PSU honors four alumni for career achievements

  Tuesday, April 7, 2015 2:00 AM

Pittsburg, KS

PSU honors four alumni for career achievements

Pittsburg State University’s Meritorious Achievement Award recipients for 2015 have distinguished themselves in a wide variety of professional and community activities. The university will honor these successful alumni on Friday, April 10.

“This year’s Meritorious Award recipients are great examples of the ways that Pittsburg State University’s more than 65,000 alumni distinguish themselves in their places of work and in their communities every day,” said Jon Bartlow, director of alumni and constituent relations.

The PSU Meritorious Achievement Award recipients for 2015 are, Kirby R. Brown, deputy to the commanding general at the U.S. Army Combined Arms Center in Fort Leavenworth, Kan.; Edith Harvey, former director of Improvement Programs for the U.S. Department of Education; Phil Laurie, retired teacher and businessman and long-time collegiate football official; and Miles Schnaer, owner of Crown Automotive, a Toyota, Scion and Volkswagen dealership in Lawrence, Kan.

The four honorees will participate in a public panel discussion at 1:30 p.m. in the Governors Room of the Overman Student Center. A public reception in their honor will be held at 3:30 p.m. in the Wilkinson Alumni Center.

Kirby R. Brown

Kirby Brown earned a bachelor’s degree in manufacturing technology in 1975 and a master’s degree in education in 1977, both from PSU. He earned a master’s degree in logistics management from the Florida Institute of Technology in 1991.

Appointed to the Senior Executive Service in 2007, Brown assumed his current position in July 2012. In his current role, Brown acts on the commanding general’s behalf concerning operations and activities throughout the Combined Arms Center and its more than 11 schools and centers.

His responsibility includes the integration of the center’s numerous training and leader development and missions command enterprise level activities. He is also charged with the supervision of the installation and community efforts that support more than 15,000 service members, Department of the Army civilians and families who work on or call Fort Leavenworth home.

Additionally, he serves as the commander’s principal adviser and the center’s senior expert in force management, joint capabilities integration and development system, requirements determination, and material acquisition.

From August 2007 to June 2012, Brown served as the deputy to the commanding general at the Fires Center of Excellence and Fort Sill, Okla. Prior to that, he served as director of the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Battle Lab in the Future Warfare Center at the Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Strategic Command, in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Brown served in the U.S. Army from 1977 until 1998, seeing service with the 1st Infantry Division, the 2nd Infantry Division, the 3rd AR Division, the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, the chief of staff of the Army’s Louisiana Maneuvers Task Force and the Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command.

Brown’s awards and honors include the Presidential Rank Award – Meritorious, the Meritorious Civilian Service Award, the Superior Civilian Service Award, the Legion of Merit and the Meritorious Service Medal. He is a member of the Association of the U.S. Army, the Disabled American Veterans and the Military Officers Association of America.

Brown and his wife, Donna, have two adult children, a son, Camron, and daughter, Mallory.

Edith M. Harvey

Edith Thomas Harvey earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from PSU in 1972 and a master’s degree in administration from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. In 2014, Harvey retired from her role as director of Improvement Programs within the U.S. Department of Education.

As a teacher and administrator at the local, state and national levels, Harvey has made it her life mission to improve educational opportunities for all children, particularly low-income, at-risk children.

While director of Improvement Programs within the U.S. Department of Education, she was responsible for administering multi-million dollar programs and establishing priorities consistent with the president’s agenda for educational reform. Previously, she served as branch chief in the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education at the Department of Education, where she oversaw grants and contracts to state and local entities in various areas, including teacher quality, dropout prevention, advanced placement, women’s educational equity, and arts in education.

Harvey’s appointments include governance member of the Arts Education Partnership, a collaboration of more than 100 national organizations committed to advancing the arts. She was also invited to participate on the Federal Interagency Task Force on Arts and the Humanities, which encourages research on arts and human development. Harvey was responsible for the administration and supervision of funds to the John F. Kennedy Center to ensure disadvantaged students received quality arts programs and instruction.

As the first African-American administrator at the Nebraska State Department of Education, Harvey trained superintendents and administrators on education requirements pertaining to race and gender equity and was instrumental in the passing of a state statute to ensure equal access for all children. Her work extended to the community where she was one of the founding members of the Lincoln Alumni Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta sorority, a service organization. She has taught for the Missouri Board of Education and served as executive director of Capital Head Start in Washington. She currently volunteers as a financial literacy teacher for Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) recipients.

She is married to Dr. Barron H. Harvey (PSU student ’67-’69), dean at Howard University. They have one daughter, Pyper, and one granddaughter, Imani.

