University Affairs

Utah State University Celebrates a Legacy of Aggie Impact

Institution turns 134 years and the university is celebrating with Founders Day and Old Main Society event on April 14

By Maren Aller |

Utah State University turns 134 in 2022 and is celebrating by honoring alumni and friends at the Founders Day and Old Main Society event Thursday, April 14. The event honors three individuals and two couples with the theme “A Legacy of Aggie Impact.”

“During our Founders Day and Old Main Society event we are recognizing individuals who, through their generosity and tireless efforts, have made a significant impact on Utah State, in their individual communities and throughout the world,” said USU President Noelle E. Cockett.

The 2022 Old Main Society award recipients are Jonathan and Julie Bullen, who will receive the Spirit of Old Main Award; Ross Peterson, who will receive the Emeriti Old Main Award; and Kristen Kator, who will receive the New Generation of Old Main Award.

The 2022 Founders Day alumni award recipients are David Weeshoff, who will receive the Distinguished Alumni Award and Ramjibhai and Panna Chaudhari, who will receive the Distinguished Service Award.

For more information, or to attend, visit RSVP by Friday, April 8.

Old Main Society Awards

The Old Main Society was established in 1967 to recognize those seeking to continue the tradition of excellence at Utah State University by providing generous gifts that enhance funding from the state, research grants and other sources. The event celebrates Old Main Society members, both old and new, whose generosity ensures the future success of Utah State University and the students it serves.

This year’s festivities will include a reception welcoming 174 new members into the Old Main Society, joining more than 3,300 fellow Aggies. The university will also recognize 118 current members who will move up to new giving levels.

Spirit of Old Main

Jonathan and Julie Bullen

Dedicated Aggies Jonathan and Julie Bullen truly embody the Spirit of Old Main. The couple, both graduates of Utah State University, have dedicated much of their time and financial support to their beloved alma mater on many levels.

Jonathan, a successful real estate investor, has more than 30 years of experience in the industry with a property portfolio including owned and managed sites in multiple classes. As the co-founder and chairman of Colmena Group, Jonathan is skilled at the development, acquisition, management, tenant representation and disposition of properties.

His interest in real estate came after a successful career in the radio/broadcasting business, where he began as general manager of KVNU radio in Logan and eventually became president of Cache Valley Broadcasting. He then formed the JWB Cable Company, which he later sold to Sonic Cable.

In 1993 Jonathan started investing in private career colleges, becoming CEO and President and later Chairman of Provo and Eagle Gate College. The schools boasted the largest Bachelor of Nursing program in the State of Utah with an enrollment of more than eight hundred students. The schools were sold in 2018 to Unitek Learning.

Jonathan graduated from USU with a bachelor’s in business administration in 1978. During his time at USU, he was very active in campus life as a member of Sigma Chi Fraternity, Sounds of Zion and the Blue Key National Honor Fraternity, where he served as president.

After graduating with a degree in vocal music from USU in 1976, Julie focused on raising her family that, at the time, included three boys. She also taught music to children in Logan and Cache Valley.

She later furthered her USU education, earning a master’s degree in Family and Human Development in 1992 and received the Outstanding Graduate Student Award. Because Julie wanted to become a licensed mental health therapist, and since USU did not have a master's clinical program at the time, she helped re-instate the Marriage and Family Therapy Master’s Program.

She commuted to the University of Utah and earned a Master of Social Work in 1994. During this time the couple moved to Salt Lake City and welcomed their fourth child, an adopted daughter from Korea in 1996.

With her expanded skillset, Julie began working, training and volunteering to educate and help the mentally ill. As a licensed clinical social worker, she specialized in marital therapy working in Salt Lake City and later helped start LDS Family Services in Park City.

As a couple, both Jonathan and Julie are civically minded and give back to the Utah community in several capacities. They have financially supported many charitable organizations including the National Ability Center, the Center for Humanitarian Outreach and Intercultural Exchange and the Utah Symphony Opera to name a few.

The couple has generously provided their time and expertise through service on several boards over the years. Jonathan served as a trustee and board member of the Mormon Historic Sites Foundation, as executive director of the Capitol Arts Alliance — where he helped facilitate the renovation of the Capital Theatre into the Ellen Eccles Theatre and Bullen Center — and as a member of the Bear River District Board of Health.

Julie served on the board of directors of the Utah Health Alliance, the Bear River House Board and the Bear River Mental Health Board. As active members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the couple has served in many callings, including a three-year mission from 2017-2020 where they presided over the Oregon Portland Mission.

Jonathan and Julie, both Cache Valley natives, stay close to their USU roots. The couple’s success has afforded them the opportunity to give back to the university. They generously support many areas of campus, including the Caine College of the Arts, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Emma Eccles Jones College of Education and Human Services, the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business, University Libraries and Athletics, among others.

In the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, the couple was instrumental in the creation of the Leonard J. Arrington Endowed Chair of Mormon History and Culture. And in the Emma Eccles Jones College of Education and Human Services, Jonathan and Julie helped in the creation of Aggies Elevated. Their daughter Sarah graduated in the first class of Aggies Elevated. The couple also supports the Marriage and Family Clinic in the Emma Eccles Jones College of Education and Human Services, and Julie has served on USU’s Family Therapy Advisory Board.

