Honoring Distinguished Alumni

By Damon Markiewicz | Fall/Winter 2024

At left, Distinguished Alumnus Award, William Plunkett ’65, PhD; Jay Curtis ‘03, representing Young Alumna Award recipient Kelly Curtis ’12; Distinguished Alumna Award, Valli Meeks ’77, DDS; and Hall of Alumni of Color Achievers Inductee Stanley Battle ’73, PhD.

As part of Homecoming Weekend, the Office of Alumni Relations hosted its annual Alumni Awards Ceremony and Reception on Saturday, Oct. 21. As part of this year’s ceremony, the following individuals were recognized during the festivities: Distinguished Alumna Award, Valli Meeks ’77, DDS; Distinguished Alumnus Award, William Plunkett ’65, PhD; Young Alumna Award, Kelly Curtis ’12; and Hall of Alumni of Color Achievers Inductee, Stanley Battle ’73, PhD.

The ideals of leadership and service to others fostered and instilled in Valli Meeks by Springfield College became innate and a part of her professional growth as an oral healthcare provider and educator for more than thirty years. She recently retired after thirty-four years of service to the University of Maryland School of Dentistry. In 1989, Meeks founded the PLUS Clinic, the first clinic in Maryland dedicated to providing dental treatment to patients living with HIV/AIDS. Since then, she has worked tirelessly to serve those patients and to inspire her students with a deep understanding of the importance of compassionate and inclusive care. About 650 patients each year receive treatment at UMSOD’s PLUS Clinic, and almost ninety-eight percent of them receive care at no cost due to Meeks’ efforts.

For almost five decades, William Plunkett has been a member of the research faculty at MD Anderson Cancer Center conceptualizing new therapeutic approaches and collaborating with his clinical colleagues to develop new therapies for patients in clinics around the world. His laboratory research has contributed to the facilitation and the clinical translation of new drugs for cancer therapy. It was the baseline of experience he gained while at Springfield College, studying biology, learning human physiology, and learning the foundations of genetics, all centered around our Humanics philosophy, that opened his eyes to a professional route that has allowed him to remain committed to helping others in his career.

As a student-athlete on Alden Street, Kelly Curtis had a decorated career as a member of the women’s track and field team. She used her accomplishments at Springfield College as a springboard for her career as a U.S. Olympic athlete. Curtis competed for Team USA at the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing as a member of the skeleton team. In 2020, Curtis enlisted in the U.S. Air Force World-Class Athlete Program, designed to offer prospective and current airmen a path to a military career while being nationally ranked in their sport. She is currently a member of the U.S. Air Force, SrA, working as a knowledge management technician. Springfield College runs deep in her family roots, as her father, John Curtis ’71, G’73, and her brother, Jay Curtis ’03, are also proud graduates.

Early on in his academic journey, Stanley Battle set a goal of climbing the educational ladder, not for status, but instead his mindset was to reach a position of authority so he could help others. With that mission, it was only fitting that the Springfield native started that journey as a student on Alden Street. Since graduating from Springfield College, Battle’s successful career in higher education spanned over four decades. Most recently, he has served as the founding director of the master’s degree in Social Work program at the University of Saint Joseph in West Hartford, Connecticut. Battle’s experience in higher education administration is extensive. He has served as interim president of Southern Connecticut State University; chancellor of North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University in Greensboro, North Carolina; and president of Coppin State University in Baltimore, Maryland. Battle also held administrative and faculty positions at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Eastern Connecticut State University, University of Connecticut,  Boston University, and University of Minnesota. End of article

Full bios of the 2023 Alumni Awards Recipients can be viewed at springfield.edu/news/2023-springfield-college-alumni-awards-recipients