Aggie Insights E-newsletter
    VOLUME 7 | ISSUE 3 March 2009     

In This Issue



Event Listings







USU Alumni Spotlight - Dr. James Bankhead Dr. James Bankhead

Music has always been an integral part of Dr. James Bankhead’s life.  In his words, “Music surrounded me as a kid…I loved it then and I love it now.” His musical abilities led him to Utah State and a distinguished musical career in the United States Air Force. Aside from being a renowned musical conductor, James also plays the oboe, French horn, saxophone, clarinet, flute, string and electric bass, and the drums. Recently, Dr. Bankhead took the position as Director of the School of Music at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX.

James Bankhead was born in Logan, UT and grew up in Providence, UT. When he was a sophomore in high school, Dr. Max Dalby, Utah State’s Music Department Head and Director of Bands at the time, told James that if he continued working hard and developing his musical talents, he would recommend him for a scholarship.

Aggie blue has always run in the Bankhead family. James’s parents, George and Anna Bankhead, are both USU graduates, as well as two of his sisters. Both of his brothers also attended. Growing up, Bankhead regularly attended USU concerts and athletic events with his family.  “I remember USU as the center for all kinds of really wonderful activities.” Utah State quickly became, as James put it, “the place for [him]”.

It wasn’t until several years after obtaining his bachelor’s in music from USU that Bankhead realized the excellent caliber of the education he had received. He accounts much of his early success to the high standards of the music department and his associations with the superb faculty. “There was a consistent high level of expectations in all of the ensembles, in all of the classes and in all of the special events…it was the daily infusion of high standards that gave me what I needed.” During his time as an Aggie, Bankhead says he obtained the courage and ability to compete against fellow musicians and conductors across the nation.

By the time he graduated from USU, America had entered the Vietnam Conflict. On the advice of a friend and fellow musician, James decided that if he was going to enlist, he would enlist in the Air Force because no Air Force bands were stationed in Southeast Asia. Bankhead started his Air Force career as a member of the Air Force band at Lowery Air Force base in Denver, CO. About a year and half later, James had the opportunity to audition for the position of Deputy Chief of the Air Force Bands & Music Branch at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.

From his first position in Washington, Bankhead eventually became Chief of the Air Force Bands & Music Branch at the Pentagon, before taking the position of Deputy Commander of the Air Force Band. In this position, Bankhead had the privilege of serving under Col. Arnold Gabriel, who he preceded as Commander of the Air Force Band. Bankhead served as Commander from- 1985-1991, during which he marched in three presidential inaugural parades.

After 22 years of service, Bankhead retired as a Lieutenant Colonel in 1991. In addition to his degree from Utah State, he also holds his Master of Arts degree from Central Michigan University and Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Catholic University of America. Prior to his current appointment at SHSU, Bankhead served as the Executive Director of the Green Bay Symphony, and then for 12 years as the Music Department Head at California State University.  

Married to Carol Lyn of Salt Lake City, together they are the parents of five children. Dr. Bankhead currently resides in Willis, TX.

Spotlight by Clarissa Fidler

Nominate an Alumni Spotlight here.

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The New Official MasterCard of Utah State University - Support Aggie Athletics!
Official Mastercard of Utah State

Great things are happening at Utah State University, especially with Alumni and Athletics. And we want to do what we can to help you support your team. We will be hosting a WAC tournament party in Reno on Friday, March 13 at the Silver Legacy Resort Casino. Don't miss your chance to see the record breaking men's basketball team as they continue their success on and off the court.

Football season is just around the corner and you can feel the excitement in the air. When you buy your season tickets, remember that when you pay with your USU Rewards MasterCard you get double points, that's a full 2% cash back, no tiers, no minimums, no strings. In fact just about anything you buy on campus will earn you double points, from Athletics to Aggie Ice Cream, the Bookstore to the University Inn, even when you pay your student's tuition!

Your new USU Rewards MasterCard is available exclusively through the Alumni Association. Thank you for supporting us with our former Chase Bank Visa Card. Now that the Chase relationship has ended, we hope we can count on your support for the new Official MasterCard. Your involvement funds Alumni Association activities such as Aggie Family Days, Homecoming, chapter events and more! The new MasterCard is available now! Click here for details.

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Alumni online community - Add inCircle as a Facebook Application


Alumni can now add inCircle as a Facebook application. Four main areas of inCircle can be accessed via the Facebook application: Get Recruited, Member Connections, inCircle Profile, and Invite Friends. While you cannot access all aspects of inCircle through Facebook, adding it as an application allows you to get a quick overview and stay up to date on the latest job opportunities while connecting with fellow alumni. Add the inCircle application today!

