U to honor distinguished alumni

Nobel Laureate Mario Capecchi and four U alumni are being recognized as distinguished and honorary alumni by the U’s Alumni Association.

Members of the association and faculty selected recipients for the Distinguished Alumni Award. The award is given in recognition of Founders Day on Feb. 28. The event celebrates the day the U was founded in 1850.

Every year, to commemorate the event, the association honors four alumni and one non-alumnus/a associated with the U for their work after graduation.

“It’s an attempt to award our alumni who have distinguished themselves in their profession(s) or another aspect of their lives and have brought credit to the University of Utah,” said John Ashton, executive director of the Alumni Association.

This year the association has chosen a variety of alumni to award, as well as the Nobel Prize winner and U researcher Mario Capecchi.

Capecchi’s work on “knock-out” mice, genetically-engineered mice that are being used to map diseases such as cancer, won him the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine last September and brought the U national attention.

“We choose our honorary non-alumnus by the person who has made a major contribution to the U,” Ashton said. “Needless to say, Capecchi was an obvious choice because of the enormous importance of his Nobel Prize and the recognition he brings to the U.”

The association chose the four alumni recipients from nominations they have received throughout the year.

One recipient David Grant works at the U as a chemistry professor. His pioneering work with magnetic devices has helped scientists identify different molecules and has assisted in the development of a well-known anti-cancer drug.

“I’ve never won an award for being a former student at the University of Utah,” Grant said. “I won the right to be considered by going to school 50 years ago.”

Ann Weaver Hart, a recipient of the award, is the first female president of Temple University. She published her writings on leadership and higher education in more than 85 articles and five books.

The third alumni award recipient is J. Brett Harvey, president and CEO of CONSOL Energy, the largest underground coal mining company in the nation.

Charlie Monfort, the former president of ConAgra Refrigerated Foods International, was also selected for an award. He is the CEO of the Colorado Rockies baseball team, which played in the 2007 World Series.

The association will be awarding the distinguished alumni at an award’s banquet on Feb. 27 at Little America Hotel. Tickets for the event cost $100.

For more information about the awards visit http://alumni.utah.edu.

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Ann Weaver Hart, the current president of Temple University and former U student and administrator, will be honored by the Alumni Association.