Hall of Distinction

Congratulations to Our 2018 Alumnus and Young Alumnus of the Year

Alumnus of the Year

Art E. Farve, Baton rouge business owner

Art E. Favre, owner and president of Baton Rouge-based Performance Contractors, Inc., a billion dollar plus, 9,000-employee general industrial services company, graduated from LSU in 1972 with a bachelor’s degree in construction, a member of the school’s first graduating class.

Prior to founding Performance Contractors in 1973, Favre worked for Lurgi-Knost Engineers and Contractors, Fluor Corporation, and Universal Corporation. Under his leadership, Performance has received four National Construction Safety awards and numerous National Excellence in Construction awards. Louisiana Contractor Magazine has recognized Performance Contractors four times for having the Best Industrial/Manufacturing project in Louisiana.

An ardent supporter of LSU and the College of Engineering, Favre is heavily involved in the expansion and realignment of Patrick Taylor Hall. He is a member of the Dean’s Advisory Council, the Board of Directors of the Construction Industry Advisory Council for the Bert S. Turner Department of Construction Management, and a past president of the LSU Construction Industry Advisory Council. He is a member of the LSU Alumni Association, the LSU Foundation, and Tiger Athletic Foundation.

Favre is active and holds leadership positions in numerous professional and civic organizations, among them the American Association of Cost Engineers, Associated Builders and Contractors, Louisiana Chemical Industry Alliance, Louisiana Right To Work Committee, Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center, Blue Print Louisiana, Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, ABC ICC, New Orleans Branch of the Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank, and Pennington Biomedical Research Foundation.

His many honors include induction into the LSU College of Engineering Hall of Distinction, the LSU Construction Management Hall of Fame, and the LSU Alumni Association Hall of Distinction. He received the LSU Greek Excellence Award, the ABC Pelican Chapter Merit Shop Man of the Year Award, the Sales and Marketing Executives of Greater Baton Rouge Marketer of the Year Award, and the Delta Tau Delta Fraternity Alumni Achievement Award, and was named a Distinguished Patron of the LSU Department of Construction Management.

Favre has two children, Scott and Shelley, and five grandchildren and is married to Yilena Favre.


When reflecting upon my adult life, I quickly realize the important decisions I have made along the path of life, all had basis in the foundations of life instilled within me during my educational years at LSU, not just academics, but core values, communication skills, relationship building, and lifelong friendships.




Walter John Leger, Speaker Pro Tempore of the Louisiana House of Representatives

Walt Leger is Speaker Pro Tempore of the Louisiana House of Representatives and a graduate of LSU, having earned a bachelor’s degree in political science in 2000. He received a Juris Doctor from Tulane University in 2003.

Leger, an attorney with Leger & Shaw in New Orleans, was elected Speaker Pro Tempore by acclamation in 2012 and again in 2016, and is the youngest member ever to serve in the second highest-ranking position in the Louisiana House. He was first elected state representative for District 91 with sixty-five percent of the vote in 2007 and re-elected without opposition in 2011 and 2015.

Leger is a senior member of the Appropriations Committee and the House Education Committee and serves ex-officio on all other House committees. He has led many important state initiatives, including the Criminal Justice Reform and Reinvestment and Tax and Budget Reform. Among other leadership roles, he serves nationally on the Executive Committee of the Southern Legislative Conference and the Council of State Governments Governing Board. 

Known in Louisiana as a strategic thinker, fierce advocate, problem solver, and consensus builder, Leger has received numerous honors recognizing his commitment to the citizens of Louisiana. His most recent awards include the Louisiana Family Forum 2017 Life and Liberty Award for Achievement in Criminal Justice Reform and the Childcare Association of Louisiana 2017 Champion for Children Award. In 2016 he received nationwide recognition when he was awarded the Tax Foundation’s Outstanding Achievement in State Tax Reform Award, and in 2015 he was named Outstanding Legislator by the LSU Health Sciences Center Foundation and was awarded a Rodel Fellowship of Public Leadership at the Aspen Institute.

