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Utah State University Greats

USU Alumni = Great Success

Utah State University has more than 180,000 alumni spread throughout the United States and in more than 100 countries around the globe. The Alumni Association hosts the university's Founder's Day Celebration, Aggie Family Day, A-Day, Homecoming, Golden Aggie Reunion, Senior Send-Off and many other activities throughout Utah and the world.

This list of Utah State great alumni is not comprehensive. Alumni may be nominated by e-mailing prm@usu.edu. Criteria to consider (one or all) when nominating a person includes, (1) notable achievements of regional, national or international influence; (2) influence through service, or opportunities through education, that has made a positive difference regionally, nationally or internationally; (3) champion of scientific and humanistic research.

Notable Alumni

  • J. Phillip Adams, B.S., Business Administration, '78
    Adams is the president and CEO of Flying J Corporation, the largest retail distributor of diesel fuel in North America. He received the Professional Achievement Award from USU's College of Business in 2002.
  • Rick Bass, B.S., Geology, '79
    Bass is the author of 21 books, including "Where the Sea Used to Be," "The Sky," "The Hermit's Story" and "The Diezmo." His stories have been awarded the Pushcart Prize and the O'Henry Award. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, Esquire, The New York Times, Time, Sports Illustrated, Sierra, Audubon and Men's Journal.
  • Caryn Beck-Dudley, B.S., Poltical Science, '80
    Beck-Dudley is the dean of the College of Business at Florida State University. She formerly served as USU's first female dean of the College of Business from 2002-05. Beck-Dudley was recognized in 2004 by the business community when she was named one of its "Visionaries: 30 Women to Watch" by Utah Business magazine.
  • Michael Lynn Ballam, B.S., Music, '72
    Ballam is the founder and director of the Utah Festival Opera, ranked as one of the world's top 20 summer festivals by "Money Magazine." Ballam is the author of more than 30 publications and music recordings in international distribution.
  • Greg C. Carr, B.S., History, '82
    Carr is the chairman of Prodigy, Inc., an international Internet service provider, which he acquired from IBM and Sears in 1996. Carr is an avid human rights activist and has formed the Greg C. Carr Foundation to support human rights, education and the arts.
  • Rudy Castruita, B.S., Physical Education, '66; M.S., Physical Eduation, '67
    Castruita is the retired superintendent of the San Diego County Office of Education. During his career, Castruita united the San Diego County's 42 school districts on issues such as funding for children's mental health issues.
  • W. Boyd Christensen, B.S., Business Administration, '48
    Christensen is the retired president and vice chair of the board of directors for All-State Insurance. He started his career as assistant secretary in the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development and also worked as USU's vice president for business and finance.
  • Kathleen Clarke, B.S., Political Science, '72
    Clarke was named the 15th director of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management in 2001. She is the first woman to be appointed to the position which is responsible for 264 million acres of U.S. public lands, most located in 12 western states.
  • Mary Louise Cleave, M.S., Biology, '75; P.H.D., Civil &
    Environmental Engineering, '80
    Cleave is the deputy associate administrator for Earth sciences in the office of Earth Science at NASA where she has served since February 2000. Cleave was selected as an astronaut in May 1980 and has participated as a mission specialist on two space flights.
  • Charlie Denson, B.S., Marketing, '78
    Denson is the president of Nike Inc., where he is in charge of global and regional profits and corporate function. Denson has returned to the USU campus to speak to students in the College of Business and serves on the College of Business Advancement Board.
  • Elizabeth Dowdeswell, M.S., Behavioral Sciences, '72
    Dowdeswell is the executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). She received an Honorary Doctorate of Environmental Management from USU in 1995. Dowdeswell is Canada's permanent representative to the World Meteorological Organization, and has been twice elected to its executive council.
  • LaVell Edwards, B.S., Physical Education, '52
    Edwards is a former Brigham Young University head football coach and Aggie football letterman. In 2004, Edwards was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame and was honored by the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame.
