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Five Distinguished Alums To Be Honored at Homecoming

Five Sam Houston State University graduates who have brought honor to the university by making significant contributions to society have been selected as Distinguished Alumni for 2003.

They are:

  • Mark Joseph Kroll of Ruston, La., former assistant professor of management and director of graduate studies at SHSU. Kroll, who has also taught internationally, is the Maurice Tatum Endowed Professor of Business and department chair at Louisiana Tech University.

  • Preston Johnson, Jr. of Sugarland, senior vice president of human resources and shared services at CenterPoint Engery, Inc. He  rose in rank during his 23-year career at Dow Chemical Company to realign 80 percent of the total organization from functional to a global buisness model.

  • W. Allen Gage of Houston, vice chairman of the board for Regions Bank. Gage, who commissioned as 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Army before entering into the banking industry, has generously contributed to the SHSU basketball program in the name of D.V. McKaskle.

  • Michael A. Lytle, of Alexandria, Va., senior research associate at Science Applications International Corporation. He is a senior subject-matter expert on law enforcement, intelligence, counternarcotics and counterterrorism, and provides consulting and advisory services to government agencies.

  • Thomas Lee Ely, D.O., of Clarksville, Tenn., vice president for medical affiars/director of medical education at Gateway Medical Center. A doctor of osteopathic medicine, Ely attended medical school on a health professions scholarship through the U.S. Army, where he later returned during Desert Storm as department chief at a large teaching hospital.
The awards will be presented at the Sam Houston State University Alumni Association Distinguished Alumni Gala dinner on Nov. 7 during 2003 SHSU homecoming activities. For information, call 936.294.1841.

Mark Joseph Kroll

The Maurice Tatum Endowed Professor of Business and department chair at Louisiana Tech University, Mark Joseph Kroll began his teaching career at SHSU.  Kroll also received his Bachelor (1977) and Master (1979) of Business Administration from SHSU.


Mark Joseph Kroll
Mark Joseph Kroll

He earned his Doctor of Business Administration degree in 1983 from Mississippi State University and began working as an assistant professor of management and director of graduate studies for SHSU.

He then moved to the University of Texas at Tyler, where he taught and chaired the management and marketing department for eight years, served as the acting dean of the School of Business Administration, and was named the George W. and Robert S. Pirtle Professor of Free Enterprise.

As department chair and acting dean at UT-Tyler, Kroll introduced course-sharing arrangements with area junior colleges, helped launch a new recruitment and admissions process, and jointly developed an MSN/MBA program with the School of Nursing as well as a new Health Care MBA program. 

During his time at UT Tyler, the School of Business Administration achieved candidacy for accreditation to the American Assembly of Collegiate Schools of Business.  The School of Business also negotiated and implemented a student exchange program with the Institute Technology Y De Estudios Superiores De Monterrey.

In 1999, Kroll was named a Fulbright Visiting Scholar in residence at the Hanoi School of Business, which is part of the National University of Vietnam.  While there, he helped in the development of a graduate program in business.  In addition, he has served as a visiting professor at the Instituto Technologico Y De Estudios Superiores De Monterrey in Guadalajara, Mexico.

During his time as a professor, Kroll has published over 50 refereed articles in the areas of strategic and general management in such journals as the Academy of Management Journal, the Academy of Management Review, Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, and Strategic Management Journal.  He has also published five textbooks on strategic management.

“When he was a student at SHSU, I taught him in English; and he was an extremely good, hard-working, and dedicated student,” his nomination form said. “Since that time, I have followed his career, and he is an asset to this university, for he is a graduate to be proud of.”

Kroll and his wife Nghi now live in Ruston, Louisiana.

Preston Johnson, Jr.

Preston Johnson, Jr., earned his Bachelor of Business Administration degree in accounting in 1977. He received his Master of Business Administration degree in industrial management from the University of Houston in 1983.
Preston Johnson, Jr.
Preston Johnson, Jr.

Working in six different positions for the Dow Chemical Company from 1977 until 2000, Johnson was a key principal in the global transformation of the company to increase productivity, provided business alignment, eliminated hierarchy leadership and created a sustainable competitive advantage for Dow globally.

Under his direction at Dow, the total workforce moved from 62,800 at the end of 1992 to 42,800 today, and management layers decreased from 13 to a maximum of six, with 80 percent of the total organization realigned from functional to a global business model.

