chairman of Union University’s board of trustees and is president of the Southern Baptist Foundation in Nashville.

Weeks is a graduate of Delta State University and is a former vice chairman of BancorpSouth Bank and executive vice president of BancorpSouth, Inc. During his term as chairman of Union’s board of trustees, Union has completed the Vision and Values 2005 long range plan and completed its capital campaign one year ahead of schedule and $3 million ahead of its goal.

He and his wife, Trish, have three children and seven grandchildren and are members of Judson Baptist Church in Nashville.

-- Michael Johnston, Outstanding Young Achiever Award. A native of Ramer, Johnston graduated from Union in 1997 with a bachelor’s degree in business management. He also has a master of project development degree from George Washington University.

After graduating from Union, Johnston began working full-time for IBM with the deployment of large computer systems in the United States and Europe. In 2002, he started his own consulting company, Genesis Technology, which serves about 25 clients in West Tennessee.

Johnston and his wife, Rachel, have one son and are members of Love and Truth Church in Jackson.

The awards will be presented at a luncheon at 11:30 a.m. in Union’s Coburn Dining Room. For information on attending, call the Office of Alumni Services at (731) 661-5208 or (800) 338-6644.

Media contact: Tim Ellsworth, news@uu.edu, 731-661-5215

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