Regents' Distinguished Alumnus Award
George R. "Bob" Pettit
Organic chemist who pioneered the search for anti-cancer compounds in marine organisms and terrestrial insects and plants is a 1952 graduate (B.S., Chemistry), George R. Pettit is is the 2012 recipient of the Regents Distinguished Alumnus Award.
“Those who know of Bob Pettit consider him a pioneer, innovator, and simply a giant in the field of cancer drug discovery,” says Cliff Berkman, a WSU organic chemist who also works on anti-cancer agents. “More than anyone, Bob successfully translated his early fascination with nature’s creations to a professional career devoted to discovering and developing new drugs to battle nature’s most grievous of diseases.”
Over six decades, Pettit, has secured more than five dozen U.S. patents and several hundred foreign patents for anti-cancer compounds, while publishing more than a dozen books and about 800 peer-reviewed scientific articles.
Writing for Pettit’s nomination, Michael Boyd, director of the Mitchell Cancer Institute at the University of Southern Alabama, said Pettit “is at, indeed has established and defined, the cutting edge of his field. There is no other individual in the world who can claim anywhere near a comparable number of new anticancer compounds discovered and placed into preclinical or clinical drug development.”
"Bob Pettit's career arc and achievements are truly phenomenal," Berkman says. "Now here at WSU, where his academic career began, we are fortunate to have the opportunity to both celebrate his remarkable accomplishments and share his story to inspire a future generation of scientists primed to tackle the most important issues facing human health." Read the full story.
John E. Olerud, MD
Practicing physician, renowned dermatologist, esteemed professor, and former professional baseball player, John E. Olerud, MD, is the 2011 recipient of the Regents Distinguished Alumnus Award, the highest honor Washington State University bestows on its alumni.
Dr. Olerud was born in small North Dakota town, and grew up with the dream of becoming a doctor. While studying zoology at WSU, he played baseball under Coach Chuck "Bobo" Brayton. In 1965, as team captain and catcher, he helped take the Cougars to the College World Series and was named to the All-American Team.
That same year, he graduated from WSU with a bachelor's degree in science and embarked on a dual career as a medical student at the University of Washington (UW) and as a professional baseball player. In the 1965 Major League Baseball draft, he was selected in the fourth round (67th overall) by the California Angels and signed to their AAA Seattle club.
For the next seven years, during his summers off from medical school, he played professional baseball for a number of clubs, including the Seattle Angels, San Jose Bees, El Paso Sun Kings, Tulsa Oilers, and Winnipeg Whips.
After graduating from medical school in 1971, Dr. Olerud retired from baseball to pursue a career in dermatology. Read the full story.
Gary P. Brinson, CFA
A nationally recognized authority in investment management, Gary P. Brinson is the 2010 recipient of the Regents’ Distinguished Alumnus Award. Considered among the most influential people in the institutional investing world, Brinson was founder and head of Brinson Partners Inc., a major asset management firm that represented some of the nation’s largest institutions and had offices in Chicago, London, and Tokyo.
He earned a master of business administration degree from WSU in 1968. His leadership in the field of global asset management is widely acknowledged, and he is a frequent lecturer and contributor to educational and professional investment forums.
“Although Gary Brinson’s success as a money manager contributed to his fame, he is most renowned for his intellectual contributions to the investing world,” said Eric Spangenberg, dean of the WSU College of Business. “He is credited with developing the field of international investing by questioning the conventional wisdom that international investing was ‘too risky.’” Read the full story.
Dwight H. Damon, DDS, MSD
Internationally renowned inventor and practitioner in orthodontic treatment, Dr. Dwight Damon is the 2009 recipient of the Regents’ Distinguished Alumnus Award, the highest honor Washington State University confers upon its alumni.
“Dwight Damon exemplifies the spirit of innovation and discovery that we always hope to develop in our students,” said WSU President Elson S. Floyd. “He is a leader in his field, a great friend of our University, and a most worthy recipient of this important award.”
Dr. Damon is especially recognized in the field of orthodontic dentistry for his development of the “Damon Bracket,” a passive self-ligating dental brace system that allows low-friction, low-force treatment in aligning teeth more comfortably and in less time than by previous procedures. His innovative device “has literally transformed” the way orthodontists practice and the results they can achieve, said Dr. Thomas R. Pitts, associate clinical professor at the University of the Pacific School of Dentistry. “By utilizing his new technology, orthodontists all over the world are now able to deliver magnificently better aesthetic results without compromising soft and hard tissue.” Read the full story.
