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Utah State University Celebrates 126 Years with Utah State Greats

Thursday, Mar. 06, 2014

graphic illustration for USU's 2014 Founders Day
Ron K. Labrum, USU 2014 Founders Day honoree

Ron K. Labrum

Evan N. Stevenson, USU 2014 Founders Day honoree

Evan N. Stevenson

Deanna Tanner Okun, USU 2014 Founders Day honoree

Deanna Tanner Okun

Ted Stewart, USU 2014 Founders Day honoree

Ted Stewart

Utah State University is turning 126 this year and is celebrating by honoring alumni and friends at the annual Founders Day Ceremony Friday, March 7. The event honors four USU alumni and will feature special remarks by USU celebrants.

The 2014 award recipients are Ron K. Labrum and Evan N. Stevenson who will receive the Distinguished Alumnus Awards; and Deanna Tanner Okun and Ted Stewart, who will receive Distinguished Service Awards.

The USU Celebrants are Utah Carnegie Professor of the Year for 2013, Joyce Kinkead; Truman Scholar, Briana Bowen; outstanding student athlete, Chuckie Keeton; and 2013 Nobel Laureate in Economics, Lars Peter Hansen.

The USU Alumni Association Executive Board presents Distinguished Alumni Awards to alumni who have best applied knowledge, initiative and individuality in service to the university, the public or his or her profession. The Distinguished Service Awards are given to individuals or couples who had made significant contributions to their community, the university or the world at large.

“We are honoring individuals who, through their generosity and tireless effort, have made a significant impact on Utah State, in their individual communities and throughout the world,” said Steven Noel, president of the USU Alumni Association.

Founders Day activities begin with an awards and musical program at 6 p.m. in the Evan Stevenson Ballroom in the Taggart Student Center on the university campus. A dinner follows.

Ron K. Labrum

Ron K. Labrum works for DCL Healthcare Advisors in Park City, Utah, as a pre- and post-diligence consultant with early stage venture investing and as a board manager. Since graduating in 1982 from Utah State University with a bachelor’s in business administration, Labrum has enjoyed a successful career in the business industry.

Prior to joining DCL, Labrum served as president and CEO of Fenwal, Inc., a multimillion dollar device manufacturer located in Illinois focused on blood technologies. He also spent time as chairman and CEO of Supply Chain Services, Cardinal Health where he was responsible for Cardinal business units focused on supply chain logistics.

From 2000 to 2004, Labrum served a dual role as president and chief operating officer of Allegiance Healthcare and as executive vice president of Cardinal Health. Earlier in his career with Allegiance, Labrum served as corporate vice president for both the Supply Chain Management division and the Region Companies and Health Systems division.

Upon graduating from USU, Labrum first worked for the American Hospital Supply Corporation in its Scientific Products Division. From there he went on to work for Baxter Scientific Products as the Western area vice president in California and then moved on to serve as vice president for Marketing and Operations in Illinois. Labrum continued on with the company and moved up to become vice president for Corporate Sales and Marketing and, later, was appointed president of the Southwest Region in Texas. He also spent time studying at both Queens College in North Carolina and Northwestern University in Illinois to further his business knowledge.

Labrum’s expertise in strategy development, team development, global operations and product development cycles, among others, has allowed him to flourish in the corporate world. He uses his business acumen to give back to others where he serves as a board member for the BCU Credit Union, a board member for Wright Medical, a board member for Aptalis, Inc. and a board member for Chair Suture Express.

Labrum lives in Kamas, Utah and enjoys spending time with his family that includes five children and nine grandchildren. He also spends free time playing golf, fly fishing, skiing, reading or watching a good basketball or football game.

Evan N. Stevenson

Evan N. Stevenson began his professional career at Utah State University in 1955 as director of the Student Union Building, now known as the Taggart Student Center. Two years later, he was given the additional appointment of coordinator of student activities. In this position, Stevenson valued the opportunity to work with USU students and advise the student executive council. During those years, Stevenson, along with his wife, Jean, rarely missed an activity. The couple particularly enjoyed the student events and big band dances held in the student union ballroom, now named the Evan N. Stevenson Ballroom.

In 1967, Stevenson became director of auxiliary and service enterprises at USU, followed by the position of assistant vice president for business. In 1980, USU President Stanford Cazier appointed him vice president for administrative affairs. A few years before Stevenson’s retirement, President Cazier asked him to work more closely with university athletics, which was a satisfying assignment for him. He retired from the university in 1990.

Stevenson received a bachelor’s from Brigham Young University in 1951, an MBA from USU in 1967 and a doctorate in educational administration from USU/Arizona State University in 1971.

He was the recipient of the USU Faculty Service Award, the Associated Students “A” award, a Robins Special Award and the Logan Jaycees Distinguished Service Award, among others.

While at USU, Stevenson strived for favorable relationships between campus and the Cache Valley community. He belonged to the Kiwanis Club and Cache Chamber of Commerce, serving as president of both organizations.

After retiring from the university, Evan served on a state land-trust committee. Stevenson and Jean also fulfilled missions for the LDS church.

An Idaho farm boy at heart, Stevenson is an owner of the famous Cache Valley landmark Dr. Pierce’s barn and adjoining farm. He played an important role in the restoration and preservation of the barn. He thrives on managing the operations there, which he uses as a place to teach his grandchildren how to work. Stevenson serves as a consultant and board member of Wasatch Property Management where he received the Wasatch Investor of the Year award in 2012.

