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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 2018 inductees, the LSU Alumni Association has recognized 297 individuals representing a cross-section of LSU graduates.
Dale Hall, chief executive officer of Ducks Unlimited – America’s leading wetlands and grassland habitat conservation group – received a master’s degree in fisheries from LSU in 1979 after receiving a bachelor’s degree in biology and chemistry from Cumberland College in Williamsburg, Kentucky. He served in the U.S. Air Force from 1968-1972, with overseas assignments in Italy and the Philippines.
Hall joined Ducks Unlimited in 2010 after three decades of service with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS). Widely respected as a visionary conservationist and one of the country's most effective wildlife professionals, Hall served in numerous field, regional, and national-level roles and was appointed USFWS director by President George W. Bush and confirmed by the U.S. Senate in 2005.
As CEO of Ducks Unlimited, Hall oversaw the largest conservation campaign in history, a $2 billion capital campaign for wetlands conservation. These funds allowed millions of acres of habitat to be conserved, with more than 500,000 acres placed under conservation in the United States in 2018.
Hall holds leadership positions in numerous conservation organizations. He serves on the boards of America’s Wetland Foundation, the Johnny Morris Wonders of Wildlife Museum & Aquarium, and the Peregrine Fund; is a commissioner on the Louisiana Governor’s Advisory Commission on Coastal Protection, Restoration, and Conservation; a Professional Member of the Boone and Crockett Club; and a Visiting Fellow on the LSU Coastal Sustainability Studio External Advisory Board.
Among his many honors, Hall received the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies Lifetime Achievement Award, the USWFS Ira Gabrielson Award for Leadership, National Fish & Wildlife Foundation Range Public Service Award, U.S. Department of the Interior Meritorious Service Award, and Department of the Army Commander’s Award for Public Service; was named Conservationist of the Year by both America’s Wetland Foundation and Bass Pro Shops; and was inducted into the LSU School of Renewable Resources Hall of Fame as the 2018 Alumnus of the Year.
Hall and his wife, Sarah Reid Hall, an LSU alumnus with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education, reside in Collierville, Tennessee. They have three children and three grandchildren.
LSU changed my life on both personal and professional levels. It is truly challenging to adequately articulate the deep impact LSU had on my life. I will be forever grateful.
Wendy McMahon, president of ABC Owned Television Stations, graduated from LSU summa cum laude in 1996 with a bachelor’s degree in mass communication. Active in numerous organizations during her years on campus, she served as commander of Scotch Guard, was elected to Student Government, and was an LSU Ambassador.
The youngest person ever named president of the Disney ABC Owned Television Station Group, McMahon has chief management responsibility for eight television stations across the country, as well as the 1,400-member Disney/ABC local team. She previously served as senior vice president of the digital component of the company and was responsible for the digital content, product/technology, and audience development strategies for the Walt Disney Company’s eight ABC Owned Television Stations.
Before being named president of ABC Owned Television Stations, McMahon was vice president of programming and creative services at KABC-TV, the ABC-owned television station in Los Angeles, California, and prior to that was director of creative services at CBS Owned Television Stations in Boston, Massachusetts, and Minneapolis, Minnesota.
McMahon has been recognized with numerous Emmys and Promax Awards for advertising campaigns, including a Broadcast Design “Best in Show” award and the recipient of numerous marketing awards from Disney/ABC and CBS. She was named “One to Watch” by the Boston Business Journal. She serves on the Broadcasters Foundation Board of Directors, supporting broadcasters who through injury, illness, or crisis find themselves in need of support and assistance, and is actively involved in Disney Voluntears efforts and outreach.
McMahon and her husband, William N. “Bill” Burton, have one son, seven-year-old Chase. The family resides in Encino, California.
In a world of constant change, LSU remains as steadfast and stately as always. Forever LSU – that line of the alma mater – is a promise, a pact between me and the University I love, to be here for one another and for Louisiana through thick and thin. I couldn’t be more grateful for the experience I had at LSU that led me to the Walt Disney Company – the continued pull of LSU that keeps me grounded and somehow, regardless of where I am, always home.
Gregory Mark Bowser, president of the Louisiana Chemical Association (LCA), Louisiana Chemical Industry Alliance (LCIA), and Louisiana Foundation for Excellence in Science, Technology and Education (LaFESTE) graduated from LSU in 1983 with a degree in broadcast journalism. A four-year letterman for the LSU Tigers under Jerry Stovall, he served as a graduate assistant coach under Bill Arnsparger and was a football analyst for LSU Tigervision.
