Thank you for joining us at the 88th Annual Alumni Awards Dinner and Ceremony. More than 300 guests attended in person and nearly 5,000 watched the live stream of the event on Facebook. Below you can view photos from the ceremony or start the nomination process if you know a Forever Buff that deserves to be recognized!
Lorrie Shepard (MEdu'70; PhD'72)
With more than four decades spent at CU Boulder, Lorrie Shepard was often the trusted go-to for campus administrators concerning policies, programs and possibilities. “She is known for her sharp analytical skills, her articulate questions...
In her own work, Lorrie has contributed extensive research on psychometrics, testing and assessment policies, and the use and misuse of tests in educational settings. She is a champion of classroom formative assessments that help improve student learning, and she is committed to equipping and supporting future teachers to serve all students.
A former doctoral student said, “I often feel the positive difference in the way that colleagues look at me when they learn that I was a student of Dr. Shepard’s.” . “I hope that a fraction of her skills rubbed off on me.”
Her leading contributions to research nationally did not diminish her impact as a university leader locally. As dean of the School of Education for 15 years, Lorrie built a productive, effective and dedicated faculty, tripling total research grants. She also helped establish the CU Engage center, connecting CU students and faculty with community members, and she helped create the school’s first development advisory board. Lorrie remains on the faculty as a distinguished professor.
Said a peer: “She is regarded widely as a clear thinker, an audacious proponent of quality education for underserved students and a champion of teachers who make the K-12 educational system work.”
Yusur Wajih Al-Madani (MEngl'77; PhD'82)
For more than three decades, professor Yusur Wajih Al-Madani of Kuwait University has made extraordinary progress for students in her country. But first, she gleaned inspiration in Boulder. Yusur came to CU in the late 1970s and was the first Kuwaiti to earn a PhD...
... in English literature with an American emphasis. She demonstrated great ability in deciphering complex texts and an eloquent writing style, despite her non-native language.
Said a friend from CU: “As a professor of literature I am totally awed by Yusur’s intellectual and scholarly development in a range of literatures and cultures that would seem to have taken several lifetimes to master.”
Yusur returned to Kuwait to create more opportunities for students to study foreign literatures and cultures. She also wanted students to express themselves in the arts, including music, filming and acting.
She delivered on her vision as Head of the English Language and Literature Department by establishing in 2003 the English Day, an outlet for creativity for students which has become a standing tradition since then.
As Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at Kuwait University, she developed and gained accreditation for the university’s College of Arts. From there, she also chaired the now thriving French Department.
She also chaired the college’s now-thriving French department until February 2017. In 2009, Yusur was awarded the Palm Academic Award by the French Ambassador on behalf of the French Republic for her efforts in launching the department, the first in the Gulf area.
Said a colleague: “Yusur makes everyone around her — undergraduate and graduate students, faculty and administrators alike — want to aim higher for themselves, for the university and for community.”
George "Geoie" S. Writer Jr. (Fin'57)
George “Geoie” Writer is a legend in the Colorado building industry. After serving as an officer in the U.S. Navy, Geoie Writer returned to Denver and founded The Writer Corporation, a home building company, in 1965. Mr. Writer’s vision was to build communities, not just homes...
...which included open space parks, school sites, walking paths and recreational centers with pools and tennis courts. He’s built more than 12,000 homes in communities across the Front Range including Willow Creek, The Dam, The Knolls, South Park, Devil’s Thumb and The Peninsula. Mr. Writer is passionate about design with an enduring impact, and all of his communities – including those that are 50 years old – are still thriving and evolving.
Mr. Writer built the iconic Writer Square in downtown Denver, named the 1980s top architectural and functional urban development by the Colorado Design Council, and received their 25-year award for architectural design of enduring significance.
In 1978 he was the youngest recipient to be named National Builder of the Year by Professional Builder magazine. The magazine’s editor described him as someone who was “furthering the professionalism of the building business in America.” His accolades continued with Man of the Year awards from both the Colorado and Denver Housing Industry.
Mr. Writer, who has five children, eight grandchildren and five great grandchildren, retired in 2004, but remains dedicated to improving others’ lives. Mr. Writer continues to inspire the next generation through his engagement with the CU Leeds Center for Education on Social Responsibility (CESR). In the words of a CESR leader: “Geoie has clearly cultivated habits of community service that drive him to serve the common good of society and his community.”
Siddhartha Rathod (Law'07)
In Colorado, Siddhartha Rathod represents a powerful voice for marginalized communities. His work as a defense attorney has brought justice to undocumented individuals, sexual assault victims, prisoners and many others.
Siddhartha became a founding partner of Rathod Mohamedbhai LLC in Denver in 2011. Since then he’s been involved in several high-profile legal settlements. He successfully negotiated one of Denver’s largest-ever settlements in a prisoner abuse civil rights case, which resulted in policy changes for the Denver sheriff’s department and detention center. Additionally, two of his settlements involving officer-involved shooting deaths brought law enforcement and the community together to initiate positive change.
