The Arkansas State University Alumni Association has announced the recipients of its Distinguished Alumni Awards for 2019, which will be presented during homecoming Oct. 26. Alec Farmer, Tommy Fowler and Don Harmon, all of Jonesboro, are this year’s honorees.
“Each of these alumni has attained an outstanding record of professional and civic achievements, as well as giving extraordinary support to their alma mater,” Dr. Dale Morris of Forrest City, president of the Alumni Association said.
This is the 36th year the association has recognized the university’s most distinguished alumni. Among a weekend of special activities, a halftime ceremony recognizing this year’s honorees is scheduled for the Red Wolves’ homecoming game with Texas State.
“Since 1984, the Alumni Association’s board of directors has annually selected three award recipients from among the nominations submitted by friends and associates,” Morris added. “Congratulations to Alec, Tommy and Don for their selection, based on their excellent records of service, professional achievement and loyalty to Arkansas State University.”
Here are some highlights about each of this year’s award recipients:
Alec Farmer is president of Farmer Enterprises, Inc., a family-owned farm and property investment and management company. Gov. Asa Hutchinson appointed Farmer to a 10-year term on the Arkansas State Highway Commission in 2015.
Farmer was in the student government association and president of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity chapter. As a young alumnus, he served on the boards of the Alumni Association and the then-Central Arkansas Indian Club, while completing his juris doctor degree at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. In 2015, he endowed the Dalton A. Farmer Family Scholarship at A-State in memory of his father, an A-State alum who also served on the Highway Commission.
Farmer’s civic involvement includes serving as chair of the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission, a special member of the Arkansas State Police Commission, and an original member of the Arkansas Agricultural Board. Locally, he is on the Craighead Conservation District and Buffalo Island Drainage Districts boards. Earlier this year, he was inducted into the Arkansas Association of Conservation Districts Conservation Hall of Fame.
Judge Tommy Fowler was elected state district judge for the 19th Judicial District, composed of Craighead County, in 2016. His previous experience includes serving as circuit judge in the Second Judicial District, a special associate justice for the Arkansas Supreme Court, more than two decades in private practice, and serving as deputy prosecutor for 15 of those years.
After completing his bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree at ASU, where he won the R.E. Lee Wilson Citizenship Award as most outstanding graduating student, he earned his juris doctor degree at the University of Arkansas School of Law.
Fowler is a dedicated member of numerous professional committees, including the Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission and the Arkansas Supreme Court Strategic Planning Committee. He also presides over the Craighead County Sobriety Court on a volunteer basis.
He was recognized in 2017 as a Visionary Arkansan because of judicial reforms he implemented in District Court. With extensive training on domestic violence issues, he frequently addresses judicial, law enforcement and citizen groups on recognizing and responding to domestic violence matters.
He recently retired from his position as director of the American Legion Arkansas Boys State program after 31 years of service. He still serves on the Delta Symphony Orchestra board of directors.
After a business career of more than 30 years, Don Harmon retired in 2016 as CEO and president of Home Décor Holding Co., the success of which has been credited to his leadership. The company had grown to more than 300 employees and $250 million in annual sales. With a business degree, he had joined Jimco Lamp Corp. as salesman, working his way up to president.
Home Décor was formed in 2005 with three entities, including Jimco. As CEO, he led an expansion into five companies under the Home Décor Co. umbrella, providing its various product lines to Walmart, Target, Lowes and other major retailers.
Harmon always sought top-quality employees, so he often hired ASU alumni, serving as mentor, leader and friend as he helped numerous individuals build their own successful careers.
Harmon has chaired and volunteered for numerous civic and charitable causes. Rotarian of the Year in 1987, he is a past president of Jonesboro Jaycees, member of the St. Jude S’travaganza Planning Committee, Neil Griffin College of Business Executive of the Year in 2008, and past president, now member, of the A-State Chancellor’s Cabinet.