Leger is a founding board member and vice-president of the Louisiana Institute for Children in Families and serves on the Board of Directors of the Louisiana Judicial College. He is an adjunct professor of law at Loyola University College of Law in New Orleans. He has lectured at Tulane University School of Law and LSU Law School and speaks regularly at educational programs through the Louisiana State Bar Association and New Orleans Bar Association and at conferences such as the National Conference of State Legislators, Southern Legislative Conference, and Council of State Governments.

Leger is married to the former Danielle Doiron, a 2005 graduate of LSU. They have one daughter, Cate, and are expecting a second daughter in May.


I am proud that everyone in my immediate family is an LSU graduate –  my wife, Danielle; my mother, Catherine Buras Vidos; my father, Walter J. Leger, Jr.; my brother, Rhett Leger, and his wife, Dana Lampard Leger; and my sister, Elizabeth Leger Fick, and her husband, Jeffrey Fick.




Kelly spears 

speech language pathologist, board certified behavior analyst

Kelly Spears, a speech language pathologist and board certified behavior analyst, earned a bachelor’s degree in communication sciences and disorders from LSU in 1994 and a master’s degree in speech, language, and hearing from Southeastern Louisiana University in 1997. She completed her year-long clinical fellowship in Yakima, Washington.

Spears practiced professionally and held leadership and management positions in a variety of settings including hospitals, schools, homes, and long-term care facilities in New York, Canada, North Carolina, and California before establishing Spears Learning Center, a pediatric speech and language therapy and ABA therapy clinic with locations in Metairie and Covington, Louisiana. With a staff of seventy, the clinic services clients in the office and in school settings in St. Tammany, Orleans, and Jefferson Parish school districts.

Her professional memberships include the American Speech Language Hearing Association (ASHA), Corporate Speech Pathology Network (CORSPAN), Louisiana Speech Language Hearing Association, Autism Society of America, and Association of Behavior Analysts, and she is a Louisiana Applied Behavior Analyst.

Spears and her family support LSU student-athletes through donations to the Tiger Athletic Foundation, and the Jones-Spears Family Scholarship represents the fifth endowment committed to the gymnastics program. She generously funds academic programs through the LSU Alumni Association and LSU Foundation and sponsors several fundraising events, among them, Our Lady of the Lake School Taste of Tammany Gala, Families Helping Families, Touch a Truck, Autism Society of Greater New Orleans Walk, and, with the Association, LSU Alumni Night at the Baby Cakes Game.

She is a cofounder and board member of Gain Behavior, a telehealth and ABA software program business, and serves on the boards of the Tiger Athletic Foundation, Louisiana Coalition for Access to Autism Services, Take Paws Rescue, and the Greater New Orleans Autism Group. She is a member of the Krewe of Orpheus and a member of the First Baptist Church of New Orleans.

Spears and her daughter, Harper, adopted from Siberia, Russia, in 2012, reside in New Orleans. Harper attends first grade at Hynes Charter School in New Orleans and loves gymnastics and dance.


LSU means home to me. Some of my first memories are of my parents and their friends taking us to LSU football games. We had the spot under the big oak tree in front of the bell tower. I have loved LSU since.  




James Raymond "Jim" engster

President of Kingfish communications

Jim Engster, president of Kingfish Communications, earned a degree in broadcast journalism from LSU in 1981. He has been the owner and president of Louisiana Radio Network and Tiger Rag, “The Bible of LSU Sports,” for the past eight years. His career as journalist, broadcaster and business executive spans more than three decades.

Engster has hosted daily radio programs since 1998, sharing the microphone with luminaries from politics, sports, business, entertainment and the arts. He has interviewed ten Louisiana governors, reported on every gubernatorial election since 1979, and currently hosts Gov. John Bel Edwards call-in show, “Ask the Governor.”

Engster has had memorable conversations with the likes of President Bill Clinton, Vice President Dick Cheney, California Gov. Jerry Brown, and celebrated journalists Carl Bernstein, Dan Rather, and Ted Koppel. So far, Ann Coulter is the only guest to walk out on Engster in more than ten thousand interviews.

Every LSU Chancellor since Jim Wharton and the last seven Tiger athletic directors have been Engster guests. Engster has also been the political analyst for WAFB-TV in Baton Rouge since 2002.

