To celebrate the founding of the University of Utah in 1850, the Office of Alumni Relations each year recognizes alumni and honorary alumni who have excelled professionally, served the local and national communities and supported the university in its mission. These annual distinguished and honorary alumni awards, along with honorary degrees, are the highest honors awarded by the University of Utah.
This year’s Founders Day event will be held virtually on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021, and is open to all alumni and members of our U community. Visit alumni.utah.edu/foundersday for more information.
Distinguished Alumni Awards Recipients
Rebecca J. Chavez-Houck B.A. '82 MPA '06
Rebecca J. Chavez-Houck was a decades-long member of the Utah House of Representatives. She now provides leadership coaching and community engagement consulting through her public affairs firm, Aspira Public Affairs, LLC. She is an adjunct faculty member in the U’s Masters of Public Administration Program and served on the College of Social and Behavioral Science’s Advisory Board for several years.
Ronald G. Coleman B.S. '66 Ph.D. '80
Ronald G. Coleman is an emeritus associate professor of history and ethnic studies at the U. As a student, Coleman played football and helped lead the Utes to their 1964 Liberty Bowl victory. He is a nationally recognized scholar of African American history and was recently honored with a Humanitarian Award by the Inclusion Center for Community and Justice. Coleman is currently an advisor to the U’s Black Cultural Center and advisor to the vice president for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion.
Sydnee Dickson M.Ed. '87 Ed.D. '07
Sydnee Dickson is Utah state superintendent of public instruction with nearly ten years’ experience working in the office of the Utah State Board of Education. As state superintendent, Dickson has provided leadership and guidance for Utah’s K-12 system during these challenging times of the pandemic.
Sara Jones HBS '98
Sara Jones is president of InclusionPro, which trains leaders on building inclusive cultures. She is passionate about women in STEM fields and in 2007 she co-founded Women Tech Council, a national organization focused on the economic impact of women in tech. In 2019, Jones was a speaker at TEDxSaltLakeCity. Her "story of love and loss as a transracial adoptee" is featured on ted.com.
Joan Wolf B.S. '60 BSD '60 | Harold Wolf Ph.D. '61
Joan S. Wolf is professor emerita of the U’s Graduate School of Education. She retired from the faculty after 20 years in the Department of Special Education with a joint appointment in the Department of Educational Psychology.
Harold 'Hal' Wolf was dean of the U’s College of Pharmacy from 1976-1989. He also taught at the U during his entire tenure as dean. Together, the couple established an endowment for the Wolf Prize in the College of Pharmacy. They also established the Meritus Scholarships through University Neighborhood Partners, awarded to graduating high school seniors.
Honorary Alumni Award Recipient
Anne Osborn Poelman, M.D.
Dr. Anne Osborn is recognized internationally for her contributions to the establishment of the field of neuroradiology. She is Distinguished Professor of Radiology at the U and was the first female president of the American Society of Neuroradiology. Dr. Osborn works to educate her colleagues around the world and improve care for patients with neurologic disorders.