Roger O. McClellan, DVM
1960 Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, and distinguished toxicology and human health risk analysis expert is the 2008 honoree. Dr. McClellan has an extensive career in pioneering research in the fields of inhalation toxicology, comparative medicine, and human health risk analysis. Research conducted by Dr. McClellan and his colleagues has expanded the knowledge base for understanding and assessing the adverse health effects of environmental and occupational exposure to radiation and chemicals, and greatly influenced regulatory decisions. Dr. McClellan has received numerous awards and honors for his research and expertise and is held in high acclaim for his service as a scientific advisor to public and private organizations, both national and international, regarding the evaluation of human health risks. He was elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences for his contributions to improving human health. Read the full story.
David Miller and Robert Hull
1968 B.A. in Architecture, and founding partners of Seattle-based The Miller|Hull Partnership, LLP, were the 2007 honorees. Business partners since 1977, Miller and Hull specialize in creating socially responsible and humane public architecture. Their work has earned numerous awards and references in a variety of important national and international publications. Miller and Hull are Fellows in the American Institute of Architects (AIA), one of the highest possible professional distinctions. Read the full story.
Phyllis J. Campbell
1973 B.A. Business Administration, and president and CEO of the Seattle Foundation, was honored in 2006. In addition to her distinguished career as an innovative business leader, Campbell has received many awards for her community service work, including the "Woman Who Makes A Difference Award" from the International Women's Forum, the 2006 "Lifetime Achievement Award" from City Year, and the "Corporate Director of the Year" award from the Northwest Chapter of the National Association of Corporate Directors. Read the full story.
Irwin "Ernie" Rose
WSU Class of 1947, College of Sciences, was honored in 2005. Winner of the 2004 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, Dr. Rose has had a distinguished career in biochemistry. After nine years on the Yale University Medical School biochemistry faculty, he served as senior scientist at the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia from 1963-1995. His primary research focuses on the mechanisms of enzymes. The work for which he won the Nobel Prize concerned how cells control a number of central processes by breaking down some proteins but not others. Examples of processes governed by ubiquitin-mediated protein degradation are cell division, DNA repair, and important parts of the immune defense. His discoveries may aid development of drugs to combat cancer, cystic fibrosis, Alzheimer's, and Parkinson's diseases. Dr. Rose was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1979. He is currently an emeritus researcher at the University of California at Irvine. Read the full story.
John N. Abelson
1960 B.S. Physics, a distinguished molecular biologist and member of the National Academy of Sciences, was honored in 2004. A pioneer in determining how the information in DNA is translated into the language of proteins, Abelson is co-founder of the company, Agouron Pharmaceuticals, Inc., that developed one of the first three drugs that slashed the death rate among AIDS patients in the mid 1990s. In 1982, he joined the faculty at the California Institute of Technology, where he chaired Caltech's Division of Biology and became the George Beadle Professor of Biology in 1991. He also was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and to the American Philosophical Society. He retired in 2002. John's late uncle Philip Abelson and late aunt Neva Abelson received first and 23rd Regents' Distinguished Alumnus Award, respectively. Read the full story.
Sherman J. Alexie Jr.
1994 B.A. American Studies, award-winning poet, author, screenwriter, and film director, was honored in 2003. Best known as a poet and writer for works such as The Business of Fancydancing (1992) and The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven (1993), Alexie made his debut as a screen writer with the move Smoke Signals, which was honored with two awards at the 1998 Sundance Film Festival. In 1999, The New Yorker named Alexie as one of the top writers for the new millennium. Alexie's other honors include poetry fellowships from the Washington State Arts Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts, a Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Writers' Award and Sundance Film Festival awards. Read the full story.
Robert W. Higgins
1957 B.S. Pharmacy, a retired Navy Rear Admiral, his U.S. Navy career included serving as Navy Deputy Surgeon General and Navy Medical Corps chief, was honored in 2002. He is a past president of the Organization of National Colleges, Academies and Academic Associations of General Practitioners/Family Physicians. A Uniontown, Wash., native and a Pullman High School graduate, his medical degree is from the University of Washington.
James E. Blackwell
1959 Ph.D. Sociology, nationally-known sociologist is a leading scholar in the areas of minorities in higher education and social movement in black communities, was honored in 2002. A national study ranked him No. 5 among "black sociologists - (living or dead) who made the most significant contribution in the field." At the University of Massachusetts in Boston, he chaired the department of sociology and is now professor emeritus. Before coming to WSU to earn his doctoral degree, he received his bachelor's and master's degree in sociology at Case Western Reserve University.