“Siddhartha is a skilled and charismatic lawyer,” said a peer. “He has dedicated himself to extensive community service and leadership by example.”
He is especially dedicated to serving nonprofits focused on equality and inclusiveness. A quarter of Siddhartha’s work is pro bono, which includes his involvement on the legal team that successfully challenged Wyoming’s gay marriage ban.
Today at CU Boulder, the former Marine Corps captain serves on the Colorado Law alumni board, where he chaired the diversity committee. He also mentors students, hosts law school events at his firm and teaches as an adjunct faculty member.
An assistant dean in the law school calls his CU volunteer efforts “continuous and substantial.”
Siddhartha tackles difficult issues whole-heartedly, and it’s his dedication and grit that serve as inspiration for all — especially the next generation of attorneys and policy-makers.
Impossible is not in Teju Ravilochan’s vocabulary. He embraces the difficult, unruly and implausible and groups them into one difficult-but-attainable concept — unreasonable. Since Teju co-founded the Unreasonable Institute, a Denver-based incubator...
...for entrepreneurs, in 2010, more than 20 million people have benefitted from the 148 startups his organization has supported. The institute, now called Uncharted, also has run 40 accelerator programs in 26 countries.
“One of Teju’s greatest strengths is breathing life into an early-stage idea and pulling together the right people to give it flight,” said a peer whose employer, ReWork, was supported by Teju and the Institute.
For his efforts, Teju was named a Forbes 30 Under 30 social entrepreneur this year. The institute’s work also has been cited in the New York Times, Inc. magazine and blog posts by the Wall Street Journal.
“Teju has the relentless curiosity of a puppy, the serene wisdom of Buddha and the pulsating compassion of Mother Teresa,” said a colleague.
Once, Teju gave such an impassioned speech about his current class of entrepreneurs that a woman quit her job immediately to pursue a bigger endeavor.
Said the colleague: “Teju represents to those who know him — and even to those who do not — that the distance between their current reality and their most daring dreams is far shorter than they ever imagined.”
Jeff Osterkamp (MEngr'97)
There are many recipes for success in our world. All share this ingredient: Opportunity. Time and again, Jeff Osterkamp has proved his commitment to producing it for CU Boulder students — especially students from groups underrepresented in engineering fields.
A high-level executive at Ball Aerospace and past chair of the advisory council for the engineering college’s BOLD Center (Broadening Opportunity through Leadership and Diversity), Jeff shows up and makes things happen.
One signature initiative has paid especially rich dividends: The creation of Ball internships for students in the college’s GoldShirt program. These promising Buffs, typically from under-resourced high schools, have obvious potential, but need an extra year of engineering fundamentals to prepare for the full curriculum. Every year the Ball program brings Goldshirt students into, and often back to, the company, positioning them for full-time employment later.
“Jeff walks the walk for diverse students,” said an engineering assistant dean.
Despite the demands of Jeff’s role as Ball’s vice president for mission assurance, leading quality control for all products and processes, the 30-year aerospace industry veteran is a frequent campus presence.
“You can always find Jeff at a student networking event by locating the largest circle of students,” the assistant dean said. “Jeff will be in the middle.”
Said a Ball colleague who’s witnessed it: “He will make an effort to talk to each and every student.”
Always it’s with sincerity and respect.
“Regardless of rank, status or title,” another of Jeff’s fans said, “he always treats everyone the same.”
Ron Scott (Mktg'68)
If you were naming Forever Buffs who live and breathe CU, you’d have to include Ron Scott. CU has been part of his identity for more than 50 years, and he lets you know it. “One common theme for Ron throughout his life is carrying the CU torch at all times...
...whether he is working, volunteering or doing errands on a weekend,” said a CU Advancement colleague.
Ron came to CU as part of football coach Eddie Crowder’s first freshman class. He was a star on the field, and started three seasons as middle guard.
After college, he spent 14 years in the private sector, including a stint as general manager of Hotel Boulderado. He returned to his alma mater in the ‘80s and served as the Buff Club’s development director and as assistant athletic director, helping to raise $14 million for the Dal Ward Athletic Center.
From that point, Ron was a fundraising dynamo, shepherding large gifts to CU Athletics. He’s seen at virtually every CU event and activity, whether it’s giving a potential student a tour of campus or attending a game-day tailgate, and establishes meaningful conversation beyond the world of sports.
“Ron Scott is the epitome of professionalism and enthusiasm,” said one CU Regent.
Ron is a true CU steward. As a former teammate summed things up: “To many of us, Ron is CU.”
Rob Davis is an engineer, and engineers like numbers. Here are five: 14, 20, 32, 74 — and 74 million. In 14 years as dean of CU Boulder’s College of Engineering & Applied Science, Rob led it to a new, sparkling prominence...
The college now ranks among the nation’s top 20 public engineering programs, its loftiest perch yet.
He oversaw a doubling of the percentage of underrepresented minorities among CU engineering students, to 20 percent, and nearly doubled the percentage of women, to 32 percent — while growing total enrollment by 74 percent and raising admissions standards.