USU inCircle is a closed online community for Utah State alumni. You can search through inCircle for fellow alumni by city, employer, industry, class year, and more. Other features include the ability to post and search employment listings, join and form alumni and interest groups, register for events, and discuss just about anything you want with fellow Utah State friends.

The new community is open to all who attended (including current students), graduated from, or work at USU. To visit and set up your account go to, or from the Alumni homepage click the online community link.

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USU ApplicantSearchTM Coming Soon USU Alumni Association

At the end of March, the Alumni Association will be launching USU ApplicantSearchTM, a cutting-edge and unique service designed to help match USU alumni with employers searching for great employees.

Designed to be useful whether you are an active or passive jobseeker, the service allows you to log in and create a comprehensive profile of your unique education, skills, experience, and preferences. You may upload your résumé, and complete a one-hour optional assessment of your thinking styles, behavioral traits relevant to work, and occupational interests. Best of all, there is no charge for this unique service!

Check back at the end of March for more details.

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USU Alumna Publishes First Novel Annette Haws

USU Alumna and Logan native, Annette Haws, has published her first novel, Waiting for the Light to Change. Haws taught English in Utah public schools for fourteen years, most recently at Murray High School, before electing to pursue the art of writing fiction. In an interview with Erin McShay, Annette remarked that “I think beneath every English teacher you’ll find a secret writer”.

Waiting for the Light to Change takes place in a fictionalized version of Logan, complete with all the characteristic elements of Cache Valley and life in a small town. The story follows Sarah Williams, a single mother who teaches high school English and debate, as she struggles to deal with her socially awkward teenage daughter. As Idaho Mountain Express writer Dana Dugan put it, the book “explores the difficulties of teaching, parenting, learning to forgive, and surviving in a small town.”

Steven E. Dunn, Ed D., Dean of the School of Education at Newman University, said:

“Annette Haws has hit a homerun. Ms. Haws clearly understands the vast issues facing teachers as they deal with their own personal lives and the lives of their students. Parents of students will gain a greater insight into the dynamics of adolescent students, their peers, and their teachers in this novel of teenage traumas and adult dilemmas."

Annette Haws and her husband currently reside in Holladay, UT, where they has lived for the past 12 years.

Click here to visit Annette's website. Click here to purchase the book from

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Al Lewis Receives Distinguished Service Award Al Lewis

On February 10, 2009, the long time voice of Aggie football and basketball, Al Lewis, was awarded the Distinguished Service Award by the Utah Sports Hall of Fame Foundation. Lewis received the award at the Paul Ream Scholarship/Distinguished Service Banquet in the company of his wife, two children, parents, and close friends. Al has served as the voice of the Aggies for the past 18 years.

With more than thirty years of radio experience under his belt, Lewis is currently the program and sports director at KVNU 610 AM radio. In addition to covering sports, he has been on KVNU’s morning radio show for 21 years. Lewis, a Logan native, graduated from Utah State in 1975 with a degree in journalism. In an interview with Herald Journal sports editor Shawn Harrison, Lewis remarked that he’d probably been directly associated with Utah State for at least 25 years. Starting in 1972, Lewis was also the voice for the Logan Grizzlies for close to 20 years.

Watching the Aggies over the years, Al has witnessed some amazing victories and crushing defeats. One of the most exciting games he has ever called was the NCAA basketball game against Ohio State in 2001. In his job, Lewis has also been able to rub shoulders with some of the Aggies’ finest athletes. Of all the Aggies he’s ever interviewed, Lewis still puts the dynamic Spencer Nelson as number one.

Cache Valley residents and Aggie fans are lucky to always have Al Lewis in their midst.

Photo from Athletics website.

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Back to the Buzzer


1958 Aggie Baseball Team- Recent Hall of Fame inductee Dave Kragthorpe is pictured here in the middle row, fifth from the left. Kragthorpe served as the assistant coach, before taking over as head coach in the middle of the '58 season.

Buzzers are now available online! Click here to go to the Buzzer Yearbooks Collection at the USU Digital Library.

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WAC Tournament Pregame Tip-off Party

Join fellow Alumni in a celebration of the USU Men's & Women's Basketball teams!

