UI recognizes distinguished alums

At the 56th Distinguished Alumni Awards on Oct. 18, six UI alumni and one former university president were recognized for their accomplishments through the lens of this year’s theme — “Dream Big. Dream Gold.”

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UI recognizes distinguished alums

The Alumni Awards nominees seen on October 18, 2019 at the Voxman.

The Alumni Awards nominees seen on October 18, 2019 at the Voxman.

Raquele Decker

The Alumni Awards nominees seen on October 18, 2019 at the Voxman.

Raquele Decker

Raquele Decker

The Alumni Awards nominees seen on October 18, 2019 at the Voxman.

Lauren White, News Reporter

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The Voxman Music Building was illuminated with past Hawkeye alumni this past weekend as the University of Iowa honored six alumni and one former UI president with various Distinguished Alumni Awards.

The UI Center for Advancement has recognized the accomplishment of former students through Distinguished Alumni Awards each year since 1963.

Lynette Marshall, president and CEO of the Center for Advancement, emceed the ceremony, where awards were presented by UI President Bruce Harreld and Alumni Leadership Council Chair Brett Veerman.

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The award ceremony’s 2019 theme encouraged recipients to “Dream Big. Dream Gold.” Alumni received awards from one of the following categories: Achievement, Service, Recent Graduate, Hickerson Recognition, Faculty/Staff, and Friend of The University.

This year’s recipients included Howard Kerr, Jhoon “Jake” Chung, Nancy and Craig Willis, Adaeze Enekwechi, Geraldene Felton, and David J. Skorton.

Chung graduated from the UI College of Education in 1996 and was recognized with the “Service” award for his compassionate leadership and commitment to students, said Daniel Clay, dean of the College of Education.

In her presentation, Marshall praised Chung for his career dedicated to helping students achieve their dreams and his constant aim to give back to the university as a mentor, scholarship provider, and leader for the UI College of Education Advisory Board.

“I had an amazing experience as a student at the [UI],” Chung said. “There are so many opportunities to take advantage of, and everyone is so kind. I am so honored and humbled to be recognized. The university has given me so much, and I realized that there are so many ways to give back to the university and positively impact on students that are currently here.”

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Nancy and Craig Willis, UI College of Law classes of 1980 and 1975, respectively, were both awarded the Hickerson Recognition award for their generosity and passion for the university and Iowa City community.

“The UI gave me an education where I feel like I can do anything,” Nancy Willis said. “It gave me the tools to think things through, figure out what are the issues, and help people come up with the right answer.”

The pair have practiced law for over three decades in Iowa City and also have a passion for the UI Stanley Museum of Art.

“The [UI] is a part of our life every single day. We decided to stay in Iowa City following graduation, because there are entertaining, cultural, and educational opportunities that present themselves in this city,” said Craig Willis.

Adaeze Enekwechi, UI College of Public Health 2007 graduate, received the Recent Graduate Award for her integrity and success as a health care executive for the Obama administration since her departure from the university.

Enekwechi currently serves as president of IMPAQ International, a company that helps governments, businesses, foundations, non-profits, and universities enhance programs and policies.

As a student at the UI, Enekwechi said she was serious but also tried to explore different activities — educational and recreational — that ultimately contributed to her enjoyment at the university.

“I think students should think of life as full of opportunities and possibilities. [The UI] is a big school, there are so many different people, things, and experiences to be exposed to, and they should take advantage of it,” Enekwechi said. “Life is full of endless possibilities, and you just never know where it’s going to take you.”

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