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Distinguished Alumni Award

  • James "Jim" Odden ’71

    Award Year: 2020
    Graduation Year: 1971
    James "Jim" Odden '71 is this year's University of Minnesota Morris Distinguished Alumni Award winner. An educator, community leader, and philanthropist, Odden has a long history of service to his alma mater and to greater Minnesota. "James Odden epitomizes the concept of a distinguished University of Minnesota Morris alumnus," says nominator Tom Mahoney '70. "Jim's service to UMN Morris, his...
    Jim Odden in lens, smiling, green leaves in the background
  • Curt Larson '68

    Award Year: 2019
    Graduation Year: 1968
    Curt Larson '68 earned the 2019 University of Minnesota, Morris Alumni Association (UMMAA) Distunguished Alumni Award. An inventor by trade, Larson spent his career creating new products at 3M. He has earned three National Packaging Awards for Innovation, two 3M Circle of Technical Excellence awards, and a 3M Outstanding Community Volunteer Award. He also was inducted into the 3M/PSD...
    Picture of Curt Larson
  • Marilyn Strand '77

    Award Year: 2018
    Graduation Year: 1977
    Dr. Marilyn Strand '77 earned the 2018 University of Minnesota, Morris Alumni Association (UMMAA) Distinguished Alumni Award. An outstanding student at UMN Morris, Dr. Strand has been a leader in patient care for almost 40 years. LEADER IN THE FIELD: FROM MENTAL HEALTH TO INTERNAL MEDICINEDr. Strand has enjoyed a nearly 40-year career in patient care. She began her work as a mental health...
  • Dennis Gimmestad '73

    Award Year: 2017
    Graduation Year: 1973
    Dennis Gimmestad '73 has enjoyed a 40-year career in historic preservation. Through his professional and volunteer activities, he has devoted his life to stewarding Minnesota's history for future generations.
  • Teresa Luckow Peterson '91

    Award Year: 2017
    Graduation Year: 1991
    Teresa Luckow Peterson '91 has worked to revitalize the native language and lifeways of the Dakota people. An educator and tribal leader, Peterson has supported a number of indigenous communities.
  • Tom Mahoney ’70

    Award Year: 2016
    Graduation Year: 1970
    Tom Mahoney ’70, of Hancock, was the creator and founding director of the Grants Development Office at the University of Minnesota, Morris. During his 25-year tenure, average grant awards rose sixfold, to nearly $1 million per year in public and private funds.
  • Mark Schuller ’96

    Award Year: 2016
    Graduation Year: 1996
    Mark Schuller ’96, of DeKalb, Illinois, is an associate professor of anthropology and NGO leadership and development at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb. His research before and after Haiti’s 2010 earthquake examines why multi-billion-dollar humanitarian aid efforts failed to relieve the poverty and suffering of the Haitian people.
  • Sharon Stewart Reeves ’68

    Award Year: 2016
    Graduation Year: 1968
    Sharon Stewart Reeves ’68, of San Diego, California, spent 38 years as a special collections librarian. As director of library services for the San Diego Union-Tribune newspapers, she was a pioneer in creating online, searchable newspaper archives.
  • Todd A. Olson, PhD

    Award Year: 2015
    Graduation Year: 1983
    Olson, vice president for student affairs at Georgetown University, has spent 29 years in the field of higher education. During his 13 years at Georgetown, he has led programmatic planning for new facilities, developed innovative programs to enrich student well-being, acted as a senior negotiator in university-community planning agreements, and taught undergraduate and graduate courses. Olson...
    Todd A. Olson,
  • Dr. Richard Wehseler

    Award Year: 2015
    Graduation Year: 1991
    Dr. Wehseler, physician and medical director of physician staff development at Affiliated Community Medical Center (ACMC), has been a respected member of Minnesota's medical community since 1998. His contributions to community and family medicine have earned him such honors as the Mayo Clinic Chief Resident in Family Medicine in 1998, the 2010 Minnesota Family Physician of the Year Award, and the...
    Richard Wehseler
  • Barbara Gunderson Stowe