Friday, March 13, 2009 WAC Basketball Tournament, Reno, NV
Tip-off Party: 3:30pm-5:30pm

Silver Legacy Resort Casino (on the strip)
Rum Bullion Patio
407 N. Virginia Street, Reno
Phone: 1-800-687-8733

Cost: $15.00 per person, includes heavy hors d'oeuvres

Silver Legacy Hotel Accommodations
$49.99 through Thursday, $109.00 Friday-Sunday
Use code: WACUTAH

RSVP: By Tuesday, March 10th to USU Alumni Relations: 1-800-291-2586, or click here to register online.
TBA Post Season Tip-off Party
Details: Check the alumni tip-off parties page on Monday, March 16th

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MHR Student Project Supports Non-Profit Organization

Buckets for Change

A group of MHR 3110 students at USU have to put together a project---Buckets for Change---to raise money for the non-profit organization, Dollars for Change. Dollars for Change was founded in 2006 by former USU gymnast and USU alumna, Katie Rutherford.

Buckets for Change will host a 3-on-3 basketball tournament on March 28, 2009 in the USU HYPER gyms.

Registration is open to all high-school and college students. Click here to register online.

The group's goal is to get the local community involved in the event, while promoting a healthy and active lifestyle. They hope to raise $1000. Proceeds from the tournament will benefit children in Kurland, Africa.

To donate and learn more about the project, visit the Buckets for Change website or come to any of the following registration times:

  March 16th- 20th 10:00am-2:00pm TSC basement by the USU bookstore
  March 28th 10:00am-12:00pm HPER building on USU campus

Contact James Brindley at 530-788-5062 for more information.

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2nd Annual Aggie Family Day at Lagoon Aggie Family Day at Lagoon

Mark your calendars! The 2nd Annual Aggie Family Day at Lagoon has been scheduled for Thursday, July 9, 2009 from 11:00am – 10:00pm. Enjoy group discounted tickets and FREE parking (regularly $8.00 per vehicle).

Discounted tickets will be available starting June 15, 2009.

Last year over 700 Aggies came from all over the Wasatch Front and southern Idaho to enjoy a fun filled day with family and fellow Aggies. Don't miss out on taking part in this great event!

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Chapter News & Events

Check the Alumni Association Chapters page for chapter news and events.

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Three Merit Citations Awarded at Annual Aggie Sweetheart Dinner

Three merit citations were awarded during the month of February, all by the Utah County Alumni Chapter. Awards were distributed at the chapter's annual Aggie Sweetheart Dinner on February 7, 2009. Recepients of merit citations were: Doug Brinley, Steve Palmer, and Jason Budge.

Doug Brinley

Doug Brinley

Doug Brinley graduated in Economics from Utah State University and taught Economics for a couple of years while working on his Masters degree at USU.  He later went on to receive a Ph.D in Family Studies from Brigham Young University.

Brinley recently retired on July 1, 2008 as a Professor of Church History & Doctrine at BYU.  Throughout his impressive career, Doug Brinley has authored or co-authored 11 books, 9 of which are on marriage and family relations. Some of Brinley’s publications include: “Between Husband & Wife: Gospel Perspectives on Marital Intimacy,” First Comes Love (for those preparing for marriage), its sequel “Then Comes Marriage”, and “Living a Covenant Marriage”.  His latest book, entitled “America's Hope: Why Every Other Civilization Has Failed and What You Can Do to Save This One”, explores the past, present, and future of America.  He also has a number of marriage CD’s and now a DVD. 

Doug and his wife Geri currently reside in Provo. They are the parents of six children and 24 grandchildren. 

Photo from BYU website

Steve Palmer & Jason Budge

Steve Palmer and Jason Budge

Steve and Jason met through their involvement in student government at USU, Steve as Student Body President and Jason as Student Advocate VP. When they left Cache Valley to transition into the business world, the friendship Steve and Jason had forged continued to grow and develop.

After working together at the same company for a few years, Steve and Jason decided to take a risk and start their own business. In an effort to solve an ongoing problem —finding an effective way to build, organize, and rotate a year supply of food— their company, Shelf Reliance, was born. Since its start over three years ago, Shelf Reliance has expanded to encompass all areas of emergency preparedness, including the launch of its own food line, THRIVE.

Steve and Jason are both married to fellow Aggies. Steve and his wife Amy are the proud parents of three children. Jason and his wife Lindsay are the happy parents of four. Both the Palmer and Budge families currently reside in Pleasant Grove, Utah.

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Founder's Day Awards Founder's Day Award Recipients

Five Utah State University alumni were honored Friday, March 6, at the Founder’s Day ceremony celebrating the university’s 121st anniversary. 

Each year the USU Alumni Association Executive Board gives the Distinguished Alumnus Awards and the Distinguished Service Awards to those who have had a significant impact on their communities.

