KU Alumni Association honors three Jayhawks for outstanding service

Wed, 09/07/2011
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LAWRENCE - Three stalwart Jayhawks will receive the Fred Ellsworth Medallion on Sept. 9 in conjunction with the fall meeting of the KU Alumni Association's board of directors. They are Rich Clarkson, Denver; Linda Ellis Sims, Independence, Mo.; and Kurt Watson, Wichita.

Since 1975, the alumni association has presented medallions each year to KU volunteers who have displayed outstanding service, following the example set by the association's longest-serving chief executive, Fred Ellsworth, a 1922 graduate who led the association for 39 years.

Rich Clarkson

Rich Clarkson

Linda Ellis Sims

Linda Ellis Sims

Kurt Watson

Kurt Watson

Clarkson graduated from the KU journalism school in 1955. He is a nationally acclaimed photographer and owns Rich Clarkson & Associates, a multimedia firm that produces original photography, books and exhibitions. Major clients include the Colorado Rockies and the NCAA. Clarkson began covering sports as a KU student and went on to a distinguished career that included the Topeka Capital-Journal, the Denver Post, Sports Illustrated and National Geographic. American Photo Magazine named him one of the 50 most influential people in American photography. He received the 2007 William Allen White National Citation from the KU School of Journalism. That year he also was inducted into the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame.

Clarkson is a life member of the alumni association and a member of the Presidents Club. For KU Endowment, he is a member of the Chancellors Club. He has provided scholarship funds and other support to the journalism school as a member of the Dean's Club. He has served as a trustee of the William Allen White Foundation.

Sims is a 1979 graduate of the School of Engineering. She manages U.S. third party basestock sales for the ExxonMobil Corp. She began her career with Exxon in Houston, where she was a longtime KU volunteer, leading the alumni association's Houston chapter. She served on the national board of directors from 1991 to 1993. She is a life member and a member of the Presidents Club.

Her involvement also continues through KU Endowment as a trustee and a member of the executive, development and campaign steering committees. She has served as a member of the advisory board for Women Philanthropists for KU and is a member of the Chancellors Club.

She has helped guide KU through recent pivotal transitions as a member of the search committees for an athletics director and chancellor. As a student, she was a varsity swimmer, and she is a K-Club member and donor to the Williams Educational Fund.

She is immediate past chair of the School of Engineering advisory board; she also served on the chemical and petroleum engineering advisory board at the school.

Watson, a 1975 graduate of the School of Education, is president and chief operating officer of The IMA Financial Group Inc. He is a former Wichita chapter leader and volunteer for the Kansas Honors Program. He was part of the Wichita team that created the Jayhawk Roundup, an annual fall event. He and his wife, Sue Shields Watson, also a 1975 education graduate, are life members and members of the Presidents Club.

In 2010, he concluded a four-year term as chair of KU Endowment, where he remains a trustee and member of the Executive Committee. He and Sue co-chair the Campaign Steering Committee. They are members of the Chancellors Club and the Williams Educational Fun, where Kurt served on the Chancellor's Advisory Committee to Athletics. He also served on the School of Business Board of Advisors and the search committees to hire the chancellor and the dean of the KU Medical Center-Wichita.

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