“Preston Johnson, while global director of human resources for Dow Chemical Co., was responsible for directing hundreds of thousands of dollars from Dow to SHSU for university development,” his nomination form said. “The Dow Room at COBA was spearheaded by Preston Johnson, Arnold Allemang, and Gary Whitlock.”

In March 2000, Johnson joined CenterPoint Energy Inc., where he is the senior vice president of human resources and shared services. There, he is responsible for directing all human resources and shared services activities at the corporate level and throughout its various business units, such as Houston Electric, Gas Distribution & Sales, and Interstate Pipelines & Gathering Systems.

“Since joining CenterPoint Energy/Reliant Energy, he has directed thousands to the School of Business and established a recruiting program at SHSU on behalf of CenterPoint and Reliant Energy,” the form said.

As a student at SHSU, Johnson was the founding president of the Iota Sigma chapter of Alpha Kappa Psi Fraternity. He is now on the School of Business advisory board, a member of the President’s Council, an honorary member of Beta Gamma Sigma, a lifetime member of the Alumni Association and has established the Johnson/Perkins Endowment Fund.

Johnson and his wife Joslen reside in Sugarland with their two children, Sean,13, and Alexis, 9.

W. Allen Gage

W. Allen Gage received his Bachelor of Science degree in journalism in 1961. Graduating with Distinguished Military Student and Distinguished Military Graduate honors, Gage was commissioned as 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Army.


W. Allen Gage
W. Allen Gage

In 1963, Gage began working in the banking industry, serving in positions such as United States Comptroller of the Currency in Washington, D.C., between 1964 and 1968; Chairman of the Board, president, chief executive officer and director of First National Bank in Longview between 1991 and 2001; and, currently, Vice Chairman of the Board for Regions Bank in Houston.

A member of Delta Tau Delta Fraternity while attending SHSU, Gage is now a life endowed member of the Alumni Association, the President’s Circle and has supported the basketball team through a $39,000 gift to the program in the name of D.V McKaskle, as well as a $1,000 donation to allow one player to travel to Africa as part of Athletes in Action.

“Allen has been highly supportive of his alma mater, including his donation of a sizeable journalism endowment in honor of his revered journalism professor, Ferol Robinson,” said one nomination letter.

“His strong record of community service reflects his selflessness and dedication to helping improve quality of life for those less fortunate in his community,” the letter continued. “And his strong support of Sam Houston State University reflects his belief in the University’s commitment to providing the best possible education for its students.”

In the community, Gage has been a member of Boy Scouts of America since July 1950 and currently serves as Director of the East Texas Area Council for the Boy Scouts. He has also held the director position of the Longview United Way, president and director of the Longview Chamber of Commerce and is actively involved with his church, Trinity Episcopal.

“His successes in the business world, as well as his capable leadership in community affairs, and voluntary organizations, have brought him many accolades,” said another nomination letter. “People of all creeds, races, and economic situations have been inspired by his nurturing abilities.

“This leadership ability and continuing steadiness makes W. Allen Gage more than just a regular citizen. The depth of character, the radiance of purpose, the trusting nature in ultimate goodness are characteristics of distinguishing note,” the letter continued. “These attributes should make Sam Houston State University pleased, because it is within the halls of such an institution that greatness is sown, nurtured, encouraged, developed.”

Allen and his wife Patty, who reside in Houston, have two children, William (Bill) Allen Gage, Jr., and Janet Elizabeth Wrather.

Michael A. Lytle

A 1973 graduate of Indiana University at Bloomington, with degrees in forensic studies and political science, Michael A. Lytle went on to receive his graduate certificate from the Institute of Contemporary Corrections and the Behavioral Sciences at SHSU in 1977.


Michael A. Lytle
Michael A. Lytle

He earned his Master of Education degree in educational curriculum and instruction from Texas A&M University in 1978 and did a postgraduate doctoral study at Texas A&M between 1978 and 1983 on higher education administration and public management.

Before attending Indiana University at Bloomington, Lytle served as an U.S. Army officer from 1969-1972, in both domestic and Vietnam assignments. He was later recalled to active duty for both Operation Desert Shield and Bosnia. Ultimately attaining the ranking of Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Army Reserve, he is the recipient of the Legion of Merit Medal, Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart Medal and Meritorious Service Medal with 2nd Oak Leak Cluster, among others.

In 1974 he became a law enforcement trainer at the Southeast Tennessee Criminal Justice Higher Education Consortium, The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Chattanooga State Technical Community College, Cleveland State Community College and the Chattanooga Police Academy.

