Alumni Recognition Award: H. Rolan Zick
When people see the new flag flying high over Old Main, a host of emotions are evoked. What a lot of people don’t know is that there would be no new flag without Rolan Zick. He was instrumental in the initiation and organization of the flag project.
Old Main’s 1935 flagpole could not support a flag in high winds and was not replaced during restoration of the building in the 1980s. When the project was presented to the Alumni Association’s Director’s Club after 9/11, Rolan jumped at the opportunity — just one service he has performed for the University since his graduation.
Rolan received a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from CU-Boulder in 1951 and a medical degree from the CU School of Medicine in Denver in 1955. Then he developed some of his passion for the American flag as an officer in the U.S. Air Force. From 1956 to 1981, Rolan served on the medical staffs at several Air Force bases, rising to the rank of commander at the Air Force Academy Hospital in Colorado Springs. Along the way, he received a host of military decorations including the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star and the Vietnam Service Medal.
He returned to CU in 1981 to direct the Wardenburg Student Health Center. Although Rolan retired in 1989, he still spends much of his time serving the University. He was an associate clinical professor of surgery at the CU Health Science Center as well as a medical consultant to the CU Athletic Department.
He has served on board of directors for both the Alumni Association and the Directors Club. Rolan established scholarships at the College of Music in memory of his wife Paula and with the athletic department in memory of his brother Gary.
He is also the 2007 recipient of the Silver and Gold Award, the highest honor bestowed by the CU Medical Alumni Association in recognition of excellence in humanitarianism, citizenship and professionalism.
The University is honored to present Dr. Rolan Zick with the Alumni Recognition Award for his commitment to CU.
Alumni Recognition Award: Jean L. Doepper Thompson
In 1998 Jeannie Thompson and her husband Jack became the first dual lifetime members in the history of the CU Alumni Association. Anyone who has met Jeannie will agree she takes that lifetime dedication seriously.
Jeannie graduated from CU with a bachelor’s in zoology in 1964. She went on to earn her master’s in counseling psychology and an MBA from Northwestern University. After a busy 40-year career in the Midwest in fields including health care, counseling and MBA admissions, she and Jack returned to Boulder in 2002.
Even before her official move, Jeannie was a director on the Alumni Association board from 1997 to 2001, becoming chair of the Membership Committee from 1999 to 2000 and chair of the Education Committee the following year. As a member of the Director’s Club, she served on its board of directors from 2005-2006.
Since 2002 Jeannie has served on the CU Foundation’s board, including chairing the compensation committee for 2005-06. She was involved with the University capital campaign “Beyond Boundaries,” which raised over $1 billion for CU. As a member of the CU Graduate School Advisory Council, she chaired its development committee from 2004-2006.
In 2005 Jeannie was a member of the search committee for a new Foundation president. With her background and experience in executive development, this May Jeannie was named to the search committee to select a new president for CU.
Jeannie also served on the College of Music Advisory Board in 2005-06 and was a member of its Jazz Program Task Force from 2004 to 2006. She and Jack, who is also a proud and dedicated alum, donated funds to jazz studies and for the creation of the Thompson Center of the American West Awards Fund as well as the Thompson Endowed Graduate Fellowship. Jeannie is also a member of the CU Art Museum Benefactor’s Salon and is a participant in the Conference on World Affairs.
The University is pleased to present Jeannie Thompson with the Alumni Recognition Award for her outstanding and continuing devotion to CU.
Kalpana Chawla Outstanding Recent Graduate Award: James J. Tighe
After graduating from CU in 1967 with a degree in aerospace engineering and a minor in computer science in 1997, Jim Tighe went to work for Boeing as a stability and control engineer. But he had his sights set a little higher than Earth’s atmosphere.
In August 2000 Jim went to work for Scaled Composites, LLC. Only three years after completing his undergraduate degree, Jim became the chief aerodynamicist of SpaceShipOne – the first privately funded spacecraft with a pilot on board. Both an airplane and a rocket ship, the spacecraft is able to function in both supersonic and subsonic flight regimes, thanks to Jim’s aerodynamic direction.
The project won the $10 million Ansari X Prize in 2004, an award designed to spur innovation beneficial to humanity using the motivation of competition in the private sector. SpaceShipOne has a permanent home in the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.
“What was once only the domain of a select few will, over the next decade, become open to many,” says Lee Peterson, chair of CU’s aerospace engineering department. “SpaceShipOne and those spacecraft to follow, will have a singular effect, not just on our profession, but on our society as a whole.”
Jim was named Design News Timken Engineer of the Year. He donated $20,000 of his award to CU’s aerospace engineering department to fund senior projects.
The University is proud to honor Jim Tighe with the Kalpana Chawla Outstanding Recent Graduate Award in recognition of his groundbreaking work in the realm of private space travel.
