Through the Years


Lynn M. Hansen MS’66 PhD’70 was recognized with the 2010 Utah State University College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences Distinguished Alumnus Award. Hansen received a Fulbright Scholarship to Free University of Berlin before completing both master’s and doctoral degrees in German at the U, with studies at Stanford University and a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. Hansen served 23 years in the U.S. Air Force, retiring in 1983 as a full colonel. He is now the holder of the first endowed chair at the USAF Academy, Colorado (the John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of National Defense and Security Studies), based in the Political Science Department. Hansen’s civilian government service is equally impressive. His experience includes service as deputy head, U.S. Delegation to Stockholm Conference (with personal rank of ambassador), assistant director of U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, ambassador and head of the U.S. Delegation to the Geneva Conference on Disarmament, ambassador and head of U.S. Delegation to the Vienna Negotiations on Conventional Forces Europe, political advisor to the Commander of U.S. and NATO Air Forces in Europe, and vice-chair of the National Intelligence Council, U.S. Intelligence Community. His numerous honors include the Intelligence Community’s Distinguished Service Award.


Dale A. Lund BS’73 MS’76 PhD’79 recently left the University of Utah to become chair of the Department of Sociology at California State University, San Bernardino. Lund was on the faculty at the U of U from 1980-2009. He is nationally and internationally known for his research, publications, and presentations focused on the ways older adults adjust to major life transitions, particularly spousal bereavement-widowhood and family caregiving to persons with dementia. Presently his research focuses on testing theoretically based interventions to enhance the participant’s mental and physical health outcomes.

Debbie Piper BA’75 was recognized with the 2010 Arts Education award from the Homer (Alaska) Council on the Arts. Piper has been teaching elementary school for 34 years. In addition to a bachelor’s degree in education, she holds a master’s in teaching and arts education from Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Ariz., and an Elementary Arts Endorsement from the State of Alaska. Piper has taught at McNeil Canyon Elementary School since 1983. Due to her dedication and leadership, McNeil Canyon has won multiple awards in the arts at the state and national level, including the Creative Ticket School of Excellence Award for outstanding achievement in arts education from the Kennedy Center in both 2000 and 2007. Currently a teacher of second grade and art, Piper spends her summers sharing her expertise in art education at art institutes and teacher training workshops in Juneau, Anchorage, Fairbanks, and the Kenai Peninsula.

James S. Fassio BS’77 has been promoted to president and chief development officer for Ross Stores, Inc.  Previously executive VP, he will continue to oversee the company’s entire property development group, including the real estate, market research, and store design for both Ross Dress for Less and dd’s DISCOUNTS.  After receiving a bachelor’s degree in finance with an emphasis in real estate, Fassio continued his career with Safeway Stores, Inc., and in 1985 joined U.S. Venture Partners in Menlo Park, Calif.  In 1988, he moved full time to Ross Stores, Inc., where he has overseen the growth and development of the retailer, a Fortune and S&P 500 company, with gross revenues of approximately $7 billion and 45,000 employees nationwide.

The Rev. France Davis MA’78, pastor at Salt Lake City’s Calvary Baptist Church, has been installed as fifth vice president to the educational arm of the National Baptist Convention. Davis, who also teaches at the University of Utah, is believed to be the first from Utah to receive the designation. The National Baptist Convention is the nation’s oldest and largest African American religious convention, with an estimated 7.5 million members. Five churches from Salt Lake, Davis, and Weber counties are affiliated with the convention.


Principal Ruth Peters is applauded by Oakdale Elementary students, many of whom wore Utah red to honor her fidelity to the U.

There are normal Ute fans, and then there are über-Ute fans—like Ruth Peters BS’81 (education), former principal of Oakdale Elementary in Sandy, Utah. During her seven-year tenure there, Peters gained a “really red” reputation by plastering her office with University of Utah-related paraphernalia, such that it was difficult for anyone in the Oakdale community not to know of her passion for and allegiance to the U.

Much as she loved being principal of Oakdale, Peters was transferred last February to Peruvian Park Elementary, just down the road. To pay their respects, members of the Oakdale community gathered in the auditorium to present her with a surprise farewell party. When the unsuspecting principal was led into the auditorium, the audience, including teachers, students, volunteers, and friends—many wearing red and sporting U of U fan gear—clapped and cheered wildly.

Peters was presented with a memory book engraved with a large letter “P,” and students serenaded their beloved principal with a song (“Teacher,” by Denise Gagne) adapted by Oakdale’s music specialist Debby Wetzel. But the biggest surprise of all took place when a group from the U of U Marching Band filed into the auditorium, blasting “Utah Man” at full volume—thanks to Oakdale band teacher and U of U music major Caleb Shabestari, who arranged the group’s appearance. The words were displayed on a pull-down screen, and many attendees joined in, singing the U of U fight song at the top of their lungs, even finishing off with an enthusiastic “Go Utes!” and pumping their fists in the air—for the students, good preparation for the time when they are old enough to join The MUSS.

“I just love the U,” says Peters. “I’m a fifth-generation Ute, and it’s just something I grew up with. I always knew that someday I would attend the U.”


Frank Robinson BS’81 MD’84 now commands the 328th Combat Support Hospital, Utah’s largest Army medical unit, at Fort Douglas in Salt Lake City, where he grew up. Over 25 years and six deployments as a military reservist, Robinson has completed tours of duty in Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Previously a Sacramento, Calif., emergency surgeon when not serving as an Army colonel, Robinson recently made a military trip to Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, where he was charged with caring for military prisoners.

