Distinguished alumni to be honored

Five alumni will be honored commencement weekend in May for distinguished service and successful careers.

The UW-L Distinguished Alumni Awards Reception & Ceremony is set for Friday, May 8, at the Cleary Alumni & Friends Center. A heavy hors d’oeuvre reception begins at 5:30 p.m. with an awards ceremony at 6:30. Tickets are $25 per person. RSVP to the Alumni Office, RSVP, by Friday, May 1. Top graduating seniors will also be honored during the event.

The awards and those being honored include:

The Maurice O. Graff Distinguished Alumnus Award

Recognizes outstanding achievement in the lives and works of alumni who have brought honor and distinction to the university. Long-time administrator Maurice O. Graff instituted the honor in 1977.

Susan Gapstur photo.

Susan Gapstur

Susan M. Gapstur

  • Nationally and internationally respected cancer epidemiology researcher.
  • Researcher and professor at Northwestern University. Vice President of Epidemiology for the American Cancer Society in Atlanta.
  • Authored peer-reviewed research studies published in high-impact scientific journals.
  • Received pre- and post-doctoral fellowships from the National Cancer Institute.
  • Earned a master’s and doctorate in epidemiology from the University of Minnesota, 1981 & 1993; bachelor’s in biology from UW-L, 1983.
Theodore Knudson photo.

Theodore N. Knudson

Theodore N. Knudson

  • Respected manager within U.S. and European manned space programs.
  • Head of Ground Operations and Logistics for European Manned Space Programs; Operations and Checkout Engineer for the Skylab and Mars Viking Lander Programs; Project Engineer for the Apollo/Saturn Moon Landing and Exploration Programs.
  • Authored scholarly papers on space and aeronautics.
  • Received numerous NASA and European Space Agency honors.
  • Earned a bachelor’s in general and physical science from UW-L, 1960.

The Rada Distinguished Alumnus Award

Recognizes alumni who have graduated within the last 20 years, achieved professional distinction and taken part in humanitarian activities. Professor emeritus Ron Rada and his wife, Jane, created the award in 2002.

Brian J. Puerling photo.

Brian J. Puerling

Brian J. Puerling

  • Innovative educator using digital technology.
  • Currently director of education technology at the Catherine Cook School, Chicago.
  • Former pre-school teacher in Chicago Public Schools.
  • Authored “Teaching in the Digital Age: Smart Tools for Age 3 to Grade 3.”
  • Earned the National PBS Innovative Educator Award and National PBS Teacher’s Choice Award, 2010.
  • Holds a master’s from Erikson Institute and a bachelor’s in elementary and early childhood education from UW-L, 2006.

The Parker Multicultural Alumni Award

Recognizes outstanding multicultural graduates and graduates who have contributed greatly to the improvement of multiracial culture and understanding. History Professor Emeritus James Parker initiated the award in 1997.

Theo Howard photo.

Theo Howard

Theo Howard

  • Respected and proven leader who promotes student learning and development.
  • Currently associate vice chancellor for Student Affairs at North Carolina Central University.
  • Director of Campus Recreation and assistant vice chancellor for Campus Life at Winston-Salem (North Carolina) State University, 2003-2015.
  • Held numerous leadership positions at Detroit area YMCAs from 1996-2001.
  • Earned a master’s in sports administration from UW-L, 1995; bachelor’s in psychology and sociology from UW-L, 1993.

The Burt and Norma Altman Teacher Education Award

Honors and recognizes outstanding educators and the significant contributions they make to children and communities. Professor Emeritus Burt Altman and his wife, Norma, both long time supporters of teacher education, created this award in 2015.

Cindy Marten photo.

Cindy Marten

Cindy Marten

  • Innovative and respected educator for more than 25 years.
  • Superintendent of San Diego (California) Unified School District.
  • Taught elementary school and served as a school-wide literacy specialist in the award-winning Poway Unified School District.
  • Served for 10 years as teacher, instructional leader and principal at one of the most challenging schools in San Diego — Central Elementary in City Heights — where she greatly improved student achievement.
  • Earned a master’s in curriculum and instruction from the University of California, San Diego, 1995; bachelor’s in elementary education from UW-L, 1988.