University Affairs

Utah State University Celebrates Aggie Impact in Action

Institution turns 136 years and the university is celebrating with Founders Day and Old Main Society event on March 7.

By Maren Aller |

Utah State University turns 136 in 2024 and is celebrating by honoring alumni and friends at the Founders Day and Old Main Society event Thursday, March 7. The event honors three individuals and two couples with the theme “Aggie Impact in Action.”

“At our Founders Day and Old Main Society event, we honor extraordinary individuals whose boundless generosity and unwavering dedication have left an indelible mark not only on Utah State, but also within their local communities and on a global scale,” said USU President Elizabeth Cantwell.

The 2024 Old Main Society award recipients are Philip and Gemma Hwang, who will receive the Spirit of Old Main Award; Kathy Bayn, who will receive the Emeriti Old Main Award; and Katie and Spencer K. Bailey, who will receive the New Generation of Old Main Award.

The 2024 Founders Day alumni award recipients are Chris Stewart, who will receive the Distinguished Alumnus Award; and Jake Anderson, who will receive the Distinguished Service Award.

For more information, or to attend, visit RSVP by Saturday, March 2.

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 170 new members into the Old Main Society, joining more than 3,450 fellow Aggies. The university will also recognize 129 current members who will move up to new giving levels.

Spirit of Old Main

Philip and Gemma Hwang

Philip and Gemma Hwang exemplify the core values of Utah State University, demonstrating unwavering dedication to excellence and a commitment to making a positive impact in their respective fields. Their journey together has been nothing short of inspiring, showcasing the power of collaboration and shared values.

Philip, a 1968 graduate of USU with a bachelor's in electrical engineering, continued his academic journey at Wayne State University, earning a master's in electrical engineering in 1971. Later, in 1982, he completed the Harvard University Advanced Management Program. Hailing from North Korea, Philip's journey to the United States began in 1964 with just $50, and he worked tirelessly, washing dishes in a Lake Tahoe casino, to save for college. This marked the beginning of his successful entrepreneurial path in the telecommunications industry.

A pioneer in Silicon Valley, Philip founded TeleVideo, a venture company that developed the world's first personal computer networking system in 1975. In its eighth year, he made history as the first Korean-American to take a company public on the NASDAQ Stock Market. His achievements include prestigious awards such as the American Golden Plate, the Ellis Island Medal of Freedom, and the Order of Industrial Service Merit from the President of the Republic of Korea. Serving as an adviser to former U.S. President George H.W. Bush, director of the Sookmyung University Foundation, and receiving an honorary doctorate of philosophy from the university in 2006, Philip's impact resonates globally. Recognizing his contributions, USU awarded him an honorary doctorate of engineering in 1983.

Gemma, who earned her master's in nutrition and food sciences from USU in 1968, embarked on her educational journey at Sookmyung Women's University, where she obtained a degree from the College of Home Economics, now known as the College of Human Ecology. After leaving Korea, Gemma ventured to Europe and secured a full scholarship to the University of Vienna, majoring in Food and Nutrition. Her robust educational background paved the way for a distinguished career as a professional dietitian for three decades, notably contributing to major hospitals in the United States, including the Santa Clara Kaiser Medical Center. Gemma was one of the first Korean women to hold such a significant position in her field.

A fervent advocate for study abroad and foreign exchange in higher education, Gemma initiated a fundraising campaign in 1984 among fellow alumnae in northern California, channeling support to Sookmyung Women's University. In recognition of her substantial contributions, the university honored her by naming Gemma Hall in the College of Pharmacy. Gemma's philanthropy extended to the establishment of the Yang Chun-yeol Global Fund for third-world international students at Sookmyung. In 2002, she played a key role in founding the Sookmyung Alumnae International Foundation, a non-profit fostering international fundraising. Acknowledging her outstanding efforts, the university bestowed upon her the Proud Global Sookmyung Alumni Award in 2015, the Sookmyung Special Merit Award in 2016, and the Sookmyung Development Contribution Award in 2022.

Known for their extensive social engagement and philanthropy, epitomized by their foundation, the Kyupin Philip and C. Gemma Hwang Foundation, this couple is highly respected within the Korean-American community and American society for their unassuming yet impactful endeavors. Committed to their family, which includes daughters Mary Sue Hwang and Lory Gin Hwang, the couple has seamlessly instilled a legacy of generosity in the next generation. Beyond their philanthropic pursuits, Philip and Gemma share a love for golf, and Philip, in particular, is an avid photographer and art collector, adding a creative dimension to their shared interests over the years.

