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Notable Alumni


With more than 160,000 alumni in the United States and in more than 100 countries around the globe, Utah State University alumni are making an impact.

Norah Abdullah Al-Faiz

Norah Abdullah Al-Faiz

M.S., Instructional Technology, ’82

Norah Abdullah Al-Faiz has transformed educational policy and practice in Saudi Arabia and has become a symbol of female leadership in the Islamic world.

Serving as the vice minister for girls’ education since 2009, Al-Faiz holds the highest ministerial rank reached by a woman in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The appointment was a significant indicator of the broadening role for women in politics and education in Saudi Arabia.

Lars Peter Hansen

Lars Peter Hansen

B.S. Mathematics, ’74, B.S. Political Science, ’74

Nobel Prize-winning economist Lars Peter Hansen is a scholar, researcher and author. Dr. Hansen shared the 2013 Sveriges Riksbank prize in economic sciences in memory of Alfred Nobel with two other economists for their for their analysis of asset prices. He developed a statistical method to test the links between financial markets and the macroeconomy that is now used within all economics research.

A mainstay on the University of Chicago economics faculty since that time, Dr. Hansen has received many accolades for his teaching and research at the institution. He currently serves as the David Rockefeller Distinguished Service Professor in Economics and Statistics and is the inaugural Research Director for the Becker-Friedman Institute.

Greg Carr

Greg Carr

B.S., History, ’82

Having made his fortune revolutionizing the telecommunications industry with his company Boston Technology, and later with Prodigy Inc., established the Gregory C. Carr Foundation in 1999, a nonprofit organization dedicated to "the environment, human rights, and the arts.” The foundation's current focus is on protecting and preserving Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique, South Africa.

Carr also helped to form the Museum of Idaho, the Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial in Boise, and the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard University.

Mary Louise Cleave

Mary Louise Cleave

M.S., Biology, ’75; Ph.D., Civil & Environmental Engineering, ’80

After completing a master’s of science in microbial ecology in 1975 and a doctorate in civil and environmental engineering four years later — both from USU — Mary Louise Cleave aced an interview with NASA in Houston and was approved to be an astronaut in May 1980, at the age of 33.

She worked in several other posts as an engineer for NASA on the ground before becoming a veteran of two space flights — one in 1985, the other in 1989. She was one of the first 10 U.S. women to travel to space.

Merlin Olsen

Merlin Olsen

B.S., Finance, ’62

NFL Hall of Famer Merlin Olsen is considered the greatest athlete in Utah State University history.

Olsen’s outstanding record on both college and NFL football fields was followed by successful careers as a beloved television actor and as a television sports commentator. He is remembered also as a tireless philanthropist, giving enormous amounts of time, talent, and financial resources to numerous causes across the country.

A native of Logan, Utah, Olsen was a two-time All-American (1960-61) as a defensive lineman at Utah State and won the 1961 Outland Trophy as the nation's outstanding interior lineman.

As the second player selected in the 1962 National Football League Draft, Olsen became a charter member of the Los Angeles Rams, and the famed "Fearsome Foursome." In 15 pro seasons, he was named to an NFL record 14 Pro Bowls. Olsen was named the NFL's Defensive Rookie of the Year in 1962 and was the league's Most Valuable Lineman in 1973. He was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1982 and earned a spot on Sports Illustrated's all-time NFL team.

Harry Reid

Harry Reid

B.S., Political Science and History, ’61

Utah State University may seem a long way from world Capitol Hill, but over the years, it’s proven itself a reliable way to get there.

A rural Nevada boy named Harry Reid liked what he saw at USU, and used his political science and history double major to vault him into a successful career in the United States Senate. After finishing a degree at USU, Senator Reid went on to receive a law degree from George Washington University.

The people of Nevada elected Reid to the U.S. Congress in 1982 and to the U.S. Senate in 1986, where he has since become one of the most influential politicians in the nation's capital. Reid is one of only three senators to have served as senate majority leader for at least eight years. His current senate term ends in January 2017.

Ardeshir Zahedi

Ardeshir Zahedi

B.S., Animal Science, '50

Ardeshir Zahedi has spent his entire life in the service of his country and other people. Zahedi achieved a reputation as a leader and became one of the most influential ambassadors in Washington, D.C..

Zahedi left his home in Iran to study at Utah State University in 1947. He received a bachelor’s in animal science from USU’s College of Agriculture in 1950. After completing his education at Utah State, Zahedi returned to Iran where he was appointed chamberlain to His Majesty, the Shah, and assistant to the prime minister. His foreign diplomatic career began in 1959 when he became Iran’s Ambassador to the United States where he enjoyed the confidence of the Nixon, Ford, and Carter administrations.