Contact: Jennifer Jackson Sanner, Kansas Alumni Association, (785) 864-4760.

3 to receive KU alumni association's highest honor for service to university

LAWRENCE -- The University of Kansas Alumni Association will honor three alumni with the Fred Ellsworth Medallion at a board meeting Friday, Sept. 24, in Lawrence.

The honorees are Clay Blair of Olathe, David Dillon of Cincinnati and Michael Shinn of Shaker Heights, Ohio.

Created in 1975, the award honors longtime Kansas Alumni Association leader Fred Ellsworth, a 1922 graduate who was known as "Mr. KU" and who retired in 1963. Representatives from the Chancellor's Office and the alumni, endowment and athletics associations choose each year's recipients from nominations submitted by KU alumni and friends.

The honorees:

Blair, who received a bachelor's in 1965 and a doctorate in education in 1969, is a residential and commercial real estate developer in Johnson County and owner of Clay Blair Services Corp. He also co-owns First Watch Restaurants, a national chain.

Blair helped establish KU's Edwards Campus in Overland Park in the early 1990s, when the Clay Blair Family Foundation provided the land at 126th Street and Quivira Road. He is a former member of the Edwards Campus Advisory Board. Blair is a Campaign Kansas Leadership donor and a Chancellors Club member.

Blair was a member of the Kansas Board of Regents and its chair for two years, retiring in 2003. He currently chairs the state˙s Research Enhancement Corp., which oversees construction of the KU Life Science Research Laboratories in Lawrence and the biomedical facility at KU Medical Center in Kansas City, Kan., and research structures at Kansas State and Wichita State universities. In August Gov. Kathleen Sebelius appointed Blair to the new Kansas Biosciences Authority.

Blair has participated in such Kansas City chapter events as the Rock Chalk Ball. He and his wife, Janet, were honorary co-chairs in 2001.

Dillon, a 1973 graduate in business who was a student body president, is chairman of the board and CEO of the Kroger Co. in Cincinnati. After earning his law degree from Southern Methodist University, he joined the Dillon Companies in Hutchinson in 1976; he became vice president in 1983 and president in 1986. He became executive vice president of the Kroger Co. in 1990 and was elected president and chief operating officer in 1995. He became chairman and CEO in July, succeeding Joseph A. Pichler, former dean of KU's School of Business.

For the KU Endowment Association, Dillon is a trustee and former chair of the Greater University Fund Advisory Board and sits on the School of Business Board of Advisors.

He and his wife, Dee, are members of the Chancellors Club.

Shinn, a 1966 graduate in aerospace engineering, is a certified financial planner and a personal finance columnist for African-American newspapers and retired in 1998 from General Electric. After he received his master's in business administration from Case Western Reserve University, he worked for GE and the Ford Motor Co.

Shinn has served on the School of Engineering Advisory Board and established the Mike Shinn Engineering Scholarships for minority students at KU. He is a KU First major donor and a member of the Chancellors Club and the Elizabeth Watkins Society. He served on the national Board of Directors from 1978 to 1983, helping establish Career Days for black students.

As a student, Shinn received a dean's award for outstanding achievement and was an Academic All-American as co-captain of the football team.


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