Robert L. Stearns Award: Daniel N. Baker
Knowing the breadth of the accomplishments of Daniel Baker as director of CU’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics might lead one to wonder whether he has any time for sleep.
Dan came to CU in 1994 as director of LASP and professor of astrophysics and planetary science. Since his appointment LASP has flourished, growing from $10 million in sponsored research funding in 1997 to $49 million merely a decade later — a 316 percent increase. The number of professionals, as well as students, involved with LASP has nearly doubled as has national recognition of the organization.
This positive growth has been due in great part to Dan’s ability to bring different organizations together. He has built research alliances with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Center for Atmospheric Research, building relationships locally that benefit the community nationally.
He has served on a multitude of committees for CU. He serves on the Graduate School Institute Directors Committee and the Research Cabinet for the Vice Chancellor of Research. He was involved in Vision 2010: University without Walls, the Chancellor’s Federal Relations Advisory Committee and the Aerospace Engineering Advising Committee.
Dan chaired CU’s Research and Creative Works Task Force in 2000 and more recently was chair of the National Academy of Sciences Solar and Space Physics Committee. He is a fellow of the American Geophysical Union and has served as president of its Space Physics and Aeronomy Section. These examples are a small representation of his vast service inside and outside of the University.
Yet Dan makes time for students. He has been the principal advisor for eight graduate students and has served on the dissertation committees of another eight. Many of his students have gone on to win awards.
He has also been very involved with hands-on student flight programs such as the Student Nitric Oxide Explorer, which orbited Earth for five years, and the Student Dust Counter, now passing Jupiter on its way to Pluto. Dan has also served as principal investigator for 39 programs at LASP, earning the laboratory a total of $8.7 million in research funding.
“Dan is perhaps the most highly respected scientist in his field,” according to Cal-Berkeley physicist Robert Lin. “Dan’s record of service to the space community is, to my knowledge, unmatched.”
The University is proud to present the Robert L. Stearns Award to Daniel N. Baker for his endless service in all the facets of service, research and education.
Robert L. Stearns Award: Polly E. McLean
Combine endless caring, compassion and enthusiasm with a brilliant intellect and you get a person like Polly McLean. Her extraordinary teaching and service at CU for over two decades is legendary around the Boulder campus.
Polly received her doctorate from the University of Texas in 1984 in media studies with an emphasis on international development. She came to CU the same year as an assistant professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Since then, she has built a reputation as the “go-to” professor for any student in need of assistance and inspiration.
“I always knew when Polly was coming because I would hear chatter and laughter well in advance,” says Joanne Arnold, professor emeritus of journalism. “Sure enough, soon I’d see Polly with a troop of students following behind her — a modern day Pied Piper.”
Polly has been an associate professor of journalism since 1994. In 2004 she was appointed as director of the Women and Gender Studies Program because it was struggling. She has successfully turned the program around, despite any possible harm to of her career path in the School of Journalism. Her selfless availability to the University and its students puts her where she’s most needed.
Her teaching often begins in the classroom and then extends itself into the world in inspirational ways. In 2002, what began as a women’s studies class project involving student interviews with African American women of Boulder, evolved into a 177-page book — A Legacy of Missing Pieces: The Voices of Black Women of Boulder County — written by students and edited and grant-funded by Polly.
She has been a visiting professor at the University of Zambia, the University of Namibia and at Howard University in Washington, D.C. She has worked for international organizations such as UNICEF, USAID and UNESCO. Locally, she has been involved with the Rocky Mountain Peace Center, the Boulder Valley School District and the Boulder County AIDS Project, among many others. Her priorities, however, remain with students.
“She reaches out, especially to those who are marginalized or otherwise struggling, and encourages us, challenges us and ultimately, supports us,” says Michelle Miles, a graduate student who will be the first African American student to receive a doctorate in journalism at CU.
The University is honored to present Polly McLean with the Robert L. Stearns Award for her extraordinary involvement at CU, in the community and with the lives of its students.
Robert L. Stearns Award: Uriel Nauenberg
It seems fitting that German-born Uriel Nauenberg would become an internationally recognized physicist. He came to CU from the physics faculty at Princeton in 1969 and has spent the last 38 years here as professor of physics.
Uriel has supervised eight doctoral students in their graduate work. He has acted as advisor and mentor for over 30 undergraduates in CU’s Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program. He has been named Outstanding Physics Teacher by the Sigma Pi Sigma Physics Students Society three times. He is known for his organized lectures and his ability to clearly present very complex material to students.
As an experimental high energy particle physicist, Uriel performs work at particle accelerators worldwide. He is the author of over 300 journal articles and has given over 50 invited lectures nationwide. Uriel is the founder of CU’s Modern High Energy Group and was a developer of the Rocky Mountain Consortium for High Energy Physics.
