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SBU to present alumni awards during Homecoming Honors Chapel

BOLIVAR, Mo. – Homecoming festivities at Southwest Baptist University will begin with Honors Chapel at 10 a.m. Friday, Oct. 18, in Pike Auditorium, when five alumni will be recognized for living lives of service.

Alumni Life Service Awards

Inspired by the Life Beautiful Award presented each year to one male and one female graduate, President John Dowdy suggested to the Southwest Baptist College Board of Trustees in 1955 that the Life Service Award be given annually to graduates whose lives have exemplified the principles which are upheld at Southwest. The award is the highest recognition that the University can bestow upon an alumnus or alumna.

This year’s recipients include:

Glenn MillerDr. Glenn Miller ’81: Dr. Glenn Miller founded the Institute for Church Management (ICM) in 2004, creating a 10-course curriculum for improved church/non-profit administration. He also is the founder/Chief Executive Officer of Miller Management Systems, LLC, serving more than 3,000 ministries across 28 denominations.   

“SBU’s unwavering commitment to the Kingdom of God resonates throughout the campus, which makes it as much a ministry as it is an excellent academic institution,” Miller said. “These two reasons alone would be enough to place this honor at the top of most of our lists.”

Miller also has co-authored three books: “Pastoral Helmsmanship – The Pastor’s Guide to Church Administration” (2014); “Confessions of a Church Felon” (2015); and “A Pastor’s Guide to Church Conflict” (2019).

Miller and his wife, Kimberly ’81, have four children and six grandchildren. 

David HilderbrandDr. David Hilderbrand ’65 ’67: Dr. David Hilderbrand began his teaching career in chemistry at South Dakota State University after earning his bachelor of arts degree in mathematics from SWBC in 1967. Hilderbrand taught in the chemistry department at SDSU from 1974-2004 as well as served in other director roles at the university. He currently is Professor Emeritus of chemistry and Dean Emeritus of the Graduate School at SDSU. 

“SBU provided me with a high-quality education that launched by career,” Hilderbrand said. “SBU also provided the opportunity to develop my leadership skills through student leadership activities. Those privileges provided the confidence to work to give back to others in both my professional and community life.”

During his time at SWBC, Hilderbrand was president of the Student Association, a two-time nominee for Mr. Southwest, selected Most Likely to Succeed, a dorm counselor, chemistry lab assistant and a member of SWBC’s first four-year graduating class. Hilderbrand and his wife, Julie ’68, have two adult sons: Grant and Lucas.

Russell FordDr. Russell Ford ’65 ’67: Dr. Russell Ford was a member of SWBC’s first four-year graduating class, earning a B.A. in education, majoring in biology with a minor in chemistry. He then went on to serve in the United States Marine Corps from 1967-1970, which included a 13-month tour of duty in Viet Nam.

“I am honored and humbled to have been chosen as a recipient of this prestigious award from SBU, the highly respected Christian institution that I have always been proud to claim as my alma mater.” Ford said.

Ford has received several awards and honors including the Navy Commendation Medal with Combat “V” (earned in Viet Nam), Educator of the Year, St. Clair Chamber of Commerce (1996), Missouri Superintendent of the Year (1996) and was the Missouri representative for National Superintendent of the Year (1996). Ford and his wife, Barbara’69, have two adult children: Mark and Sharida Green, and are members of Go Church in Ridgefield, Wash.

Gary LongeneckerDr. Gary Longenecker ’71: Dr. Longenecker has served his community throughout the years as a board member of several organizations, including: Students Against Driving Drunk, Girl Scout Council of Greater St. Louis and the Missouri Baptist Convention. He has served as volunteer with the Division of Family Services of Missouri and has been recognized for Student Volunteer Mobilization by the North American Mission Board for the SBC for Colorado, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Illinois and Missouri.

“I would like to thank a group of people who I feel haven’t been thanked enough – my professors and administrators who invested in me while I was here at Southwest Baptist University,” Longenecker said. “They made an impact on my life and they encouraged me. They also launched me on a career of over 50 years in the gospel ministry.”

Longenecker, who is the director and founder of Kingdom Sports Products, currently is senior pastor at Harmony Baptist Church in Rogersville, where he serves on several committees. He had his wife, Mary, have two children: Mark and Jill.

Edwin Lightfoot Distinguished Alumni Award

The Alumni Association presents the Edwin Lightfoot Distinguished Alumni Award annually to an alumnus or alumna who demonstrates the ideals personified by the late Edwin Lightfoot ’40. The award criteria include alumni leadership in the University, dedication to the education and welfare of youth, and demonstrated support for SBU.

Elizabeth PaceElizabeth Mitchell Pace ’59: Elizabeth Mitchell Pace serves the Bolivar community as a member of the service organization Bolivar Twenty Club and as a supporter of the Exodus House and House of Hope. She taught in the Bolivar Schools district for 35 years and was member and officer of Parent Teacher Association, Classroom Teacher Association and Lakes Country Council of the International Reading Association.

“Southwest Baptist University is a cherished part of my life,” Pace said. “During the 56 years we have lived in Bolivar, we have seen Southwest Baptist College grow from a two-year junior college to an accredited four-year college, to Southwest Baptist University offering doctorates while being a Christ-centered, caring academic community preparing students to be servant leaders in a global society.”

While a student at SWBC, Pace traveled with the Chorale to Italy, Austria, Czech Republic and Germany. She was Student Association secretary, a biology lab assistant, Life Beautiful Award recipient, debate team member, Miss Southwest candidate and revival team participant. Pace and her husband, Julian, are members of First Baptist Church of Bolivar and have two children: Julian Jr., and Emily.

For more information and listing of events for SBU Homecoming, go to or contact the Office of Alumni Engagement at (417) 328-1806.

*Published: 10-14-19