Andrew Pippas MD’86, medical director of the John B. Amos Cancer Center in Columbus, Ga., has been named a Distinguished Cancer Scholar by the Georgia Cancer Coalition. Pippas received a $500,000 grant, which will go toward enhancing the cancer center’s clinical trials program and other initiatives. The board-certified medical oncologist also serves as director of clinical oncology research at the Columbus facility. After receiving his medical degree from the U, Pippas went on to a residency in internal medicine and a fellowship in medical oncology and hematology at the Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C. He joined the Columbus cancer center seven years ago.

Jim Hollis MS’88 has joined TTI Exploration, Inc. as president and CEO and will serve as a member of the Board of Directors. Hollis was previously president and COO of ION Geophysical Corporation, where he was accountable for running all ION businesses. He holds a bachelor’s degree in geophysics from the University of California, Santa Barbara, in addition to his master’s in the same from the U.

Mark Padilla Viau BS’89, Major (Select) with the 101st Information Operations Unit, Utah Air National Guard, acted in the Utah Department of Veterans Affairs feature Transmission on Transition, which was nominated for a Peabody Award in late 2009. The film addresses the issue of returning veterans facing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and other war-related problems. Viau is a professionally trained actor with the Wilhelmina agency. He was recently cast in his first leading role in a full-length feature film, Diva Force, scheduled for release in fall 2010, and is also serving as a technical advisor for the film. Prior to joining the Utah ANG more than 11 years ago, Viau was a special agent for 14 years with the FBI, where he investigated “white-collar” crimes. Viau recently created the company HospitalSkins, which puts decorative “skins” (like those used on cell phones and laptops) on medical devices. In light of recent studies demonstrating the significance of a child’s visual surroundings in their healing process, HospitalSkins are particularly aimed at children’s hospital rooms and feature licensed images such as Tinker Bell, Lightning McQueen, and Winnie the Pooh. In April, HospitalSkins signed a deal with OneHope wine, which directs 50 percent of profits toward specific charities. HospitalSkins will have a designated wine and will be a OneHope featured product.  AM

Ian (center) and son Braedon (right) with their friend Arman “Nonoy” Regalado, their on-the-ground contact in Iloilo, with a Jeepney (Filipino bus) loaded with supplies. They filled up two Jeepneys in total on their 2009 trip.

Ian McCracken BS’96 is co-founder and executive director of the charitable foundation Building Youth Around the World, which he helped his 13-year-old son, Braedon, establish as his Eagle Scout project. In 2009, the organization’s first act was a big one: Braedon and Ian hand-delivered supplies to a one-room school in the Philippines.

The eighth-grader spent three months raising $4,000 in donations from companies and individuals. In late November 2009, the father-son team began a 22-hour journey to Iloilo City, Philippines, home to about 90,000 people. Their destination: Iloilo Christian Academy, a tiny two-teacher school that serves 120 students and lacks electricity and water. The two delivered backpacks, chalk, pencils, chairs, marker boards, canned meats, and many other items to the academy. (To learn more, visit the foundation’s Web site at Ian McCracken was born at Clark Air Force Base in Manila, the capital of the Philippines, while his father served in the military as a master sergeant who repaired airplanes. He has three adoptive Filipino sisters and says he has always wanted to go back. McCracken’s company, Professional Recruiting International, which he started in 2004, paid for the plane tickets, hotel, and food for the duo’s 2009 humanitarian mission.


Spencer Hansen BA’98 MEd’04 was named Assistant Principal of the Year for 2010 by the Utah Association of Secondary School Principals. Hansen, 35, has been assistant principal at Davis School District’s Syracuse Junior High School since 2005. He was previously recognized as Utah Middle Level Administrator of the Year for 2008. In addition to teaching and administrative certificates and degrees from the U, Hansen holds a master’s degree in special education rehabilitation from Utah State University.


Bart Stevens MSW’04 has been named the acting director of the Bureau of Indian Education. He has been the BIE’s deputy director for school operations since early January 2009. Before that, he held two BIE associate directorships overseeing BIE-funded schools in 25 states. He has also held teaching, counseling, and administrative positions in tribal and public schools in Utah. Stevens is an enrolled member of the San Carlos Apache Tribe in Arizona with ancestry from the Ute Indian Tribe in Utah, the Gila River Indian Community in Arizona, and the Shoshone-Bannock Tribe in Idaho. He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in school administration and supervision from Utah State University, as well as a master’s degree in social work from the U.

Scott Norton BA’05 is now both a practicing attorney and one of the top 50 male bowlers in the world.  The son of United Bowling Congress Hall of Famer Virginia Norton, Scott rolled his first strike at the age of 4. He won numerous junior amateur victories and, at 18, the Adult National Amateur Championship, becoming the youngest ever to do so. As a University undergraduate, he continued to bowl. “I paid my way through college playing amateur tournaments,” says Norton. He joined the Professional Bowlers Association and, while attending San Francisco’s Hastings College of Law, would study during the week and bowl in regional events on weekends, winning two titles within his first six months of being a PBA member. After graduating from Hastings, Norton passed the California Bar Exam on his first try, then signed on with the Bay View Law Group. In the same month, he won the Sands Regency PBA Regional Players Invitational in Reno, earning the winner’s purse and an automatic spot on the 2010-2011 PBA Tour.

Jordan Breighner BS’09 currently works at the Department of Homeland Security in Washington, D.C. Breighner spent part of his senior year at the U as an intern for the Obama campaign in Chicago. The Hinckley Institute helped him coordinate the internship, but was unable to sponsor him due to campaign finance laws. Breighner worked as a targeting intern for the Obama team, using the Internet in a way he says campaigns have never done before—identifying “sporadic” voters who would be likely to support Obama based on demographics such as age, sex, location, and income levels. Breighner notes that such targeting, a technique taken from the banking industry, could also be applied by other private sector entities, as well as nonprofit charities.

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