Ron Lankford accepts the Eye of the Tiger Award Thursday from Jeff Montgomery, representing the Southwest chapter of the Mizzou Alumni Association at the Webb City R-7 Student Services Center.

Ron Lankford among first to receive MU Alumni Eye of the Tiger Award

Bob Foos

Ron Lankford, former Webb City superintendent, was surprised Thursday, Feb. 8, to be honored as a recipient of the Mizzou Alumni Association’s inaugural Eye of the Tiger Award.

Todd McCubin, executive director of the association, wrote in a letter to Lankford:


This award empowers regional Mizzou Alumni Association groups to recognize outstanding Tigers across the country, and your contributions to the Joplin community have not gone unnoticed! Alumni like you truly represent what it means to be Mizzou Made, and we are so gratefu8l for your efforts on behalf of the university we love.

The Southwest Missouri Alumni chapter chose to recognize you for your 30 years of service as an educator, administrator and policymaker in the state of Missouri. Your dedication to the education field is greatly appreciated by the members of your community.

Lankford, originally from Seneca, went beyond Joplin Junior College to the University of Missouri-Columbia, where he earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees and doctorate.

After 33 years with Webb City, he was the deputy commissiner of finance at the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education for six years. He completed his career as director of finance for the Joplin R-8 School District.

Lankford is known for recommending MU to local graduates, including his grandsons. Although his heart is in Southwest Missouri, Lankford says he gained a statewide perspective at Columbia.

He was surprised Thursday as he arrived at the Webb City Services Center for a board meeting of the Webb City Schools Foundation. That organization was established by Lankford primarily to provide scholarships for Webb City graduates.