  • John Forzani, B.S., Physical Education, '71
    Forzani founded the Forzani Group in 1974 with his brothers and a friend. The Forzani Group is Canada's biggest sporting goods retailer with 215 company-owned stores under the names Coast Mountain Sports, Sport Chek and Sport Mart.
  • Niranjan R. Gandhi, M.S., Biology, '70; PHD, '72
    Gandhi is the president of start-up company Jeniel Biotech. As a world-renowned biotechnologist and food scientist, he has planned and developed new ventures in the fields of natural flavors, soy products, chemicals, biosurfactants and biopesticides. He is a USU Research Foundation trustee.
  • Kenny C. Guinn, Doctor of Education, Educational Admininstration, '70
    Guinn currently serves as Governor of Nevada where he was first elected in 1998 and re-elected in 2002. He began his career in the central office of administration in the Clark County School District in Nevada and later worked in the private sector as administrative vice president for Nevada Savings and Loan, which later became PriMerit Bank.
  • David B. Haight, Att., '29
    Haight served on the Council of the Twelve Apostles for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Prior to assuming full-time church responsibilities, Haight was a noted civic and business leader in California. Haight received the USU Distinguished Alumnus Award and served on USU's National Advisory Council, Alumni Chapter Board, Inaugural Scholarship Event Committee and was an Arrington Lecturer. Haight passed away July 31, 2004.
  • Joseph Hays, B.S., Journalism, '53
    Hays' serves as a consultant to the CEO of Tribune Co. in Chicago, Illinois. He established the Hays Group, a consulting firm that provides counsel to companies on communications policies and enhancing shareholder value. He also advises not-for-profit organizations on strategic planning and fund raising.
  • Ron K. Labrum, B.S., Marketing, '83
    Labrum is president and chief executive officer of Integrated Provider Solutions for Cardinal Health in Illinois. Labrum accepted this position in February 2004 and previously served as the organization's executive vice president.
  • Michael McCullough, B.S., Political Science, '84
    McCullough is the executive vice president and chief marketing officer for the professional basketball team the Miami Heat. Under his guidance, the Miami Heat's marketing team has repeatedly been recognized for excellence and has received numerous awards.
  • Dick Motta, B.S., Physical Education, '53
    Motta is the owner of the Bluebird Inn in Logan and the Bluebird Inn Bed and Breakfast in Bear Lake, Utah. A former NBA coach and color commentator, he coached the Chicago Bulls and Washington Bullets, ending his career with the Dallas Mavericks. He was named NBA Coach of the Year in 1971 and won an NBA Championship while coaching the Washington Bullets.
  • Robert B. Murray, B.S., Business Administration, '51
    Murray is the chairman of the board for Alpine Confections, Inc., a leading manufacturer and distributor of candy products. He was president and owner of the Steve Regan Company before he began working with Alpine Confections.
  • Dr. John C. Nelson, B.S., Biology, '65
    Nelson is a practicing obstetrician in Salt Lake City, Utah, and former president of the American Medical Association. He has worked to address issues of domestic violence and child abuse and was invited by the AMA Alliance to act as a spokesperson for the "Stop America's Violence Everywhere" campaign.
  • Deanna Okun, B.A., Political Science, '85
    Okun is the chairman of the International Trade Commission. She was nominated in 1999 by then U.S. President Bill Clinton. Prior to her appointment, Okun was an associate attorney and member of the International Trade Group at the Washington, D.C., law firm of Hogan & Hartson.
  • Merlin J. Olsen, B.S., Finance, '62
    Olsen is a well-known athlete and media personality. After a 15-season NFL career with the L.A. Rams, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1982. Following his NFL retirement, Olsen achieved success as an actor, appearing on shows such as "Little House on the Prarie" and "Father Murphy."
  • Bonnie Parkin, B.S., Early Childhood Education, '62
    Parkin is the general president of the Relief Society for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She received an Alumni Merit Citation (2003) and the Distinguished Alumni Award (2005) from USU.
  • L.Tom Perry, B.S., Business Administration, '49
