The George Norlin Award recognizes outstanding alumni who have demonstrated a commitment to excellence in their chosen field of endeavor and a devotion to the betterment of society and their community.
Lorrie Shepard (MEdu'70; PhD'72)
With more than four decades spent at CU Boulder, Lorrie Shepard is the trusted go-to for campus administrators concerning policies, programs and politics.
“She is known for her sharp analytical skills, her articulate questions and her tenacious commitment to fairness,” said a former CU vice-provost.
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.”
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” 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.”