Emeriti Old Main

Kathy Bayn

Throughout her four-decade tenure at Utah State University, Kathy Bayn devoted herself to the institution, culminating in her retirement in 2016. Her impactful contributions, spanning diverse university domains, have left an indelible mark on its academic landscape.

Kathy’s influential presence extended to various departments, including the Department of Bacteriology and Public Health (Department of Biology), the dean's office in the College of Engineering, and the Department of Environmental Engineering. Notably, in 1984, she became the first academic adviser in the College of Engineering, a role she excelled in for more than 35 years. Recognized for her accomplishments, Kathy received numerous accolades, such as the Friends of Students Award (1997, 1998), Outstanding Professional Employee Award (1994), and Advising Excellence Award (1990) from the College of Engineering.

As an academic adviser, Kathy’s organizational skills and coordination prowess allowed her to seamlessly guide approximately 700 students annually in class selection, financial aid navigation, internships and post-graduation planning. Her success garnered her the 2009 Outstanding Advising Certificate of Merit from the National Academic Advising Association.

Kathy and her late husband, Bob, a fellow Aggie who graduated with a master’s in 1975 and a doctorate in 1982, have supported many areas of the campus community throughout the years. In 1984, Kathy co-chaired a task force establishing an annual student scholarship funded by staff payroll deductions. Throughout 33 years, the couple’s own payroll deductions surpassed $100,000 and benefited every college. They also created the Jerry Herr and Kathy Bayn Scholarship Endowment in Civil Engineering.

Post-retirement, Kathy remains engaged in fundraising and serves as a member and past president of the USU Emeriti and Retired Employees Association. She received the Angel Award from USU's Lyric Repertory Company in 2023 for her lifelong attendance and support of arts and events in the Caine College of the Arts. In addition, Kathy created the Bob and Kathy Bayn Music and Theatre Arts Endowment in USU’s Caine College of the Arts. While USU is the greatest beneficiary of Kathy and Bob’s philanthropy, the couple has supported the Cache Valley community for many years through the Cache Food Pantry, the Cache Humane Society, Cache Arts, the Utah Festival Opera and Musical Theatre, CAPSA and others, along with 100 Cache Valley Women Who Care.

For over 50 years, Kathy has been an active member of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church. Passionate about crocheting, clogging and Irish dancing, she and Bob are proud parents of two Aggie alumni and their Aggie alumni spouses, five grandchildren and two great grandsons. Kathy’s enduring legacy at Utah State University reflects her unwavering dedication, exceptional service and pioneering contributions that have enriched the institution's academic fabric.

New Generation Old Main

Katie and Spencer K. Bailey

Katie and Spencer K. Bailey are a dynamic young couple who are passionate and committed to making the world a better place. Recognizing the importance of giving back, the couple imagined, founded and started running Cabins for Cancer, a nonprofit dedicated to helping families who have a loved one experiencing terminal or advanced stage cancers escape from the realities of life and spend a week in a luxury vacation home. Katie and Spencer set a goal to host families for more than 100 nights every year.

In 2021, Katie and Spencer, who initially connected through a dating app, embarked on a whirlwind long-distance relationship spanning Idaho and North Carolina. Over the following months, as they shuttled back and forth, the couple discovered a remarkable compatibility that culminated in their summer 2022 wedding. Presently residing in the picturesque Bear Lake area on the Utah/Idaho border, Katie and Spencer are devoted to the noble cause of Cabins for Cancer. This charitable endeavor was born out of Spencer’s personal journey with testicular cancer from 2019 to 2021, a challenging period he faced alone due to the constraints of the pandemic. Throughout multiple surgeries and radiation treatments, Spencer’s yearning for the support of family and friends inspired a commitment to triumph over cancer and offer solace to those navigating similar daunting trials. Their shared dedication to Cabins for Cancer reflects a profound resilience and a shared desire to uplift others in the face of adversity. The duo also recently founded and now lead the Bear Lake Short-Term Rental Alliance, a not-for-profit action group focused on protecting the property rights of shareholders in Idaho, Utah, and the Bear Lake area.

