Through the Years


Spencer Eccles BS’56 received the 2010 Distinguished Utahn Award from the Salt Lake City chapter of the BYU Management Society. Few philanthropists in Utah reside within the same stratosphere of giving as Eccles. As chair and chief executive of the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation, he presides over an organization that has made more than $300 million in charitable grants since its inception in 1982. Eccles says of the recognition, “I’m very honored and happy [because the society’s] mission is scholarships for higher education at any Utah institution of higher learning.” In 2009, the society awarded more than $50,000 in scholarships to students entering college. “Higher education is the key to the future for this state,” Eccles says. LM

Hilda Marie Hicks Richins BS’30 turned 104 this July, likely making her the oldest living University of Utah graduate. The eldest of five children, Hilda grew up in Grantsville, Utah, before moving to the “big city” to attend the University. At the time, she was one of only a few women at the U and worked her way through school as a seamstress and housekeeper. During the summers, she studied at the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Washington in Seattle. After graduating with a degree in home economics (sewing major, cooking minor), she took a job teaching home economics at Tooele High School, where she remained for 10 and a half years before moving to Salt Lake City with her new husband, L.W. Richins. While Hilda was pregnant with their first child, her husband enlisted in the Navy to join the fight in World War II, and Hilda spent the first two and half years of motherhood as a single parent while he was in Europe. Her grandmother, Hilda Anderson Erickson, was Utah’s last living pioneer when she died at the age of 108 in 1968. Richins’ philosophy has always been to keep life simple: walk every day, eat three square meals, and keep your mind busy. As sharp as ever, and showing no signs of slowing down, she now spends her days reading, playing Bingo, and watching her favorite game shows.


Dell Vaughn McDonald BS’60 MS’66 was recognized as the 2009 Distinguished Alumnus of the University of Utah Department of Atmospheric Sciences. McDonald served in the U.S. Air Force for 20 years before retiring as a lieutenant colonel in 1980. He went on to hold several diverse leadership and management positions in southern Utah, including director of Community and Economic Development and director of Natural Resources for the Five County Association of Governments, assistant to the president for university advancement at Southern Utah University, and president, owner, founder, and CEO of Home Health Services, Inc. For the past eight years, McDonald has been instrumental in the cultivation of low-cost housing and aid to the homeless and impoverished. He is director of the Homeless Housing Partnership, which develops housing for single homeless people, is a member of the Utah State Homeless Coordinating Committee for the Governor of Utah, and serves as co-director of the Crusade for the Homeless. He also founded the Garth B. Last Foundation, which provides support for elderly homebound patients. LM

Douglas Henderson PhD’61 was recently elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry, the highest level of society membership. After some years with the IBM Research Laboratory in San Jose, Calif., Henderson served as a professor of chemistry at Brigham Young University. Now professor emeritus, he remains active in research. LM

William T. Silfvast BS’61 PhD’65 was recognized recently in the SPIE tribute “Laser Luminaries,” celebrating “50 Years Advancing the Laser.” (SPIE is a nonprofit international society for the exchange, collection, and dissemination of knowledge in optics, photonics, and imaging engineering.) Silfvast is renowned for the number of new lasers he has discovered. He has also done notable work in metal vapors, and demonstrated more than 100 recombination lasers and laser action in laser-produced plasmas. Silfvast is now professor emeritus of optics at the University of Central Florida. His current interests involve developing efficient short-wavelength sources and their use in new applications, such as soft-X-ray projection lithography and microscopy, and in photoionization spectroscopy. Silfvast is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, the Optical Society of America, and the IEEE. He is the author of Laser Fundamentals, published by Cambridge University Press.


Laurel Siddoway BS’75 JD’79 has been appointed to the Washington State Court of Appeals, Division III, by Gov. Chris Gregoire. Siddoway had been an attorney at Randall Danskin in Spokane since 1985. She started as an associate at the firm before becoming a managing principal. Siddoway’s legal experience also includes positions at other law firms and as in-house counsel to businesses. She also taught as an adjunct professor at Gonzaga University for several years.

Peter E. Braveman JD’76 was recognized with the 2010 Outstanding Corporate Counsel Award from the Los Angeles County Bar for his exceptional career achievement. Braveman has served as senior vice president for legal affairs and general counsel of Cedars Sinai Medical Center since 1987. He is a leader in the nonprofit and healthcare bars and was named a Southern California Super Lawyer in 2005 and 2006. Some proceeds from the awards dinner go to the recipient’s law school, in Braveman’s case, the U’s S.J. Quinney College of Law.

Ronald P. Sanders MS’76 has been named a senior executive advisor with Booz Allen Hamilton Inc., supporting the firm’s human capital and educational offerings in the defense market. Sanders has 37-plus years of experience successfully addressing the federal government’s most difficult human capital challenges across civil, defense, and intelligence agencies. Recently retired as the U.S. intelligence community’s first chief human capital officer, Sanders is the recipient of the U.S. intelligence community’s highest honor, its Distinguished Service Medal. He was elected a Fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration in 2006 and is also the recipient of three Presidential Rank Awards for playing a key leadership role in several major organizational transformations within the federal government.

