The Mizzou Alumni Association has announced the recipients of the 2017 Henry S. Geyer Awards. Award recipients are state Rep. Nate Walker for his continued efforts to support higher education public policy and Adjunct Professor Gary Smith for his tireless efforts as an advocate for higher education public policy. The awards were presented at a reception in Jefferson City on Jan. 16.
The alumni association’s Legislative Network Committee annually presents the awards to one state-elected official and one citizen who exemplify the dedication and spirit of Henry S. Geyer. As a state representative, Geyer believed education was the key to progress and prosperity in Missouri and introduced a bill to establish the University of Missouri in 1839.
“This year’s recipients are excellent examples of what it means to advocate for public higher education in our state,” said Jeff Montgomery, chair of the Legislative Network Committee.
Walker represents Missouri’s District 3, which includes the city of Kirksville, the western part of Adair County and all of Sullivan, Putnam and Mercer counties in the Missouri House of Representatives. He was elected in 2012, re-elected in 2014 and previously served in the Missouri House of Representatives for the 12th District from 1981 to 1985. He is a two-time graduate of Mizzou, with a bachelor of science degree in agricultural journalism and a master’s in regional and community affairs.
Walker is a strong advocate for both the University of Missouri and Truman State University, which is located in his district. In 2013, he and 13 other republicans opposed House Bill 263, a tax-cut bill that would have reduced state revenue collections and harmed K-12 and higher education funding. He has voted consistently against bills that would harm the University of Missouri and its AAU status.
Smith has spent the past 50 years tirelessly working on behalf of Mizzou. Graduating from the University of Missouri in 1965 with a master’s in education and in 1971 with a doctorate in education, Smith served as the university’s director of admissions from 1970 to 2000. He also is past president of the MU Retirees Association and MU Friends of the Library, past chair of the MU Gift Planning Advisory Committee, and past member of the Jefferson Club Board of Trustees.
The Mizzou Alumni Association honored Smith with the Faculty Alumni Award in 2001 and the Distinguished Service Award in 2010. From 2008 to 2014, Smith served as the executive director of the Missouri Flagship Council. As executive director, Smith has spent hours with legislators, speaking with them about Mizzou’s vitality, research successes, faculty and student achievements, and the importance of legislative support to MU’s ongoing public research and land-grant missions. He continues to serve as a member of the Missouri Flagship Council Board.
For a list of all past Geyer Award recipients, please visit the Mizzou Alumni Association’s website.