USU Alumni Spotlight - Phil D. Johnson, Assistant Coach for the Utah Jazz

From his time as an assistant coach at Utah State, Phil D. Johnson has enjoyed a long road of success in the world of basketball.

Johnson, a native of Grace, Idaho, began his sports career at USU.   He lettered in both track and basketball during the early 1960s while earning a bachelor’s degree in physical education (BS '63).  Some of the highlights of his playing days were helping the 1962 and 1963 Aggie basketball teams advance to the NCAA Tournament. Johnson served as captain of the 1963 squad, averaging 10.7 points and 7.6 rebounds.

His playing days behind him, Johnson turned to coaching, serving as an assistant to LaDell Anderson while earning his master’s degree (MS '65).  From USU, the young coach traveled to Weber State University, again as an assistant coach, this time to Dick Motta.   Eventually, Johnson became head coach at Weber State, guiding the team to a 68-15 record, three Big Sky Championships, and three consecutive appearances in the NCAA Tournament.

Johnson moved on to professional basketball, assuming the head coaching duties for the Kansas City/Omaha Kings.  In only his second season there, he earned Coach of the Year as he guided the Kings to their first playoff berth in seven seasons.

It was during the 1977-78 season that Johnson first teamed up with Jerry Sloan.  The two coached together in Chicago until Sloan left the team.  It wasn't until 1988 that they were reunited as coaches for the Utah Jazz.   Coach Johnson's home has been with the Jazz ever since.

Phil Johnson hasn’t forgotten his roots at Utah State.  His wife, Ann, and sons, Mitchel and Nathan also attended USU.  Coach Johnson was recognized by Utah State for his achievements when he was honored as Alumnus of the Year in 1997.

Founders Day Award Recipients
As part of the Utah State University Founders Day celebration, the Alumni Association held a dinner and awards ceremony on Saturday, March 6.  Five outstanding Aggies were honored as part of the awards ceremony.  Each recipient was given a crystal bowl award, furnished in part by the O.C. Tanner Company of Salt Lake City.

Distinguished Alumnus Award Recipients

Jim D. LaubJim D. Laub earned his Bachelor of Science Degree in Communications from USU before eventually becoming President and CEO of Cache Valley Electric Company. Under his direction, the company has become the 39th largest electrical contractor in the nation.  In 1999, Mr. Laub was recognized by Ernst and Young as Utah Entrepreneur of the Year.  He has also served as Vice President of the Sunshine Terrace Board of Directors and Chairman of the Development Committee.   Over the years, his service to USU has been invaluable.   He served as President of the Big Blue Club’s Board of Directors and has been a member of the Gamma Kappa Chapter of the Sigma Chi Fraternity.  In 1985, he was a member of the Executive Committee of Cache County Republicans, as well as co-chair of the Northern Utah Governor’s Club from 1986 to 1987.

LaDell AndersenLaDell Andersen began his college basketball career as a student at Utah State, where he earned Honorable Mention All American, All Conference guard, and Team Captain.  He also served as Vice President of Sigma Chi Fraternity, as a member of the Student Council, and as a member of the Blue Key National Honor Society.  Mr. Andersen competed in the Olympic Trials in New York City in 1952 before beginning his college coaching career at the University of Utah in 1956.  In 1961, he returned to USU, where he was Head Basketball Coach for 10 years, leading the Aggies to six post-season tournament appearances.  After two years of coaching professionally, he returned to become Athletic Director at USU. Some of his accomplishments include raising funds, enlarging the stadium, and establishing a women’s athletic department.  After 10 years as Athletic Director, he left to become Head Coach at BYU for three years.  For his achievements, he was inducted into the Utah Sports Hall of Fame and named one of the Top 100 Most Accomplished People in the State of Utah, 1888-1998.

 Distinguished Service Award Recipients

Jean C. ChristensenJean C. Christensen graduated from Utah State in 1946 with a degree in Clothing and Textiles.  Since that time, she has been a devoted community organizer, volunteer and leader.  Mrs. Christensen established the Cache Volunteer Pool in Logan to provide enrichment opportunities for students.  It was for this effort that she was awarded the Carnation Silver Bowl Community Service Award.  She organized and served as President of the Utah Quilt Guild, planned and funded the Deseret Hospital and Quilt Museum with her husband, and served as President of the Alliance for the Varied Arts, as well as many other examples of her compassionate service and sense of community.

Jed H. Pitcher has dedicated himself in service to Utah and the University.  He earned his Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration, followed by his graduate studies in Economics.  Mr. Pitcher began his work at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Utah in 1967.  He recently retired as President/CEO, and Chairman of the Board.  He has been a member of the Utah State Board of Education, the Utah State University Foundation Board, USU’s College of Business Advisory Board, and the USU Board of Trustees, where he served as Chairman. Through the establishment of a scholarship fund to aid College of Business students, he and his wife became members of the Old Main Society.  Mr. Pitcher is also a Lifetime Sustaining Member of the USU Alumni Association and currently serves on the Board of Regents.