    Award Year: 2014
    Graduation Year: 1972
    Stowe has spent 35 years in the field of advancement. As an independent consultant, she has worked with clients such as the Aga Khan University, the University of Brighton, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the United Nations Foundation. Stowe previously spent 20 years at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, ultimately serving as vice president for resource development. She has...
    Barbara Gunderson Stowe
  • Tim Goodmanson

    Award Year: 2014
    Graduation Year: 1986
    Goodmanson is a respected member of the New York City theatre community. He has been designing professionally for stage and television since 1993. His many stage credits include assistant scenic designer at the Public Theater and the Lyric Opera of Chicago and scenic designer at Westbeth Theatre Center and Waverly Place Theater. Goodmanson has been the art director for House of Buggin’,The City,...
    Tim Goodmanson
  • James “Doc” Carlson

    Award Year: 2013
    Graduation Year: 1965
    James “Doc” Carlson ’65, professor emeritus of music, served the University of Minnesota, Morris from 1978 until his retirement in 2009. Over the course of 31 years, Carlson was instrumental in establishing the Morris jazz program. He introduced a variety of classes into the music curriculum, including Jazz Combo, Jazz Ensembles, and Multicultural Music. In 1979, Doc created the now renowned...
    James "Doc" Carlson
  • Mathew J. LeFebvre

    Award Year: 2013
    Graduation Year: 1987
    Mathew J. LeFebvre ’87, professor of costume design at the University of Minnesota, began his career at the University in 1996. Since achieving the rank of associate professor in 2002, LeFebvre has produced designs for 52 professional (juried) productions at significant venues, including five off-Broadway productions, 20 for the Guthrie Theater, five for the Milwaukee Repertory Theater, four for...
    Mathew LeFebvre
  • Ann Michels

    Award Year: 2013
    Graduation Year: 1992
    Ann Michels ’92, actress and singer with the George Maurer Group, has worked extensively as a performer since graduating from Morris. As an actress, she has appeared in nearly 60 productions with over 25 companies, including Chanhassen Dinner Theatres, the Guthrie Theater, the Pantages and Hennepin Theatre Trust, and North Star Opera. She has also starred in three films and done voice work for...
    Ann Michels
  • Robert Hansen

    Award Year: 2012
    Graduation Year: 1973
    Robert Hansen ’73 graduated with a theatre and English double major. He earned a master’s degree in theatre while a student at Florida State University and, later, a doctorate in the same field from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. As an instructor of theatre at Bowling Green University in Ohio, Hansen also chaired the theatre department and served as managing director of the Huron...
    Robert Hansen
  • Puncky Heppner

    Award Year: 2012
    Graduation Year: 1973
    Puncky Heppner ’73 graduated from Morris with a psychology major. He obtained a master of arts and a doctorate in counseling psychology from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. He currently holds a Curators’ Distinguished Professorship—the highest distinction—at the University of Missouri (MU). Heppner is also a director of the Coalition for Cultural Competencies (an organization he co-founded...
    Puncky Heppner
  • Maddy Maxeiner

    Award Year: 2012
    Graduation Year: 1976
    Maddy Maxeiner ’76, as a Morris philosophy alum, has used her numerous talents to benefit the University of Minnesota, Morris community. Beginning her career as a freelance writer, Maxeiner volunteered for state election campaigns and worked on campus through grants. In 1981, she became the coordinator of Alumni Affairs. Previously this part-time position fell under the duties of many other...
    Maddy Maxeiner
  • Ronald E. McRoberts

    Award Year: 2012
    Graduation Year: 1969
    Ronald E. McRoberts ’69 is a mathematics alum. He received master’s and doctoral degrees in biostatistics from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. Presently, McRoberts is a mathematical statistician at the Northern Research Station, U.S. Forest Service in Saint Paul. He has contributed to environmental science through his work on acid rain, sustainability, and climate change.
    Ronald McRoberts
  • David Eckmann