Greg Goff BS’78 MBA’81 has been elected president and CEO of Tesoro Corporation. Goff was most recently senior vice president, commercial, for ConocoPhillips. He joined the company in 1981 and held various positions in transportation, supply, and trading. He has served leadership roles including managing director and CEO of Conoco JET Nordic, based in Sweden; chair and managing director of Conoco Limited, the company’s UK refining and marketing affiliate; president of Europe and Asia Pacific downstream activities; and president of the company’s U.S. Lower 48 and Latin America exploration and production business. AM


Dale K. Nash BS’80 was recognized with the 2010 John E. Willson Distinguished Alumnus Award from the University of Utah’s Mining Engineering Program. Nash is currently CEO of Alaska Aerospace Corporation, which owns and operates the Kodiak Launch Complex (Kodiak Island, Alaska), a fully operational spaceport primarily serving the Missile Defense Agency and the U.S. Air Force. Nash has served the aerospace industry for nearly 30 years. He began his career in aerospace in 1982 at Hercules Aerospace Company–Bacchus Works, in Magna, Utah, where he worked on intercontinental and submarine-launched ballistic missile systems. In 1987, he moved to Thiokol Corporation, in Promontory, Utah, and later transferred to the Kennedy Space Center as vice president and general manager of Thiokol’s Florida operations. In 1995, he transitioned to United Space Alliance/Lockheed Martin, where he served in several executive leadership positions on the NASA Space Shuttle/Human Space Flight programs until 2007, when he joined AAC. Nash’s first positions after receiving his undergraduate degree were in mining engineering, but the 1982 crash in energy prices and limited mining jobs led him to make the career change to aerospace. He went on to receive an MBA from the University of Florida.

Jow-Lay Huang PhD’84, a professor from National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) and president of the Taiwan Association for Coatings and Thin Film Technology, has been selected for membership in the World Academy of Ceramics (WAC). Huang, a Distinguished Professor with NCKU’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering and an expert in functional and structural ceramics, is among 14 ceramics specialists to be elected into the academy this year and is the first and only academic from Taiwan to be inducted. The WAC was established in 1987 to promote progress in the field of ceramics and foster better understanding of its impact. The academics elected are internationally renowned scholars who have made significant contributions and achievements in the academic research field of ceramics. The total number of international academicians recognized is limited to 200.

Jennifer Rigby BA’84 has been named director of multimedia content for The Weather Channel. Rigby has more than 25 years of television experience, most recently with leading industry consultant SmithGeiger. She spent 12 years with Cox Television at stations throughout the country, including serving as news director for WSB-TV, the Atlanta market’s news leader. Previously, she served as news director for Pittsburgh’s WPXI-TV, which was the No. 1-rated station during her tenure. A native of Salt Lake City, Rigby began her career as a producer here. She is an award-winning journalist who has been a part of teams that have received Emmy awards, Murrow awards, and multiple AP Best Newscast recognitions.

Anthony “Tony” Spehar BS’81 MS’85 has been named vice president and program manager for the Northrop Grumman Corporation’s Intercontinental Ballistic Missile Prime Integration Contract (IPIC), a 15-year effort to modernize and maintain the reliability, safety, and security of the nation’s entire force of land-based Minuteman III missiles. Most recently, Spehar was the chief engineer and director of the company’s Missile Systems Center of Excellence, which is composed of some 500 missile engineers in six states. Prior to that, he was vice president and general manager of the former Kinetic Energy Interceptors program.


Chinnu Senthilkumar MS’95, chief operating officer of Azure Capital Advisors, has been elected to the board of directors for SurgeForth Technologies. Senthilkumar was previously country head of SanDisk Corporation, Bangalore (India), where he led R&D, sales and marketing, and operations. In his five years with SanDisk, he played a pivotal role in strategizing and setting up a state-of-the-art R&D center, partner tie-ins with top IT firms in India, and an expanding sales network. During his tenure, SanDisk India filed several critical patents and jointly received the “Best ISSCC Paper Award,” a prestigious honor in the semiconductor industry. Senthilkumar also held managerial and general management roles in Texas Instruments and Intel Corporation for over a decade in the areas of semiconductor chip design and HW design. He received nine patents from the U.S. Patent Office in the area of semiconductor chip design during his tenure at Intel.

Clare Duignan BA’09 (at left in competition wig, costume, and makeup) traveled in April to compete in the World Irish Dancing Championships. Dancers from 32 countries participated in this year’s “Olympics of Irish dance,” held in Glasgow, Scotland. (Since the competition recently experienced an influx of Irish dancers from outside of Ireland, it now rotates each year between the United States, Ireland, and Scotland.) Duignan studied many kinds of dance as a young girl, she notes, but after seeing Riverdance at age 10, “I decided to quit all the other types of dance I was doing because Irish dancing was more fun for me… and there were performance opportunities all the time and so many competitions to go to.” Also, she notes, “My father is Irish, so I was always influenced by that part of my life.” Duignan now works for the Governor’s Public Lands Policy Coordination Office and is a dance teacher and dancer with Crawford School of Irish Dance, the oldest and largest school of its kind in Utah. AM


Souad Ali PhD’04 has been a Fulbright Scholar at American University of Kuwait (AUK) this past academic year, teaching, conducting research, and lecturing on Islam and secularism as well as researching Kuwaiti women in leadership positions. Ali was recently tenured as an associate professor of Arabic and Middle Eastern studies at Arizona State University, where she is  also head of Classics & Middle East Letters and Cultures, as well as  coordinator of Arabic Studies. While she was in Kuwait, her book  A Religion, Not a State reached the top of Amazon’s list for “bestselling new and future releases in Turkey.”

LM Lifetime Member of the Alumni Association AM Annual Member of the Alumni Association

We want to hear from you!
Please submit entries to Marcia Dibble. To read more alumni news, check out the “Honor Roll” column in the Alumni Association’s online newsletter here.

Leave a Comment

Comments are moderated, so there may be a slight delay before approved comments are posted. Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with an asterisk (*).