His weekday program on Public Radio started in 2004 and continues today as “Talk Louisiana” on WRKF-FM in Baton Rouge. Engster was a correspondent for National Public Radio from 1989 to 2004 and served as Louisiana Radio Network news and sports director from 1983 to 1998. He was general manager of WRKF from 2003 to 2006 and of LRN from 2006 to 2010.

Active in civic affairs, Engster is a member of the Rotary Club of Baton Rouge, is a five-time president of the Press Club of Baton Rouge, and is a board member and former president of the National Association of State Radio Networks. At his alma mater, he serves on the LSU Media Board and moderates interviews for the LSU Alumni Association’s “Talking Sports” series. He is the Voice of the LSU Foundation and the emcee of Manship School Hall of Fame ceremonies. He is a member of the Tiger Athletic Foundation.

Engster was named Communicator of the Year in 2008 by the Public Relations Association of Louisiana. He received the YWCA Racial Justice Award in 2011, was inducted into the Manship School Hall of Fame in 2012, received the Louisiana Federation of Teachers School Bell Award in 2015 for education journalism, and was honored in 2017 by the Sales and Marketing Executives of Greater Baton Rouge as Marketer of the Year.


LSU is the foundation for all successful endeavors in my career. The four most productive, vivid, and memorable years of my life were those as an undergraduate at the Ole War Skule. Notably, my print and broadcast debuts were at Tiger Stadium—former home of both KLSU and The Daily Reveille.





Jerry L. Stovall

President, chief executive officer of sportsbr

Jerry Stovall, longtime president and chief executive officer of the Baton Rouge Area Sports Foundation – now SportsBR – is a consultant with the organization. He attended LSU from 1959 to 1962 and during his Tiger football career was named an All-SEC and All-American running back and was runner-up for the 1962 Heisman Trophy.

In 1963, Stovall was the No. 1 draft choice of the St. Louis Cardinals and during his nine-year career in the NFL was named All-Pro twice and earned three All-Pro berths. He continued his education while playing professional football, earning an undergraduate degree from Missouri Baptist College in 1972.

After retiring from pro ball, Stovall joined Paul Dietzel at the University of South Carolina. He returned to LSU in 1974 as assistant coach to Charles McClendon and was promoted to head coach of the Tigers in 1980. He was named SEC Coach of the Year and Walter Camp National Coach of the Year in 1983, the same year he led the Tigers to the Orange Bowl.

During a six-year hiatus from football, Stovall served as senior vice president of business development at Premier Bank. In 1990 he was named athletic director at Louisiana Tech University, leading the program to a Top 25 national ranking in graduation rate during his three-year stint. He returned to Baton Rouge in 1993 and with the assistance of then-Mayor-President Tom Ed McHugh started the Baton Rouge Area Sports Foundation to promote state, regional, national, and international sporting events in the area.

Stovall was a member of and held leadership roles in numerous civic organizations over the years, among them Capital Area United Way (Chair), Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank, Association of Retarded Citizens, General Health System, and Hospice Foundation of Greater Baton Rouge. He is a popular public speaker and mediator, a member of BREC’s public relations committee, and is active in First Presbyterian Church.

Stovall was named to the LSU Athletics Hall of Fame and the Louisiana Sportswriters Hall of Fame and was inducted into the National Football Foundation College Football Hall of Fame in 2010 and enshrined in 2011. He was named a Louisiana Legend in 2011, honored in 2007 with the Brotherhood/Sisterhood Award for his work in the community, named to the LSU Modern Day Team of the Century in 1993, and received the 1990 Volunteer Activist of the Year award.

Stovall and his wife of fifty-six years, Judy, have two children, Jay Stovall and Jodi Stovall, and five grandchildren.


LSU came to me at a point in life when I had no Plan A and gave me hope and opportunity with an athletic scholarship that allowed me to go to college. Without that, I’m not sure what direction my life would have taken





Melvin j. "mel" Didier, sr.

Major league baseball executive

The late Mel Didier, Sr., longtime high school and college baseball coach and major league baseball executive and scout, played football and baseball at LSU in the mid-1940s before earning a bachelor’s degree from Mississippi Southern in 1949. He received a master’s degree in education from LSU in 1967.

Didier was a winner. He excelled at every level – in college football and baseball, as a high school football and baseball coach, as a college football and baseball coach, and as a scout and administrator in major league baseball for more than sixty years.