1956 M.S. Animal Sciences, 1958 Ph.D. Animal Sciences, a National Academy of Sciences member recognized for his discovery of the estrogen receptor in the mid-1960s as the first molecular characterization of a steroid hormone receptor, was honored in 2001. He was recognized for his outstanding contributions as a scientist and as a mentor to approximately 100 graduate students and postdoctoral students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he is professor emeritus of biochemistry.
WSU Class of 1974, College of Engineering & Architecture, Microsoft co-founder, investor and philanthropist, was honored in 1999. After attending WSU 1971-1974, he left to work in the computer industry in Boston and then founded a small software company, Micro Soft, with his friend Bill Gates. He left Microsoft in 1982, but is the company's second largest stockholder and is a former member of its board of directors. His "Wired World" vision has been advanced through numerous investments in technological companies and the Paul G. Allen Virtual Education Foundation, which supports innovative technological projects. In 1996, he built a $3.1 million state-of-the-art house for his WSU fraternity, Phi Kappa Theta, and wired all of WSU's 41 sororities and fraternities for the Internet. Through the Virtual Education Foundation, he has supported the development of online courseware at WSU.
'46 D.V.M., '47 M.S. Veterinary Medicine, a renowned researcher in slow virus diseases, fur animal diseases, and animal models of human genetic diseases, was honored in 1993. Among his best known work was the co-discovery of the microorganism responsible for salmon poisoning in dogs and foxes. Born in Puyallup and raised in Sumner, he headed the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal Diseases Research Unit at WSU for many years. He has received numerous awards including 1987 Washington Veterinarian of the Year, was named to the National Academy of Practice and was the first veterinarian inducted into the USDA Research Hall of Fame.
Robert D. Russ
'55 B.A. Business Administration, who retired as the senior ranking four-star general in the United States Air Force in May 1991, was honored in 1992. During the last six years of his service, he was commander of Tactical Air Command, which provided the most of the air power for Operation Desert Storm. General Russ's quality management initiatives led to significant increases in productivity and were subsequently adopted as Air Force standards. He received Distinguished Service Medals from the Army, Navy and Air Force. Born in Portland and raised in Wapato, he is now deceased.
'64 B.A. Humanities, an internationally recognized news correspondent and veteran political reporter, was honored in 1991. He has anchored ABC news broadcasts and often reports for World News Tonight with Peter Jennings on environmental issues, including a recent look at the long delay in cleaning up the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. He has covered presidential election campaigns and international situations including the Persian Gulf War. He won an Emmy Award for his part in the CBS News Special Report, "Watergate: The Whitehouse Transcript."
Allan C. Wilson
'57 M.S. Zoology, a foremost molecular evolutionist, was honored in 1990. Dr. Wilson's work, based on comparisons of mitochondrial DNA from people around the world, has reset the clock of human evolution. His conclusion that all people living today trace back to one woman who likely lived in Africa about 200,000 years ago has generated excitement and controversy. His research on proteins from different species dramatically changed our estimate of when the lines of humans and apes diverged. Wilson won two prestigious Guggenheim Fellowships, a McArthur Prize and was named to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. A long-time member of the University of California, Berkeley, faculty, he is now deceased.
'72 B.A. Communications, internationally known cartoonist of "The Far Side," was honored in 1990. The Far Side has been carried in more than 1,900 newspapers. His 22 books have been immensely popular, making his name a permanent fixture on the New York Times Best Seller List. A traveling exhibition of his original cartoons has packed the halls of the nation's museums. While he ceased penning daily cartoons in 1995, he has continued to create books and animated videos. His latest book, There's a Hair in My Dirt: A Worm's Story, is true to his penchant for humor and for critters as characters.
Neva Martin Abelson
'34, B.S. Chemistry, co-developer of a widely used blood test for the Rh or rhesus factor, a test which has saved the lives of many babies, was honored in 1989. Her research at the University of Pennsylvania, where she was a professor of clinical pathology, involved blood group antibodies, blood diseases of infants, and the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis. The author of the book, Topics in Blood Banking, she has received the Emily Cooley Memorial Award from the American Association of Blood Banks. She is deceased.
William Julius Wilson
'66 Ph.D. Sociology, nationally prominent sociologist and author, was honored by WSU in 1988. Known for his research and scholarship on the black underclass, Wilson has authored many important articles and books including "The Truly Disadvantaged: The Inner City, the Underclass and Public Policy" and "The Declining Significance of Race." He has been on the faculty at the University of Chicago and more recently at Harvard. In 1998, he was one of nine Americans to receive the National Medal of Science from President Clinton for creativity, resolve and innovation.
