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April 24: 8 to be Honored at Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award Event

Awards presented at 6:30 p.m. in Ostrander Auditorium.

Minnesota State University, Mankato Media Relations Office News Release, 4-20-2015

Mankato, Minn. – This year’s Minnesota State University, Mankato distinguished alumni include the recently retired associate director of the anesthesia program at the Mayo Clinic, a U.S. Marine Corps officer, an industrial hygienist, and a senior partner and partner for two certified public accounting and business advisory firms.

The University’s Alumni Association will present its Distinguished Alumni Achievement Awards at 6:30 p.m. Friday, April 24 on campus in the Centennial Student Union’s Ostrander Auditorium. Three additional awards will be presented to recognize humanitarian work, successful young alumni and service to Minnesota State Mankato.

The Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award is presented to graduates who have achieved high rank or honor in their professions, had widespread effect on their communities and are recognized for their achievements over the course of their careers. This year’s recipients are: Jay M. Abdo, Bloomington, Minn.; Christopher K. Dietz, Pine Island, Minn.; Linda Lynch Koerselman, Mankato, Minn.; Col. Robert Rauenhorst, Jacksonville, N.C.; and Mark R. Stenzel, Arlington, Va.

Abdo, a 1996 open studies graduate, is the senior partner at Abdo, Eick & Meyers, LLP, a certified public accounting and business advisory firm, and has more than 40 years of experience in accounting, taxation and litigation. He also serves on several nonprofit boards and in 2014 was named National Volunteer of the Year by St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.

Dietz, a 2010 doctorate in nursing practice graduate, helped to develop a master’s and doctorate of nurse anesthesia program at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. Recently retired after 18 years as associate director of the clinic’s anesthesia program, he was named Outstanding Nurse Anesthesia Educator of the Year three times by the Mayo School of Health Sciences.

Koerselman, a 1981 accounting graduate, is the partner in charge of the Mankato office of Eide Bailly LLP, a certified public accounting and business advisory firm, and is currently chair of the firm’s board. She is the first woman to hold that post. She is also a member of many banking industry groups and frequent speaker at conventions and meetings in the Midwest.

Rauenhorst, a 1989 geography graduate, has served in the U.S. Marine Corps for more than 30 years and has earned numerous military awards and honors. He is currently the commanding officer for the Marine Operational Test and Evaluation Squadron 22 (VMX-22) at Marine Corps Air Station New River in Jacksonville, N.C.

Stenzel, a 1969 math and statistics graduate, worked as a chemist and then transitioned into becoming an industrial hygienist. He is currently a co-investigator on a large government study that is evaluating potential adverse health effects of workers who were involved in the response and cleanup efforts related to the 2010 Gulf BP oil spill.

The Harold J. Fitterer Service Award is presented to graduates who have given distinguished service to Minnesota State Mankato through work preserving and promoting university programs. This year’s recipient is Dr. James D. Connors, Mankato, Minn.

Connors is a 1968 graduate of Minnesota State Mankato, where he currently serves as the official dentist for the Department of Athletics. He is a member of the Dental Hygiene Board in the College of Allied Health & Nursing. Connors and his wife, Kris, support and regularly attend performances of the University’s music and theatre programs, and Connors also served on the University Foundation board for nine years, including two as president.

The Distinguished Alumni Humanitarian Award recognizes graduates whose lives exemplify service to humankind, and who have demonstrated exceptional dedication to humanitarian causes. This year’s recipient is Coventry Royster Cowens, Minneapolis.

Cowens is a 1968 graduate of Minnesota State Mankato. She is currently the assistant director for Multicultural and International Programs and Services at St. Catherine University in St. Paul, Minn. Royster Cowens’ volunteer work includes being a founding member of the Minnesota African-American Museum and working with women’s advocate programs.

The Distinguished Young Alumni Award honors graduates 35 years old or younger who reached personal or professional achievements early in their careers, positively impacted their communities, and show promise for continued success. This year’s recipient is Donald Mitchell Jr., Grand Rapids, Mich., who earned a master’s degree in educational leadership in 2007 from Minnesota State Mankato and later a doctorate from the University of Minnesota. He is currently an assistant professor of higher education at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Mich.

More information on the awards can be found at or by calling (507) 389-3235.

Minnesota State Mankato, a comprehensive university with 15,376 students, is part of the Minnesota State Colleges & Universities system, which comprises 31 state institutions.

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