He lettered in football for two years, was an LSU football All-American in 1945, lettered in baseball for three years, and was a star pitcher for LSU’s 1946 SEC championship baseball team. He signed with the Detroit Tigers in 1948, retiring at the end of the 1949 season with an injured pitching shoulder and taking on coaching responsibilities at Catholic High and Glen Oaks High in Baton Rouge and at Opelousas High. During this time, he remained a full-time scout with the major leagues.

Didier coached freshman football at LSU under Charlie McClendon in the late 1960s and was head baseball coach at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette (then USL) from 1980 to 1982. Over the years, he was affiliated with the Detroit Tigers, Milwaukee Brewers, Atlanta Braves, Montreal Expos, Los Angeles Dodgers, Seattle Mariners, Cleveland Indians, Arizona Diamondbacks, Texas Rangers, and Toronto Blue Jays.

Didier was the only person in professional baseball to spearhead three major league expansion teams – the Montreal Expos, Seattle Mariners, and Arizona Diamondbacks. He was an immediate hit in scouting and player development. He was the first farm and scouting director of the Expos, the team for which he created the School of Thieves, which focused on base running and base stealing. The Expos farm system stole more bases than anyone in baseball.

He was recognized for his achievements by scores of baseball executives – some of the giants of the game – John McHale, Walter O’Malley, Fred Claire, Tommy Lasorda, Jerry Colangelo, Buck Showalter, Mike Scioscia, Joe Garigiola, Jr., and John Hart.

Highlighting the many honors accorded Didier during his career were induction into the Louisiana High School Coaches Hall of Fame, being named the LSU Baseball Alumnus of the Year, and induction into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame.

Mel Didier and his wife, Elena Arcaro Didier, celebrated their fortieth wedding anniversary in 2017. He went to “baseball heaven” on September 10, 2017, at the age of ninety-one.


Mel always carried with him the spirit of LSU and was a positive voice at all times for the University. –Fred Claire, former general manager, Los Angeles Dodgers





The LSU Alumnus of the Year designation is the highest honor awarded to a distinguished graduate of LSU by the association. The first award was conferred in 1966; the Young Alumnus of the Year Award was established in 1999 to recognize alumni under the age of 40 who have attained professional prominence early in their careers. Including the 2017 inductees, the LSU Alumni Association has recognized 291 individuals representing a cross-section of LSU graduates.

Louisiana State University has a tradition of graduating students who go on to achieve national and international prominence. In its one-and-a-half centuries of operation, the University has produced leaders in education, agriculture, the sciences, the arts, government, commerce, industry, technology, and social advocacy.

The LSU Alumni Association Hall of Distinction recognizes alumni who have distinguished themselves and LSU through their careers, their personal and civic accomplishments, their volunteer activities, and their loyalty to their alma mater.

Included in the Hall of Distinction award ceremony is the bestowal of the prestigious Alumnus of the Year Award. One individual is singled-out not only for their distinguished accomplishments, but also for their loyalty and generosity to the University and the LSU Alumni Association.

The LSU Alumni Association, formerly known as the LSU Alumni Federation, began recognizing distinguished alumni in 1966, when The Alumnus of the Year Award was bestowed upon military hero Major Roy J. Young.

Tradition continued until 1981, when the Hall of Distinction was created to recognize and honor more alumni and other outstanding individuals who have made significant contributions to society and whose achievements have brought credit and distinction to LSU.

In 1984, a selection committee was created and included four representatives of the Association along with four representatives, whose names remain anonymous, serves as a staggered three-year term and is charged with the task of reviewing hundreds of nominations and casting votes for the top candidates. The final candidates are reviewed and voted on by the Honors and Awards Committee and presented for final approval to the board of directors of the LSU Alumni Association.

The LSU Alumni Association began accepting nominations for its Young Alumnus of the Year award in 1999. The award is specifically for alumni under the age of 40 who have attained prominence early-on through their efforts in commerce, industry, technology, agriculture, engineering, the arts, the sciences, education, government, and other worthy endeavors.

* Denotes Alumnus/Alumna of the Year ** Denotes Young Alumnus/Alumna of the Year

For more information, contact:

Brandli Roberts

Director of On-Campus Events

LSU Alumni Association