Mary E. Turner DeGarmo
'26 B.A. Education, pioneer in working with music and Braille, was honored by WSU in 1988. She developed the first and only detailed, comprehensive teaching text on transcribing musical compositions into Braille for blind musicians, a volume used worldwide. She joined Pearl Buck, Bob Hope and others as a recipient of the American Overseas Association's International Humanity Award. Raised in Yakima and Spokane, she is now deceased.
Leo K. Bustad
'41 B.S. Agriculture, '48 M.S. Agriculture & '49 D.V.M., educator, scientist and humanitarian, was honored in 1987. While dean of the WSU College of Veterinary Medicine from 1973-83, he placed WSU in leadership positions in many areas of veterinary medicine nationally and internationally. The nation's first regional veterinary curriculum, headquartered at WSU and including Idaho and Oregon, was founded in 1979. Committed to animal well-being, Bustad was also a pioneer in the international human-companion animal bond movement. A native of Stanwood, he is now deceased.
'62, B.S. Mechanical Engineering, was the first Cougar astronaut as mission specialist on the space shuttle Challenger II in July, 1983. He was honored by WSU in that same year. He also flew aboard Discovery in 1985 and was the first space scientist to release a satellite from a spaceship and retrieve it after an orbit. Fabian, who grew up in Pullman, has retired as president of ANSER, a not-for-profit research corporation in Virginia, and is living in Washington state.
Melvin J. Hein
'31, B.S. Physical Education was All-American in 1930, All-Pro with the New York Giants eight times and National Football League Most Valuable Player in 1938. He was honored by WSU in 1983. Charter member of both college and pro football Halls of Fame, Hein was also a member of three other Halls of Fame as well as the WSU Crimson Circle. Selected in 1969 as greatest football center ever to play the game, he is now deceased.
'41, M.S. Chemistry, founder of the modern school of isotope chemistry, was honored in 1983. He was a member of the Manhattan Project in 1943 and, for 20 years, did research at Brookhaven National Laboratory. He later served as vice president for research, dean of Graduate Studies and a leading professor of chemistry at State University of New York at Stony Brook. A member of the National Academy of Sciences and a fellow of American Academy of Arts and Sciences, he received the E.O. Lawrence Award for Isotope Chemistry Research.
Robert S. Stevenson
'29 B.A. Economics, Allis-Chalmers' chief executive officer, president and chairman of the board, was honored in 1983. He was appointed to the executive board of the National Export Expansion Council by President Lyndon Johnson. He served as a trustee of Carroll College, and was chairman of the board of the Medical College of Wisconsin. He was also a director of Northwest Mutual Life Insurance Company, Marshall & Ilsey Bank, and Universal Oil Products Company. A native of Seattle who grew up in Spokane, he is now deceased.
Laurence J. Peter
'63 Ed.D., noted writer-teacher, lecturer, and psychologist, was honored in 1980. A co-author in 1969 of the international best seller, "The Peter Principle: Why Things Go Wrong," he also wrote three sequels, The Peter Prescription, The Peter Plan and The Peter Pyramid. A leading researcher on teacher competency, he was on the faculty of the University of British Columbia and the University of California and wrote five textbooks on teaching. He is now deceased.
William A. Bugge
'22, Civil Engineering studies, Washington director of highways from 1949-63, was honored in 1980. Named national Highway "Man of the Year" in 1961 by the American Public Works Association, Bugge was project director for design and construction of Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) System in San Francisco. The Hood Canal Floating Bridge was named in his honor. Born in Hadlock, Washington, he is now deceased.
Marshall A. Neill
'36 B.A. Political Science, judge, legislator and faculty member, was honored in 1979. He served as Federal District Court judge in Spokane, as a member of the Washington State Supreme Court, state senator and state representative from Whitman County; as well as legal advisor and business law faculty member at WSU for 22 years. Grandson of Judge Thomas Neill, a Pullman pioneer influential in the establishment of WSU, Marshall Neill also served as president of the WSU Alumni Association. He is deceased.
Charles R. Schroeder
'29 D.V.M., director of the San Diego Zoo for 19 years, was honored in 1979 for his success in making the zoo into the world's finest. At the time of the honor, the zoo had the world's largest collection of wild animals. Particularly well known for creation of the zoo's adjunct, the San Diego Wild Animal Park, Schroeder was respected internationally for his work in zoo planning and management. He is deceased.
Weldon B. Gibson
'38 B.A. Business Administration, influential executive vice president of Stanford Research Institute, was honored in 1979. He played a major role in building the independent, nonprofit organization and expanding its international reputation and clientele. SRI performs contract research for business and government. Co-author of books world economic and political geography, Gibson also played a key role in the establishment of the WSU Foundation. He is deceaased.