    Award Year: 2011
    Graduation Year: 1978
    David Eckmann ’78, chemistry major, graduated from the University of Minnesota School of Medicine and completed a residency in diagnostic radiology. His area of expertise is neuroradiology, in which he completed a fellowship. As a radiologist at St. Paul Radiology and an American College of Radiology Fellow, Eckmann’s contributions to his profession are significant. Active at both the national...
    David Eckmann
  • Gary McGrath

    Award Year: 2011
    Graduation Year: 1968
    Gary McGrath ’68, history major, earned a master of science in student personnel administration at Western Illinois University and a doctorate in higher education administration from Indiana University. He served the Morris campus for 17 years of his career in higher education, first as director of activities from 1968 until 1972, then as vice chancellor of student affairs from 1986 until 1999....
    Gary McGrath
  • Thomas McRoberts

    Award Year: 2011
    Graduation Year: 1968
    Thomas McRoberts ’68 (1946–2010), history major, continued to be a student advocate and campus leader long after he served on Morris Campus Student Government as a student leader himself. After graduating, McRoberts earned a master of arts in history at the University of Oregon. He returned to Morris in 1975, taught history, and served as first assistant and then associate director of continuing...
    Tom McRoberts
  • John Tavis

    Award Year: 2011
    Graduation Year: 1985
    John Tavis ’85, chemistry and biology, earned a doctorate in molecular and cell biology from Pennsylvania State University. He completed two post doctorates, first at Pennsylvania State University and then at the University of California, San Francisco. He is professor of molecular microbiology and immunology at St. Louis University School of Medicine, where he is known as a gifted teacher and...
    John Tavis
  • Dennis Anderson

    Award Year: 2010
    Graduation Year: 1973
    An award winning journalist and conservationist, Anderson is an outdoor columnist and editor for the Minneapolis Star Tribune. In 1982, he served as a principle founder and first national chairperson for Pheasants Forever, a wildlife habitat and conservation organization that now has more than 125,000 members in the United States and Canada. In 2008, he played a major role in the passage of the...
    Dennis Anderson
  • Susan E. Jackson

    Award Year: 2010
    Graduation Year: 1974
    An internationally respected scholar and researcher, Rutgers University Professor of Human Resource Management Susan Jackson’s expertise is in the area of organizational psychology, the “field that subserves the science of management.” Her research focuses on three different areas: stress/burnout, strategic and international human resource management, and diversity. She is the author of numerous...
    Susan Jackson
  • Kenneth Bruss

    Award Year: 2009
    Graduation Year: 1978
    With nearly 30 years of varied positions in the food and pharmaceutical industry, Kenneth Bruss ’78, chemistry, currently serves as director of technical operations for sanofi-aventis, a pharmaceuticals manufacturing firm. His role encompasses three major areas including health safety and environment, site security, and the overall facilities and maintenance area for the site including site...
    Kenneth Bruss
  • Randy Koopman

    Award Year: 2009
    Graduation Year: 1978
    Randy Koopman's career path has led him from field service engineer to technical sales representative to regional manager to director and, finally, to his current position as senior director for Waters Global Services. The company's waters products are used by pharmaceutical, life science, biochemical, industrial, academic, and government organizations working in research and development, quality...
    Photo of Randy Koopman
  • Michael Rodriguez

    Award Year: 2008
    Graduation Year: 1989
    An associate professor at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, in the College of Education and Human Development, Michael Rodriguez '89 researches psychometric properties of tests and applied measurement with particular interest in Latino youth development and students with disabilities. He participates in a United States Agency for International Development project that is developing a...
    Michael Rodriguez
  • Lorie Gildea

