Robert. L. Stearns Award: Owen “Brian” Toon
Owen “Brian” Toon is a distinguished scientific scholar who has worked on some of the most challenging problems of our time in atmospheric physics. His commitment to raising awareness about the dangers of nuclear war, as well as ozone depletion, sets him apart from others in his field.
In the early 1980s, Brian, then at the NASA Ames Research Center, worked with a group of scientists including his former Ph.D. adviser, the late Carl Sagan, to show a full-scale nuclear war was not winnable because smoke from fires generated by burning cities would cause cooling and lead to what they termed a worldwide “nuclear winter.” This work was a factor in causing the decrease in nuclear weapons since the 1980s.
Brian’s work also has provided insight into planetary atmospheres, atmospheric aerosols and the study of clouds, radiation and climate. His colleagues have remarked on his unselfish cooperation in sharing his knowledge and research and in mentoring anyone who seeks out his assistance. His numerous awards include the 2002 Highly Cited Researcher Award for being “one of the most highly cited, influential researchers in the geosciences” and recognition from the United Nations Environment Programme as one of the contributors to the 2007 Noble Peace Prize for the IPCC reports.
Before coming to CU, Brian held several prestigious positions at NASA. But he chose to work at CU, in part, to provide leadership for the next generation of scholars interested in environmental issues. He is founding chair of the department of atmospheric and oceanic sciences, which previously existed only as a program.
The CU Alumni Association is proud to present the Robert. L. Stearns Award to Owen “Brian” Toon for his significant contributions to research, education and public affairs.
George Norlin Award: Dale “Pete” Atkins
Dale “Pete” Atkins came to CU in 1939 from a small coal mining town near Paonia, Colo., thanks to a full scholarship from the Fredrick G. Bonfils Foundation. He credits Bonfils and CU for shaping his life. Pete holds three degrees from the university: undergraduate, medical and a master’s of science. He is Phi Beta Kappa.
While at CU Pete became one of the all-time greats in Colorado baseball and was known as the “Paonia Peach” and “Pistol Pete.” He helped the Buffs win the Big 7 Baseball Championship and lettered in 1941 and 1942. He also played semi-pro baseball. In 1994, he was named one of CU’s Living Legends, meeting the criteria of earning his varsity letter 50 or more years earlier and joining the likes of such outstanding CU athletes as Byron “Whizzer” White.
After serving as a medical resident at CU’s University Hospital, he started his own practice in Denver specializing in urology in 1953, quickly establishing himself as an outstanding physician. He demonstrated his commitment to medicine and Colorado’s residents by serving rural communities and establishing a monthly clinic in Del Norte, Colo.
Over the years Pete has been a tireless participant in CU and state-wide activities. He taught at CU’s medical school, served as a member of the Board of Regents for 12 years, is a lifelong member of the CU Directors Club and served as a National Western Stock Show Association director for 34 years.
The CU Alumni Association is proud to present the George Norlin Award to Dale “Pete” Atkins for his distinguished career and dedication to CU.
Leanne Skupa-Lee Award: David M. Oliver
David M. Oliver is a 1979 graduate of CU’s College of Architecture and Planning. After CU he attended graduate school at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. His work there focused on applying digital image processing to land management and policy, which eventually led him to investigate computer graphics and other computing applications. David founded an electronic payment startup in 1995 and continued that work at IBM until he formed his own mobile consultancy in New York City in 2008.
For the past 20 years, David has been active with a number of different activities in the National Alumni Admissions Assistance Program (NAAAP). He regularly represents CU at three different college fairs each year in the Westchester County region of New York. His efforts have been extremely helpful to CU admissions staff. He attends CU’s preview and reception programs as an alumni representative and shares his experiences with prospective students and families in the New York area.
David also assists with Operation Confirm, a program in which volunteers phone, e-mail or write admitted students and their parents to offer congratulations, answer questions and encourage students to enroll at CU. David has contacted hundreds of students explaining all that CU-Boulder has to offer.
The CU Alumni Association and the Office of Admissions are proud to present the Leanne Skupa-Lee Award to David M. Oliver for his dedication and commitment to the university and its next generation of students.
Robert L. Stearns Award: Douglas A. Burger
Douglas A. Burger is one of the best and most highly decorated teachers on the Boulder campus. He began teaching at CU in 1965 and won his first teaching award in 1967. Since then he has received broad recognition and numerous awards for outstanding teaching. In 1989 he was named a University of Colorado President’s Teaching Scholar, CU’s highest teaching honor. This month he is retiring after 44 illustrious years at CU.
Doug’s contributions go beyond the classroom. He served as the English department’s associate chair for undergraduate studies for more than one-third of his time at CU. As associate chair he has been responsible for planning the undergraduate curriculum for the department and advising approximately 1,100 students.
He has served on the University Honors Committee since the 1980s. His commitment to excellence and his desire to promote scholarship have enhanced the English department honors program. Doug regularly directs numerous honors theses in a single year, giving his time, sharing his wisdom and sage advice. He has served on more dissertation committees than anyone else in the English department.
