In this episode of our monthly program, Engaging the Community, we look at the Missouri Public Affairs Hall of Fame.
Each year, Missouri State University honors the handful of individuals who have dedicated their lives to improving the world around them through welcoming them into the Missouri Public Affairs Hall of Fame.
“This is not a 'Missouri State' Public Affairs Hall of Fame. It is a state of Missouri Public Affairs Hall of Fame that is housed at the university here," said MSU President Clif Smart.
Smart said it is a board-driven initiative, based on the decision that the university needed a signature event tied to its underlying mission of public affairs.
"Our pillars are community engagement, cultural competence, and ethical leadership. And so no matter what your field, have you been engaged in that work of public affairs for a lifetime that makes it worthy for us to celebrate your life and your accomplishments?" Smart said.
Each nominee must have a tie to the state of Missouri. Individuals who meet those criteria are nominated and go through a selection process involving a committee, Smart said.
This is the university's sixth year to host the Public Affairs Hall of Fame.
"And I would tell you that we’re not running out of great nominations,'' Smart said.
This year's inductees are: Maya Angelou, William Clay, Sr., Bill Darr, Emily Geraghty and Doug Pitt.
Angelou will be honored poshumously; the poet, civil-rights activist and author of works such as "I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings" passed away in 2014.
"And then William Clay, who was a Congressman from St. Louis, served decades in that position and was working particularly before and during as a civil rights advocate and activist and for equality in our country for various under-represented groups," Smart said.
Businessman William "Bill" Darr, whom Smart described as "an incredible philanthropist" and a successful businessman; Darr founded American Dehydrated Foods, Inc. and the Darr Family Foundation.
Emily Geraghty is a multi-media journalist and producer who has highlighted LGBTQ and gender issues.
"We always recognize a young person who has done amazing things early in life kind of as an example to others. It doesn’t have to be an end of lifetime award," Smart said.
And Doug Pitt founded Care to Learn, a service-oriented organization that meets the emergent health, hunger and hygeine needs of children.
"So as you think about that group of folks and the difference they have made in their communities and in our state, that’s the group that’s going in this year. And I’m personally very excited about that," Smart said.
The April 12 ceremony is open to the public, but requires the purchase of a ticket. You can learn more about the event here.