    Perry is a member of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. His professional career was spent in retail business. Perry was awarded the Distinguished Alumnus Award from USU in 1981. In 2006, USU's College of Business awarded him the Distinguished Executive Alumnus Award, the highest honor the college offers.
  • Ward D. Parkinson, B.S., Electrical Engineering, '69
    Parkinson is a co-founder of Micron Technology and currently serves as the vice president for commercial development of Ovonyx, Inc. He is the author of numerous patents in the field of microelectronics and has been an expert witness for both Micron and Intel in patent suits.
  • James Quigley, B.S., Accounting, '74
    Quigley was named CEO of Deloitte & Touche USA in June 2003 and has been named one of the Top 100 Most Influential People in Accounting by "Accounting Today." He is active on the board of trustees of the Central Park Conservancy and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
  • Harry Reid, B.S., Political Science, '61
    Reid is the Democratic Senator of the state Nevada and the Democratic Leader in the United States Senate. His career in politics began when he was elected to the Nevada State Assembly at age 28. Two years later, he became the youngest Lieutenant Governor in Nevada's history. Reid has served as Chairman of the Nevada Gaming Commission and terms in the United States House of Representatives. Reid has been presented a USU Alumni Merit Citation, an Honorary Degree for Doctor of Political Science and has given an Arrington Lecturer.
  • Jim Ryan, B.S., History, '71; B.S., Business Administration, '74
    Ryan is the retired president and CEO for Volvo Commercial Finance where he headed Volvo's U.S. car finance operations. Ryan started his career with General Electric where he held a series of senior executive positions.
  • James L. Sanford, M.B.A., '75
    Sanford is corporate vice president and treasurer for Northrop Grumman, a global defense company. He is responsible for cash management, risk management, capital markets, pension and savings investments and trust management. He also handles the execution of the company's mergers and acquisitions endeavors.
  • Jan Shipps, B.S. ’61, History
    Shipps is the preeminent non-Mormon expert on Mormonism and  professor emeritus of history and religious studies in the School of Liberal Arts at Indiana University-Purdue University.
  • Diane Stuart, M.S., Family Consumer Human Development, '90
    Stuart directs the Office on Violence Against Women in the U.S. Department of Justice. She previously worked as state coordinator for the Utah Domestic Violence Cabinet Council and as a domestic violence victim advocacy specialist in Utah's Division of Child and Family Services. Stuart began her career as executive director of the Battered Women's Shelter and Rape Crisis Center in Logan, Utah.
  • Kay Toolson, B.S., Marketing, '69; Master of Business Administration, '70
    Toolson is the chairman and CEO for the Monaco Coach Corporation, a position he has held since 1993. He previously served as Vice President for Kings Holloway Mobile Industries in California.
  • Don Wang, M.S., Nutrition and Food Science, '72
    Wang is the chairman and president of MetroCorp Bancshares Inc., a Texas corporation which, through its subsidiary MetroBank, N.A., provides community banking services in Houston and Dallas. Wang is involved in Houston area communities and has served as the vice chairman of the Future Programs Committee and on the board of the Houston Asia Chamber of Commerce.
  • Josey Barnes Wayman, B.S., Speech, English, '51
    Wayman had a distinguished nine-year career in television, and rose from model, to hostess of a daily program, to women's program director. She won three consecutive Lifeline of America broadcast awards and hosted the first weekly network program and colored television program in the Intermountain West.
  • Gene P. Weckler, B.S., Electrical Engineering, '58
    Weckler is president of Rad-icon Imaging Corporation, a company he started in 1997 to produce CMOS images and cameras. Weckler holds 14 patents concerning Semiconductor Devices for Signal Processing and Image Sensing. He received the Distinguished Alumnus award for Electrical Engineering in 1988.
  • Ardeshir Zahedi, B.S., Animal Science, '50
    Zahedi has served as Ambassador to the United States and as Foreign Minister and assistant to the Prime Minister of his native country, Iran. He has represented Iran at many international forums and official occasions.
  • Norah al-Fayez, M.S., Education, ’82
    Al-Fayez was named the Deputy Education Minister for Women’s Education in Saudi Arabia in February 2009. She is the first woman ever to be named to a ministerial post in the country.

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