As Dean of CU’s College of Arts and Sciences Todd Gleeson says, “Uriel is a high energy physicist, in both interpretations of that phrase.” Even with his outstanding work in teaching and physics, Uriel still has an extremely high amount of energy to dedicate to other areas of the University in need of assistance.
Uriel has been involved with the Boulder Faculty Assembly since 1996. He chaired the BFA Budget and Planning Committee in 1999. He streamlined the accounting system regarding federal grant funding overdue charges and saved researchers hundreds of thousands in research funding. He chaired the BFA for two terms in 2001 and 2002 and was instrumental in advancing ideas of shared governance between the faculty and administration on campus. He co-chaired the University System Budget Planning Committee from 2000 to 2001.
“Occasionally, or perhaps too often, faculty view their plight as a disadvantaged, adversarial relationship with the administration,” says Jeffry Mitton of CU’s Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department. “Uriel has always examined the situation for himself and made his own determination. His has been a stern voice of moderation, often providing a bridge of civil discourse between faculty and administration.”
According to Albert Bartlett, professor emeritus of physics, “Uriel’s pursuit of excellence in everything he does inspires his classroom students, his research students, his associates and his faculty colleagues to increase their own commitment to excellence.”
The University is proud to honor Uriel Nauenberg for his nearly four decades of leadership in research, teaching and in the development of educational policy.
George Norlin Award: Peter Henning Jr.
Nontraditional students often hear a lot about why they should have gone to college earlier. Dairy farmer, nuclear physicist and businessman Peter Henning is a great example of why nontraditional timelines can be valuable.
It’s not that Peter didn’t have an aptitude for the classroom. He graduated from high school in Stanwood, Wash., in 1939 as the class valedictorian. Although he was offered a scholarship to Washington State, his father needed help running the family dairy farm. Peter began managing a herd of 40 Jersey dairy cows.
Over the next 20 years Peter built the herd up to 500 animals. He refined production, improved breeding and nutrition techniques and presented show herds nationwide. In 1948, at age 26, he was elected director of the board of the American Jersey Cattle Club. A year later he became president of the Washington Milk Producers cooperative and served for a decade. In 1954 the governor of Washington asked him to serve as vice chair of the Washington Dairy Products Commission and served two terms.
But in 1956 someone suggested he go to college. A reluctant Peter enrolled in heavy course loads at the University of Washington. Although he worked full time and was married with four children, Peter completed his bachelor’s in physics two years later at age 37.
In 1959 Peter hired a manager for his dairy farm and moved his family moved to Boulder. He earned his doctorate in nuclear physics in 1964. His thesis work was the first of its kind — the study of high resolution crystal diffraction of nuclear gamma rays.
From 1964 to 1966 Peter studied controlled thermonuclear fission at Aerojet General, a California research firm, earning the company three patents. He then worked for Varian Medical Systems in California, pioneering the use of electron linear accelerators in hospitals for radiation treatment for cancer.
“He became very knowledgeable about the physics of radiation therapy and treatment planning and also about radiation’s biological effects, so he was equally at home talking to the hospital physicist and physician,” says Richard Lavine of Varian.
Peter left Varian in 1977 and moved back to Washington. He sold his dairy farm and turned his attention to commercial real estate. He has since developed over 800,000 square feet of high technology warehouse and office space.
The University is honored to present Renaissance man Peter Henning Jr. with the George Norlin Award for exemplifying the concept of lifelong learning.
George Norlin Award: Walter A. Koelbel Sr.
It was a stroke of luck for CU when Walt Koelbel enlisted in the Navy in 1944. There were 130 colleges and universities serving as officer training sites, and, by chance, the Michigan native was assigned to CU.
“When I saw the Flatirons for the first time, I thought, ‘This isn’t going to be too bad,’ ” he recalls. While in officer training, Walt played football for CU and went on a blind date with classmate Gene Norgren.
He was assigned to a naval station in San Diego in 1945 before he was to head to the Pacific. Then the atomic bombs were dropped on Japan, and Walt was discharged. He returned to CU to earn his degree, play football and date Gene. They were married in 1949.
Walt went into real estate and founded Koelbel & Company in 1952 with three employees. The 85-member firm is now one of Denver’s most respected development, investment, construction and insurance companies. He pioneered mixed-use developments all over Colorado while he and Gene raised five children. They now have 12 grandchildren.
“I owe a deep debt of gratitude to the university,” he says of his CU experiences.
“He had a wonderful time at CU, met a lot of friends and got a wonderful education that he feels led to wonderful things,” Gene says of her husband. “He feels you have to pay back to your community.”
And Walt was giving back. He served on numerous boards for Colorado philanthropies. For CU he worked on the Macky Auditorium renovation, served on the CU Foundation board and helped establish the CU Real Estate Center.