Katie, a truly remarkable and compassionate individual, embodies kindness, grace, and generosity in every aspect of her life. Hailing from Greenville, South Carolina, and later spending her formative years in Richmond, Virginia, she eventually settled in Charlotte, North Carolina during her junior year of high school. Graduating with a degree in elementary education from Brigham Young University-Idaho, Katie answered the call to serve a full-time mission in Arizona for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, where she forged deep connections with those she served. Following her mission, she returned to Charlotte to pursue her passion for teaching, earning recognition as the Teacher of the Year at her school. Beyond her professional accomplishments, Katie is an avid swimmer, runner and outdoor enthusiast, renowned among family and friends for her culinary skills. Exploring her adventurous side in the unexpected journey of her relationship with Spencer, Katie enjoys delving into new chapters alongside him and their two lively dogs, whom they are training for rescue missions. Whether she’s engaging in archery hunting, savoring the beauty of the lake, or exploring the mountains, Katie approaches life with enthusiasm and a genuine zest for adventure.

Spencer’s journey from his roots in Orem, Utah, to becoming a dynamic force in the vacation rental industry reflects a life marked by adventure and unwavering commitment. Raised with an innate sense of adventure, Spencer embarked on a transformative mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Taiwan, where he spent two years mastering Chinese and sharing his faith. Upon his return, he pursued international business and finance at Utah State University, igniting his entrepreneurial spirit. Spencer founded Spekto Investment Holdings, a luxury short-term rental development and management group situated in Bear Lake. Passionate about the outdoors, Spencer thrives in various mountainous activities, from boating and skiing to hiking and biking. Dedicated to community service and enhancing the wellbeing of those he collaborates with, Spencer is actively pursuing his Lego Serious Play certification. He aims to champion brain health development among his employees and associates through the innovative use of Lego Serious Play as a cognitive therapy and strategic development tool. This endeavor reflects his unwavering commitment to making a meaningful and positive impact. As a co-founder of House Hospitality Group and managing partner of Spekto Investment Holdings, Spencer brings over eight years of expertise in the vacation rental industry. His visionary approach leverages data-driven operational management and real estate investment to redefine guest experiences and optimize income yield. Beyond his professional endeavors, Spencer’s diverse experiences include developing retargeting marketing software and consulting for major corporations, including Airbnb,, and Expedia Group. As an avid outdoorsman, international adventurer, and dedicated Utah State Aggies fan, Spencer seamlessly combines his love for thrilling experiences with his commitment to innovation and community.

In addition to Cabins for Cancer, Katie and Spencer are both true Aggies in spirit and are proud supporters of Utah State in varying capacities, particularly Aggie Athletics. The couple’s spirit and dedication to fostering a culture of generosity aims to empower the next generation of leaders and contributes to the continued success of their work together.

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

Chris Stewart

Chris Stewart, a prominent figure in the political arena and a distinguished New York Times best-selling author, stands as a true embodiment of the Aggie spirit, proudly representing Utah State University. His remarkable journey unfolds across a diverse career that spans service as a seasoned United States Air Force pilot and accomplished business executive.

Raised among nine siblings on a dairy farm in Idaho, Chris began his college education at Utah State University in 1978. Following a two-year hiatus to serve as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he returned to USU, graduating with a degree in economics from the College of Business (Jon M. Huntsman School of Business) in 1984. His tenure at USU was marked by an unwavering commitment to academic excellence, leadership and a spirit of public service that laid the groundwork for his exceptional career trajectory.

Upon graduation, Chris distinguished himself as the top graduate in both Officer Training School and Undergraduate Pilot Training in the U.S. Air Force. Serving as a pilot for 14 years, he flew both rescue helicopters and the B-1B bomber, the aircraft in which he set three world speed records, including the fastest nonstop flight around the world.

Transitioning to the private sector post-military service, Chris assumed the role of president and CEO of The Shipley Group, a consulting and training company he successfully sold in December 2012. Beyond his military and business endeavors, Chris is a multiple New York Times and national award-winning author, who has written more than 17 books and been published in six countries.

His venture into public service began in January 2013 when he assumed office in the U.S. House of Representatives, representing Utah’s 2nd Congressional District for six terms until his retirement in 2023. As a representative, Chris demonstrated an unparalleled commitment to fostering bipartisan collaboration and finding pragmatic solutions to intricate issues, rooted in a deep understanding of his constituents' diverse needs and a steadfast dedication to advancing the common good.

Throughout his illustrious career, Chris emerged as a staunch advocate for national security, veterans’ affairs, and economic prosperity. His leadership played a pivotal role in shaping policies that address contemporary challenges and promote the well-being of communities nationwide. For example, he wrote the bill creating 988, the national suicide prevention hotline number, which has already been credited with averting more than 150,000 potential suicide attempts.