Nadine F. Gillmor learned the value of hard work while growing up on her family’s ranch.  After her mother suffered a stroke and her father passed away, she was responsible for milking 17 cows and tending to 2000 chickens each day before boarding the school bus.  Today, after her husband’s death, she owns and operates the thousands of acres known as the Lone Pine Ranch.  She spends her time volunteering at the local 4-H Club, and fighting for the rights of landowners as well as the preservation of open space.  Mrs. Gillmor has given generously to several educational institutions including USU, the Utah Boy’s Ranch, and UVSC, where she was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters.  She has established a scholarship here at USU for the descendents of Summit County Alumni, is a member of the Old Main Society and a Lifetime Sustaining Member of the Alumni Association.

Aggies Head to Tournament as Top SeedNate Harris
The Utah State Men’s Basketball Team ended its historic conference season with a win over Idaho, bringing their league record to 17-1.  They head into the Big West Tournament as the number one seed and Big West co-champions.   The Aggies also finish ranked 21 on the ESPN Coaches Poll and 22 on the AP.  This is the first season the team has been nationally ranked since the 1971 season.

Individually, Utah State had three players earn first-team All-Big West honors, while a fourth player earned second-team all-league honors for the first time in school history.  Seniors Mark Brown and Cardell Butler, and sophomore Nate Harris all earned first-team All-Big West honors, while junior Spencer Nelson was named to the league's second team.

Utah State's three first-team All-League honors is the most by a Big West school since UNLV had four players earn first-team honors following the 1990-91 season.

Bidding Farewell to a Teaching IconThomas Lee Bahler
Utah State University lost a beloved teaching icon when Thomas Lee Bahler passed away at his home on February 16, 2004 .

From the first Physiology and Anatomy courses he began teaching at Utah State Agriculture College in 1949, to his retirement from Utah State University in 1990, Professor Bahler helped foster a legacy of success that continues to this day.  During his years at the University, an estimated 340 students went on to become physicians or dentists.

Even after his retirement, Professor Bahler’s work is still paying off.  Last year, 85% of USU students who applied to medical school were accepted.  Dental school admission rates at the University also exceed the national average.

The College of Science and the Friends of the Utah State University Medical and Dental Programs are planning an event to honor Thomas Bahler’s legacy.  Professor Bahler will be remembered in a ceremony at the Little America Hotel in Salt Lake City on Friday, June 4, 2004.  If you would like to attend the event, contact the College of Science for more information at (435)797-2488.

USU Commercial Named Best in Nation
ThinkCarnegie Communications, a market research firm specializing in colleges and universities, named USU as the winner in the 2003 “Best Campus TV Commercial Contest”.  The 60 second ad focuses on the University’s contributions to space exploration.  The spot highlights the fact that Utah State students send more experiments into space than any other university in the world.

Produced in only 19 days, the ad is especially remarkable considering the cost added up to only $4,500.  Ordinarily, such a commercial would have cost around $20,000.  The amazingly low cost can be attributed to the countless hours of work by students and faculty at Utah State.

The winning commercial is part of the Public Relations and Marketing Office’s plan to revamp USU’s image.  Already, work is being started on next year’s commercial which deals with Utah State’s water research programs.

New Benefits Package for Alumni Sustaining Members
The Utah State University Alumni Association is proud to offer a greatly expanded benefits and discounts package for all Sustaining Members.  Here are just a few of the exciting offers: 

For more than 40 years, Park City Mountain Resort has been one of the nation's best ski areas.  Enjoy over 3,300 acres of groomed runs and terrain parks.  Now you can ski the best for less!  Sustaining Members can purchase an adult lift ticket for $49 (limit of two per day) plus a child's ticket for $30 (limit of two).  Show your card and purchase tickets at the ticket window.  For more information on Park City Mountain Resort, visit www.parkcitymountain.com

Situated near beautiful Bear Lake, the Blue Water Resort offers a host of summer activities.  Discounts are available on rooms, condos, and camping.  Need something to do once you've booked your room?  Blue Water also has discounts available on golf, Waverunner and boat rentals.  View the gorgeous scenery at www.bearlake.com

Leaving on a trip?  How does 10-25% off nationwide car rentals and hotel rooms sound?  Sustaining Members receive discounts on a large number of travel services.  For all the details, visit www.mmdiscounts.com

Play the gorgeous and challenging Logan River Golf Course. A special 2-for-1 admission for 18 holes with the rental of a golf cart is available to Sustaining Members. Limit 2 per customer per year.  Check out the website at Logan-River-Golf-Course   

These new discounts join a host of other benefits, such as special rates at the University Inn and rental of the David B. Haight Alumni Center, savings on select USU Athletics tickets, plus discounts to the Old Lyric Repertory Theatre and at the USU Bookstore.

To view all of the benefits and discounts, or to become a Sustaining Member, go to www.usu.edu/alumni and visit the Benefits and Services page.

