COLUMBIA — Baskets of chrysanthemums and hundreds of gold, black and white balloons decorated the hall where the first three inductees into the Mizzou Homecoming Hall of Fame accepted their awards Friday.
About 230 people gathered in the Reynolds Alumni Center to honor the MU alumni: Dr. Linda Godwin, a former astronaut who teaches at MU; David Novak, the former executive chairman of Yum Brands, which includes KFC and Taco Bell; and Kellen Winslow, a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame who played tight end for Missouri.
"There are no alumni more deserving than the three outstanding alumni here today," interim chancellor Hank Foley said during the ceremony's opening speech. Foley picked the winners from a pool of candidates nominated by the Mizzou Alumni Association, and they will lead Saturday's Homecoming Parade as the grand marshals.
Godwin,who earned her doctorate from MU in 1980, logged more than 900 hours in space over her 30-year career at NASA, and she now teaches astronomy and physics at MU's College of Arts and Science.
"I flew my MU banner on all of our shuttle missions," Godwin said as she accepted her award, a crystal statue modeled after one of the MU Columns and inscribed with her name.
Kellen Winslow, whose performance on Missouri's team in the 1970s earned him a place in the College Football Hall of Fame, was a first-round draft pick for the San Diego Chargers. When he left the Chargers in 1987, he had scored 45 touchdowns and surpassed 6,700 receiving yards. He joined the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1995.
"You're only as good as the people around you," Winslow said. "My years in San Diego, Missouri and high school, I was surrounded by great people who saw something in me that I did not see in myself."
Novak, a 1974 graduate of the Missouri School of Journalism, retired earlier this year as Yum Brands' executive chairman. He began his career as Pizza Hut's chief marketing officer in 1986, and he went on to serve as PepsiCo Inc.'s chief operating officer. Novak was chosen as Yum Brands' first president after PepsiCo spun off Taco Bell, Pizza Hut and KFC into a new company. He's also written two New York Times-bestselling books on business management.
"You've got an astronaut, a hall of famer and then a chicken salesman up here," Novak said when he took the stage.
In a video that played before Novak accepted his award, JPMorgan Chase chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon told him "Everything you've touched in life, you've made better."
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