Portraits of the alumni awards winners and honorary doctorate recipients.

Standout Celebration

Prescott Campus Chancellor inducts three Hall-of-Famers and names two honorary alumni

One of the first students enrolled at Embry-Riddle’s Prescott Campus in 1978, Capt. Mark Overley (’81) never imagined the fledgling Golden Eagles Flight Team he helped found would become one of the top collegiate flight teams in the nation.

“We always knew the team would grow to be competitive but never dreamed they would grow into the exceptional team they became over these 40 years,” says Overley, now a senior captain at the Cintas Corporation Flight Department and a mentor/judge to the Golden Eagles. For more about his involvement with the Golden Eagles, read ‘The Long Gold Line’ (Lift, Fall 2018).

Overley, along with two other Prescott Campus alumni — Capt. Nancy Martin-Belitz (’85) and Jamie Patterson-Simes (’09) — were inducted into the Chancellor’s Alumni Hall of Fame during an awards reception and dinner held Oct. 5, 2018, during OctoberWest. The awards were established by Prescott Campus Chancellor Frank Ayers (’87) to recognize alumni who have made significant contributions to their profession, their industry and community, and the university.

Martin-Belitz, a standards check airman at Southwest Airlines and a pilot since age 16, was recognized for her accomplishments and exceptional service to others.

“This award is special, because I believe the chancellor and Embry-Riddle are honoring not just what I’ve achieved, but how I’ve given back along the way,” she says.

Martin-Belitz helped start Southwest Airlines’ Adopt-A-Pilot Program and has mentored thousands of students. Additionally, through Southwest, she volunteers at St Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, Ronald McDonald House and The Salvation Army.

Patterson-Simes is the founder and owner of SkyTrek Alaska Flight Training, which was designated the 2017 National Best Flight School by the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) Flight Training Experience Survey and Awards. She spent most of her time as a full-time student at the Prescott Campus (1989-1992).

“When I opened my flight school in 2014, I never dreamed that AOPA would name it No. 1 in the nation in 2017,” says Patterson-Simes, who is one of only four Master Flight Instructors in Alaska, as designated by the National Association of Flight Instructors. “It was an amazing experience to realize that my education and training helped get me to this place.”

Patterson-Simes is actively involved in Alaska’s aviation community, serving on numerous boards related to airport development. SkyTrek Alaska is based at Merrill Field in Anchorage, Alaska.

Honorary Alumni

Also at the awards reception and dinner, David Robertson and Tonia Fortner were named honorary alumni.

Robertson is a member of the Embry-Riddle Board of Trustees and a longtime supporter of the university. As a professional pilot for more than 30 years, Robertson’s piloting experience has ranged from gliders to jet airliners. Through the Robertson family’s support, the Prescott Campus established the Robertson Safety Institute and the Robertson Aircraft Crash Investigation Laboratory. He and his wife also established the David and Andrea Robertson Endowed Scholarship in 2006. Robertson currently serves as chairman of the Embry-Riddle Board’s Flight Safety and Education Committee.

Fortner is a member of the Prescott Campus Board of Visitors and a benefactor and advocate for Embry-Riddle since the Prescott Campus opened. Fortner established the Tonia Knight Fortner Women and STEM Endowed Scholarship to assist female students studying science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) at the Prescott Campus. Additionally, she contributed, along with others, to name the Professor Emeritus Fielding McGehee Physics Lab at the STEM Education Center, which opened in 2017 at the Prescott Campus.