    Award Year: 2007
    Graduation Year: 1983
    An associate justice with the Minnesota Supreme Court, Gildea completed her four-year undergraduate education at UMM in three years with a 4.0 (A) grade point average. She was named a Scholar of the College, a member of the Dean's List and received a Medal for Outstanding Undergraduate. She holds a juris doctorate from Georgetown University Law Center where she graduated magna cum laude in 1986.
    Lorie Gildea
  • Jon Mukand

    Award Year: 2006
    Graduation Year: 1980
    Jon Mukand graduated from UMM in 1980, receiving a bachelor of arts in chemistry and English. He earned a master of arts in English from Stanford University in 1985, a doctor of medicine degree from Medical College of Wisconsin in 1985, and a doctorate in English literature from Brown University in 1995. Mukand is a poet, author, researcher, and a physician specializing in rehabilitation medicine...
    Jon Mukand
  • Stuart Starner

    Award Year: 2006
    Graduation Year: 1965
    Stuart (Stu) Starner graduated in 1965, receiving a bachelor of arts in physical education, a minor in history, and secondary education certification. He began his career in higher education as assistant basketball coach to Head Coach Jim Dutcher of the University of Minnesota Gophers and then served as head coach at Montana State University.
    Stuart Starner
  • Paulette Fairbanks Molin

    Award Year: 2005
    Graduation Year: 1966
    Paulette Fairbanks Molin graduated in 1966, receiving a bachelor of arts in French and English. She continued her education at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, where she earned a master of fine arts in 1975 and a doctorate in 1987, both in educational administration. Her dedicated career in education included serving as director of an American Indian elementary curriculum project for the...
    Paulette Fairbanks Molin
  • Cy Thao

    Award Year: 2005
    Graduation Year: 1995
    Cy Thao graduated in 1995, receiving a bachelor of arts in political science and studio art. He helped found the Center for Hmong Arts and Talent in St. Paul and served as its first director. In 2000 he received a Bush Artist Fellowship that allowed him to complete a series of 50 oil paintings that he had begun as a student in 1993. The exhibition, "The Hmong Migration: Fifty Paintings"...
    Cy Thao
  • Leonard Munstermann

    Award Year: 2004
    Graduation Year: 1964
    In 1964, Leonard Munstermann was a member of the first graduating class, earning a bachelor of arts in psychology. He was the first senior president of the Morris Campus Student Association, the first undergraduate research assistant and also served as editor of the student newspaper during his undergraduate career.
    Leonard Munstermann
  • John Dayton

    Award Year: 2003
    Graduation Year: 1968
    John Dayton graduated in 1968 with a speech degree and secondary education certificate. After serving several years in the UMM Admissions Office and two years with the U.S. Army, he enrolled in Texas Tech University School of Law in Lubbock. Following graduation, he joined one of the largest, oldest, most prestigious law firms in Dallas-Thompson, Knight, Simmons and Bullion-and specialized in...
    John Dayton
  • Robert Gandrud

    Award Year: 2002
    Graduation Year: 1965
    Bob Gandrud graduated in 1965 with a degree in mathematics. He immediately joined Lutheran Brotherhood, a fraternal financial services organization, as an actuary. After working in several divisions of the company including insurance, product developments, sales and marketing, and management information services, Bob quickly rose to the top ranks of management. Bob was named president in 1987 and...
  • Lue Her

    Award Year: 2002
    Graduation Year: 1997
    Lue Her was born in Laos and spent his earliest years in a Thai refugee camp. When his family immigrated to the United States, he grew up in a crime-ridden housing project in St Paul. His mother insisted that he attend a mostly-white elementary school in order to learn English more quickly, and Lue was soon translating for other Hmong parents.
    Lue Her
  • Bruce Johnson

    Award Year: 2002
    Graduation Year: 1971
    Following graduation in 1971 with a degree in English, Bruce earned a Ph.D. in English and education, with studies in film, from Northwestern University. His first film, made in 1977, was a promotional documentary for the ABC mini-series "Roots."
    Bruce Johnson

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