Outstanding Alumni Recognized at Program



The Columbus State University Alumni Recognition Awards Program and Lunch was held today at the Cunningham Center to recognize the achievements of 13 outstanding alumni.

Among the awardees was Joel Baker, fire chief for the city of Atlanta. Baker, a 2009 graduate of CSU’s master’s in public administration program, received the Distinguished Alumnus in Military and Public Service Award.

Dennis Neal, Sr., a 1968 graduate and former Columbus College baseball player was honored with the Alumni Service Award for his efforts in founding Tee-It-Up-For-Teammates, a non-profit dedicated to helping former CSU baseball players in need.

Eric Thomas, who earned his master’s in music performance from CSU in 2013, received the Young Alumnus Award. Currently serving as the executive director of the Columbus Symphony Orchestra, Thomas helped establish the Making Music Matters program to provide local children with free, after-school group violin instruction.

Three alumni were honored with Excellence in Alumni Achievement awards. Former Columbus mayor Bobby Peters was recognized, having earned a bachelor’s degree in 1974 and a master’s degree in education in 1976 from Columbus College. Husband and wife musicians, Jin Kim-Peña, 1986 alumni, and Jorge Peña, 1991 alumni, were honored for their careers in orchestras across the country.

As this year marked the 50th Anniversary of CSU’s School of Nursing, seven school of nursing alumni were recognized for their achievements. Honorees were Christi Deaton, Jean Hartin, Amanda Hawkins, Aleta Henderson, Brian Holland, Barbara McKnight and Geneva Turner.