Meanwhile, Rob, who stepped down at the end of last year, led the once cash-strapped college to financial security and enabled both an expansion of research activity and a doubling of annual research funding, to $74 million.
As one colleague put it, Rob “changed the very nature and trajectory of our college.”
Other numbers testify to his extraordinary service. Here’s one more: 220. That’s the number of student researchers, from undergraduates through postdocs, that Rob has personally mentored — a practice he continued while running CU Boulder’s second biggest college.
But numbers tell only aspects of Rob’s 35-year CU story, still unfolding following his return to the full-time chemical engineering faculty.
“He’s the only dean I know,” said another colleague, “who’s offered to babysit while working in his office.”
Alexander "Xander" Martin (Geog'18)
For more than 800 recent Baker Hall freshman, one person played an outsized role in their lives: Xander Martin was their resident cheerleader, their mentor, their leader and their event planner.
As a Baker Hall resident advisor and student coordinator, Xander jumped into the students’ lives with enthusiasm. A nature-lover, he was especially interested in motivating others to get outdoors. He planned climbing nights in the rec center, organized bus rides to local trailheads and guided hikes under full moons. If students without a car were interested in an outdoor volunteer activity, Xander drove them there himself.
“In my 40 years as a faculty member at CU, Xander rises to the top,” said the hall’s academic director.
During his time in the Baker Residential Academic Program (RAP), Xander prioritized the hall’s weekly coffee hours to share his own college experiences, offer advice and recommend courses to first-year students.
“He ably handles difficult situations through his humor, genuine altruism and compassion for others,” said Baker’s resident faculty member.
Xander aspires to a career in environmental law and policy after he graduates this year. In the spring, he started his work as an intern for the Colorado State Senate.
Said the Baker RAP director: “Xander is the epitome of what we look for in a CU student — caring, hard-working and exerting the highest level of integrity.”
Barbara Cooke (Psych'75; MBA'81)
If there’s a CU game to be watched, Buffs in Los Angeles know where to show up: Grunion’s Sports Bar and Grill. It’s all thanks to Barbara Cooke. As the L.A. alumni chapter leader since shortly after its founding in 1988, Barb has ensured that L.A. Buffs have a place...
to watch the biggest CU athletic events. Today, the chapter remains one of the most active in the country.
“Barb’s enthusiasm, love of all things CU and sincere inclusiveness were the recipe for success that set a standard for other alumni chapter gatherings,” said a former Alumni Association staff member.
In addition to the watch parties — which often include a roaring rendition of the “CU Fight Song” — Barb coordinates the yearly awarding of scholarships to Los Angeles CU students, participates in high-school college fairs and admissions events, and leads a team of alumni volunteers in organizing a range of alumni activities in the Los Angeles area from networking events to concerts. To stay current with the university, Barb often travels to Boulder.
“Her leadership and mentorship as I was forming the Minneapolis/St. Paul Chapter was invaluable,” said a fellow chapter leader.
The L.A. chapter holds a special personal tie to Barbara too. At the first organizational meeting for the chapter, she met her now-husband Raymond (Fin’79), who also remains committed to its success.
“I’m willing to bet that Los Angeles has the longest-running CU football watch party location outside of Colorado,” said Ray. “We’ve probably outlasted four owners of that Manhattan Beach bar, and it’s Barb who keeps it going.”
Besides Barb’s involvement with the local CU alumni chapter, Barb is a former member of the CU Alumni Association Advisory Committee, and recently retired from 30 plus years as a IT Project Manager and Consultant. She also serves as a chapter leader for her Professional Organization, Project Management Institute Los Angeles, having lead that chapter as its president and now as a Trustee for the past 10 years. Barb and Ray live by the beach in Los Angeles, along with one very spoiled two year old cat, Dusty.
Svein Hasund (MechEngr'67)
Svein Hasund is the volunteer organizations yearn for. Fortunately for CU Boulder, Svein is around a lot. When Svein gives his time, which is often, he’s fully committed. He’s among the first to arrive and last to leave.
At an Alumni Association event for nearly 2,500 graduating CU seniors this spring, Svein, who was then 74, stood and greeted students for four hours straight. Immediately after the party ended, he put himself to work hauling tables without a word.
“I think anyone in our organization would agree that he is our most dedicated event volunteer,” said an Alumni Association staffer.
Svein’s time serving CU has more than made up for the years he lost touch with the university during his 42-year career in the oil and gas industry, both on- and off-shore. The Norway native lived in places as far away as Alaska and the UK. However, his strongest CU tie was with him the whole time: Svein met Pauline, his wife of more than 50 years, while a student here. Their sons are also CU graduates.
In addition to their own children, the couple has contributed to the lives of more than 55 babies through philanthropic efforts and foster programs.
Since returning to Boulder in 2000, Svein has served on the Alumni Association and Directors Club boards among other CU commitments.
As a board peer put it: “He believes in the institution of CU and is willing to do whatever is needed to spread the word.”