WKU inducts newest members into Hall of Distinguished Alumni

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – The 2019 class of the Western Kentucky University Hall of Distinguished Alumni was inducted on Friday at Sloan Convention Center as part of Homecoming Week on the Hill.

J. Scott Applewhite, Dr. Shirley B. Gray and Dr. Dixie E. Snider Jr. are the three newest members of the hall, joining the other 105 individuals previously inducted and honored for their careers.

Each inductee has had a successful career in their own fields, and their accomplishments are listed below:

J. Scott Applewhite
 is a Pulitzer Prize-winning senior photojournalist with The Associated Press in Washington, D.C.

For nearly four decades, his primary beat has been the White House, where he has photographed the last seven U.S. Presidents, including Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump.

During these years, Applewhite has had a front-row seat to history in the making, documenting campaigns, scandals, and public and private moments that personify the presidency. He’s also covered conflicts overseas in the Middle East, the Balkans, Panama, Haiti, Africa and Somalia to document war, invasions, terror and anguish. His expertise at getting into and filing from some of the world’s most difficult datelines made him one of AP’s busiest frontline photojournalists. Most recently, Applewhite has focused on Congress and the struggles within that divided and diverse body.

Applewhite’s photographs from the 1992 presidential campaigns helped the AP earn a Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography in 1993. That same year, his coverage of the Somalia tragedy merited the Pulitzer Honored Finalist citation. In 1999, he was honored with his second Pulitzer Prize in Feature Photography for his poignant images that documented President Clinton’s impeachment crisis. Noting a career of excellence and initiative, The AP singled out Applewhite for its prestigious Gramling Spirit Award. He was also honored as the recipient of the White House News Photographers Association Lifetime Achievement Award in 2017.

A native of Louisville and Elizabethtown, Ky., Applewhite’s passion for news was sparked as a journalism student at WKU where he received the 2011 Award for Outstanding Contributions to Journalism. WKU had no formal photojournalism program in the early-1970s, but with mentoring and inspiration from friends at the College Heights Herald, he quickly learned the skills to become a features photographer for the newspaper and yearbook. He credits the engaging and nurturing environment of The Herald and WKU for his success.

With a boost from the College Heights Herald, he earned an internship with the Louisville Courier-Journal, which led to posts at The Gleaner in Henderson, Ky., the Palm Beach Post and Miami Herald in Florida, and to the AP.

On Capitol Hill, he serves as Chairman of the Senate Press Photographers Gallery and serves on the board of The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. Beyond his daily work for The Associated Press, Applewhite is enthusiastic about sharing his experience with young journalists through mentoring programs and professional associations.

Dr. Shirley B. Gray (’57)
 is an award-winning teacher, researcher and mathematician.

A Professor of Mathematics at California State University, Los Angeles, Dr. Gray received the 2016 Outstanding Teacher of the Year Award from the Southern California-Nevada section of the Mathematical Association of America. She and her research team have been featured in Notices of the American Mathematical Society, one of the highest-impact journals in the world, for their work on the Method of Archimedes. In a quest to image the footprint of Archimedes, Dr. Gray found original mathematics neither identified nor published for 2,200 years. This collaboration united the mathematics, computer science and engineering skills of faculty, students and industry representatives—serving as a springboard for research projects that combined all three academic areas to strengthen STEM education.

Dr. Gray and her collaborators were the first on their campus to publish 3-D printer models based on mathematics. After an extensive search of literature, they were also among the first to identify a unique mathematical curve. After 27 years on the faculty at Cal State, she continues to produce nationally and internationally recognized scholarly work in the National Curve Bank Project initiated by the National Science Foundation and continued by the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation.

She has implemented hands-on learning activities in partnership with the Huntington Library, one of the country’s greatest treasures, that has received national recognition and been a model for other universities. Under Dr. Gray’s leadership, countless students from first-generation, underrepresented or historically underserved student populations have had the opportunity to visit the Library to view rare mathematics written by gender and ethnically diverse individuals. Many of these former students now enjoy successful careers at Disney, NASA, JPL, Silicon Beach startups and academia.

In addition to her scholarly achievements, Dr. Gray also led a 20-year effort to encourage the both Vatican and the government of Italy to recognize Maria Gaetana Agnesi by issuing postage stamps in her honor. Agnesi’s two-volume calculus is the first known surviving book of mathematics written by a woman. Dr. Gray’s campaign, joined by at least 300 students and several dozen colleagues in the U.S. and Europe, resulted in the Vatican and the government of Italy honoring Agnesi this past year by issuing a stamp on the 300th anniversary of her birth.

A native of Beaver Dam, Ky., Dr. Gray makes her home in Pasadena, Calif., with her husband, Dr. Harry B. Gray (’57), a member of the 1995 Class of WKU’s Hall of Distinguished Alumni.

Retired Rear Admiral Dixie E. Snider Jr., M.D., M.P.H. (’65)
, former Chief Science Officer, Office of the Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has had a profound effect upon public health in the United States.

After earning a B.S. in Chemistry from WKU, he attended the University of Louisville School of Medicine graduating with highest honors.  He had additional training at Washington University and at Vanderbilt University and became board-certified in internal medicine and in allergy and clinical immunology.  In 1984, he received a Master of Public Health from Emory University.

Dr. Snider began working for the CDC in 1973 as a Tuberculosis Medical Officer at the Oklahoma Department of Health. Although public health had not been his initial career choice, he fell in love with the idea of improving the health of a population as opposed to treating one person at a time. In 1975 he was appointed Chief of the Research and Development Branch of the Division of Tuberculosis (TB) Control, followed by an appointment as Director of the TB Division in 1985 and as chief scientist for the Office of the Director in 1993 until his retirement in 2006.  He was a full-time consultant to CDC until 2013.

As chief scientist, Dr. Snider was the Executive Secretary for the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, which set national immunization policy.  He also oversaw vaccine safety monitoring, protecting human research subjects, assuring proper care and use of animals and technology transfer at CDC and helped set national policy in these areas.  In 1998, he led a CDC working group through negotiations with the Food and Drug Administration to fortify cereal grains with folic acid which has prevented thousands of neural tube birth defects. He also created a permanent CDC Ethics Committee to enhance organizational integrity. Dr. Snider frequently represented the CDC in Washington, D.C. and at the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland.  He played a key role in arranging the 1997 Presidential apology for the Tuskegee Syphilis Study.

Dr. Snider received many career awards including the Department of Health and Human Service Secretary’s Distinguished Service Award. In 2007, he received the Distinguished Achievement Award from Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University. In 2008, he was named an Alumni Fellow by the University of Louisville School of Medicine and, in 2009, he was inducted into the University of Kentucky Public Health Hall of Fame.

Dr. Snider lives in Decatur, Ga., with his wife, Fran.