Georgia State Announces Recipients Of Annual Distinguished Alumni Awards

Tuesday, August 31st, 2021

The Georgia State University Alumni Association will present its top honor, the Distinguished Alumni Award, to four outstanding graduates at a dinner on Friday, Oct. 22 at The Biltmore, 817 West Peachtree St. NW.

“Leaders and difference-makers in business, higher education and the organizations they give their time and talents to, this year’s Distinguished Alumni Award honorees exemplify the character and high achievement that inspires Panthers and embodies The State Way,” said Christina Million (MBA ’00), associate vice president and executive director of the Georgia State Alumni Association.

The 2021 Georgia State University Alumni Association Distinguished Alumni Award recipients are:

John M. Dyer (MBA ’87) – Over the last 41 years, Dyer has been instrumental in building Cox Enterprises into a leading communications and automotive services company with $20 billion in annual revenues and about 50,000 employees. Now a member of the board of directors, Dyer served as the president and chief executive officer from 2014-17 where he was responsible for the company and its three major subsidiaries: Cox Communications, Cox Automotive and Cox Media Group. After joining the organization in 1977, Dyer served in increasingly expansive financial and operational roles – including chief operating officer and chief financial officer – and helped build Cox Communications into the third-largest cable provider in the nation. He is chairman of the Atlanta Botanical Gardens trustee board, the Marcus Autism Center board of trustees and a member of the Georgia State University Foundation board.

Walter M. Kimbrough (Ph.D. ’96) – A native of Atlanta, Kimbrough is the seventh president of Dillard University in New Orleans and a nationally recognized educator, administrator and thought leader in higher education. Named the male HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) President of the Year for 2014 by HBCU Digest, Kimbrough has earned national renown for his expertise and scholarship on African American men in college, HBCUs and historically Black, Latin and Asian fraternities and sororities. A 1986 initiate of the Zeta Pi chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity at the University of Georgia, he is the author of the book, “Black Greek 101: The Culture, Customs and Challenges of Black Fraternities and Sororities.” Kimbrough’s effective and influential use of social media has been lauded in The Chronicle of Higher Education,the book “Follow the Leader: Lessons in Social Media Success from Higher Ed CEOs “and various online outlets. Selected in 2010 for the Ebony Magazine Power 100 list, Kimbrough previously served as president of Philander Smith College, vice president for student affairs at Albany State University and in various student affairs roles at Emory University, Georgia State and Old Dominion University.

Donna A. Lee (MBA ’86) – Lee retired as the chief marketing officer of business markets of AT&T Southeast (formerly BellSouth Corp.). Prior to joining BellSouth in 1998, she held various leadership roles and numerous business responsibilities over her more than 20 years at AT&T. A board member of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Lee has also served for eight years on the Georgia State University Foundation Board of Trustees as development chair, board chair and is now the immediate past chair. Donna received her bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Mary Washington College, holds an MBA from Georgia State, and has completed the Advanced Management Program at Harvard University.

Steve W. Wrigley (B.A. ’81) – Wrigley served as the 13th chancellor of the University System of Georgia (USG) from January 2017 through his retirement at the end of June 2021. He previously served as executive vice chancellor of administration for the USG from June 2011 until his appointment as chancellor. Under his leadership, the USG received national acclaim for its accomplishments in student success, affordability and cost-effectiveness. It has been among the national leaders for improvements in graduation rates, which has increased 9 percent since 2013. The number of students annually earning degrees also increased 29 percent since 2011, significantly outpacing the 7 percent growth in enrollment during the same period. Prior to his USG tenure, Wrigley held a variety of leadership roles at the University of Georgia, including senior vice president for external affairs, vice president for government relations and director of the Carl Vinson Institute of Government. Wrigley also previously served in state government, including five years as chief of staff to former Georgia Governor Zell Miller. There he worked on numerous key issues, including the creation of the state lottery and the groundbreaking HOPE Scholarship.

The Distinguished Alumni Awards dinner will be held from 6-9 p.m., Friday, Oct. 22 at The Biltmore. For more information about the event and sponsorship opportunities or to purchase tickets, go to