Alumni Job Board

Don't forget to check out the new Alumni Job Board.  This free service is provided by USU Alumni Relations.  Make sure you take advantage of this opportunity to post your resume and search the growing number of job listings.  To access the Job Board, visit the Alumni Relations home page at www.usu.edu/alumni and click on Aggie Job Board.

Game Day T-Shirts
Heading to the Big West Tournament but forgot to pick up your Game Day T-Shirt? No problem!  The USU Bookstore and Athletics Vice President, Tyler Olsen, will be selling shirts at the Pre-Game Party in Anaheim. Show your support and join the sea of blue as the Aggies take on the best teams in the Big West Conference.

Back to the Buzzer


Utah State University Alumni Relations sponsors many exciting events throughout the year. To keep informed about the most current ones, visit www.usu.edu/alumni/events.html often.


Student Alumni Association News:

Student Alumni Association Honored
The Association of Student Advancement Programs recently honored the Utah State University Student Alumni Association as Organization of the Year for District Seven.  This is the second win for USU, their last award coming in 2002.

Chapter News:

Cache County Winter Golf Tournament
Duane OrullianWarming up in the Alumni House

The Cache County Aggie Chapter’s 4th Annual Winter Golf Tournament was a huge success.  All who braved the snow had a great time.  The tournament, held on Old Main Hill, raised $2,000 to be awarded as scholarships to Cache County students.

Washington D.C.
To highlight the University’s remarkable achievements in space exploration, USU invites alumni and friends to attend a Presidential Lecture and Reception on Friday, April 2, 2004.  The event will be held at the National Press Club in Washington D.C. Experts from the Space Dynamics Lab and NASA will join with President Kermit Hall to provide a fascinating look at USU’s contributions in space and America’s future in the cosmos.

 For more information, contact the Utah State University Alumni Association at (800) 291-2586 or alumni@cc.usu.edu.


Women's Basketball Headed to Tournament
Terrin JohnstonIn their first season of play in 17 years, the Aggie Women’s Basketball Team is headed to Anaheim.  USU finished 5-13 in league play, earning them the eighth-seed in the Big West Tournament.

"I think this validates having women's basketball at Utah State and shows that we are going to be competitive from the start,” said Head Coach Raegan Pebley.  “We have everyone coming back next season and this will give us something to build on."

The Aggies will face the fifth-seeded Long Beach State on Wednesday, March 10th.

Former Aggie Throws for the Olympics
James Parker, former standout Track & Field Star at Utah State, made a big mark in the USA National Indoor Championship competition. He took the title in the Weight Throw, setting two personal bests of 75’ and 76’ ¾”.

James was a 4-time All-American in the Weight and Hammer Throw at USU, as well as All-American in the Discus.  Previously, Parker won the National Outdoor Title in the Hammer (July 2003). Next up is the USA Olympic Trials in Sacramento in July. Pending the outcome, James will be headed to Athens in August to compete in the Olympic Games.

Romney Stadium Renovation
Utah State University’s Athletics Department presented their proposed renovation of Romney Stadium to the Board of Trustees on March 5, 2004.  The project is designed to be completed in three separate, yet interlocking, phases over the next few years,Romney Stadium beginning this spring with the implementation of a new synthetic playing surface.

The project’s scope will greatly increase the usage and utility of the 35 year old structure and address the immediate safety, health and sanitation issues.  In addition, the renovation will increase the capacity of the University to provide student athletes the adequate facilities to meet their individual academic and athletic goals.

Included in the renovation is also a plan to upgrade the east side of Romney Stadium in order to enhance the game-day atmosphere for students and friends.  The project calls for two additional student-entrance gates at different locations, thereby tripling the current location for students to enter.  The project is also programmed to vastly increase the number of restrooms and concession locations throughout the stadium for fan convenience.

Once completed, Romney Stadium will house new training and weight room facilities, the football locker room, press box, ticket office, football offices, satellite bookstore, equipment room, and the USU Athletic Hall of Fame.

Check out utahstateaggies.com for the latest news and information about Aggie Athletics.  If you would like to receive electronic updates from Athletics, e-mail Joli Hatch at joli.hatch@usu.edu.

Travel Opportunities

China China
May 12-21, 2004 - (rescheduled from September 2003)

To find more information, visit www.usu.edu/alumni/china.html or contact Scott Olson at (435) 797-2055.

CruiseWestern Mediterranean Cruise
July 10-18, 2004
Enjoy nine days aboard the Splendor of the Seas and explore the exiting ports at Barcelona, Spain; Monte Carlo/Cannes, France; Florence/Pisa, Italy; Rome, Italy; Naples, Italy; and Valletta, Malta. Inside cabin prices begin at $2299.00 per person, departing from Salt Lake City.

London BridgeEngland and Scotland
October 21-29, 2004
Thrill to the sights and sounds of London and the surrounding area with this exciting package. Planned tours include Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, the Tower of London, Stratford Upon Avon, a night at the theatre and much more.  You may also extend your vacation with an optional tour in Scotland at the end  of our London adventure! Prices begin at $1369.00 (land only).