Walt chaired the business school’s fundraising board that led to the 1974 construction of the business building. Walt’s oldest son, Walter “Buz” Koelbel graduated just in time to enjoy the new business school facilities. Recently Walt and Gene made a generous donation that made possible the current renovation and addition to the Leeds School of Business. The building, Koelbel Hall, is named in their honor.
Among Walt’s other CU honors are the 1967 Alumni Recognition Award, the 1972 Distinguished Business Alumnus Award, induction into the Athletic Hall of Fame and the 1990 University Medal for “his consistent service and support both to his community and to the university.”
The University is proud to present Walt Koelbel with yet another honor, the George Norlin Award, for six decades of dedication to family, career and the University of Colorado.
George Norlin Award: Leonard L. LaPointe
Leonard LaPointe understands communication — not only communication among people, but communication between people and their own brains. He has spent 40 years working to understand brain disorders through clinical studies, research and teaching.
He specializes in aphasia — an acquired neurological communication disorder that causes people to lose the ability to speak and communicate due to brain damage from injuries, multiple sclerosis or stroke (to name a few causes). Many times neurosurgery and medication have limited impact and leave patients still unable to communicate as well as they did before brain damage occurred. Leonard is working to change that through innovative therapy.
He holds two degrees from CU, having received his master’s in communication disorders and speech science in 1966 followed by a doctorate in 1969. He gained much of his clinical experience in Denver, serving at several hospitals between 1964 and 1969. From 1970 until 1986, Leonard garnered 13 grants and awards totaling well over $1 million in research funding.
Before Leonard’s research, many questioned the effectiveness of therapy as a solution. But success rates have increased is due, in part, to his cooperative research in the 1980s that helped establish therapy as, indeed, an effective strategy to regain communication skills.
“We’re seeing reorganization and reactivation of pathways and patterns in the brain,” Leonard says. “It’s an exciting era for research.”
He continues to receive new research funding, but his focus shifted in 1986 when he became chair of Arizona State University’s Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences. He worked there until 2000, when he was recruited by Florida State University.
At FSU he is the Francis Eppes Professor of Communication Disorders and associate faculty member of the FSU Pepper Institute on Aging and Public Policy. Each year Leonard travels to Brisbane, Australia, where he serves as a visiting professor at the University of Queensland’s School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences.
“Dr. LaPointe is an outstanding international scholar with an encyclopedic knowledge of neurogenic communication disorders,” says Bruce Murdoch, head of the Queensland school. “He has a character and wit which enables him to interact with clinical speech pathologists, students and academics at all levels of the spectrum.”
In addition to his other achievements, Leonard is the editor-in-chief of the Journal of Medical Speech-Language Pathology. He founded the journal over a decade ago.
The University is proud to present Leonard LaPointe with the George Norlin Award for his extraordinary work in helping patients rebuild from the effects of aphasia.
George Norlin Award: Alan Stern
When Alan Stern came to Boulder in 1983, it wasn’t to attend CU. He already had two undergraduate degrees in physics and astronomy, as well as two master’s degrees in aerospace engineering and in planetary atmospheres — all four from the University of Texas. No, Alan came to CU to work on the Spartan Satellite at Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics.
The Spartan was scheduled to observe Halley’s Comet in 1986, but it was destroyed aboard the Challenger on January 28. Although five years of lost work might have floored most people, Alan took it as a good time to head back to the drawing board. In 1989 he completed a five-year doctorate program in astrophysics and planetary science at CU in a mere three years.
After a year of research work CU’s Center for Astrophysics and Space Astronomy, Alan went to work for the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas. In 1994 he convinced the management to establish a branch of SWRI in Boulder. As executive director of SWRI’s Space Science and Engineering Division, Alan built the new branch up from three scientists with doctorates in 1994 to 33 by 2007. The Boulder branch is recognized worldwide for its solar system research.
Alan has published 175 technical papers, 40 popular articles and two books. He has given over 300 technical lectures and over 100 talks to the general public about astronomy and NASA.
In 2006 Alan realized a 16-year-old vision of a mission to Pluto when NASA’s New Horizons launched. It will spend the next decade en route to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt. The true impact of the mission won’t be understood for years, but its results could hold clues to the evolution of the solar system.
“Alan has created things that change and inspire lives,” says Robin Canup, who holds Alan’s former position at SWRI. “[They] are on their way to becoming legacies of his own unique talents and vision.”
Alan moved on from SWRI this April upon his appointment to the position of associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. He is the first person in two decades to be hired to the position from outside of NASA. He’s in charge of a $5.5 billion budget and managing all of NASA’s 53 active, non-human missions and 37 missions in stages of research and development.
It is an honor for the University to recognized one of the nation’s top space scientists with the 2007 George Norlin Award.