Auburn Alumni Association names lifetime achievers

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The Auburn Alumni Association has named four recipients to receive its highest honor, the Lifetime Achievement Award, to be recognized March 3, 2018, at The Hotel at Auburn University and Dixon Conference Center.

The recipients are:

  • Charles Barkley ’86, NBA Hall-of-Famer, two-time Olympic gold medalist and three-time sports Emmy award winner;

  • Melanie Barstad ’75, former president of Women’s Health Initiatives for the Medical Devices and Diagnostics sector of Johnson & Johnson;

  • Charles Gavin III ’59, founder and former CEO of major textile polymer and surfactant supplier MFG Chemical and 2016 inductee to the State of Alabama Engineering Hall of Fame;

  • Keith King ’58, former CEO of Volkert Inc. and a 2002 inductee to the State of Alabama Engineering Hall of Fame. 

Dr. Erica Stringer-Reasor ’04, a hematology and oncology faculty member at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine since 2015, will receive the Young Alumni Achievement Award, which recognizes extraordinary accomplishments by members of the Auburn Family age 40 and under.

Charles Barkley ’86, a health and physical education major, established himself during three years playing basketball for Auburn as one of the most dominant players in the sport. Taken fifth overall by the Philadelphia 76ers in the 1984 NBA draft, Barkley quickly emerged as one of the league’s most exciting players in the league to watch. Barkley joined the Phoenix Suns in 1992, the same year he won a gold medal at the Barcelona Summer Olympics as part of the original USA “Dream Team.” He would earn another gold medal at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics before retiring from the NBA in 2000 with the Houston Rockets.

Voted one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA history, Barkley was the 1993 season MVP, an 11-time NBA All-Star, a five-time All-NBA First Team selection and one of only five players in NBA history with 23,000 points, 12,000 rebounds and 4,000 assists. Auburn University, the Philadelphia 76ers and the Phoenix Suns have all retired his No. 34 jersey.

In the years following his retirement, Barkley has co-hosted TNT’s “Inside the NBA,” earning sports Emmy awards in 2012, 2013 and 2017 for “Outstanding Sports Personality.” He has authored four books, amassed numerous film and television credits and is a household name thanks to his quick wit and outspoken personality. The Charles Barkley Foundation, founded in 1995, has provided endowed scholarships to Auburn, Alabama A&M, Morehouse College and Clark-Atlanta University.

He and his wife, Maureen, reside in Trussville.

Melanie Barstad ’75, a graduate in English, retired as president of Women’s Health Initiatives for the Medical Devices and Diagnostics sector of Johnson & Johnson in 2009 after a 23-year career with the company. Her responsibilities included defining growth, partnership and advocacy roles in the women’s health arena for the sector’s operating companies. In prior appointments, Barstad was president of Acute Care for Johnson & Johnson Health Care Systems Inc. as well as general manager and director of marketing for the vascular access area of Johnson & Johnson Ethicon Endo Surgery.

In 2006, Barstad was named co-chair of the Johnson & Johnson Women’s Leadership Initiative, which is dedicated to increasing the number of women in leadership positions across the corporation and developing their leadership competencies. Barstad is the former co-chair of the Coalition to Protect America’s Health Care and former board member of the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses Foundation, JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Committee and Muhlenberg Hospital.

Barstad was the founding president of the College of Liberal Arts’ Women’s Leadership Institute’s Advisory Council at Auburn University, has volunteered as a Blue and Gold Officer for the U.S. Naval Academy, is a member of the Dean’s Advisory Council for Liberal Arts and is a Life Member of the Auburn Alumni Association.

She lives with husband, Paul, in Westlake, Texas.

Charles E. Gavin III ’59, a graduate in textile management, spent most of his industry years with Columbus Carpet Mills, serving in several technical and managerial positions and rising to vice president of carpet manufacturing before founding MFG Chemical in 1980. The early years of MFG were dedicated to carpet dyeing surfactants before moving into chemicals for the oil service, water treatment, pulp and paper, mining and specialty surfactant industries serving a broad segment of the chemical industry’s top Fortune 100 and major international companies.

Among his other technical achievements, Gavin was the first to successfully develop acid-dyed filament carpet, which is now the industry standard. He retired from MFG Chemical in 2017 as chairman and CEO. He has also served as the past president of the American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists and treasurer of its foundation.

Gavin was named the 2003 Textile Engineering Alumnus of the Year, was the recipient of the 2014 Distinguished Auburn Engineer Award presented by the Auburn Alumni Engineering Council and was inducted into the Alabama Engineering Hall of Fame in 2016. He has been recognized for a strong history of philanthropy, providing scholarship support to Auburn University since the late 1960s, while also providing active scholarship programs at Georgia Tech, Clemson, North Carolina State, Vanderbilt and the University of Rhode Island. Gavin is a life member of the Auburn Alumni Association.

He and his wife, Marjorie, live in Wartrace, Tennessee.

Keith King ’58, a civil engineering graduate, joined Volkert Inc. as a project engineer in 1960 after being hired by Chairman David G. Volkert. As an accomplished professional engineer licensed in eight states, King obtained national recognition for many of the projects he has engineered and managed, such as the Interstate 10 Twin Bridges over Mobile Bay, which was named one of the Ten Outstanding Engineering Achievements of 1978 by the National Society of Professional Engineers. Keith served as president of Volkert from 1983 until 2007 and CEO until his retirement in 2012 after 52 years of service.

King worked hard to improve the areas of licensure, continuing professional development, ethical standards and professionalism through two terms as chairman of the Alabama Licensure Board for the Business Council of Alabama; as president of the Alabama Society of Professional Engineers; as vice president-southeast for the National Society of Professional Engineers; and as a fellow of the American Society of Civil Engineers and the National Society of Professional Engineers.

King was named a Distinguished Auburn Engineer by the Auburn Alumni Engineering Council in 1990 and was inducted into the State of Alabama Engineering Hall of Fame in 2002. King is a life member of the Auburn Alumni Association.

He and his wife, Julia, live in Mobile.

Dr. Erica Stringer-Reasor ’04, a graduate in biomedical sciences, completed an internal medicine internship at Tulane University and an internal medicine residency at Baptist Health System in Birmingham before receiving her board certification. Following certification, she completed two fellowships at the University of Chicago, one in hematology oncology and another in clinical pharmacology and pharmacogenomics.

In 2015, Stringer-Reasor became a hematology and oncology faculty member at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine with clinical interests in breast cancer, women’s health, developmental therapeutics and targeted therapeutics. She received the Young Doctor’s Summit Award at the 2012 International Gynecologic Cancer Society, the 2013 American Association of Cancer Research’s Minority Scholar in Cancer Research Award and the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s 2014 Young Investigator Award. Stringer-Reasor is an annual member of the Auburn Alumni Association.

She lives with her husband, Geno, in Birmingham.

Auburn University is a nationally ranked land grant institution recognized for its commitment to world-class scholarship, interdisciplinary research with an elite, top-tier Carnegie R1 classification, life-changing outreach with Carnegie’s Community Engagement designation and an undergraduate education experience second to none. Auburn is home to more than 30,000 students, and its faculty and research partners collaborate to develop and deliver meaningful scholarship, science and technology-based advancements that meet pressing regional, national and global needs. Auburn’s commitment to active student engagement, professional success and public/private partnership drives a growing reputation for outreach and extension that delivers broad economic, health and societal impact.