The University of Nebraska at Kearney Alumni Association awards will be presented to six individuals during Homecoming ceremonies the weekend of October 12-13. Distinguished Alumni Awards will go to Joyce Focken Blackwell of St. Louis, Missouri, Lori Goa McClurg of Lincoln, Dennis Nelson of Kearney and Larry Schulte of New York City, New York. The Distinguished Alumni Service Award will go to Jim and Betty Jo Gillespie Armagost of Kearney.

Joyce Focken Blackwell of the Class of 1979 is director of customer satisfaction, IBM Americas and IBM St. Louis senior location executive. She has been with IBM since 1980 and has been a leader in management, consulting, sales, project management, systems programming and application development. As IBM worldwide customer satisfaction strategist, Blackwell has integrated the company’s business unit customer satisfaction strategies. She was named one of the 25 Most Influential Business Women in St. Louis earlier this year.

Blackwell graduated cum laude in three years with a major in computer science. Blackwell also earned a MBA from the University of Missouri, St. Louis, with an emphasis in finance. As a student, the Douglas High School graduate, played with the concert band and the pep band and was an officer of the Association for Computing Machinery.

Lori Goa McClurg of the Class of 1982 is director of the Department of Administrative Services (DAS) for the State of Nebraska. She is responsible for 12 divisions, personnel and benefits that includes accounting, information services, building maintenance and renewal, employee relations, risk management, purchasing, communications and fleet services. Prior to working at the State of Nebraska, McClurg served as Gov. Mike Johanns’ aide when he was mayor of Lincoln. The Grand Island native earned a double major in business administration and organizational communications. In 1992, she received her MBA from UNL. She is a graduate of Leadership Lincoln. She serves as a NU Foundation trustee and is a member of the Lincoln Public Schools Foundation. As a student she was a member of Gamma Phi Beta sorority and served as secretary of Student Senate for two years.

Dennis Nelson of the Class of 1973 is president and chief executive officer of The Buckle in Kearney. Nelson started his career with The Buckle as a part-time salesman while he was a student in college. After graduating, he became a full-time employee of the company and has worked in all phases of the company’s operation since then. In 1991, Nelson was elected president and chief operating office. He was elected chief executive officer in 1997.

In 1998, Nelson received the Distinguished Business Leadership Award by the UNL College of Business Administration. The Axtell High School graduate was a member of the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity as a student.

Dr. Larry Schulte earned his first degree in math in 1970. He was a high school teacher and coach before embarking on a career in art. He earned another bachelor’s degree in art in 1976, then a master’s degree in art in 1978. In 1983, Dr. Schulte earned a Ph.D. from the University of Kansas.

Now an artist in New York City, Dr. Schulte’s involvement in art runs deep. He has exhibited in California, Connecticut, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington D.C. and Wisconsin. He was an art instructor at the Parsons School of Design in New York City and an artist resident at the Ragdale Foundation in Lake Forest, Illinois.

As a student, Dr. Schulte was a member of the art, math and education honoraries. He performed with the Chamber Singers and in theater productions. He and his family have strong ties to the university. He has nine brothers and sisters and eight of the 10 graduated from UNK.

Jim and Betty Jo Gillespie Armagost have been providing service to the university since graduating in the 1960s. Jim is a 1965 graduate who also earned a master’s degree in 1967. Betty Jo graduated in 1967.

Jim, a certified financial planner, has served as a leader of the Loper Athletic Club, worked closely with the track program as a starter in many meets and has helped organize a group that serves as officials at track meets. The David City native has served on the Alumni Association board of directors and serves on the Foster Field renovation committee.

Betty Jo is a licensed securities representative. She was president of the Alumni Association in 1993-94. The Kearney High graduate has served in a number of alumni positions for Gamma Phi Beta sorority, including recruitment adviser, chapter adviser and on the national awards committee. In 2000, she was the national Chapter Adviser of the Year. She has served on the university strategic planning committee and has been a track meet official for many years.

When the Armagosts lived in McCook, they were hosts to alumni events and served on the Admissions Office Blue and Gold Team that assisted in recruiting students from the area.

As students, Jim was a member of Theta Xi fraternity, Student Activities Council and K-Club. He was a four-year letterman in track. Betty Jo was a member of Gamma Phi Beta and Student Council.

The Homecoming banquet will be held at the Kearney Holiday Inn, Friday, October 12, with a reception beginning at 6 p.m. and the banquet at 7 p.m. Tickets are $17.50 for adults and $8.50 for children under 10. They are available by contacting the Alumni Office at 308-865-8474 or email at