Alumni director honored with surprise ceremony

By By Trent Lowe, Staff Writer

By Trent Lowe, Staff Writer

A surprise was in store for John Ashton.

Expecting to help present an award to the former Alumni Association board president, Ashton, the association’s executive director, instead received the spotlight at the women’s basketball game against Louisville on Nov. 25.

“The Alumni Association was trying to get a number of their board members to attend the Louisville game,” Ashton said. “Then at halftime they said they were going to honor the outgoing board president who just finished his term.”

Ashton was surprised when the board president instead called out his name.

The association gave Ashton a personalized jersey with the number 20, signifying his two decades of service to the U and its alumni.

“There are a lot of people that have worked here a long time and aren’t recognized, so we wanted to recognize (Ashton) for all the work he’s done,” said Michele Mattsson, president of the Alumni Association.

Ashton took over the reins in 1988 after working for eight years as president of the Alumni Association and a member of the Association’s Board of Trustees.

“I probably wouldn’t have taken the job if I hadn’t had so much fun with it,” Ashton said. “It’s fun working with so many alumni board members. It’s fun to see how much people love the U.”

Since his tenure began, Ashton has helped increase involvement in all facets of the association, including the creation of the MUSS, the Ute fan section composed of U students, and also the Former Utah Student Section, the section made up of members of the Young Alumni Association.

Ashton said after 28 years of service in the association, he is especially proud of the many students it has helped through annual scholarships.

“It’s one of the things that John is pretty passionate about. We’re trying to give away $200,000 in scholarships this year,” said Nanette Richard, the director of alumni relations for the U.

As executive director, Ashton is responsible for overseeing every event put on by the Alumni Association or one of its five boards. The most-attended event is the annual Young Alumni Scholarship 5K and Kids Run, which in 2008 raised nearly $20,000 toward scholarships the association gives away every year.

Prior to becoming involved with the Alumni Association, Ashton practiced commercial law for many years after receiving his law degree from the U in 1969.

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