Distinguished Alumni 2021

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The Texas State Distinguished Alumni Award recognizes alumni who have achieved prominence and made a significant impact on the lives of others through their professions, accomplishments, affiliations, and service to the society and to the university. This exclusive award was first presented in 1959 to Sen. Lyndon B. Johnson, who later served as the nation’s 36th president.

To this day, LBJ’s legacy inspires excellence at Texas State, as it maintains the unique distinction of being the only university in Texas to have had a U.S. president as an alumnus.

The Young Alumni Rising Star Award was created in 2015 and was presented the following year to recognize young alumni under age 40.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions in 2020, the Distinguished Alumni Gala traditionally held during Homecoming Week was canceled. Honorees from 2020 and 2021 were recognized at the event held Nov. 5 in the LBJ Student Center’s grand ballroom.

Bob R. Covey ('69)

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Nearly everyone in his hometown chose a college close to home, but Bob Covey pursued a musical path to San Marcos

The idyllic setting of the San Marcos River nestled among the rolling hills of Central Texas stole Bob R. Covey’s heart when he was a young man and drew him to Texas State University in 1964. It would also provide him the chance to be part of the university’s storied past during one of the most interesting periods in American history.

The issues of the day — presidential elections and the growing presence of U.S. troops in Vietnam — were secondary concerns to an incoming freshman like Covey, whose interests centered on meeting new friends and attending classes. “Nearly everybody in my hometown of Snyder went to Texas Tech, or they went to Abilene Christian or McMurry – somewhere between an hour and an hour and a half drive,” Covey says. “Here I was going away five hours from my hometown, but I just fell in love with the place.”

Covey, who played the baritone saxophone, learned first to play the clarinet as a member of his junior high school band and continued honing his musical skills in high school.

The college football games were also a favorite with band members. “We performed at all the football games, and we would travel to at least one road game a semester,” says Covey, who recalled spirited games between the Bobcats and teams such as Texas Lutheran in Seguin, Trinity University in San Antonio, and Texas A&M University-Kingsville.

Some of Covey’s fondest memories were as a member of the Texas State University Marching Band, which celebrated its 100th birthday in 2020. The band was among several that escorted President Lyndon B. Johnson — the 36th president and the first recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award — to his inauguration in January 1965. Johnson had specifically requested the Bobcat Marching Band to be part of the Washington, D.C., event.

One of his fondest memories with the marching band was performing with the Strutters during the halftime show between the Houston Oilers and the New York Jets in October 1968. During that game, announcers flashed the score of the Texas-Arkansas game, which showed the Longhorns were winning. “They put that across the big screen, and of course the Strutters and the band all started yelling and a whole lot of the fans did too.” The crowd cheered so loudly that Jets quarterback Joe Namath became angry and left the field, Covey says.

During his sophomore year, Covey was learning to play the flute and the oboe when he had an epiphany. “I started thinking, ‘Is this what I really want for my career?’” He realized that singing was a passion and decided to switch to the choral program. Covey performed in several musicals, including a personal favorite, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “South Pacific,” his final performance with the university’s choral program.

“I’d always loved singing, but when I was in high school, I didn’t have time because I was in band,” he says. “My passion wasn’t as strong for band as it was for choral.” Covey earned his bachelor’s degree in 1969 and taught choir and English for three years in the Houston area. He joined American Alloy Steel where he served as vice president of sales until his retirement in 2011.

His passion for teaching and the arts never wavered. Since 2005, Covey has served on the Cypress-Fairbanks (Cy-Fair) ISD board of trustees and the Cy-Fair Houston Chamber of Commerce. As a member of the district’s board of trustees, Covey has served as secretary, vice president, and now as board president, and has participated in Cy-Fair ISD’s athletic and choral booster clubs, Bus Buddy program, and Read Across America initiatives.

He is a past director of the Gulf Coast Area Association of School Boards and serves as the second vice president on the Texas Association of School Boards board of directors. He is also a founder and current president of the Go Public Gulf Coast organization.

Covey has remained very active at Texas State and has served as president of both the Texas State Alumni Association and the Lambda Chi Alpha Alumni Association. He has served on advisory councils for the College of Education and the Family Association and received the Texas State Alumni Star Award and the Key of Excellence Award. In addition to being a Forever Bobcat, he is a member of the Pillar Society and Guardian Society.

Coach Stacy Chessher-Fowler ('79)

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From PE teacher and track coach to certified celebrity trainer, Stacy Chessher-Fowler knows that busy is the best condition for her

Growing up in San Antonio, Stacy Chessher-Fowler says her first choice for college was Texas State University. “That beautiful college on the hill inspired me,” she says. Years later her life as a personal trainer, spokesperson, and motivational speaker would take her from one end of the nation to the other before she settled in Colorado.

“Texas State was such a magical time and has such a place in my heart,” she says. As a Bobcat she became involved on campus, serving on the founding chapter of the Student Foundation and as an officer in Alpha Delta Pi.

In her profession, she hosts countless fitness and health segments on television and radio and has been featured by “Good Morning America,” Shape magazine, Ladies Home Journal, and Prevention magazine. She was one of the first spokespersons for Propel Fitness Water.

Chessher-Fowler received a master’s degree in sports management at the U.S. Sports Academy and later earned certification as a personal trainer from the National Academy of Sports Medicine. Her first post-college job was as a physical education teacher and coach in San Antonio. At John Jay High School, she was the track coach and dance team director. She also was the head track coach for Winston Churchill High School, her alma mater.

At Texas State, she was friends with several members of the Texas State Strutters. Her best friend, Susan Angell-Gonzalez (B.S. ’80), would later go on to become the Strutters’ second director and a 2015 Distinguished Alumnus.

