Alum News News from fellow grads and the Alumni Association.

Spring Awards Honor Playoff Pac Founder and Global Health Advocate

The Alumni Association presented more than $500,000 in student scholarships and recognized both an outstanding young alumnus and an exceptional student adviser at its Spring Awards on April 6. The Young Alumni Board presented its Par Excellence Award to Matthew Sanderson BA’05 in recognition of his outstanding professional achievements and service to the community and the University of Utah. The Perlman Award was presented to Stephen Alder PhD’02 for exemplifying excellence in student counseling.

SandersonSanderson is perhaps best known among college football fans as the lawyer who co-founded the Playoff PAC, a political action committee formed to lobby on behalf of a college football playoff. Playoff PAC was nominated in 2011 for Sports Illustrated’s Sportsman of the Year award for its work to bring down college football’s unpopular former postseason system, the Bowl Championship Series. Sanderson, along with the rest of The Colbert Report team, also received the Peabody Award in 2012 for efforts related to television personality Stephen Colbert’s Super PAC.

After graduating from the U, Sanderson obtained his law degree from Vanderbilt University in 2008. He works as a member in the Political Law Practice Group of Washington, D.C., law firm Caplin & Drysdale. He advises major corporations, political committees, and advocacy groups on campaign finance, ethics, and lobbying rules. He has served as general or legal counsel on campaigns for Rand Paul, Rick Perry, Mitt Romney, and John McCain. Sanderson is also a lecturer at the University of Virginia School of Law and a trustee of the American Council of Young Political Leaders.

AlderAlder is a professor of Family and Preventive Medicine and chief of the Division of Public Health at the U. Since joining the university in 1995 as a founding member of the Health Research Center, he has been active in various forms of clinical and population- based research. As the faculty advisor for Global Health Scholars in the Honors College since 2009, Alder has mentored, taught, and counseled thousands of students in majors impacting global health issues.

He has also been instrumental in initiating the University’s Global Public Learning Abroad programs wherein students from a variety of disciplines participate in community-engaged scholarship around the world. Alder is also working to develop a Junior Global Health Scholars program for high school students.

Alder has had a vast and positive influence on countless students and communities. He is president of the Association of Accredited Public Health Programs, chief science officer for the developing Institute for Health Care Transformation, and a member of the Framing the Future: The Second 100 Years of Education for Public Health Task Force.

Alumni Association News

Melody 3New editor at the helm of Continuum: The Alumni Association welcomes a new alumni relations director and editor of Continuum magazine, J. Melody Murdock. A Utah native, Murdock brings with her 16 years of editorial, marketing, and public relations experience, including more than a decade working and teaching in higher education. “I began my career in alumni relations, and I’m thrilled to have come full circle,” she says. A self-proclaimed “wordie,” Murdock says this job combines the two elements she is most passionate about professionally—higher education, and clear and compelling writing. “Effective communication usually boils down to good storytelling,” she says. “And the U has a bounty of great stories to tell.” What you can’t learn about Murdock from her LinkedIn profile is that she also loves a good Red Butte Garden concert, breakfast at Eva’s Bakery in Salt Lake City, or a weekend reprieve in Utah’s San Rafael Swell. She welcomes feedback, ideas, and engagement from alumni, and thanks the U community for the warm welcome.

MUSS founder receives outstanding adviser award: John Fackler BS’89 BS’94 MprA’95, director of the Student Alumni Board (SAB) and founder and adviser of The MUSS student athletics fan club, has won the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) award for Outstanding Adviser in District VII. “I nominated John because he is the epitome of great leadership, great dedication, and great passion when it comes to the SAB and the MUSS Board,” says Mary Neville, former SAB president. “He is always there if a student is in need. He is a mentor, a leader, a role model, and a friend.”

Fackler won the district award in 2012—and likely would have won several more times if not for CASE instituting the “Fackler rule,” which limits winners from winning in consecutive years. He won the national award in 2004 and 2007.

Nominated by the students he works with, the award shows his achievement in not only running the organizations (there are now more than 6,000 students in The MUSS) but also creating lasting relationships with the students. “I’ve bamboozled the students into nominating me,” Fackler says.

In April, he was also honored with the 2015-16 Olpin University Union Outstanding Service Award, for supporting the Union and offering his services to help make it the hub of campus.

Homecoming Logo 2

Save the Date for Homecoming 2016

Oct. 1-9: For a list of events for Homecoming 2016, visit the Alumni Association’s website at

One thought on “Alum News

  • My husband and I recently had a lovely time at the California Club in downtown Los Angeles, meeting with UofU alumni. I was delighted to learn about all the new programs that bring students and the surrounding communities together. Please keep me informed of future alumni / informational meetings in the Los Angeles area. I would be happy to join in any planning or publicity efforts.

    Laurel Howat (class of ’74, Laurel Oden)

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