ALUMNI HONOR THE BEST OF U
Last year, the Alumni Association introduced a series of awards to recognize students and select faculty whose achievements exemplify the dynamic process of teaching, learning, and striving for excellence characteristic of a notable university. According to Spring Awards committee chair Todd Wakefield BS'89 JD'92, the Alumni Association and Young Alumni board members wanted, in an fitting way, to single out and recognize outstanding individuals for their contributions to the University and the community.
Among the highlights of the Spring Awards Banquet last April at the University Park Hotel was presentation of the Young Alumni Scholarships, given annually to select University students who have demonstrated outstanding academic ability and social awareness. Each scholar receives a $1,200 award. This year's scholars are Kari Bodell, Amber Madsen, and Mikal-Anne Waters.
Kari Bodell is president of Kappa Kappa Gamma Sorority and serves as ASUU executive assistant for public relations and programming. She is vice president-elect of the Student Alumni Association. Amber Madsen is a Family and Consumer Studies major and a service learning scholar. She will complete 400 hours of community service before graduating next spring. Mikal-Anne Waters was a top-ranked student upon entering the U. She volunteers time with the Rape Crisis Center, S'plore, and the U.S. Forest Service and serves as secretary for the Golden Key National Honor Society.
In recognizing the Alumni Scholars (high school students entering the U this fall), Association president Lorna Matheson ex'56, said, "These young men and women are about to embark on a rich and full experience at the University. We are proud to support them and look forward to receiving them in the future as well-educated and involved alumni." The 20 Alumni Scholars who were honored represent 13 high schools throughout Utah and have an average GPA of 3.98.
Matheson also acknowledged Residence Halls Scholars Tiffany Hudson and Duane de Four. A freshman and junior respectively, Hudson and de Four received scholarships for their many hours of service to the University community. This is a new scholarship co-sponsored by the Residence Halls Student Association.
Also relatively new is the Alumni/Bennion Fellowship Programóthe combined effort of the Alumni Association and the Lowell Bennion Community Service Center. It is a marriage of the Alumni Association's commitment to community service and the long-term dedication of the Bennion Center in administering such student programs.
Four students were selected to participate as Alumni Bennion fellows. Each will venture outside of the Wasatch Front to work with non-profit organizations. Fellows return to campus after their summer service placements to share their knowledge and experiences with other students, as well as the community at-large.
This year's fellows are Nikhil Bhayani, Stacey Ford, Josh Bradley, and Alissa Stookey. Nikhil Bhayani will share his interest in science with children at the Boys and Girls Club in Boston, Mass. He will introduce and further develop an in-class science learning project he began developing this year. Stacey Ford will also spend the summer in the heat and humidity of Boston. She will work with underprivileged children enrolled in a day camp. Josh Bradley will work for the Center for Community Change in Washington, D.C., a group which specializes in advocacy for non-profit organizations. He will participate in lobbying efforts to secure support for a variety of agencies. Finally, Alissa Stookey will devote her community service to several agencies in San Francisco educating the public about HIV/AIDS prevention. She will also be advocating for the rights of people with AIDS.
At last year's awards banquet, two new faculty awards were introduced: the Adjunct Faculty Award and the Faculty Community Service Award. Recipients are selected by the Alumni Association Awards Committee from nominations submitted by students, faculty and staff throughout campus. Recipients exemplify a strong commitment to teaching, student development, and community service.
Matheson acknowledged Fred Wright, this year's recipient of the Adjunct Faculty Award, by saying, "His students receive an education that establishes new boundaries in the art of photography through the addition of digital imaging . . . he is known as the ëComputer Guru' of the Art Department."
Wright teaches photography, digital imaging, and more advanced workshops and seminars in computer-aided art. He provides students with hands-on opportunities to apply new technologies to photography. Work generated by his students was recently selected to be displayed throughout the state as part of the Utah Arts Council traveling exhibit. His own work has also been exhibited at local galleries. In addition to teaching, Wright owns and operates a photography business, specializing in blending traditional and high-tech computer techniques in aerial photography.
Drs. Margie MSW'63 PhD'76 and Dan Edwards MSW'65 PhD'76 have spent 30 years at the University of Utah and are this year's co-recipients of the Faculty Community Service Award. In 1971, the Edwardses established the American Indian Social Work Program at the University of Utah (see Continuum, Winter 1996-97). In addition to their teaching, they have traveled extensively, contacting and recruiting Native American students throughout the U.S. who are interested in earning a master's degree while retaining their native culture and language.
The focal point of the awards banquet was presentation of the Par Excellence Award, a chance for the Young Alumni Association to distinguish and thank an extraordinary young alumnus at the University of Utahóone who embodies the mission of the U and expresses it through teaching, research, and community service.
Chris Johnson MS'84 PhD'89 is such an individual. Through his interdisciplinary research, he has opened for students a world of opportunity. During his graduate studies in the University's physics department, Johnson's coursework included advanced mathematics and work with researchers at the Cardiovascular Research and Training Institute. He also added computer science to his rich course of study.
Johnson holds faculty positions in four departments: computer science, bioengineering, mathematics, and physics. And, in addition to his research and teaching, he serves as associate chair of the Department of Computer Science and director of the Center for Scientific Computing and Imaging. Johnson has also been instrumental in establishing and leading the Access program, designed to encourage and mentor young women in science and math at the U.
Johnson has been recognized for the quality of his research through a National Institutes of Health Young Investigator's Award; a National Science Foundation Young Investigator's Award; and an award from the Whitaker Foundation. Most recently, he received the National Science Foundation Presidential Faculty Fellow award.
He and a team of interdisciplinary scientists use computers to develop non-invasive diagnostic tools for use by heart and brain surgeons in place of preoperative surgeries.
Every year, the individuals who contribute to the University of Utah's achievements continue to reach beyond the ordinary. According to Young Alumni Association awards committee member J.D. Davis BS'85, "It is so easy to identify deserving individuals at this institution. In fact, it is harder to narrow the field than to single out someone who is worthy. As long as there are students, teachers, and faculty to acknowledge, we will honor them."