UCM Homecoming Festivities Honors Six Alumni
With the theme, “Peace, Love and Mules,” opportunities abound for University of Central Missouri students and alumni to get their groove on while showing their UCM spirit during the 2023 Homecoming celebration Friday and Saturday, Oct. 20-21.
This busy weekend includes an awards dinner honoring six outstanding Distinguished Alumni, Party in the Park, the annual Homecoming parade and Mules football game.
UCM’s largest event of the year bringing Warrensburg area residents and members of the UCM community together, the Homecoming parade begins at 9 a.m. Saturday.
This long-standing tradition highlights the student-chosen “Peace, Love and Mules” theme while featuring a number of floats, high school and middle school marching bands from throughout the region, vintage motor vehicles, equestrian units, and much more. Assembling at the Multipurpose Building parking lot, the parade route begins at Holden and Clark streets, and travels downtown on Holden, then east on Gay Street and south on College Street, where it ends at the intersection of South Street.
Party in the Park takes place from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, providing the opportunity to enjoy live music, food trucks and a great seat for the parade located on the west side of Holden Street, across from the UCM Smiser Alumni Center. This event concludes shortly before the Homecoming football game at 1:30 p.m. between the Mules and Emporia State University Hornets at Audrey J. Walton Stadium/Vernon Kennedy Field.
At halftime during the game, UCM will honor the top three finalists in the Homecoming Royalty competition. They will be introduced in a pep rally Friday evening and will ride in the parade on Saturday along with this year’s Distinguished Alumni. These outstanding graduates’ achievements will be celebrated on Friday during the Distinguished Alumni Dinner (reservations required) in the Sandra Temple Elliott Ballroom of the Elliott Student Union. A social begins at 5:30 p.m. followed by the dinner at 6:30 p.m.
Honorees are David and Jerrilyn “Jerri” Hoffmann, graduates of the class of ’74 and recipients of the Distinguished Alumni Award; Marcela Rodriguez-Gonzalez, ’17, Distinguished Alumni Award for Early Achievement; Srinija Amistapur, ’17, Distinguished International Alumni Award; Bill Keen, ’91, and Maj. Gen. Levon Cumpton, ’92, both recipients of the Distinguished Alumni Award for Service. Additional information about all of the award winners is provided below.
David and Jerrilyn “Jerri” Hoffmann
David and Jerri Hoffmann met while attending high school in Washington, Missouri. They have since continued down a successful path as life partners, celebrating their 50th anniversary in 2022, while also investing their personal financial resources in companies, communities and, most importantly, people. David earned a Bachelor of Science in Safety Management in 1974, and went on to complete an executive program at Pennsylvania State University. Jerri graduated from UCM the same year, earning a Bachelor of Science in Education with majors in English and Spanish. At the age of 25, David took out a loan to purchase a golf course in his hometown and also invested in rental properties. He discovered he had a knack for real estate and recruiting. In 1989 he founded executive search firm DHR International, followed by Osprey Capital LLC, which has grown into one of the largest family-owned offices in the world with more than 100 locations in 27 countries.
Today, the Hoffmann Family of Companies portfolio encompasses more than 90 businesses with 280 locations worldwide. Among many accolades, David has been included in the 2022 and 2023 Forbes Billionaires List and was recognized in the Florida Trend 500 list in 2020, 2021 and 2022, and UCM recognized him in May 2023 with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters.
Philanthropy goes hand in hand with the Hoffmanns’ successes. On a national level, they support Boys and Girls Clubs of America and the Wounded Warrior Foundation, and have contributed to research in childhood Type 1 diabetes and funded public art installations, just to name a few examples of their philanthropy. They are also credited with the revitalization of the downtown shopping and dining areas of Naples, Fla.; Winnetka, Illinois; and, most recently, Augusta, Missouri. A desire to be close to their Missouri roots drove them to move to St. Albans, near their hometown, where they are committed to revitalizing America’s first wine region and the small community of Augusta.
The Hoffmanns have invested more than $150 million in more than 50 properties, including bicycle shops, eateries, lodging, a furniture store, a boutique and an amphitheater that seats 500. The couple has given back to the community in more ways than one, creating jobs for area residents while enhancing the aesthetic appeal of the downtown area and beyond.
Born in Mexico City, Mexico, Marcela Rodriguez-Gonzalez turned her childhood passion for the arts into a successful career in theatre while also pursuing interests as a community builder and educator. After graduating from Tecnológico de Monterrey University in 2014 with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and Digital Media, she explored different opportunities in the field, including working at Univision as a video editor for two years. When she refocused her goals toward building communities using theatre and education, she turned to UCM, where she completed a Master of Arts in Theatre in 2017. Rodriguez-Gonzalez left UCM with rich experiences she then turned toward meeting her goals.