Doug is a beautiful prose stylist himself, so his writing advice to students is worth its weight in gold. He has been selfless in serving the department and university on promotion and tenure committees, search committees for new faculty and discipline appeals. His colleagues describe Doug as generous, compassionate, scholarly, relaxed, engaged, caring and possessing a keen sense of humor.
Doug also spends time working with the Boulder community. He lectures on the role Christianity plays in medieval and contemporary literature. He has been working with elementary schools using a children’s book he co-authored, The Weighty Word Book, which makes learning a large and complex vocabulary fun for children.
The CU Alumni Association is proud to present the Robert L. Stearns Award to Douglas A. Burger for his service and leadership.
George Norlin Award: George A. Sissel
In addition to a successful career with Ball Corporation, George A. Sissel has dedicated a great deal of time and talent to the CU-Boulder College of Engineering and the CU Foundation. He is praised for his thoughtfulness, creativity and diligence, as well as for the crucial guidance he provided to the university during difficult times earlier this decade.
After graduating from CU in 1958 with a degree in electrical engineering, George served five years on active duty with the U.S. Navy. In 1966 he received a law degree from the University of Minnesota, shortly thereafter joining the Denver law firm of Sherman and Howard. George began with Ball Corporation in 1970, became the company’s chief executive officer in 1994 and chairman of the board in 1995. He retired as an officer in 2004 and as a director in 2007.
At CU, George served as chair of the CU-Boulder Engineering Advisory Council and joined the CU Foundation board of trustees, chairing the board from 2004 to 2006. In these leadership positions George faced challenges head on. He successfully advised the college on how to cope with funding cuts and co-initiated the Earn/Learn program, which helps students earn funding while participating in résumé-worthy work.
He led the foundation through a tough transition period, helping restore public confidence in the institution. This included assisting in maintaining the foundation’s financial integrity while supporting campus development. He currently serves as head of the foundation’s governance committee. In recognition of his dedication to the university, George received CU’s Distinguished Service Award from the Board of Regents in 2003 and the Distinguished Engineering Alumnus Award in 2000.
The CU Alumni Association is proud to present the George Norlin Award to George A. Sissel for his accomplishments in business and his untiring devotion to CU.
Robert L. Stearns Award: Patricia N. Limerick
Patty Limerick is known on the CU campus as one of the university’s greatest ambassadors. She has produced an extraordinary amount of scholarship, has engaged with countless associates all across the world about the American West and has continuously cast the university in a favorable light.
Patty is a model on the CU campus because of her efforts to research and teach outside the academic realm, and she relates to a wide range of constituencies. A colleague once said Patty’s greatest contribution to CU is as a “public intellectual.”
This outstanding history professor came to CU-Boulder from Harvard University in 1984. In addition to her teaching responsibilities she was named chair of the board and faculty director of the Center of the American West in 1995. She also is part of the environmental studies department.
Patty nurtures a community where an admirably diverse group of students feel accepted and inspired, and the excitement and knowledge with which she teaches is not lost on anyone who takes or observes her classes. Outside of the classroom, she has fostered her humorously critical vision by playing “University Fool” on and off since 1987.
Patty’s scholarly accomplishments are staggering. She has authored three books, including the highly acclaimed Legacy of Conquest: The Unbroken Past of the American West, published in 1987. She is a sought after speaker and a prolific essayist. Many of her most notable articles, including “Dancing with Professors: The Trouble with Academic Prose,” were collected in 2000 under the title Something in the Soil. She received a prestigious MacArthur Fellow “genius” grant in 1995, and was awarded the Hazel Barnes prize, CU-Boulder’s highest faculty prize for teaching and research.
The CU Alumni Association is proud to present the Robert L. Stearns Award to Patricia N. Limerick for her commitment to making academic work relevant in the wider world.
George Norlin Award: Richard “Dick” E. Engebretson
Upon graduating from CU’s Leeds School of Business with an MBA, Richard “Dick” Engebretson established a real estate appraisal business in Boulder, which grew into a very successful enterprise. He then moved on to a career in marketing and trade shows. Dick retired in 2006 as the executive vice president of the North American consumer events sector for the London-based dmg world media, one of the world’s largest exhibition and publishing companies.
Dick’s CU contributions include the establishment of the Engebretson Fellowship, an endowed fund to support full-time MBA students, as well as the Engebretson Challenge to increase alumni and donor support to the business school. In 2007 he and his wife, CU alumna Jean Engebretson, helped fund the Koelbel Building renovation and named a new conference room after a professor who had a profound impact on Dick’s education. The Engebretson Quad, a space for students to gather for cookouts and sporting events, honors the couple’s loyal support.
Last fall, Dick stepped down as the chair of the Leeds School advisory board but continued to serve as key liaison to the incoming chair. He serves on the board of trustees and the board of directors of the CU Foundation, giving his time generously.
In recognition of his many contributions to CU, he received the Leeds School of Business Distinguished Service Award in 2005 and the Distinguished Alumni Award in 1994. Dick has left an important, indelible mark on the business school and the CU-Boulder campus, including serving as chair of the Alumni Association’s board of directors in 1985-86.
The CU Alumni Association is proud to present the George Norlin Award to Richard “Dick” E. Engebretson for his distinguished business ventures and his devotion to CU.