Philip D. Laurie

Philip Laurie earned a bachelor’s degree in education from PSU in 1970.

A retired teacher, coach and businessman, Laurie worked as a football official in the Big 8 and Big 12 for 24 seasons and since 2008, has served as the MIAA supervisor of officials.

A teacher and coach at French Middle School in Topeka, Laurie began his officiating career in 1970 as a favor to his brother. He officiated high school football games in northeast Kansas for several years.

Laurie officiated his first collegiate games (both football and basketball) in 1975 and officiated in seven NAIA district basketball tournaments and five NAIA football playoff games before becoming a member of the Big 8 Conference football officiating staff in 1984.

Over the next 24 years, Laurie officiated in more than 250 major college games and worked more than 20 bowl games, including the Rose Bowl, the Sugar Bowl and two national championship games.

Off the field, Laurie has been a tireless mentor and teacher, working to help young college football officials develop and advance. He has conducted numerous study groups for college football officials in the basement of his home and has been a frequent clinician at summer college football officiating clinics across the U.S.

Laurie retired as a Big 12 football official in 2007 and in 2008 was named supervisor of officials for the MIAA. Laurie brought many of the principles from the Big 12 to the MIAA, where he has worked to raise the bar for professionalism and the quality of officiating.

At the MIAA, Laurie has stressed the active recruitment of officiating talent from among all states in the MIAA and has stressed physical fitness and weight control among officials. He has promoted intensive rules study and online access to game films for officials to use as study and improvement tools and is responsible for a system for regular evaluation and accountability for officials.

A proud PSU alumnus, Laurie spearheaded the fundraising effort to construct a new officials’ dressing room at Carnie Smith Stadium.

Laurie has been inducted into the Kansas Collegiate Officials Hall of Fame and was named the 2015 David M. Parry Award winner, recognizing him as the nation’s outstanding athletic coordinator for the year.

A native of Atchison, Kan., Laurie and his wife, Kay, live in Topeka. They have two children, Tracy Boyd and Todd Laurie, along with three grandchildren.

Miles E. Schnaer

Miles Schnaer earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Pittsburg State University in 1970.

Schnaer began his career selling new cars at Morse Chevrolet in 1971 and moved on to Van Chevrolet in 1972. He began a management position with Van in 1974 and by 1978 and become general manager.

In January of 1979, Schnaer bought his first Chevrolet dealership in Decatur, Ill.

He purchased a Nissan dealership in 1985 and an Oldsmobile and a Toyota dealership in 1986.

In 1991, Schnaer purchased the Dennis Autoplaza in Olathe, Kan., which he renamed

Miles Autoplaza. He sold that dealership to the Superior Group (now the Hendrix Organization) and then that bought the Toyota and Chevrolet dealerships in Lawrence, Kan. Eventually, Schnaer sold the Chevrolet portion of the dealership and bought the Volkswagen dealership, which is now under the Crown Automotive name.

Schnaer’s numerous business awards include being a two-time nominee for the American International Automobile Dealers Association Dealer of the Year Award, Toyota’s Presidents Award 13 times and Toyota’s Excellence in Customer Relations Award five times. He has been a Toyota Time Magazine Dealer of the Year finalist for both Illinois and Kansas and was a Volkswagen World Gold Pin recipient in 2013. Schnaer has served on the board and is a past chairman of the Kansas Automobile Dealers Association and in 2013, Schnaer’s dealership was named the Lawrence Business of the Year.

In addition to his professional accomplishments, Schnaer is active in his community and is a supporter of numerous charities. Those include the Crown Casting Club, which has provided more than 200 children and their families the opportunity to participate in weekend fishing competitions and other outdoor activities.

He is on the board of trustees and is a past president of the Cottonwood Foundation, which provides services to persons with developmental disabilities. Additionally, Schnaer has supported more than 20 local groups including the Bert Nash

Community Mental Health Center; Lawrence Memorial Hospital; Van Go, an arts-based social service agency; the United Way; the American Red Cross; and the Boys and Girls Club of Lawrence.

Schnaer has served as chairman of the Charitable Contributions Committee of KU Head Basketball Coach Bill Self’s Assists Foundation and is a member of and past director of the steering committee for Self’s Bill's Basketball Boogie event.

For PSU, Schnaer serves on the Foundation Board and on the Foundation Executive Committee.

Schnaer and his wife, Paula Beebe Schnaer (BSED, 1972), whom he met at PSU, have two daughters, Allison and Mandi (also a PSU alumna), and a grandson, Maddox.



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