Alumni Association names 2024 Distinguished Alumni Award recipients

By MSU Alumni Association | Mar 13, 2024

Popeye Jones ‘05, Cindy Griner ‘82, Dr. Sacha Sharp ‘10, Richard Heath ’84, ’89, and Steven David

Clockwise from top left: Popeye Jones ‘05, Cindy Griner ‘82, Dr. Sacha Sharp ‘10, Richard Heath ’84, ’89, and Steven David

MURRAY, Ky. – The Murray State University Alumni Association (MSUAA) is proud to announce that four outstanding Murray State alumni have been selected as the 2024 recipients of the Distinguished Alumni Award. This year’s Distinguished Alumni dinner and award ceremony will be held on Friday, April 19 in the Murray Room at the CFSB Center. A cocktail reception will begin at 5 p.m. and the dinner and program will follow at 6 p.m.

The Distinguished Alumni Award has been presented annually to Murray State alumni who have made meaningful contributions to their professions on a local, state and national level. It is the highest honor an alum can earn from the MSUAA and recognizes those who have excelled both professionally and personally. 

The Distinguished Alumni honorees for 2024 are Steven David, ’79, Cindy Griner, ’82, Richard Heath, ’84, ’89, and Popeye Jones, ’05. The 2024 Distinguished Young Alumni Award recipient is Dr. Sacha Sharp, ’10.

A retired Indiana Supreme Court Justice, Steven David has enjoyed a multi-faceted career, including private legal practice and corporate counsel experience, twenty-eight years of military service and fifteen years as a trial court judge in Boone County, Indiana. Justice David served on the state’s highest court for 12 years before retiring in 2022. He graduated from Murray State as a Distinguished Military Graduate on an R.O.T.C. scholarship, and earned his law degree from Indiana University’s Robert H. McKinney School of Law. He is also a graduate of the Indiana Judicial College and the Graduate Program for Indiana Judges.

Cindy Griner retired in 2021 after a 39-year career as Vice President of Leidos/Dynetics. Griner currently serves as part-owner, senior advisor and secretary of the board of directors for Aviation and Missile Solutions, Inc., in Huntsville, Alabama and serves on multiple philanthropic and business boards in her community. Griner holds a bachelor’s degree in engineering physics from Murray State and a master’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Alabama in Huntsville. 

Kentucky State Legislator Richard Heath earned both a bachelor's and master's degree in agriculture from Murray State University. In addition to running the family business, Heath Building Material in Mayfield, Kentucky, Heath has represented District 2 in the Kentucky House since 2012. He currently chairs the House Agriculture Committee and serves as a member of the Small Business & Information Technology committee and State Government committee.

In 2023, Denver Nuggets Assistant Coach Popeye Jones became the first Murray State men’s basketball alumnus to win an NBA championship as a coach. When Jones finished his Murray State career in 1992, he embarked on an 11-year NBA career that began with the Dallas Mavericks and ended with the Golden State Warriors. Jones landed his first NBA coaching job in 2010 with the Brooklyn Nets and is now in his third season in Denver under head coach Michael Malone. Jones went on to finish his college education, earning a bachelor’s of interdisciplinary studies from Murray State in 2005.

Dr. Sacha Sharp was selected as the Distinguished Young Alumna from among the MSUAA Young Alumni Network Top 22 Under 40 Class of 2024. She completed her bachelor’s in Art Education at Murray State in 2010, and earned a master's degree in Education and Human Development from George Washington University. Sharp completed her doctorate at Indiana University in Bloomington. She currently serves as director of medical education innovation in the Department of Medicine at the IU School of Medicine.

Tickets to the event are available for purchase at Both Griner and Jones are planning to provide comments via video acceptance, while David, Heath and Sharp plan to attend in-person along with their family and friends. For more information please contact the Murray State University Office of Alumni Relations at 800-758-8510.

Take the next step

© Murray State University Department of Web ManagementWe are Racers.