Emeriti Old Main

Ross Peterson

The author Grenville Kleiser once said that good humor is tonic for the mind and body, that it attracts and keeps friends, and that it lightens human burdens. If anything can be said of Utah State University Emeritus Professor Ross Peterson, it is that his candid sense of humor, along with a sincere ability to teach with civility, decency and humility, has earned him generations of Aggie admirers.

In a career spanning five decades, Peterson has served in nearly every role at higher education institutions, including time as a researcher, author and administrator. However, it is the role of professor he holds in high esteem, as he truly believes that universities exist for students.

After joining the Department of History at USU in 1971 as a professor of American history, Peterson quickly become a favorite on the Logan campus. An educator who truly enjoys the human experience, Peterson’s ability to tackle such sensitive and polarizing topics as race, politics and religion in his classes earned him respect from both students and faculty alike.

In addition to his tenure in USU’s Department of History, Peterson’s zest for university life is reflected on a resume that includes time as the Milton R. Merrill Chair in USU’s Department of Political Science. He has also served in various professorial capacities at the University of Texas at Arlington, Colorado Mesa University and University of Utah, and he was a Fulbright lecturer at Victoria University in New Zealand.

At USU, Peterson established the Mountain West Center for Regional Studies and the Bennion Workshop for Teachers. He is also credited with creating the Utah History Fair. As an administrator, Peterson was USU’s vice president for university advancement, where he oversaw the institution’s first comprehensive fundraising campaign, and head of the Department of History.

At Deep Springs College in California, Peterson served as president of the institution for three years.

A prolific author of several publications and books on history, Peterson has received several accolades for his work, including honors as Utah Humanist of the Year from the governor of Utah and a Lifetime Service Award from the Utah State Multicultural Center. He is an active member of the community, both at the local and state level, having served on various boards and organizations in different capacities.

An avid Aggie sports fan, Peterson enjoys supporting USU student athletes, both on and off the field, alongside his wife, Mary Kay, also a USU graduate. The couple has three grown sons, all graduates of USU, and many of the couple’s grandchildren are continuing the Aggie legacy.

New Generation Old Main

Kristen Kator

Utah State University alum Kristen Kator has dedicated her career to improving people’s lives through technology. Her curious nature, combined with her desire for learning, has become the creative catalyst that has provided her with many successes in life.

Kator’s impressive portfolio of experience in the technology industry focuses on how one interacts with technology. It has become a passion that sees her constantly focusing on creating user experiences with meaning. This dedication has brought Kator growth in her career, as well as in her personal life as she is now dedicating much of her time to making sure others are given opportunities to create their impact on the world.

A 2004 graduate, Kator earned a bachelor’s of fine arts and was able to take classes and build her interest in both computer graphics and computer programming. The variety of educational opportunities at USU provided her the foundation necessary to excel in a career where design and function are so tightly interwoven.

Kator has never forgotten the difference USU made in her life. To pay it forward and help students struggling to afford a college education, Kator established the KP Andreasen Endowment for Graphic Design in the Caine College of the Arts. The endowment bears the name of her great-great uncle Kristian Peter Andreasen, a photographer and educator in the early 1900s whose love of the arts has been passed down through generations of Kator’s family.

A dedicated professional, Kator has been with Samsung Electronics America since 2015, where she has held various positions, including being named senior product design manager in 2020. In this role, she has been instrumental in the creation of the company’s Frame TV, Family Hub 2.0 Refrigerator Display and the Gaming Hub. Her expertise in both interaction and visual design have afforded her opportunities to work with prestigious clients including Sony, Autodesk, Sky, SkySports, SkyNews, Microsoft, General Motors, Home Depot, Proctor & Gamble and various startups.

Kator has given to charitable organizations that help women and girls, such as Know Your Lemons, Women for Women International and the Girl Scouts of the USA. She has also volunteered with the Business Professionals of America, where she served as a technical judge for graphic design promotion. The Soda Springs, Idaho, native is married to Jerry Wayne Shroyer, and the couple has one young son, Andersen.

Founders Day Awards

Distinguished Alumni and Distinguished Service Awards are given on Founders Day to individuals or couples who have made significant contributions to their community, the university or the world at large.

Distinguished Alumnus Award

David Weeshoff

Utah State University alum David Weeshoff has worked hard for an abundant, fulfilling life, both personally and professionally. He enjoyed a successful career with IBM for more than three decades, but his true passion, ornithology, came to him later in life. Weeshoff has since dedicated much of his time to ensuring the health and wellbeing of birds around the world.

After graduating from USU in 1968 with a bachelor’s in psychology, Weeshoff was hired by IBM, where he worked in marketing, systems development and consulting on business processes. Following 35 years in the corporate world, Weeshoff retired in 2004 and discovered his love for birds almost by accident.