In recognition of his expertise in national security, Chris was recently appointed as the chair of the Utah Aerospace and Defense Association.

Chris’s commitment to public service stands as a testament to the transformative power of education and the profound impact a single individual can have on the world. A devoted family man, Chris and his wife, Evie, both USU alumni, are parents to six children. His legacy is poised to inspire current and future generations to pursue excellence, embrace leadership and contribute meaningfully to the betterment of society.

Distinguished Service Award

Jake Anderson

The anticipated surge in population across Northern Utah in the coming decades is set to exert a profound influence on the rural farming areas in the region. In response to this challenge, Jake Anderson, a lawyer by trade, has devoted a significant portion of his career to safeguarding the rich agricultural heritage of Northern Utah. Serving as a dedicated legal advocate for the Bastian Family Foundation, Jake has displayed unwavering commitment to the preservation of the family’s agricultural heritage in the southern Salt Lake valley. His efforts are directed toward ensuring that their legacy continues to uphold the time-honored farming practices of yesteryear, contributing to the preservation of a crucial aspect of the region’s cultural and historical identity.

Jake, whose enduring collaboration with the Bastian family spans decades, played a pivotal role in solidifying the alliance between the Bastian Family Foundation and Utah State University. This collaboration culminated in the historic $41.25 million gift to USU in 2022, a testament to the shared commitment to honoring and preserving Utah’s farming legacy across past, present and future generations. Jake’s strategic guidance facilitated the establishment of the Bastian Agricultural Center in South Jordan, Utah, a visionary initiative by the Bastian Family Foundation in partnership with USU Extension. The center, a beacon of education and innovation, is dedicated to enlightening the public on contemporary agriculture. It aims to inspire future generations by offering educational programs in science, engineering and technology applied to agriculture. Positioned strategically to serve as an increasingly urban population, the Bastian Agricultural Center caters to adults, 4-H youth, local government and corporations, sharing knowledge, technologies and manufacturing methods while fostering the discovery of improved products and processes.

Growing up in Utah, Jake’s career trajectory took an unexpected turn. Despite earning a bachelor’s degree in human biology from Brigham Young University in 2002, with initial plans for medical school, Jake altered his course after a stint at Myriad Genetics in Salt Lake City, where he delved into the study of the breast cancer gene. His career pivoted again a few years later when he decided to follow in his father’s footsteps and pursue law. Graduating with a Juris Doctorate from the College of William and Mary in 2007, Jake returned to Utah and honed his legal skills by clerking for the district court in Ogden, gaining invaluable experience under seven different judges. This hands-on experience paved the way for Jake to join forces with his brother and father as a law partner. Following his father’s passing in 2015, Jake has continued the legal legacy on his own, including his role as the Bastian family’s attorney, a position initially held by his father.

Dedicated to making a positive impact in his community and advocating for the less fortunate, Jake actively contributes to various charitable endeavors. As a board member with Building Hope Abroad, a nonprofit committed to providing humanitarian service experiences through home construction for those in need, Jake exemplifies his commitment to philanthropy. Annually, during the week between Christmas and New Year’s, Jake involves his entire family, including his wife and four children ranging from 14 to 8 years old, in a service project to build homes for families facing adversity. In 2023, the Anderson family traveled to Agua Prieta, Mexico, just across the U.S. border from Tucson, Arizona, where they participated in constructing a home for a deserving family. Beyond his involvement with Building Hope Abroad, Jake serves as vice president on Utah State University’s College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences Advancement Board. Additionally, Jake manages a small family foundation that allocates donations to various causes each year, including Building Hope Abroad and Primary Children’s Hospital.

Outside of his professional commitments, Jake and his family immerse themselves in Utah’s beautiful outdoors, finding joy in diverse activities such as skiing, hiking, biking, backpacking, snowshoeing and traveling. When at home, Jake’s passion for gardening takes center stage — an interest he inherited from his father and intensified through his collaboration with USU Extension. Jake’s yard is a vibrant haven, hosting 18 chickens, 19 fruit trees, an array of berries, and vegetable garden. This harmonious blend of outdoor pursuits and sustainable living reflects Jake’s dedication to embracing the natural beauty of Utah and fostering a connection with the land.


Maren Aller
Senior Writer
(435) 797-1355


Adrienne Larson
Senior Director of Stewardship


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