Through the Years


Jim Gaddis BS’62 received the 2010 S.J. Quinney Award from the Utah Ski Archives for his significant contributions to the development of skiing in the region. In the late 1950s, Gaddis was a multi-year junior national champion and later dominated the national racing circuits, winning the NCAA combined title, the U.S. Championships giant slalom title, and the Snow Cup. He garnered NCAA All-American honors in 1960 and 1962 while competing for the University of Utah, where he was team captain for three years. He later became a prominent ski coach and founded one of Utah’s first racing programs for the development of junior racers, the Gaddis Training Organization (GTO). He was inducted into the Utah Sports Hall of Fame and the University of Utah Crimson Club Sports Hall of Fame in 1989 and the Intermountain Ski Hall of Fame in 2005.


Renwick Nelson MBA’72 has been named Peace Corps country director for the Federated States of Micronesia/Palau. Nelson has been with the Peace Corps since May 2007, first serving as the administrative officer for Peace Corps/Thailand and later the chief administrative officer for the Europe, Mediterranean and Asia (EMA) region in Peace Corps headquarters. Nelson was an attorney and business manager for two financial services companies from 1975 to 1997. He also served in the U.S Air Force from 1964 to 1972. In addition to his U of U MBA, he holds a B.S. in systems engineering from Widener University and a J.D. from the University of Florida. Nelson and his wife, Brenda Drew, served as volunteers in Tonga from 2000 to 2002, when he taught business and law courses at the first tertiary school in Tonga that was licensed to grant New Zealand diplomas.

Richard D. Smith PhD’75, a scientist with the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), has been elected to the Washington State Academy of Sciences. Recognized for outstanding scientific achievement, members review and assess initiatives and provide state policymakers with scientific counsel. Smith is a Battelle Fellow and chief scientist in the Biological Science Division at PNNL, where he conducts life sciences and biological research. His contributions in the fields of proteomics, mass spectrometry, and separations science have led to advances in health, energy, the environment, and national security. An adjunct faculty member at Washington State University, the University of Utah, and the University of Idaho, Smith received his U of U doctorate in physical chemistry. He has presented at more than 350 national and international scientific meetings, has authored more than 750 publications, holds 39 patents, and has received nine R&D 100 Awards for his innovations.

Robert J. Boerigter PhD’78 has been named commissioner of the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association (MIAA). Boerigter had previously been the director of athletics at Northwest Missouri State University since July 2001. His accomplishments there include serving as the lead administrator for the Department of Athletics/HPERD; involvement in the planning through opening of the school’s $5 million football stadium renovation; and the refurbishing of the outdoor track facility, with improvements totaling more than $300,000. He has also had extensive experience within the MIAA and NCAA governance structure, including serving as chair of the MIAA Institutional Representatives Council and five NCAA committees and task force groups.


Kevin R. Yeanoplos BS’83 has been inducted into the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants’ Business Valuation Hall of Fame, which recognizes individuals whose lifetime achievements and contributions have significantly advanced the valuation discipline and enhanced the valuation profession for CPAs. He is one of only 23 in the nation so honored since the award was established in 1999. Yeanoplos, director of valuation services at Brueggeman and Johnson Yeanoplos, P.C., is a CPA accredited in business valuation and certified in financial forensics. He frequently testifies as an expert witness in state and federal courts, and lectures on valuation, litigation, and financial analysis issues. Yeanoplos serves on the editorial advisory boards of the Journal of Accountancy and Business Valuation Update.

M. Scott Mietchen BS’84 MPA’91 has been elected to a two-year term as international president of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity. Mietchen is the president and managing partner of Salt Lake City-based Fund Raising Counsel, Inc. (FRCI), the oldest full-service nonprofit consulting firm in the Intermountain West. Prior to joining FRCI, Mietchen served as vice president for university advancement at Utah State University and president of the Utah State University Foundation. Before joining USU, he served the University of Utah as executive director of development and campaign director. He first joined the U in 1992 as the director of major gifts. AM

Jeff D. Davis BS’86 has joined Provo-based Orabrush as CEO. Davis spent 23 years at Procter & Gamble before retiring last year. Orabrush’s product is a tongue-cleaner designed to fight bad breath. Founder Robert Wagstaff, a scientist and former bioscience company executive, came up with the idea when he tried to deal with bad breath among Mormon missionaries he was supervising. Orabrush has deals with retailers in England and Canada and has sold more than a million products online. Davis now hopes to get the Orabrush into U.S. stores. LM

Patrick Loughlin MS’88 has been elected a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the world’s leading professional association for the advancement of technology. Loughlin is William Kepler Whiteford Professor of Bioengineering and Electrical & Computer Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh, which he joined in 1993. He has made contributions to signal processing and bioengineering, including the development and application of nonstationary signal processing methods (especially time-frequency distributions) and development of a physical model of anesthetic uptake, for which he holds two U.S. patents. Loughlin is associate editor and a member of the editorial board for the IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering and a member of the technical committee on acoustic signal processing of the Acoustical Society of America. His research has been supported by institutions including the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, Department of Defense, and Boeing.

Pillow, 2010, acrylic paint and pasted paper, 7 1/4 x 9 1/2 inches (unframed and mounted on a one-inch-deep rectangular backing). Image courtesy Elizabeth Harris Gallery

Mario Naves BFA’84 was recognized as a 2010 Distinguished Alumnus by the University of Utah College of Fine Arts. Naves is an artist, writer, and teacher who lives and works in New York City. He is renowned for his torn and cut abstract collages, which have been described by The New York Times as “delicate and gorgeous.” This past year, his work was the subject of a one-person exhibition at Elizabeth Harris Gallery in New York City, and he was awarded a $12,000 grant by The Pollock-Krasner Foundation. Naves has taught and lectured at institutions including The New York Studio School, Rutgers University, and The Ringling College of Art and Design. He currently teaches at Pratt Institute and Brooklyn College.