“I love the halftime shows. You’ve got the twirlers, the poms, the dancers, and the marching band. That is a lot of what I love about Texas State Athletics,” Chessher-Fowler says.

Chessher-Fowler’s husband, Joe Fowler, was a TV sportscaster for San Antonio’s KSAT-12 when they met. At that time, she was interning at the TV station as part of a broadcast media class. They moved to Pennsylvania and later California, but the couple would visit the campus for games and university events. Years later, their daughter, Presley Fowler (B.A. ’15), would become a Strutter and a member of Alpha Delta. “People often ask, ‘How did you get your daughter to go to Texas State?’ Probably by not trying to make her go to Texas State. We took her back there to events with us all the time,” she says. “I was so touched and honored she chose Texas State. She also married a Bobcat, engineering major Matt Richardson.”

As Strutter parents, Chessher-Fowler says they could bring their gifts and talents by assisting the team with videos and presentations and serving as chaperones. They made a trip to New York when the Strutters led off the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. “Just because your kid is in college, I still think it is important to stay involved in any way you can,” she says. Chessher-Fowler was named a Strutters Giant for her contributions to the team and was inducted into the Strutters Hall of Fame. In 2010 she was honored with the Alumni Association’s Alumni Achievement Award. She served as the Strutters personal trainer and fitness consultant for many years.

In the 1980s and 1990s, Chessher-Fowler became an award-winning personal trainer in Los Angeles where she was a sought-after fitness trainer working on TV and movie sets. The Fowler family relocated to Colorado in 1996 following the devastating Northridge, California, earthquake. She joined the local Radio Disney station and developed children’s programs about fitness and getting outdoors. Her love of nature led her to launch Camp GO, working with Smokey Bear and Woodsy Owl programs to connect children and families to the outdoors.

Chessher-Fowler was appointed by four governors as the president of the Colorado Governor's Council for Physical Fitness. She also served as the Colorado state coordinator for the President's Challenge, as vice president of the National Association for Health and Fitness, and on the faculty of the National Academy of Sports Medicine.

Always looking for more unique experiences, Chessher-Fowler launched the Golden Hayride in 2015 to offer fun tours sprinkled with history. “I am always looking for the next thing. I love what I do. It doesn’t feel like work.” she says.

Andrae L. Turner ('07)

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Andrae Turner is passionate about improving healthcare delivery systems and reducing disparities for underserved communities

Andrae L. Turner has served in a variety of operations and project management roles in his career in healthcare. Currently he serves as the senior operations manager for the Pediatrics Service Line at Harris Health System’s Ambulatory Care Services.

At Texas State University he began as a premed major. A native of Houston, Turner says he wanted to be a doctor since the sixth grade. “At some point, I was kind of looking for something different — something a little bit more diverse to take into medical school and I came across healthcare administration,” Turner says. After the first classes, some with Dr. George Burke, professor emeritus of Health Administration, Turner says he found himself “completely in awe” of this major.

Today in his role with Harris Health System, he is responsible for all strategic initiatives and activities of the service line. He previously worked as the manager of Ambulatory Clinic, cardiology at Texas Children's Hospital.

Throughout his career, Turner has successfully implemented new strategic initiatives, provided expertise on new construction programs, and led system-wide change processes in large public and not-for-profit healthcare systems. He has a passion for improving healthcare delivery systems and reducing disparities for underserved communities.

“I started with a desire to be a doctor, so finding another way to help people, making sure they could get the care they needed, was hugely important to me. Healthcare administration allowed me to be in healthcare, to have that passion for healthcare that I’d always had, along with using the analytics of the complicated business aspects,” he says.

Following graduation, Turner worked first for his fraternity, Pi Kappa Phi. “I traveled the country visiting various campuses, and in all my campus visits I’ve just never visited a campus that was quite like Texas State in terms of the co-curricular aspect of education,” he says. The university’s academic education is very good, but Turner says he also applauds the students who choose to get involved outside the classroom. Besides being active in his fraternity, Turner participated in club water polo and swam for the club team for two years

“Texas State graduates are extremely resourceful. Healthcare requires a lot of teamwork, but a huge part of my career has been learning to be resourceful. I understand how to find answers and share those with my team instead of always relying on my leaders to point me in the direction of an answer and not relying on other people, but having the knowledge and the ability to go out and seek answers.”

Turner, who moved to Harris Health at the height of the pandemic, also talks about the challenges faced by the healthcare industry. “There was a lot of conversation about telemedicine leading into COVID. I know in my job at Texas Children’s we were talking about telemedicine, and how to leverage it. What COVID did was cause everyone to take that up to the next level in our organizations. That was a challenging thing to do.”

As an alumnus, Turner has been an avid supporter of the university and Texas State Athletics. He is a former president of the Alumni Association board of directors, former first vice president and chief financial officer of the Alumni Association executive committee, a former member of the Young Alumni Task Force, and he previously served on the Bobcat Club Leadership Council. Currently, he serves on the National Council of Pi Kappa Phi, the board of trustees of the Texas State Development Foundation, the advisory council of The Wittliff Collections, the board of directors of the Trotter Family YMCA, and the Young Professionals Council of Goodwill Houston.

“I look at Texas State as a place of my maturation, my growth as a person. I think Texas State has made me a better person for having gone here and had the experiences that I’ve had both undergraduate and as an alumnus," Turner says.

“I don’t think I’ll ever be able to give back as much as I feel Texas State has given to me, but I’ll continue to give back to the university because I think it’s an important and worthy thing to do.”