He worked in seven different positions within the Texas A&M University System, including positions as a graduate teaching assistant, assistant to the chancellor, assistant director of governmental relations and special assistant to the chancellor in federal relations.

In addition, Lytle has taken positions at Syracuse University, the University of Texas at Brownsville, Lutheran Colleges’ Washington Semester and the Office of Legal Policy within the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense.

Currently he is working as a senior research associate at Science Applications International Corporation, where he is a senior subject-matter expert on law enforcement, intelligence, counternarcotics and counterterrorism and provides consulting and advisory services to government agencies.

In addition, Lytle is an adjunct professor at Marymount University, in Arlington, Va., where he has developed, and now coordinates and teaches in, the only bachelor degree level forensic science program in the Greater Washington DC area.

He has been involved with many international, national, institutional and other governmental organizations affiliated with criminal justice, political and educational fields.

He has given approximately 23 presentations and prepared15 publications dealing with both domestic and foreign issues and has taught many graduate, undergraduate and certificate-granting classes on management, forensic and criminal justice-related issues. Lytle is also listed in Who’s Who in the World, Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in Science & Engineering and American Men & Women of Science.

Lytle, who resides in Alexandria, Va., is a lifetime member of the SHSU Alumni Association, a donor to the Annual Fund and a member of the Friends of the Criminal Justice Center.

Lytle has one son, Eric Lindqvist Lytle, also of Alexandria.

Thomas Lee Ely

Thomas Lee Ely is a 1964 graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry. He received is Doctor of Osteopathy degree in 1980 from Kansas City College of Osteopathic Medicine.  


Thomas Lee Ely
Thomas Lee Ely

Ely, who had been a ROTC corps commander, was commissioned into the U.S. Army after earning his bachelor’s degree, serving in the medical service corps and ultimately attaining the rank of Major.

While in the Army, he graduated with honors in the U.S. Army Aviation Flight Class and the Army Medical Department Officer Advanced Course. He took two tours in the Republic of Vietnam as a medical evaluation “dustoff” pilot and commanded medical evaluations in Vietnam and Fort Ord, Calif.

After working within the medical service corps for 12 years, Ely resigned to attend Kansas City College of Osteopathic Medicine, in Kansas City, Mo., on a health professions scholarship through the military. In medical school, Ely served as class president during his second, third and fourth years, graduated 10th out of 150 and was the recipient of the Upjohn Achievement Award as Outstanding Graduate.

Upon completing medical school, Ely returned to active duty in the Army, serving as chief of the department of primary care at Blanchfield Army Hospital in Ft. Campbell, Ky.; chief of the department of family medicine at Womack Army Hospital in Ft. Bragg, N.C.; family practice residency program director at Womack Army Hospital; and chief resident at DeWitt U.S. Army Hospital in Ft. Belvoir, Va.

In 1988, Ely retired from the Army after 20 years with the rank Lieutenant Colonel to work at a private practice in Clarksville, Tenn., where he worked for 14 years. In 2000, he was elected as chief of medical staff at Gateway Medical Center and in 2002, accepted the position of vice president for medical affairs/director of medical education.

During Desert Storm, in 1991, he was recalled into the Army and assigned as department chief at a large teaching hospital.

In 2001, Ely was the recipient of the Tennessee Osteopathic Medical Association’s “Physician of the Year” Award, which is reserved for individuals with a record of meritorious service to their community, county, state and national professional associations, as well as the osteopathic profession.

“I met Tom while interviewing a replacement for my physician, who had taken care of my family and me for most of my adult life. I met with five or six doctors before a friend recommended Tom Ely as a true ‘family doc’, not just someone who saw patients,” a nomination letter said. “It only took a minute or two to realize he really cared for his patients. And he has.”

Currently, Ely is a member of many professional organizations and is a member, grand trustee, and president of Eta Xi Sigma Chi House Corporation.

“Tom Ely is a people person, with high integrity and clarity and someone with whom it has been a pleasure to work along side on many projects,” the letter continued. “I’m sure there are Sam Houston alums that have distinguished themselves. Tom Ely’s credentials, accomplishments and service puts him right there with them.”

Ely and his wife Donna Ruth live in Clarksville, Tenn. He has three sons: Kevin, Theodore and Brad, and two stepdaughters: Kim and Wendy.

- END -

SHSU Media Contact: Jennifer Gauntt
Sept. 3, 2003
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