Each fall, the Alumni Association celebrates the achievements of outstanding individuals, alumni societies, and alumni chapters that have demonstrated exceptional commitment and leadership to the Alumni Association and the University during the previous year. These awards recognize and celebrate those who contribute to the mission of the Alumni Association by connecting alumni, students, and friends in lifelong support of the University of Minnesota and each other.
Outstanding Society of the Year
College of Design
The College of Design Student and Alumni Board was founded in 2006 and includes both the Design Alumni Society and the Design Student Board. The groups work as one board, creating programs and opportunities that support the transition from college to career as well as connecting alumni, students, and other professionals to each other and the college. The board is responsible for numerous programs and activities that support their purpose of “Enhancing the student experience by supporting the transition from college to career.” Strong connections are made between students and alumni through the Mentor Program, the College to Career Program and Dirty Laundry, which offers the chance for students to listen in as design professionals reveal their best and worst experiences working in the industry and share career tales with a humorous spin. In total, the board has offered 19 programs and 15 smaller activities throughout the year which engaged over 2,000 participants.
Outstanding Alumni Chapter of the Year
Washington, D.C., Chapter
UMAA-DC has provided alumni in the Washington D.C., Maryland and Virginia areas a strong connection to the University since the 1950's. The network has created a deep partnership with the admissions office by hosting senior sendoffs for incoming students from the DMV area and also by volunteering at college fairs, actively recruiting local students to the University. The chapter also has been highly involved in the annual U of M Day of Service efforts in the Washington, D.C. area by hosting a project to clean up a portion of Rock Creek Park. In addition, they have hosted numerous events, including an annual reception with University of Minnesota graduate and Icelandic Ambassador to the United States, Geir Haarde. They also host game watches, the annual Capital Hill Reception with Minnesota members of Congress, and other events that connect alumni to each other and the metropolitan area. The chapter also awarded its 5th Above Average Alumni Award and plans to continue this tradition moving forward. The recognition event is the main fundraiser for their scholarship which they were able to finalize and make official in the past year. The official establishment of this scholarship is one of the biggest accomplishments of the chapter this year.
Carlson School of Management - Mentor Program
The Carlson Undergraduate Mentorship Program was formed 21 years ago and has continued to change and evolve through the years. The aim of the program is to connect undergradutate students to Carlson alumni and friends to gain perspective on industries of their choice. The Mentorship Program is a partnership between Carlson Alumni Relations, the Office of Institutional Advancement, the Office of Undergraduate Programming, the Undergraduate Business Career Center and the Carlson Global Institute. Most recently, the biggest achievement of the program has been matching students studying abroad with mentors who are living abroad or who have had experience in the students' host countries. All participants are hand-matched by staff or faculty members to ensure that matches are made thoughtfully. Carlson students have deep relationships with faculty and staff and this method helps ensure a more personal match between students and mentors. The program has been a great way for alumni, particularly recent graduates, to give back to current students without having to make a monetary gift. This year, the program had 580 participants and is one of the largest undergraduate mentoring programs in the nation.
U40 Alumni Leader
Rebekah Feist (B.S. '02, M.S. '04, Ph.D. '07) began to set herself apart early in her academic career. As an undergraduate, she was a trailblazer in the lab doing her research in a new area for the group. She was able to overcome challenges and dead-ends while consistently remaining positive according to her advisor. After completing her masters and Ph.D. degrees in Electrical Engineering, Rebekah joined Dow Chemical and held several positions during her nine years with the company. Her first position with Dow allowed her to help develop a solar energy product that has given the world a new renewable energy option. She is now responsible for leading a team of 10 people supporting technology development and commercialization efforts across multiple Dow businesses and customers. She is also a current Core R&D Strategy Leader. Recently, Rebekah was recognized by Dow as one of its "Human Element Heroes" which highlights a handful of Dow's most talented scientists who are helping solve complex global challenges. She was chosen in part because of her passion for mentoring young scientists. Rebekah has over 25 patent applications and 26 journal and conference publications. Since 2016 alone, she has had 11 patents published. She also serves as associate editor for the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Journal of Photovoltaics. Rebekah is at the leading edge of the world-altering work of solving one of today's most critical challenges- discovering alternative renewable energy sources. Rebekah is a wonderful example of a woman doing amazing work in a scientific field.
Distinguished Leadership Award for Internationals
- Dr. Klaus Deininger, Germany — Ph.D., Applied Economics (1993)
- Dr. Michael Wingfield, South Africa — Ph.D., Plant Pathology (1983)
- Prof. Dr. Muhammad Younus Rana, Pakistan — Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Veterinary Science (2007-08)
Alumni Service Awards Recipients
- Karin Alaniz, School of Nursing
- Michelle Aytay, College of Pharmacy
- Roger Chamberlain, College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences
- Matt Dudley, Carlson School of Management
- Robert Graber, College of Science and Engineering
- Frank Grazzini II, Carlson School of Management
- Brenda Hartman, College of Education and Human Development
- Ed Kodet Jr., College of Design
- Charles Lo, College of Science and Engineering
- Noel Nix, Humphrey School of Public Affairs
- Mark Omlie, School of Dentistry
- Jo Ann Omlie, School of Dentistry
For more information on the Alumni Service Award, visit the U Awards & Honors Page.
For our previous award winners, see our Awards Archive.