'54, B.A. Speech, internationally known ABC-TV sports commentator; was honored in 1978. Often called "Mr. College Football," he is the only individual ever chosen National Sportscaster of the Year five times. He also was the first sports announcer to receive the Amos Alonzo Stagg Award from the American Football Coaches Association. While helping lead the campaign for WSU's new alumni center in 1986, he gave the facility its popular nickname, "a place to come home to." In 1994, he was inducted into the American Sportscasters Association Hall of Fame, and the next year won an Emmy as television's best play-by-play commentator.
Orville A. Vogel
'39, Ph.D. Agronomy, a gifted wheat breeder whose findings sparked the world's "Green Revolution" and aided Washington farmers, was honored in 1977. He led the research team that produced the first commercially successful semi-dwarf wheats, including Gaines and Nugaines, and was known for his inventions of scientific research equipment. He received the National Medal of Science, presented by President Ford in l975, as well as the State of Washington Medal of Merit in 1987. Named as well to Washington's Hall of Honor, he is now deceased.
Matsuyo Omori Yamamoto
'37, B.A. Home Economics, a distinguished home economist in Japan, was honored in 1967. She pioneered home economics extension work in that country, serving as the first chief of the Rural Home-living Improvement Section of Japan's Agricultural Extension. The program she established eventually benefited rural women and families in more than a dozen Asian countries. She is also former chief, Education and Training Section, Home Economics Branch, Food and Agriculture Organization, or FAO, of the United Nations in Rome. She is deceased.
'16, B.S. Agriculture, one of the world's foremost radiation biologists and geneticists, was honored in 1966. A long-time professor of botany at Harvard University, Sax was a Fellow of the National Academy of Sciences. He made important contributions to knowledge of the evolution of wheat early in his career, pioneered research on radiation damage to cells, and also was an authority on world population problems. Born in Spokane and raised in Colfax, Washington, he is now deceased.
'29 B.A. & '33 M.A., Economics, a distinguished economist and educator, was honored in 1965. He served as chancellor of Claremont University, as well as president of the University of Iowa, Grinnell College and the American Association of Higher Education. He researched and wrote extensively on the economics of higher education, and was appointed by President Lyndon Johnson to chair his National Commission on Technology, Automation and Economic Progress. A native of Spokane, he is now deceased.
Charles Glen King
'18, B.S. Chemistry, recognized as the first to isolate pure crystals of Vitamin C, was honored in 1964. A leading authority on nutrition, he also identified Vitamin C as the anti-scurvy substance in citrus fruit. A professor at the University of Pittsburgh and Columbia University, he also served as executive director and president of National Nutrition Foundation. Born in Entiat, King is now deceased.
John C. Folger
'14 B.S. & '17 M.S., Horticulture, U.S. Ambassador to Belgium, 1957-59, was honored in 1963. He headed a prominent Washington, D.C., investment firm, was a member of the Board of Governors of the New York Stock Exchange and president of the Investment Bankers Association of America, and chaired the GOP National Finance Committee. Born in Sheldon, Iowa and raised in Pullman where his family were long-time residents, Folger is now deceased.
Edward R. Murrow
'30, B.A. Speech, considered one of the top news analysts and reporters in the history of broadcasting, was honored in 1963. Famous for his "This is London" radio broadcasts during World War II, Murrow also was television's first "news personality" with programs such as "See It Now" and "Person to Person." Recognized for setting professional standards for broadcast journalists during his years at CBS, he was named one of "100 Washingtonians who've changed the world" during the state's centennial. Murrow also served as director of the U.S. Information Agency, 1961-65. Raised in Blanchard, Washington, he is now deceased. Click for the full story.
Henry T. Heald
'23, B.S. Civil Engineering, a distinguished educator, was honored in 1962. He is credited with transforming the Ford Foundation, while its president, into one of the greatest philanthropic institutions in the world. He also served as president of New York University, Illinois Institute of Technology and the American Society for Engineering Education, and as chairman of the American Council on Education. Among his honors were the Hoover Medal and the Navy Award for Distinguished Civilian Service. Son of Frederick D. Heald, a distinguished WSU plant pathologist and professor, he grew up in Pullman. He is now deceased.
'33 B.S. Chemistry, '35 M.S. Physics, known as the father of atomic submarine for his designs of a first workable nuclear sub, was honored in 1962. A long-time editor of Science Magazine, he also was director of the Geophysical Laboratory, Carnegie Institution, Washington, D.C., and later was the Institution's president. Among his many honors is the 1992 Public Welfare Medal, the highest honor from the National Academy of Science, of which he is a member. A native of Tacoma, he was named one of "100 Washingtonians who've changed the world" during the state's centennial. He is now deceased.