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Utah State University Celebrates 127 Years and Current 'Year of Water'

Thursday, Mar. 05, 2015

a scenic view of Utah State University's Old Main building

Utah State University celebrates 127 years of history at its Founders Day events Friday, March 6.

USU 2015 Founders Day honoree Blake Kirby

Distinguished Alumni Award recipient Blake R. Kirby.

USU 2015 Founders Day honoree David C. Miller

David C. Miller, Distinguished Alumni Award.

USU 2015 Founders Day honorees W. Brent and Beverly J. Robinson

W. Brent and Beverly J. Robinson, Distinguished Service Award.

USU 2015 Founders Day honorees Rodney E. and Valene D. Tueller

Rodney E. and Valene D. Tueller, Distinguished Service Award.

Utah State University is turning 127 this year and celebrates by honoring alumni and friends at the annual Founders Day Ceremony Friday, March 6.

The presentation includes remarks by Utah State University President Stan L. Albrecht and Associate Vice President and Provost Noelle Cockett, who will highlight 2015 as the “Year of Water” at the university.

USU’s 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. Distinguished Service Awards are given to individuals or couples who have made significant contributions to their community, the university or the world at large.

“We honor 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 David L. Clark, associate vice president of USU Alumni and Corporate Relations.

The 2015 award recipients are Blake R. Kirby and David C. Miller who will receive Distinguished Alumni Awards; and W. Brent and Beverly J. Robinson and Rodney E. and Valene D. Tueller, who will receive Distinguished Service Awards.

Founders Day activities include a dinner and awards presentation at 6:30 p.m. in the Evan N. Stevenson Ballroom in the Taggart Student Center on the university campus. 


Growing up in Cache Valley, Blake Kirby was no stranger to the Utah State University campus even as a child. His father, Lynn Kirby, spent more than 25 years in USU’s food service management, and Blake spent much of his youth shadowing him.

While attending USU, he began honing his business skills by co-owning and operating an airport shuttle business, which he sold after college and eventually consolidated with Salt Lake Express.

He graduated cum laude in 1991 with a bachelor’s in accounting.

For the past 20 years, Blake has been involved in many entrepreneurial ventures in a variety of industries, including finance, technology and manufacturing. He is also a private equity investor and serves on the boards for three of his portfolio companies.

In 1998 Blake co-founded Inovar, Inc., a technology company that provides high-quality manufacturing services to the military/aerospace, communications, industrial and medical device industries. He served as CEO from 2000 to 2012, and is currently the majority shareholder and chairman of the board. In 2004, he was a finalist for the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award, which honors the nation’s most innovative entrepreneurs.

Blake is a strong believer in bringing a sense of consciousness to the companies he is involved with. He is passionate in his philosophy that a well-run, purpose-driven business can improve lives in more tangible ways than other organizations in society.

He is also an active board member for several charitable organizations, including the Opportunity Foundation of America, the National Advisory Board for Aggie Athletics, Education First and the USU Foundation.

Blake married his soul mate, Dove, in 2013. He has one daughter, Bailey, a sophomore at Texas Christian University, and two stepsons, Alex and Carson. He enjoys the outdoors, traveling, scuba diving, skiing and is an avid golfer and a fervent fan of college athletics. 


David C. Miller is an experienced business leader with more than 25 years of experience in the real estate industry. Born and raised in Orange County, Calif., Miller left home in the fall of 1982 to enroll at Utah State University. Although a southern California boy can never fully acclimatize to Logan’s weather, Miller relished his time at college. This included becoming immersed in his business courses, exploring the vast wilderness of Utah and meeting a host of life-long friends.

Miller graduated from USU in 1987 with a finance degree and went to work as a business analyst for the Geneva Companies in Costa Mesa, Calif. A few years later, he joined Los Angeles Chemical Company, which he owned and ran from the late 1980s through 2006. Under Miller’s leadership, L.A. Chemical grew from a small company located solely in South Gate, Calif., into the preeminent chemical distributor of the western states. A large factor in the company’s rise stemmed from Miller’s multiple acquisitions of other chemical distributors and the real estate on which they operated.

Although Miller sold his ownership in L.A. Chemical to Bain Capital in 2006, he continues to own much of the underlying property on which the buyer operates, including properties in Salt Lake City, Las Vegas and South Gate. Miller also serves as the owner and CEO of Titan Terminal and Transport, Inc., a rail terminal that operates on 25 acres in South Gate. 

Miller and his wife, Myrna (another proud Aggie alum), moved to north Florida with their young daughter in 2008, and has since delved into student housing for USU by purchasing and developing Blue Square at Utah State across from Romney Stadium.


W. Brent Robinson graduated from Utah State University in 1966 with degrees in electrical engineering and economics. Active in student government, he served as president of the 1966 senior class. After USU, he went on to receive an MBA from Harvard Business School.

Beverley became an Aggie upon marrying Brent, and several of their children and grandchildren also became Aggies. Beverley attended Boise State University (though she cheers for USU at football games against Boise State) and graduated from California State University at Fullerton with a degree in marketing.

Brent was president/CEO of Citizens National Bank in Boise, and later became senior executive vice president of American Savings Bank, the largest savings and loan in the United States at that time. In the late 1990s he formed RobinCon, Inc., a consulting firm that provided strategic planning services to financial institutions. He has also served in many community and business organizations, including as president of the Idaho Independent Bankers Association and as chairman of the Idaho Division of the American Cancer Society. 

Beverley worked as a financial analyst at Intermountain Gas Company in Boise and later as executive director of the Laguna Beach, Calif., Chamber of Commerce. She also served as vice president of development for the Idaho Division of the American Cancer Society and currently works with numerous other non-profit organizations. Beverley’s passion at USU has been the Special Collections and Archives at USU’s Merrill-Cazier Library.

In 2006, Brent became a member of the USU Foundation Board, where he is active in upgrading USU’s investment policies and practices through the USU Investment Advisory Committee.

When not traveling the world, Beverley can be found in her sewing room and Brent in his woodworking shop, or golfing and skiing together near their home in Sun Valley, Idaho.


Rodney E. and Valene D. Tueller returned to Logan in 1957 after Rod attended the University of Utah on a basketball scholarship. That move began an association with Utah State University that has continued for 50-plus years.

Rodney graduated from USU in 1959 with a degree in secondary education and physical education. Though his teaching and coaching career started in the Uintah Basin, the couple moved back to Logan four years later, where Rodney taught and coached at Logan High School. In 1973, Rodney became the assistant to Aggie basketball coach Dutch Belnap, and after six years, Rodney was named the 14th head coach. He led the Aggies for nine years during the PCAA and Big West era — winning one conference championship, one tournament championship and one at-large invite to the NCAA tournament.

Rodney became athletic director in 1985 while still coaching and held both responsibilities until retiring from coaching in 1988 and from the university in 1992. Since then, Rodney has stayed affiliated with the athletic program as the color commentator with Al Lewis on Aggie Radio Network. He has also served on the Capital Arts Alliance board, been a long-time member of Logan’s Lions Club and is currently on the executive board of the Utah Sport’s Hall of Fame Foundation.

Valene founded the Tueller School of Dance and served as its artistic director, a title she held for the next 50 years. She toured with the National Faculty of Dance Caravan for 10 years, and her dance teams have received recognition in national competitions. She also served as choreographer for Aggie gymnastics for a short time. She holds a PHT (Put Hubby Through) degree from USU, as well as a coach’s wife title.

Rod and Valene are the parents of six children (all Aggies), 24 grand-children (17 are Aggies) and 10 great grand-children (who will attend Utah State).

Contact: Cecile Gilmer, 435-797-8275,

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