August 14, 2020

UMNAA Honors Outstanding Alumni Achievement 

During this year’s Homecoming celebration themed 20/20 Vision: Eye on the Future, the UM National Alumni Association honored three alumni for their outstanding contributions to the community. The honorees received their awards in front of a full house in Anna Irvin Dining Hall during the Saturday Homecoming Recognition Luncheon.  

The luncheon also served as the UMNAA’s annual business meeting, and installed the association’s new officers and directors while recognizing retiring members.  


Ricardo Conte 

The Nathalie Molton Gibbons Young Achiever’s Award is given to an alumnus younger than 35 whose early career and community contributions have reflected positively at the local, state or national level.  

This year’s recipient was Ricardo Conte ’12, an earth and space science teacher at Simmons Middle School in Hoover.  

Conte’s passion and dedication in the classroom has gained attention statewide, and he was chosen to be a part of the 2019 sixth grade curriculum update team for Alabama’s A+ College Ready program.  

During the summer months, he utilizes his summer vacations to assist in the training of other earth science teachers across the state.  

Conte earned the prestigious Outstanding Earth and Space Science Teacher 2019 award for the state of Alabama from the National Association of Geoscience Teachers, which recognizes “exceptional contributions to the stimulation of interest in the earth sciences at the pre-college level.” 

He earned the Shelby County Schools’ First Year Teacher of the Year honor in 2013 and received the UM Outstanding Alumnus in Elementary Education award for 2014-2015.   

Upon taking the Praxis  ETS test to earn his teaching certificate, Conte received the Recognition of Excellence designation for being among the top 15 percent scorers nationwide.  


Dr. Rebecca Turner 

 Dr. Rebecca Turner ’71 was awarded the 2020 Nathalie Molton Gibbons Alumni Achievement Award.  

She has decades of experience as a social work practitioner, educator and higher education administrator. Turner retired in 2019 after nearly 40 years at Jacksonville State University, where she most recently served as provost and vice president of academic affairs.   

She is a lifetime member of the Council on Social Work Education and the Association of Baccalaureate Social WorkersTurner served on the Commission on Educational Policy, the CSWE national site visit and accreditation teams and participated in the national conference planning committee.  

Turner remains loyal to the Purple Side at UM, and credits Montevallo with laying the foundation for her long and storied career in social work and higher education.   

She has been the recipient of the CSWE Leadership Development Award, the National Association of Social Workers Lifetime Achievement Award and the Alabama-Mississippi Social Educators Conference Social Work Educator of the Year award.  

Since retiring in June 2019, Turner has continued to serve on community agency boards and participate in accreditation reviews for the Council on Social Work Education and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.   


Dr. Michael Malone 

Dr. Michael E. “Mike” Malone ’69 received the alumni association’s top honor: the Distinguished Alumnus Award.  

Malone has left a lengthy and distinguished legacy of service in the field of education, and served in leadership roles in high schools and universities throughout the southeast. In 2002, Malone was named executive director of the Alabama Commission on Higher Education, where he was responsible for overseeing the 12-member statewide board tasked with providing access to quality collegiate and university education for Alabama residents.   

Malone has served on the UM Foundation Board and the National Alumni Association Board, proudly serving as the UMNAA president from 2012-2014.   

Malone has served many prominent education organizations over the years 

As a student at UM, Malone was involved in College Night’s Gold Side in 1968 and 1969. He was also elected to the Student Honor Court and served as chief justice for two years. He was inducted into Delta Theta Pi leadership honorary and Eta Sigma Pi liberal arts honorary. He chaired the Interfraternity Council and was listed in Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges.   

One of his proudest moments on campus came when he and his teammates were inducted into the Athletic Hall of Fame in 2013 as members of the 1966 Falcons tennis team, which notched a win over Auburn and finished the season undefeated.