Rafael Lara-Alecio PhD’91 was recognized with the 2010 College of Education and Human Development Outstanding Mentoring Award from Texas A&M University. Lara-Alecio is professor of bilingual education in the university’s Department of Educational Psychology. He joined the faculty at Texas A&M in 1991, and since 1992 has served as the director of bilingual education programs. He holds a master’s degree in measurement, evaluation, and research in education from the University del Valle in Guatemala and received his U of U doctorate in educational psychology.

Alison McLennan BFA’93 received the 2011 winter/spring Dennis Lehane Fellowship for Fiction from the Solstice Low-Residency MFA in Creative Writing Program at Pine Manor College. Lehane (author of many well-known novels, including Mystic River and Shutter Island) is the fellowship’s donor and current writer-in-residence at Pine Manor, located near downtown Boston. The fellowship is offered once annually to a promising writer starting the program during the winter residency/spring semester. Currently a teacher with the Utah Virtual Academy (a full-time, tuition-free online public school option), McLennan has been a recipient of a Utah Arts Council award for her writing. She is at work on a cross-genre novel, Falling For Johnny, set in her childhood home of Massachusetts.

Maria Elena Ramirez BFA’95 made her Broadway debut as Rachel Jackson in Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson in October 2010, and was spotlighted on as the “Debut of the Month.” Ramirez has been involved with the show since 2007, from workshops through off-Broadway presentations to its Broadway production. She has previously appeared in other off-Broadway and regional theater productions, as well as films such as The Women and Personal Velocity, and on television shows including Law & Order, The Sopranos, Third Watch, and Guiding Light.


Michael N. Patterson BS’98 has been named chief executive officer of Colorado Plains Medical Center in Fort Morgan. Patterson has served in executive management positions at CPMC since December 2005. Most recently, he assumed the role of interim CEO for CPMC in July 2010. Prior to that, he was the hospital’s chief financial officer. Before joining CPMC, Patterson served in health care management roles at two hospitals in Wyoming. In addition to a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the U, Patterson has a master’s degree in business administration from Utah State University in Logan. He is a member of the Healthcare Financial Management Association.


John Nixon MBA’02, former budget director for Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, recently left Utah to become budget director for Michigan Gov.-elect Rick Snyder. Nixon was appointed executive director of the Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget under Gov. Jon Huntsman, Jr. in June 2006. During his tenure, he received accolades for helping Utah become the best-managed state in the nation, according to several publications. Nixon currently serves as president of the National Association of State Budget Officers. Before becoming Utah budget director, he was CFO and deputy director of the State Department of Workforce Services.

M. Benjamin Major PhD’04, assistant professor of cell and developmental biology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, was awarded one of 33 National Institutes of Health 2010 Director’s New Innovator Awards, one of the NIH’s most prestigious grants. The $1.5 million award will fund his work, which is focused on  addressing a significant medical science challenge: identifying the full complement of genes that functionally contribute to specific cellular and disease processes such as cancer. The five-year grants are given to stimulate highly innovative research that has the potential for significant impact on a broad area of biomedical research. Major, a member of UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, joined the UNC faculty in 2009 after completing a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Washington as a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Associate.

Thomas Zumbado BS’09 BS’09 (geography and political science, both magna cum laude) received a 2010 scholarship of $5,000 from the United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation in what it notes was its most competitive year yet. Zumbado is currently a master’s student at the University of Utah. Prior to his academic matriculation, he served as a firefighter for Raleigh-Durham International Airport in North Carolina, and before that, was a U.S. Army artillery sergeant and paratrooper. All scholarship recipients were chosen based on their academic and professional excellence in a field related to the geospatial intelligence tradecraft.

The challenge is on for the title of the University of Utah’s oldest living graduate. Our latest contender is Lillian Draper BS’26, who turned 105 in January. Draper was recognized last October during homecoming week at Salt Lake City’s West High School as its oldest surviving graduate. She is Utah’s 11th-oldest resident overall. Draper would have been unlikely to complete any schooling had it not been for changes in Utah law in the 1920s that made high school completion compulsory. Draper’s father thought college was unnecessary, yet she went on to graduate from the U and taught special education in Utah for 30 years before retiring in 1971. (She would have taught longer, but had to take a compulsory leave of absence, notes son Thomas “Tom” Draper, as up until World War II, women in Utah were required to resign their teaching positions if they married.) All of Lillian’s children went on to college. “She figures nobody can get enough education,” daughter Marjorie Draper Conder BS’82 MS’85 says. Conder works at the LDS Church History Museum, while both of Lillian Draper’s sons are teachers—Tom as a Brigham Young University professor, and Terry at a California public school. In its Fall 2010 issue, Continuum recognized alumna Hilda Marie Hicks Richins BS’30, who turned 104 last July. Tom Draper then drew our attention to his centenarian mother Lillian in a letter to Continuum, published in the Winter 2010 issue.

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

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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.

2 thoughts on “Through the Years

  • What an incredible person Lillian Draper is, a true inspiration to generations of people in all walks of life. Her story has certainly inspired me.

  • Renwick Nelson is a guy that I know. I know that he was a great inspiration to the attorney at Axion Legal for helping him get started. Good for Renwick. I wish him the best.

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