Three alumni of Pittsburg State University accepted “Meritorious Achievement Awards” on Friday, April 15. The awards were presented by PSU Alumni & Constituent Relations.
The chief executive officer of a highly successful home building company, a longtime leader in health, safety and environment management, and an award-winning superintendent of one of the country’s largest school districts have been chosen by Pittsburg State University Alumni & Constituent Relations as recipients of the Meritorious Achievement Award.
The alumni are Scott Bailey of Palm Desert, California, Joseph Harris, of Carl Junction, Missouri and Michael Robbinson, of Lenexa, Kansas.
Bailey, who grew up in Kansas, graduated from PSU with a bachelor’s degree in education in 1988 and a master’s in education in 1990.
Having completed 32 years in education, he has served as the superintendent of schools for Desert Sands Unified School District since 2017, overseeing a $400 million budget, 27,000 students, 2,800 employees, and 34 schools. In 2018, he had the opportunity to dedicate a new, $31 million elementary school, and facilitated bond sales of more than $150 million to support multiple school modernization projects.
His district has earned the District of Distinction Award by District Administration Magazine. He also oversaw an LTE network build project that created equity and access to students regardless of their socioeconomic status, resulting in all 28,000 students now having broadband connectivity through district-issued devices.
He annually funds two student scholarships at PSU, and one scholarship for a high school FFA officer in his school district in honor of his late father, a former high school FFA president in Kansas.
Harris graduated from PSU with a bachelor’s degree in business administration in 1995 and a master’s degree in business administration in 1996.
He went on to become a highly sought-after leader in the world of business, particularly mergers and acquisitions, before becoming owner and then CEO of Schuber-Mitchell Homes in Southwest Missouri.
His career includes having worked for Koch Industries in Wichita, Sprint in Kansas City, and Leggett & Platt, where he spent 17 years first as an analyst, then an assistant director of Mergers, Acquisitions, and Strategic Planning. In 2005, he was promoted to director of Business Development, overseeing new product lines, new technologies, and geographic expansion here and abroad.
In 2005, while still at Leggett & Platt, he and his wife, Danica, formed Harris Homes to provide quality and affordable single-family homes to families in Carl Junction, Joplin, and Webb City. In 2015, he purchased a third of Schuber Mitchell Homes and became a member of the company’s leadership team.
Today, he serves as chief executive officer and is a member of the board. It has grown to have a presence in 17 cities in Southwest Missouri and Northwest Arkansas. The company is on track to build about 800 homes this year, making it one of the top 100 home builders in the U.S.
Harris, whose family also are PSU alumni, serves on the Kelce College of Business Advisory Board and is a supporter of Campus Christians.
Robbinson graduated from PSU in 1978 with a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies from the Department of Biology, and in 1983 with a master’s degree in biology.
For more than 25 years, he worked with major manufacturing companies in the aerospace and defense industries, where he developed and maintained environmental and safety compliance and best practices. He served as vice president of Health, Safety, and Environment for Honeywell International, and as corporate vice president of Environment, Safety, and Health for Alliant Techsystems, Inc.
He spent the final eight years of his career with Jones Lang LaSalle, a $16 billion global facilities management and commercial real estate company with 88,000 employees, where he developed best environmental & safety practices, performance metrics, and tools across multiple facilities, as well as compliance with regulatory requirements.
When retiring from JLL, he earned the Lifetime Achievement Award for Safety. He is a member of the PSU Heritage Society, and he and his wife, Carol, are legacy members of The Nature Conservancy.
Robbinson has been a leader in many professional societies and organizations and has been a sought-after speaker. He was chosen as one of two global experts to conduct a management systems audit in Dubai, U.A.E., of the Burj Khalifa Tower — the tallest building in the world — and the Dubai Mall — the largest mall in the world.
He still has found time to volunteer, including with a stormwater runoff prevention program in his hometown, and at PSU’s Sperry Herbarium assisting Professor Neil Snow in the processing of collected plant specimens.