The 2009 award recipients were Saundra S. Buys and John R. Miller, who received Distinguished Alumnus Awards, and Mike Dmitrich and John and Barbara Wilkerson, who received Distinguished Service Awards.

“The task of honoring great Aggies is a most difficult one, because we have so many who are indeed great,” said Wally Odd, executive director of the Alumni Association. “But these Aggie greats have a sincere and generous concern for the good of mankind and are committed to make an appreciable difference wherever they are found. Their efforts bring great credit on Utah State University and our Alumni Association.”

Saundra S. Buys grew up in southern Utah and central Washington. She attended USU for two years and then moved with her husband, Joe, to Boston. She graduated from Northeastern University and Tufts University School of Medicine in 1979. After graduation she returned to Utah to complete an internship and residency in Internal Medicine at the University of Utah. She also completed a clinical and research fellowship in Hematology and Oncology. In 1984 she joined the faculty at the University of Utah, School of Medicine, and the Huntsman Cancer Institute since it first began. She has devoted her professional life to the field of medicine. She has cared for patients with all types of cancers since 1982, and she is one of the state’s leading specialists in the treatment of breast cancer.
John R. Miller was born and raised in Logan, Utah. He attended Utah State University where he earned his bachelor’s of science degree in history in 1977. After graduation he worked at American Commodities Corporation in Hyrum, Utah, as the general manager. In 1979 he became the CEO of E.A. Miller, Inc. in Hyrum, Utah. He later became the CEO and president of Armour Food Company in Omaha, Neb., then he was hired as the CEO of National Carriers, Inc. He is also the CEO of National Beef Packing Company in Kansas City, Missouri, which is the fourth largest beef processor in the United States. He has worked tirelessly throughout his life as a business leader to improve the beef industry.
Mike Dmitrich was born in Murray and moved to Carbon County when he was five. In 1954 he was recruited to play football at USU and in 1955 was awarded a full-ride football scholarship. After an injury he returned to Price and played for the College of Eastern Utah and in 1982 he was awarded Honorary Associate of Science Degree. At the age of 31 he was elected to the Utah House of Representatives and held office in that body until 1990. He served as the House Minority Leader from 1983-1990. In 1991 he was appointed to the Utah State Senate and elected to the senate in 1992. He was the longest serving legislator on Capitol Hill when he retired and had served continuously in the Utah Legislature for 40 years. He has been a long-time passionate voice on Capitol Hill for public and higher education and for the health and economic stability of Utah families.
John Wilkerson was born and raised in Elko, Nev. He attended USU and in 1965 received his bachelor’s degree in biological sciences. He continued his education at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., and received a master’s and a doctorate, and met Barbara. His career began at Johnson and Johnson where he was a top-rated health industry analyst. In 1998 he was the founder of the Wilkerson Group and is a co-founder of Galen Partners. John and Barbara are co-founders of the E. L. Rose Conservancy in northern Pennsylvania.
Barbara was born in Binghamton, N.Y., and her landscapes and plants have won several major awards, including the coveted blue ribbon at the Philadelphia Flower Show. The couple has collected paintings of the early works of central and west Australia for the past 15 years, and their personal collection is currently on display at the Johnson Museum at Cornell University.

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College of HASS Distinguished Alumni Speaker Series- Jeremy Pugh Jeremy Pugh

In the month of February, Jeremy Pugh served as the College of HASS Distinguished Alumni Speaker. On Friday, February 6th, Pugh gave a presentation entitled, “If I don’ know it, I can fake it until I do. Why resourcefulness is the most important thing to learn in college,” to a substantial crowd of students, friends, former professors, faculty, and alumni at the David B. Haight Alumni Center.

Jeremy graduated from Utah State in 1995 with a bachelor’s degree in English literature. Aligning with his presentation’s title, over the years Jeremy’s resourcefulness has helped him move his way up in the worlds of journalism and publishing. Jeremy is the current editor-in-chief of Salt Lake Magazine, a “bimonthly regional publication focused on dining, arts and entertainment, local issues, personalities, and living well in Utah” (Salt Lake magazine website).  

Pugh encouraged students to seek opportunities aggressively and expose themselves to uncertainty. He explained that, initially, he was not exactly equipped for many of the jobs he has held throughout his career. He attributes much of his success to being able to see more choices than the other guy and recognizing that pursue is a verb. In his words, “no one is guaranteed to be happy” and “we live in an infinite universe with infinite choices”. Success requires one to take action.

