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DASNR Honors 2015


2015 Honorees

The Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources at Oklahoma State University recently selected Distinguished Alumni and DASNR Champions award winners.

The division’s reputation and influence depends greatly upon the achievements and excellence of its alumni, as well as other leaders who are not alums of the college, but contribute to its mission.

“These individuals are examples of sustained excellence in their industries and are testaments to the impact our graduates and friends have in their career fields and in their communities,” said Tom Coon, vice president, dean and director of DASNR. "We had a wonderful evening and it was such an honor to be able to acknowledge these fine stewards of the division. Without the support of both alumni and non-alumni, we wouldn’t be able to accomplish the great things we have and will continue to do far into the future.”


2015 CASNR Distinguished Alumni




Animal Science, 1953

Hydro, Oklahoma, native Minnie Lou Bradley, now of Memphis, Texas, earned her degree in 1953 after becoming the first woman to enroll in animal husbandry at Oklahoma Agricultural & Mechanical College.

It was her achievements as a member of the livestock judging team at OAMC that launched her into a path of success. She won the Top Beef Cattle Collegiate Judge title at the 1952 American Royal livestock judging competition in Kansas City, Missouri, and was first in sheep judging, second in horse judging and top overall collegiate judge at the Chicago International competition in 1952.

Starting with 20 cows and 3,300 acres, Bradley and her husband, Bill, started the Bradley 3 Ranch near Childress, Texas. Bradley and her daughter and son-in-law, Mary Lou and James Henderson, operate the ranch, which is one of the nation’s most envied seedstock and commercial Angus operations. The ranch runs about 400 registered Angus cows on a 10,000-acre spread.

She was named a Graduate of Distinction from the OSU Department of Animal Science in 1988 and presented the Master Breeder Award from the department in 2010. Bradley was listed in Beef Magazine in both 2004 and 2014 as one of the Top 40 Cattlemen. In 2014, she was inducted into the Saddle & Sirloin Portrait Gallery, a collection of portraits of distinguished livestock industry leaders. Only one person is honored each year.

Bradley has spent a lifetime working to create profitable bulls for commercial producers and quality end products for consumers.




Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, 1981 & 1986

James Kennamer of Raleigh, North Carolina, graduated from OSU with a bachelor’s degree and Ph.D. in biochemistry in 1981 and 1986, respectively.

Kennamer was widely recruited by some of the world’s most prestigious companies after completing his doctoral degree, and he has held titles like chemist, research investigator, manager and director during his career.

Kennamer’s professional efforts supported the development of the ACCU-CHEK, a blood glucose test, which is used by diabetics around the world to monitor glucose levels. He also helped develop CoaguCheck, which is utilized to monitor warfarin therapy and reduce the number of life threatening events and improve the quality of life in patients receiving this therapy.

Since 2007, Kennamer has been vice president of manufacturing for Talecris Biotherapeutics/Grifols Therapeutics in Clayton, North Carolina.

Kennamer directs the activities of approximately 800 manufacturing employees engaged in the production, process support and technical transfer of new products into commercial manufacturing.

He is a member of the Parenteral Drug Association, the North Carolina Biotechnology Manufacturer’s Forum and serves on the board of the North Carolina State University Biotechnology Training and Education Center Advisory Board.

He credits much of his professional success to the educational experience he had at OSU, but it was a personal experience he had there that got his life started. Kennamer proposed to his wife, Susan, on the steps of historic Old Central.





Agricultural Education, 1961

Plant and Soil Sciences, 1963

Robert Westerman of Stillwater, Oklahoma, received his bachelor’s degree in agricultural education in 1961 and a master’s degree in plant and soil sciences in 1963. He joined the United States Army, where he was a helicopter pilot, before attending and graduating from the University of Illinois in 1969 with a Ph.D. in soil fertility.

After seven years on the faculty at the University of Arizona, Westerman joined OSU as an associate professor of soil fertility and plant nutrition. He quickly climbed the ranks in the OSU Department of Agronomy, now known as Plant and Soil Sciences, teaching graduate and undergraduate courses related to soil-plant relationships. He was named a Regents Professor and served as department head before serving as assistant director and interim associate director of the Oklahoma Agricultural Experiment Station. His final role before retiring in 2013 was as assistant vice president for agricultural programs within DASNR administration.

Westerman has a lengthy list of research accomplishments, many connected to his efforts on the development of practices to improve nitrogen use efficiency in crop production. He was a major advisor to more than 40 graduate students, has written more than 50 peer reviewed journal articles, nine book chapters and a book of his own.