Bowser joined LCA/LCIA in 1991 as director of governmental affairs for LCA and vice president of LCIA. He was promoted to vice president of LCA, then executive vice president of LCA, LCIA, and LaFESTE in 2011. In 2015 Bowser was named as president of LCA/LCIA, the first African American to lead one of Louisiana's major statewide business trade associations.
Bowser joined the staff of Congressman James A. Hayes in 1987 as his press secretary. Wanting to return to his home state of Louisiana, he joined Governor-Elect Buddy Roemer’s transition team as deputy assistant coordinator and later served as special assistant to the governor.
He held several positions under Governor Roemer until 1989 when he became the coordinator of the Louisiana Health Care Authority. In this position he established and implemented the new Governance and Fund Recapitalization Plan for the Louisiana Charity Hospitals System.
Longtime active in the community, Bowser is currently an associate member of the Allstate Sugar Bowl Committee and serves on the boards of Our Lady of the Lake Hospital System, Baton Rouge City Club, and is vice president of LSU National L Club. He was the first African American to serve on the Baton Rouge General Board of Directors and the Bocage Racquet Club and was a founding member of Forum 35. He was for many years an analyst for Cox Sports TV and LSU Radio Network.
Greg and his wife Adrienne have two sons - Gregory II and Myles.
LSU has opened a whole new world for me. Meeting people from different walks of life and learning things about other parts of the world. While it was football at LSU that helped me develop the competitive fire within myself, it was the overall diversity of experiences away from the football field that truly helped me understand more about life. I grew up while at LSU, and it gave me a deeper understanding of where I came from and what’s important.
Hays Town, founder/owner of Town Construction, earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering in 1958 and a master’s degree in geography in 2013. A member of Kappa Sigma Fraternity, his philanthropic endeavors began at LSU when he chaired a function for needy children.
Town helped establish the Baton Rouge Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors and served as its first president. He received the first Man of the Year Award from the national chapter for his work promoting ethical practices and establishing training classes in the industry. He served on the Construction Board of Appeals for East Baton Rouge Parish for twenty years and the State Licensing Board for Contractors for eighteen years, including a term as president.
A highlight of Town’s life is establishing St. Elizabeth Foundation, a nonprofit adoption agency, which celebrated its thirtieth anniversary in 2018. As board chair, Town is involved in helping provide young pregnant women without resources options or for adoption in Baton Rouge, placing more than 600 babies in loving families. St. Elizabeth works with the LSU School of Social Work to employ and educate student interns in a real-world setting. He served on the LSU School of Social Work Advisory Board and as chairman of Louisiana State Child Care Committee.
He received the inaugural Angel in Adoption Award from the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute in 1999 and in 2018 received the Leadership for Life Award from Louisiana Right to Life. In 2016 he received the Quality of Life Award from the Baton Rouge Growth Coalition, and in 2018 was named the Salvation Army Volunteer of the Year.
Town and his sister, Blanche Town Gladney, established the A. Hays Town Professorship in the School of Architecture in honor of their late father, and he supports the LSU Museum of Art, School of Music, Manship School of Mass Communication, and College of Humanities & Social Sciences, specifically the Department of Geography and Anthropology.
Town returned to campus at age seventy-five to pursue a master’s degree, and his studies spurred a new passion. He formed the advocacy group Baton Rouge Citizens to Save Our Water, Inc., in 2012 and was appointed by Governor John Bel Edwards in 2018 to the Capital Area Groundwater Conservation Commission. He serves on the board of the Green Army, a statewide alliance of civic, community, and environmental organizations committed to social, political, and environmental change.
Town and his wife, Gay, have six children, including two LSU graduates; twenty grandchildren, including nine LSU grads and three current students; and eighteen great-grandchildren.
My years at LSU profoundly influenced my life. First and foremost, it is where my wife and I met and fell in love, became engaged, and married, all while studying at the University. Secondly, through my fraternity I planned several charitable functions to benefit those less fortunate. This led me to a lifelong desire to help other people. Also, my studies in engineering gave me the tools to be successful in my chosen profession of engineering and contracting.
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.
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