At the beginning of his presentation, Pugh expressed wariness at being called “distinguished”, and was unsure if he had enough experience to really deserve the title. When Dean Flores awarded Jeremy with a Distinguished Alumni Speakers Series plaque, she assured him that he was indeed a distinguished USU Alum, and that being distinguished is not about age.

In Jeremy Pugh’s case, fortune does in fact favor the bold.   

Photo from Utah State Today


Next Speaker in Distinguished Alumni Series:

Friday, March 27, 2009, Eric Hone will give a presentation entitled: “From the Quad to the Octagon: Utah State’s Ultimate Training”. Hone is a political science alum and partner at one of the Southwest’s leading law firms.

For more information call (435) 797-4072.

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Travel Opportunities Southern States Historical Tour

Southern States Historical Tour

USU Alumni Relations is thrilled to offer a “Southern States Historical Tour” with Dr. Ross Peterson May 2-9, 2009. This 8-day trip will take you to Atlanta, Macon, Savannah, GA and Charleston, SC. Dr. Peterson, Vice President of Advancement and noted historian, will be your escort leading you through some of this country’s most turbulent and fascinating history. Tour stops include Margaret Mitchell’s home (author of Gone with the Wind), Stone Mountain, Martin Luther King, Jr. Historical Site, Kennishaw Mountain National Battlefield & Civil War Museum, Jimmy Carter National Historical Site, Andersonville Prison, Fort Pulaski and Fort Sumter…and much more!

Our group limit is only 46 people for this bus tour so please make your reservations NOW! Join other Aggies in this once-in-a-lifetime adventure and experience a part of America’s history with one of the country’s premier historians, Ross Peterson!

Click here for more details, deadlines, and rates.

Photo by Mike Lorey

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Read the Classnotes

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Current Athletic Schedules

Click here for the current schedules of all Aggie athletics.

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USU Clinches Regular-Season WAC Title WAC Champs

Utah State University clinched the Western Athletic Conference men's basketball title outright with an 82-62 win against Hawai'i Thursday night [Feb. 26] at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.

USU improved to 13-1 in WAC play, winning back-to-back WAC regular-season titles after finishing in a four-way tie last season. The Aggies also improved to 26-3 overall, tying for the most wins in the country.

USU's outright WAC championship is the Aggies' second outright regular-season league title under head coach Stew Morrill, joining the 1999-2000 squad that went 16-0 in Big West Conference play. Overall, it is the ninth time in school history that USU was won at least a share of the regular season conference championship, including the fifth in the last 10 years. FULL STORY

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Aggie Men Finish 2nd, Women 4th At WAC Indoor Championships

Senior John Strang

Utah State men's and women's track and field teams finished action Saturday at the Western Athletic Conference Indoor Championships with a second-place overall finish for the men and the women claimed fourth. The Aggie men captured event titles in the high jump, mile, 60m hurdles, 400m and junior Erin Stratton took the titles in the mile and 3,000m for the women.

"Our kids did great today. Time and time again and event after event today they could have given up, but they kept clawing away," USU veteran head coach Gregg Gensel said. "We'd get the lead, then Boise would get it back, but we just kept gunning. I'm just really, really proud of them today and the tremendous effort they showed. Our distance crew really ran well this weekend."

Utah State's men finished in second-place with 145.5 points, close behind host Boise State with 150 points. Idaho was third with 121.50 points while Louisiana Tech was fourth with 104 points.

On the women's side, USU had 92.5 points finishing fourth behind Louisiana Tech's 120 points to win its second-straight and fourth WAC indoor title in the last five years. Idaho (114 pts.) and Boise State (112 pts.) were second and third, respectively. Hawai'i was fifth (72.5 pts), followed by Nevada (57 pts.), Fresno State (48 pts.) and New Mexico State (47 pts.). FULL STORY

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Catching Up With Captain Chaos Chris Cooley

Chris Cooley’s life has been an adventure many Aggie athletes wish they could pursue, but only few actually achieve.

Cooley went from playing college football at Utah State University to playing in the National Football League for the Washington Redskins. Cooley started playing for USU in 2000 and ended in 2003 by graduating with a degree in art. Captain Chaos, as his teammates call him, was the first Redskins tight end since 2000 to play in the Pro Bowl, when he stared in the 2008 all-star event, and made a repeat appearance in the 2009 Pro Bowl this past weekend. He has also played in every game since the start of his professional career with the Redskins in 2004. Cooley is ranked third in receptions and second in touchdowns for a tight end. Cooley also married Maxim model and former Redskins cheerleader, Christy Ogleeve, in 2008.

Recently, Cooley took some time to talk about life in the NFL. FULL STORY

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