Kentucky: Council on Postsecondary Education

Council on Postsecondary Education
Outstanding alumni, faculty honored at Governor’s Conference on Postsecondary Education Trusteeship

Press Release Date:  Friday, September 13, 2013  
Contact Information:  Sue Patrick
Cell: 502-330-6596

The postsecondary education community honored five distinguished alumni and faculty at a luncheon held today during the 2013 Annual Governor’s Conference on Postsecondary Education Trusteeship. The awards followed luncheon remarks by Lt. Gov. Jerry Abramson.

Council President Bob King said, “Today we celebrate Kentucky’s outstanding alumni and faculty, two of our state’s greatest assets. We congratulate our alumni for achieving national stature in their chosen careers and our outstanding faculty for leading the way to greater excellence in teaching, service and innovation.”

Recipients of the Oak Award presented to outstanding alumni include:

  • Virginia Gaines Fox, 1961 graduate of Morehead State University and former executive director of Kentucky Educational Television and former secretary of the Kentucky Education Cabinet.
  • Dreama Gentry, 1989 Berea College graduate and executive director of Partners for Education at Berea College.
  • Thomas T. Hammond, 1967 University of Kentucky graduate and longtime NBC sportscaster.

The Acorn Award goes to outstanding faculty at Kentucky’s colleges and universities. Recipients include:

  • Dr. William J. Loftus, psychology professor, Big Sandy Community and Technical College.
  • Dr. Jeffrey P. Okeson, professor and chair, Department of Oral Health, University of Kentucky College of Dentistry.

The Oak and Acorn awards are sponsored by the Council on Postsecondary Education and Kentucky’s colleges and universities.

Faculty honorees are chosen based on recommendations by faculty and students, as well as self-written essays about their philosophy of teaching. Recipients receive a $5,000 honorarium.


Virginia Gaines Fox

Fox is the former secretary of the Education Cabinet and former executive director and chief executive officer of KET. She has served on the Board of Regents for Morehead State University and on the Council on Postsecondary Education.

Morehead State University President Wayne Andrews, who nominated Fox, described her as a “catalyst for positive change” throughout her career as an educator, visionary and public servant. She has received Lifetime Achievement Awards from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the GED Testing Service of the American Council on Education, as well as the Vic Hellard Jr. Award.

Dreama Gentry

A first-generation Berea College graduate from rural Appalachia, Gentry is executive director of Partners for Education at Berea College. She is also a volunteer coordinator for Project Meet Me Halfway, a mentoring and support service for former foster care children, and an advocate for several women’s organizations.

For almost 20 years, she has supported college access efforts in central Kentucky through her grant-writing efforts, including the recent $75 million GEARUP grant that support efforts to increase college attainment in low-income and rural communities. In 2011, Gentry was awarded the GEAR Up College Advocate of the Year award.

Thomas T. Hammond

Hammond is one of the most recognized sportscasters in the South and the nation. Known for his excellent play-by-play coverage, Hammond’s achievements include college and NBA basketball games, college and NFL games, thoroughbred horse racing and coverage of the Olympic Games.

Hammond was the recipient of the annual Outstanding Kentuckian Award, as well as several Emmy Awards. He is a member of the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame, the Kentucky Sports Hall of Fame, and has an award named after him: the Tom Hammond Lifetime Achievement Award in Sports Broadcasting, given by the Bluegrass Sports Commission. He is the grandson of Thomas Poe Cooper, a former dean of the College of Agriculture at the University of Kentucky, who also served a short stint as acting president.

Dr. William Loftus

Loftus, a psychology professor for more than 20 years at Big Sandy Community and Technical College (BSCTC), is a well-known campus mentor and the Phi Theta Kappa advisor. He has been the recipient of multiple BSCTC Great Teacher awards, the Phi Theta Kappa Mosal Award and was named the 2013 Phi Theta Kappa Kentucky Region Advisor of the Year. Loftus is an active member of the Faculty Council and was named one of the first Master Teacher award recipients. He also participated in the Collaborative for Teaching and Learning Implementation of the Content Literacy Model and conducts professional development workshops at the college for faculty and staff.

Dr. Jeffrey Okeson

Okeson is chair of the Department of Oral Health Science at the University of Kentucky College of Dentistry and director for the college’s post-graduate program in orofacial pain. A member of the faculty at UK for 39 years, Okeson has written more than 220 peer-reviewed articles, and is the author of two textbooks, which are in their seventh edition and are considered standard in most dental schools.

Okeson was awarded UK’s “Great Teacher Award,” the Distinguished Alumnus Award by the UK College of Dentistry, and the “International Dentist of the Year,” the highest award recognized by the International Academy.


We believe in the transformative power of postsecondary education. Stronger by Degrees, the new strategic agenda for Kentucky’s colleges and universities and adult basic education, is powering a stronger Kentucky economy and improving the lives of Kentuckians. To learn more about Stronger by Degrees, visit
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Last Updated 9/14/2013