He is a Fellow in the American Society of Agronomy and a Fellow and recipient of the Agronomic Achievement Award in the Soil Science Society of America.

Westerman, whose career has encompassed all three aspects of the land-grant mission of teaching, research and Extension, spent 40 years as a student and faculty member with the Cowboys.




2015 DASNR Champions



Char-Lin Ranch

Linda Cline and her late husband, Charlie, moved to Cushing, Oklahoma, in 1967, and in 1985 purchased acreage on which they planned to retire. They started with 17 horses and established the Char-Lin Ranch, which today is a renowned producer of registered quarter horses and Angus cattle and has more than 300 horses and 2,500 cattle.

Their show horse operation earned more than 200 World and Reserve World Championships before downsizing. C.L. Buckley, their first buckskin colt, became a legend in the halter-horse industry, siring more World Champions in the buckskin associations than any other stallion in the registry.

Cline recently contributed funding for the Charles and Linda Cline Equine Teaching Center at OSU. The new facility will include a teaching barn with stalls for foaling mares, an indoor arena, classrooms, feed and tack rooms, a wash rack and treatment area.

With a deep-rooted passion for students and giving them an opportunity to succeed, Cline is hopeful the center will make it possible for every student to take the equine classes they desire. Her vision for the center is more than just a facility. The center is for the students and will allow OSU faculty and staff to better prepare them for a lifetime in the equine industry.

While neither Cline attended OSU, they have credited much of their success to the faculty’s willingness to visit the ranch, work with the family and teach them about the horse business. They became passionate for the university where their daughter, Amy, earned a journalism degree. Their son, Cary, has two daughters who are current students at OSU.






Sparks Companies, Inc.

In 1977, Rita Sparks of Memphis, Tennessee, and her late husband, Willard, built Sparks Companies, Inc., which provides risk management tools to agribusinesses and farmers. The worldwide company is a leading agricultural research and consulting business, focusing on grains, cotton and livestock.

The Sparks’ focused on commodity merchandise while operating one of the largest cattle operations in the nation. Today, Sparks Companies, Inc., continues to impact agriculture around the United States and beyond.

After Willard’s passing in 2005, Rita formed her own investment company, Sparks Enterprises, Inc.

The Sparks have invested in a number of OSU and DASNR endeavors, such as establishing scholarships for agriculture students, endowing a chair in agricultural economics and serving as donors and fundraisers for the Willard Sparks Beef Research Center.

The center is one of the most modern facilities in the country for research on shipping stressed calves and feedlot cattle. The goals of the center are to improve production efficiency in cattle, have a positive effect on beef quality and have a positive economic effect on all farmers and ranchers.

Sparks exemplifies the power of women’s leadership and philanthropy. In 2010, she received both the University of Memphis Distinguished Friend Award and the Tennessee Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Philanthropy for her support of higher education. She was the Memphis recipient of the 1999 Outstanding Volunteer Fund Raiser from the National Society for Fund Raising Executives and a member of the 1996 Leadership Memphis class. Sparks has been a licensed commodity broker since 1980.





Chef’s Requested Foods, Inc.

John Williams of Edmond, Oklahoma, launched Chef’s Requested Foods in 1979 in Oklahoma City. The company is for meat-focused food service clients with center-of-the-plate products and retail premium meat products. Today, as president, he employs nearly 200 Oklahomans, selling more than a million pounds of value-added meat/food products each year to local, regional and national retail outlets and through major food service distributors.

Williams is a North Dakota native and North Dakota State University graduate. He began his professional career as a marketing research analyst at the Hormel Food Company in Austin, Minnesota, for Dinty Moore products, SPAM products, Hormel Chili and others.

Williams was a member of the Industry Advisory Committee of the Robert M. Kerr Food and Agricultural Products Center from 2006 to 2015. He chaired the very active subcommittee on food safety that was responsible for the development and successful launch of the food safety option in the food science curriculum at OSU.

Williams has been instrumental in assisting FAPC create the Global Food Safety Initiative food safety program, allowing FAPC to proactively assist food processors across the state.

He has served as the president, treasurer and a board member of the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma. Williams is a member of the Central Oklahoma Manufacturer’s Association and a founding member and past president of the Made in Oklahoma Coalition.

Aside from his involvement and leadership with FAPC, he has been a key supporter of the department of animal science, having been a crucial donor of meat for the annual Animal Science Banquet for several years.




The awards were presented to the winners during the inaugural DASNR Honors night, Oct. 16 at the Wes Watkins Center in Stillwater.