CAPE GIRARDEAU - A Sikeston resident is among six alumni and a faculty member at Southeast Missouri State University selected to receive the annual Merit Awards presented by the University's Alumni Association.
Bill M. Burch will receive the School of Polytechnic Studies Alumni Merit Award during Homecoming festivities Oct. 18. The Merit Award Dinner is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. in the Show Me Center.
Alumni Merit Awards are presented by each of Southeast's academic colleges and schools to honor distinguished alumni. The awards have been given since 1958 to graduates of Southeast who have brought distinction to themselves and to the University.
The Faculty Merit Award is presented for excellence and distinction in teaching.
Burch entered the field of agriculture in 1953, when he rented 80 acres of land during his senior year of high school to generate income for his college expenses. He received a bachelor's degree in agriculture from Southeast Missouri State University in 1957.
Currently, he is the chief executive officer and owner of Burch Food Services in Sikeston. Before owning Burch Food Services, he served as office manager and agricultural loan officer for Production Credit Association in Sikeston.; was vice president of Coca-Cola Bottling Co., in Sikeston, Cairo, Ill., and Carbondale, Ill.; and was manager of Dale Vendor in Sikeston.
Burch also has served in several areas of community service, including mayor and city councilman for the city of Sikeston; president and rodeo chairman for the Sikeston Junior Chamber of Commerce; regional vice president and national director of the United States Junior Chamber of Commerce; emeritus member and board of directors member of the Southeast Missouri State University Foundation; treasurer of the Missouri Development Finance Board; county chairman of the Scott County Democratic Central Committee; president of the Lion's Club in Sikeston; board of director member of the Cerebral Palsy Center in Sikeston; and board of director member of the Missouri Delta Hospital Foundation in Sikeston.
Recipients of this year's Alumni Merit Awards and the college or school presenting the awards in addition to Burch are: Dr. Melvin C. Kasten of Cape Girardeau, College of Science and Mathematics; Ellen Gunter McDowell of Lees Summit, College of Health and Human Services; Robert J. Rauscher of Hobson, Mont., Donald L. Harrison College of Business; Donald G. Revelle of Wesley Chapel, Fla., College of Liberal Arts; and Linda M. Wells of Phoenix, Ariz., College of Education.
This year's recipient of the Faculty Merit Award is Dr. Walt W. Lilly, a professor in Southeast's Department of Biology.