Stevenson and Jean have supported USU in various ways for the past six decades and continue their commitment by donating to student scholarships through the Center for Women and Gender and the Hansen Scholarship. The couple has four children, 20 grandchildren and 30 great-grandchildren.

Deanna Tanner Okun

Deanna Tanner Okun is currently a partner at Adduci Mastriani & Schaumberg, LLP, an international trade law firm based in Washington, D.C. Prior to joining the firm, Okun spent almost 20 years in government service. In 1999, she received an appointment by U.S. President Bill Clinton and was confirmed by the U.S. Senate to serve as a member of the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC).  She spent 12 years at the ITC, serving two terms as chairman and one term as vice chairman. At the time, she was the youngest person to have received that appointment.

Prior to her appointment with the ITC, Okun served seven years as counsel for international affairs to U.S. Senator Frank Murkowski.

Okun’s interest in policy and politics was cultivated at Utah State University where she received a bachelor’s in political science, Magna Cum Laude, in 1985. USU professors Randy Simmons, Mike Lyons and Peter Galderisi provided the spark for considering a career in Washington, D.C.  Professor Simmons was responsible for placing her in an intern position after graduation at a small and innovative free market think tank, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, which turned into a full-time job. She left D.C. to attend Duke University School of Law on a scholarship and received a Juris Doctor, with Honors, in 1990, and returned to D.C. to practice law at Hogan & Hartson.

Okun is married to Bob Okun, a New York native, and long-time Hill aide, who currently provides strategic government relations advice to corporations. Okun and Bob are raising two teenage daughters, Rachel (a senior) and Kelsi (a sophomore), a beagle hound and a few hunter horses. The family’s proudest achievement is starting a charity in 2005, ThanksUSA, that provides $3,000 need-based scholarships to the spouses and dependents of military members in all branches of service from all 50 states. To date, the charity has awarded 3,000 scholarships with a total value of nearly $10 million.

Okun serves on the ThanksUSA Board, the Utah State University Institute of Government and Politics Advisory Board, the Duke Law School Board of Visitors, the Trade Policy Forum Board and as an appointee to the Federal Circuit Advisory Council. In 2012, she was named Outstanding Woman of the Year by the Association of Women in International Trade.

Okun enjoys traveling with her family, watching her girls show horses and running. She will compete in a half-marathon in Moab, Utah, in March.

Ted Stewart

Judge Ted Stewart was nominated by President Bill Clinton on July 27, 1999, to the United States District Court of the District of Utah and, later that year, confirmed and sworn in by the U.S. Senate. He became Chief Judge for the District of Utah in January 2011.

Stewart served as chief of staff to Governor Michael O. Leavitt (R-Utah) from March 1998 to November 1999 and as the executive director of the Department of Natural Resources for the state of Utah from 1993 to 1998.

Earlier in his career, Stewart served as a member and chairman of the Utah Public Service Commission for seven years from 1985 to 1992. In addition, he was in private law practice from 1975 to 1980, served as chief of staff to Congressman Jim Hansen (R-Utah) from 1981 to 1985 and was executive director of the Utah Department of Commerce in 1992.

A 1972 graduate of Utah State University, with a bachelor’s in political science and a minor in history, Stewart served as student body vice-president in the 1971-72 academic year. He obtained a Juris Doctor from the University of Utah in 1975.

Stewart has been a visiting professor at USU beginning in 1991, teaching a course on the United States Congress followed by a course on environmental law and policy from 1994-98. He currently teaches a course on democracy and public policy as well as a course on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Along with his brother, Chris, Stewart is the author of two books. The first, Seven Miracles That Saved America received an award from the Freedom Foundation at Valley Forge.  The second book, The Miracle of Freedom: 7 Tipping Points that Saved the World was a New York Times bestseller.  He is also the sole author of the book The Mark of a Giant: 7 People Who Changed the World.

In his professional career, Stewart has been honored with recognition from numerous organizations, including the Utah Farm Bureau, various wildlife organizations and the Utah Board of Water Resources. He was the recipient of the Distinguished Service Award from the Utah Chapter of the Federal Bar Association in 2011. He has also received an Alumni Merit Citation from the Salt Lake Chapter of the Utah State University Alumni Association.

He presently resides in Farmington, Utah.  He and his wife, Lora, are the parents of six children.

Joyce Kinkead

A Utah State University professor of English known for her connection to students and the promotion of undergraduate research was named the 2013 Carnegie Professor of the Year for the state of Utah. Joyce Kinkead, who has taught at USU for 31 years, is the 13th honoree from USU.

Briana Bowen

USU student Briana Bowen was one of 62 students named a 2013 Truman Scholar by the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation. A political science major, Bowen is the fourth Truman Scholar in USU history — the university’s only female recipient — and the first winner since 1984.

Chuckie Keeton

Utah State junior quarterback Chuckie Keeton entered the 2013 season primed to showcase his talents as one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in the nation after leading the Aggies to an 11-2 record in the 2012 season. After suffering a season-ending knee injury against BYU in October 2013, Keeton missed the remainder of the season.

Lars P. Hansen

Utah State University alum Lars Peter Hansen was one of three Americans named a recipient of the 2013 Nobel Prize in Economics. Hansen is internationally known for his specialization in economic dynamics, using statistical methods applied to study linkages between financial markets and the macroeconomy.

Contact: Cecile Gilmer, 435-797-8275,

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