KU Alumni Association to honor 3 with Ellsworth medallions

The KU Alumni Association is set to award some of its highest honors of the year at its fall meeting Friday at the University of Kansas’ Lawrence campus.

Beverly Smith Billings, president of Lawrence-based Alvamar Development Corp., Howard Cohen, a retired executive of the auditing firm Deloitte Touche, and Reggie Robinson, the late KU and Kansas Board of Regents leader, are set to receive the association’s Fred Ellsworth Medallion awards.

Billings earned her French and psychology degrees from KU in 1968 and a master’s in psychology from the school in 1970. In addition to overseeing the Alvamar corporation that was responsible for large swaths of development in west Lawrence, Billings is a trustee for the KU Endowment Association, serves on the Lied Center’s Performance Fund, and has been involved in several projects with the KU School of Business and the Hall Center for the Humanities, among other departments.

Cohen, who earned his bachelor’s degree in business in 1978, retired in 2020 as partner with Deloitte Touche. During his tenure with the large accounting firm, he was the partner in charge of both the Kansas City and St. Louis offices of the company. He remains active in the KU School of Business, including mentoring students and leading the school’s biannual audit symposium that brings together leaders in the auditing industry from around the world. Cohen also is a KU Endowment trustee and led a capital campaign that raised more than $60 million to build Capitol Federal Hall, home of the business school.

Robinson, who died in 2020 at the age of 63, received a political science degree in 1980 and a law degree in 1987 from KU. In addition to being a faculty member at KU, he spent time as a deputy U.S. associate attorney general under Janet Reno, was chief of staff for former KU chancellor Robert Hemenway, and served as the CEO of the Kansas Board of Regents, among several other positions in the world of higher education.

The alumni association will bestow the honors Friday evening at a Burge Union event as the association’s national board of directors meets. The three honorees become the 159th, 160th and 161st winners of the award since 1975, when the award was created to honor Fred Ellsworth, who was the association’s executive director and secretary for 39 years.

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