The deputy director for the federal government’s Indian Health Service and a successful Texas businessman and educator will be honored as East Central University’s Distinguished Alumni for 2010 during Commencement ceremonies Saturday, May 8, in Kerr Activities Center.
Randy Grinnell of Rockville, Md., and August Petersen of Austin, Texas, will receive the highest honor ECU bestows in recognition of their professional and personal success. Following ECU tradition, each will address the graduates and their families. Grinnell, who earned a bachelor of science degree in environmental health science in 1976, will speak at the 10 a.m. ceremony. Petersen will speak at the 2 p.m. ceremony. He majored in accounting and business administration and graduated with honors in 1975.
Most bachelor’s degrees will be conferred during the 10 a.m. ceremony. Master’s degrees and bachelor’s degrees in nursing, elementary education, early childhood education, special education, psychology, social work, counseling and criminal justice will be conferred during the 2 p.m. ceremony.
ECU has 714 degree candidates who completed degree requirements this spring or will complete their requirements this simmer. There are 518 candidates for bachelor’s degrees and 196 candidates for master’s degrees.
Grinnell, a member of the Sac and Fox Nation of Missouri, is the deputy director for the Indian Health Service (IHS), an agency in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
He shares responsibility with the director for the total management of a $4 billion national health care delivery program that provides preventive, curative and community care for approximately 1.9 million American Indians and Alaska Natives. The program has a staff of 15,000 and a network of 680 federal, tribal and urban health care facilities across 35 states.
Grinnell provides significant input in managing the agency budget process and is responsible for the development of testimony presented to congressional appropriation and legislative committees. He is a principal witness before such committees.
He previously was the IHS deputy director of management operations.
Grinnell began his IHS career in 1976 as a commissioned officer in the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS), Environmental Health Officer category. He served in a variety of field positions in the Alaska, Albuquerque and Oklahoma City areas.
He held a number of management positions in the Oklahoma City area from 1988 through 2006. As the acting area director, he managed clinical and administrative functions for a health care system serving more than 300,000 American Indians and Alaska Natives in 44 tribes in Oklahoma, Kansas and southern Texas.
In 2001, he became the chief professional officer for the PHS’ Environmental Health Officer category. He was the senior adviser to the surgeon general and HHS on environmental health professional affairs.
Grinnell was deployed to Louisiana in 2005 as executive officer and deputy commander of the HHS Emergency Response Team to help carry out emergency support functions for health and medical services following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
He was actively involved with ECU’s Department of Environmental Health Science for many years. He worked with faculty members on career fairs and other activities as well as the accreditation process with the National Environmental Health Science and Protection Accreditation Council.
He helped recruit a number of ECU graduates to serve in various agencies of the HHS, both as civil servants and commissioned officers in the PHS.
At one time, ECU had more active duty officers in the Environmental Health Officer category of the PHS than any of the 30 other accredited undergraduate environmental health programs in the country.Grinnell retired from PHS Commissioned Corps in May 2006 after completing 30 years of active duty service and receiving numerous awards and recognitions.
He also earned a master of public health degree in environmental health in 1981 from the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. He and his wife, Kim, have four grown children, Chad, Jacob, Cole and Jennifer.
August Petersen has been a senior partner, officer, board member, investor and consultant to numerous Texas business ventures for more than 30 years. He also is a faculty member at the University of Texas where he has taught more than 160 undergraduate and MBA courses in accounting, corporate finance, real estate and strategic management to more than 10,000 students.
He has served on the faculty of UT’s Institute of Commercial Capitalism and the UT School of Engineering where he has developed and taught courses on entrepreneurship, technology commercialization and financial management.
Raised in New Jersey, he attended ECU on an athletic scholarship. He was active in several student organizations and was elected Student Senate president for two consecutive years. He was named ECU’s Outstanding Student and the School of Business’ Most Distinguished Graduate in 1975.
He later was a trustee of the ECU Foundation Inc.
After graduating from ECU, Petersen earned a master of professional accountancy degree with highest honors from the University of Texas. He joined the Austin office of the international accounting firm Touche Ross where, in addition to his client responsibilities, he was a coordinator of professional staff recruitment and participated in the firm’s successful business development efforts.
He left public accounting to become a founding partner of The Watson Group, a Texas partnership that became the largest diversified real estate firm in Austin. Petersen had senior management responsibilities for more than 50 real estate business entities, development projects and investment properties, the scope of which exceeded several hundred million dollars.
The Watson Group partners were the primary advisers for two of Austin’s most successful economic development efforts: the MCC computer research consortium and the Austin division of 3M Corporation.
Petersen later became the managing partner of Petersen-Watson Interests to focus on long-term land investment and development opportunities. He currently is a managing partner for several businesses engaged in the acquisition and management of distressed real estate on a national level.
He was a founding officer and a contributing editor for the Austin Business Journal. He has been an officer and board member for the Better Business Bureau, Urban League, United Way, the American Cancer Society, the Volunteer Center and Leadership Austin.
As the founder and director of Westlake Stars, Petersen ran youth sports training camps, competition and performance teams that benefited some 4,000 children over a 15-year period.
He was a national finalist in the White House Fellowship program and was named to the Outstanding Young Men of America. He also was selected for Who’s Who in American Finance and Emerging Leaders of America.
He and his wife, Patsy, have two sons. He is a founding member of St. John Neumann Catholic Church.