UMSL recognized six alumni and students for distinguished service May 4 at the 36th Chancellor’s Report to the Community, including (front, from left) Sara Gerberding, Brandi Grieshaber, Erin Potts and Kristen Weber and (back, left) Michael Finkes and Hubert Hoosman. Gerberding, Grieshaber and Potts represented UMSL's chapter of Colleges Against Cancer. (Photo by August Jennewein)

You’re a college student and you get invited to a dinner with 12 strangers. Do you say yes? Of course you do if you’re a student at the University of Missouri–St. Louis. That dinner pairs you with five other students and six UMSL alumni. The lively conversation usually lasts for hours and often results in relationships that benefit everyone at the table. And no one leaves a stranger.

That kind of commitment to the university was honored May 4 at the annual Chancellor’s Report to the Community. UMSL Chancellor Tom George reported on the university’s accomplishments over the last year. Part of the ceremony includes awards for alumni, faculty and students for their distinguished service to the UMSL campus community. The following individuals and organization received the 2012 Distinguished Service Awards:

Michael Finkes, a chemist with two degrees from UMSL, has helped make the Dinner with 12 Strangers program a success. The dinner has helped hundreds of students plan their lives after graduation. Alumni are encouraged to help students develop career paths and goals. For his commitment to the Alumni Association, Finkes was presented with the 2012 Distinguished Service Award.

Hubert Hoosman has a long and distinguished history of involvement in the UMSL Alumni Association. A 1979 graduate of the administration of justice program, he has served as president of its African American chapter and as president of the Alumni Association. He is presently leading the initiative to build a memorial plaza at UMSL to honor former chancellor Marguerite Ross Barnett – the first African American to head a University of Missouri campus. Hoosman was awarded the 2012 Distinguished Service Award for his campus-wide service.

Each April, UMSL’s chapter of Colleges Against Cancer plans and runs Relay for Life. This 12-hour continuous run/walk is the largest fundraising event held on campus. Two weeks ago, 312 participants walked and ran around the Don Dallas Soccer field through the night from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. Through the students’ efforts, more than $18,000 was raised for Relay for Life. All of the proceeds raised go to the American Cancer Society to assist in their research, outreach and programs to raise awareness on college campuses. The Colleges Against Cancer chapter was awarded the 2012 Distinguished Service Award for Student Service.

Two years ago Kristen Weber, an undergraduate student majoring in criminology and criminal justice, formed a non-profit organization. The group collects and distributes school supplies to homeless shelters and classrooms in underserved neighborhoods. This year she is working with the Missouri Department of Social Services to provide transitional housing for foster children who are aging out of the state system. Kristen works full time as a paralegal, attends classes and raises her young child. She has been a Sue Shear Fellow and an active leader and volunteer for numerous student organizations. Weber was awarded the 2012 Distinguished Service Award for Student Service.

Maureen Zegel

Maureen Zegel