She has since founded the Student Organization of Latinos, conducted meaningful research on theatre for change, and directed and produced a theatrical performance. She relocated to Cleveland, Ohio, where she now serves as director of community development at the Cleveland Play House, which is celebrated as the first regional theatre in the United States. Additionally, she has created culturally relevant and bilingual curricula for families in underprivileged areas and manages the implementation and compliance of federal and locally funded educational programs in Cleveland.
Over the past six years, Rodriguez-Gonzalez has built a reputation in northeast Ohio as someone who has a passion for building communities by using the arts as a tool for social action and as a bridge to connect families with resources in partnership with regional nonprofits.
Srinija Amisthapur came to UCM as an international student from southern India to pursue a Master of Science in Technology. After earning her degree in 2017, she landed what she calls a “sweet job” using her technology skills in Hershey, Pennsylvania. She has built a career in the corporate world while also creating a personal brand.
Combining her technological know-how with her longtime passion for animation, Srinija developed a YouTube channel called “Neuron Fire.” The mission of “Neuron Fire” is to promote a growth mindset among K–12 children, utilizing animation to create titles like “Empowering Empathy,” “Becoming Brave” and “Feedback is a Gift.” In 2022, she was selected for a tech entrepreneurs program through the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and she is currently prototyping an app called NeuronFire.ai, aimed at helping students choose the right college major.
Education has always been important to Amistapur, who is continuing her studies at Purdue University in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. She is also a ServiceNow Certified Technical Architect and has implemented information technology projects for Fortune 100 companies. In 2022, Amistapur was a global ambassador for the U.S. Hackmakers Hackathon to solve global sustainability problems by using emerging technologies such as AI. That same year, she was honored as a finalist for the Women in Technology Awards presented by the Technology Council of Central Pennsylvania. She now mentors college students in the Women in Technology program and volunteers to help Hershey residents who are facing food insecurity.
Maj. Gen. Levon E. Cumpton
Growing up on a farm in Ballard, Missouri, Maj. Gen. Levon E. Cumpton learned early in life the value of hard work and commitment to family. These qualities have served him well in service to his country, currently as adjutant general of the Missouri National Guard. In 1990, Cumpton graduated from Wentworth Military Academy in Lexington, Missouri, with an associate degree as a commissioned second lieutenant in the academy’s Reserve Officer Training Corps program. He came to UCM the same year to study Conservation Enforcement and earned his bachelor’s degree in 1992. At that time, Cumpton met his wife, Linda, and began a career in the military as an infantry officer serving in Germany and Fort Campbell, Kentucky. He went on to earn a Master of Strategic Studies from the Air War College at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama.
After holding numerous leadership positions at the state level, he was appointed to his current post by Missouri Gov. Mike Parson in 2019, providing command and control for more than 12,000 soldiers in the Missouri National Guard. Cumpton has the responsibility of ensuring that these troops are trained and equipped with the resources they need for dual missions in service to the state and nation. A highly decorated military officer who has served in numerous commander and key staff positions, he has been deployed on multiple operational tours, including peacekeeping missions in Kosovo and the former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia, stability missions in Bosnia, a combat tour to support Operation Iraqi Freedom, and numerous declared state emergencies.
Inspired by a great aunt who ignited his interest in finance at an early age, Bill Keen is a financial service veteran of more than 30 years. A man of many talents, he is CEO of Keen Wealth Advisors, a national fiduciary investment management and retirement planning firm, as well as an Amazon best-selling author. He is also a volunteer pilot and board member for Angel Flight Central, a nonprofit organization that assists individuals in need with flights for health care and humanitarian purposes.
After graduating from UCM with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration in 1991, Keen joined Twentieth Century Investors (now American Century Investments), a prominent mutual fund firm in Kansas City. In pursuit of his passion to directly advise clients on their planning and investing, he landed a job with the local Dean Witter office. He completed an extensive training program at the firm’s headquarters at the South Tower of the World Trade Center in New York before returning to Kansas City to begin building his practice. He spent about 20 years at several Wall Street firms before founding Keen Wealth Advisors in 2014 with the mission of helping people transition from working to realizing their retirement dreams.
An advocate for the value of financial literacy, he co-hosts Keen Wealth Advisors’ long-running podcast, “Keen on Retirement.” As a subject matter expert and thought leader in the financial industry, Keen has lectured for the University of Missouri Bloch School of Business graduate program and for multiple corporations in the Kansas City area.
To learn more about the 2023 Homecoming celebration, please visit the UCM Alumni Foundation website or the Office of Student Activities’ webpages. Individuals who have questions about athletics tickets can email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 660-543-4063. Also visit the athletics tickets website obtain tickets online.