An article in The Los Angeles Times about an oil spill and the team of responders who were rehabilitating oiled birds piqued his interest. Having no previous knowledge or interest in birds, Weeshoff became hooked and he quickly contacted the International Bird Rescue to find out how he could help. What followed has become a full-time effort on Weeshoff’s part to educate himself on all aspects of ornithology, aquatic bird rehabilitation, and ocean preservation and evolution so that he could do his part to make a difference.

Weeshoff started volunteering with the International Bird Rescue and loved it so much that he quickly went from part-time to full-time volunteer, and eventually served on its Board of Directors, a position he held for more than five years. Not only does Weeshoff give his time to support his cause, he is a generous donor and frequent speaker and author on the topic of birds and the environmental issues that affect them.

Over the years, Weeshoff has been involved with Heal the Bay; the Climate Reality Project; and the National Audubon Society, serving the San Fernando Valley, then Pasadena chapter as conservation chair. He travels extensively to immerse himself in natural birding environments including visits to Antarctic, Arctic, Estonia, Iceland, Greenland, Arctic Canada, Galapagos, New Zealand, Alaska, Chilean Patagonia and locations around the United States.

Weeshoff has never forgotten his USU roots. As a loyal Aggie he stays connected to the institution and gives his time through service on the Advancement Board for the Emma Eccles Jones College of Education and Human Services. Weeshoff created a memorial scholarship in the same college in honor of his late wife, USU alumna Linda Weeshoff, and they have a named conference room in the Education Building. The couple are parents to Gerald Weeshoff.

Distinguished Service Award

Ramjibhai and Panna Chaudhari

Ramjibhai (Ram) V. and Panna Chaudhari have served Utah State University and their home communities with distinction. The couple has become an invaluable part of the vast network of alumni and friends who allow USU to expertly conduct its mission of teaching, research and service.

Together, the Chaudharis forged cutting-edge research discoveries in the nutrition supplement market, where they became world leaders in the development of custom nutrient systems for the food, beverage and pharmaceutical industries.

Ram co-founded Fortitech, the only international company exclusively dedicated to the manufacture of custom-designed premixes that integrate functional ingredients from a comprehensive selection of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, nucleotides and nutraceuticals. Panna served as vice president of scientific affairs for the company.

At USU, the couple have created a generous endowment in the College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences to give scholarships to students studying nutrition and food sciences. Ram, a USU graduate, earned a master’s in agriculture and applied sciences/food science and industry in 1969 and a doctorate in the same field in 1972. The couple desired to give back to ensure the success of future generations of Aggie food scientists.

After co-founding Fortitech in 1986, Ram spearheaded the company’s extensive research and development and quality assurance efforts. He was responsible for directing a global team of technical, laboratory and quality control personnel that helped manufacturers develop new products, meet desired label claims, tackle formulation challenges and address processing requirements.

A recognized and much sought-after authority on food fortification and manufacturing, Ram was widely published throughout his career in nutrition trade and scientific journals, and he served on the editorial advisory board of Agro Food Industry Hi-Tech.

Ram’s food science career began in the dairy division at Safeway, where he served as manager of new product development. He later joined Miles, Inc. as a research scientist and was involved in the research and development of various food products dealing with the application of enzymes in dairy- and soy-based products.

Moving on to German-based Milupa, an infant formula and baby food manufacturer, he headed the technical department and was responsible for quality assurance, regulatory affairs, product development and customer support/technical services.

Ram has been a member of a number of professional organizations, including Institute of Food Technologists, American Association of Cereal Chemists, World Trade Center’s Association and American Oil Chemists Society. He is also a charter member of the National Health and Wellness Association and a certified member of the American College of Nutrition.

During the time Panna served as vice president for scientific affairs at Fortitech, she was responsible for developing the quality management system and overall regulatory strategy of the organization. Based at the company’s Schenectady, New York, headquarters and manufacturing facility, she managed formulation scientists, analytical chemists and regulatory staff, as well as developed and directed regulatory affairs, quality control and formulation aspects of global business activities.

Prior to joining Fortitech, Panna held the position of senior research scientist in the department of quality assurance and technical support at Bayer Corporation, where she was responsible for managing the development of Immuno 1 System, a novel immunological assay designed to detect and monitor prostate and cervical cancers.

After earning a master’s in biology at the University of California in Fresno, Panna received a doctorate in biology from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the VA Medical Center Laboratory of Cell and Molecular Biology.

An accomplished author, Panna has been published in several prestigious journals and she often speaks at major domestic and international scientific workshops and tradeshows. Panna holds several patents and is currently a member of the American Association of Clinical Chemistry, the American Organization of Analytical Chemists and the Institute of Food Technologists.

Ram and Panna primarily reside in Southern California, where they are involved in community and local programs.

2022 Spirit of Old Main Award recipients Jonathan and Julie Bullen.

2022 Emeriti Old Main Award recipient Ross Peterson.

2022 New Generation Old Main Award recipient Kristen Kator.

David Weeshoff, Distinguished Alumnus Award recipient.

Ram and Panna Chaudhari, Distinguished Service Award recipients.


Maren Aller
Senior Writer
(435) 797-1355


Adrienne Larson
Senior Director of Stewardship


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