Personal tools
You are here: Home > Alumni Awards > Award Recipients > Distinguished Alumni

Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients

The highest award that alumni can receive from the association. It is awarded to individuals who are active in their professional fields and are widely recognized for their career accomplishments.

2017 Distinguished Alumni Award Winners

Dawn Auclair head shot Dawn (Marrier) Auclair '77

Auclair, a UWO nursing graduate, is a well-respected nurse of 40 years. She has worked at Mercy Medical Center in Oshkosh nearly her entire career, serving for the past 23 years as the hospital coordinator of the night shift. In her role coordinating organ and tissue donations, she has participated in end-of-life care for more than 20 organ donors, resulting in nearly 70 life-saving transplants.

Dick Guenther UWOT head shot Richard Guenther '79

A UWO geology major, Guenther has worked in College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at NCSU for nearly 30 years. His research is in the areas of biochemistry and nontechnology focused on their application to human disease and crop protection. He currently works on a grant project funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to improve food security in sub-Saharan Africa.

Brenda Lau head shot Brenda Lee Lau '83

With a UWO major in radio TV film, Lau embarked on a successful career as an award-winning writer, producer and director in Hollywood. She has spearheaded promotional campaigns for television shows, such as “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Lost,” “Desperate Housewives” and “How To Get Away with Murder.” She also is an independent filmmaker who wrote, produced and directed the award-winning short “Deadbeat.”

Jamie Pollard head shot Jamie Pollard '87

Pollard, an accounting major, is a former national champion long-distance runner at UWO. As the athletics director at Iowa State since 2005, he has worked to invest in facilities, engage the fan base at record levels and triple annual fundraising. During Pollard’s tenure, ISU has registered its all-time best athletics’ graduation rate of 78 percent in 2009 and Director’s Cup ranking of 34th in 2010.

UWOT Jane Vesel Jane (Barta) Vesel

Retired Colonel Vesel specializes in high-risk neonatal and obstetrical nursing. The two-time UWO nursing grad was competitively selected by the Air Force Institute of Technology to train as a nurse-midwife. Her 27-year Air Force career culminated in various leadership and clinical assignments, including serving as the chief nurse for the Ballad Theatre hospital in Iraq during Operation New Dawn.

Michelle Willis head shot Michelle Willis '89

After graduating with a degree in economics from UWO and working in the business field, Willis realized her passion was for teaching others. She started her career in education in 1993 and worked her way up from a classroom teacher to reading specialist and principal. Known as a “turnabout specialist,” Willis worked to transform the failing Gillespie Tech Elementary School to one of the highest-ranked schools in Chicago, improving student attendance by 93 percent.

Learn about past award recipients.

by reinecka — last modified Sep 29, 2017 12:57 PM