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University of Iowa News Release


June 9, 2009

UI Alumni Association presents 2009 Distinguished Alumni Awards June 13

The University of Iowa Alumni Association will present Distinguished Alumni Awards to 12 notable alumni and friends of the University of Iowa at a luncheon to be held from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday, June 13, in the UI's Levitt Center.

The Distinguished Alumni Awards, presented annually since 1963, are the Alumni Association's highest honor. The awards recognize the outstanding achievements and service of UI alumni and friends. This year's awards will be given in four categories: Achievement, Service, Young Alumni, and Friend of the University.

The Distinguished Alumni Award for Achievement is given for significant accomplishments in business or professional life or for distinguished human service:

--One of the first African-American foreign service officers in the Kennedy administration, Horace G. Dawson, Jr. was a trailblazer who rose through the ranks to eventually become the United States Information Agency's area director in Africa and the U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Botswana. He has enjoyed a long and distinguished career in higher education and government service. Dawson earned his Ph.D. from the UI in 1961.

--Gail K. Godwin is an award-winning author known for her compassionate and often humorous explorations of traditional Southern women confronting aspects of contemporary society. Godwin's accolades include three National Book Award nominations, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the Award in Literature from the American Institute and Academy of Arts and Letters. Godwin received a Master of Arts in 1968 and her Ph.D. in 1971.

--Daniel E. McLean has dedicated his professional career to the development, construction, and revitalization of urban properties. His signature developments have helped remap the face of Chicago, from its most luxurious (the 13-acre, $1 billion River East project) to its most desperate neighborhoods. In the process, he's improved not only the places people call home, but also the quality of their lives. McLean earned his Bachelor of Business Administration in 1970.

--Former dean of Tulane University's School of Medicine and vice president of the University of Nebraska, Robert D. Sparks has garnered many honors and awards for his widespread contributions to the field of addiction sciences, and his leadership in medical education, public health, and philanthropy. Sparks earned his Bachelor of Arts in 1955 and his medical degree in 1957.

--Transforming the way science is taught in schools Robert E. Yager has helped the UI earn an international reputation as a leader in science education. The UI emeritus professor fosters students' innate creative intelligence by engaging them in questions that are relevant to their lives. Yager earned his Master of Science in 1953 and his Ph.D. in 1957.

The UIAA will also give four Distinguished Alumni Service Awards, honoring graduates who have provided commendable service to their nation, their communities and their UI family:

--Lawrence D. Dorr has created a legacy of care throughout the world. The designer of widely used artificial joints and orthopedic implants, Dorr has also established a nonprofit foundation to treat people in underdeveloped countries with arthritis and debilitating bone and joint conditions. Dorr earned his Master of Science in 1965 and medical degree in 1967.

--Herman A. Hein founded the Iowa Statewide Perinatal Care Program, which guarantees quality care to every mother and baby born in an Iowa hospital. The far-reaching program has dramatically reduced neonatal mortality and earned Hein many honors, most publicly in 1988 when Newsweek magazine named him an "Unsung Hero." He earned his medical degree from the UI in 1963 and completed his pediatrics residency here in 1966.

--Cheryll A. Jones has dedicated her career to improving health care, particularly for children with special needs. As an advanced practice nurse and health services coordinator, she has provided advice on health policy to legislators and government programs, while also advancing the practice role of nurses. Jones earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 1969.

--William H. Olin, Sr. founded the Division of Craniofacial Anomalies at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics and continues to volunteer for many worthy causes, including a UI program he developed to protect Iowa City-area student athletes from dental injury, and a medical team that travels to third world countries to treat patients with dental, cleft palate, and lip injuries. Olin earned his Master of Science and a certificate in orthodontics in 1948.

The Distinguished Young Alumni Award honors UI graduates under the age of 40 who have attained significant accomplishments in their personal or professional lives. The Young Alumni Award will be given to Sharon K. Yearous, a nurse who has earned a reputation as a passionate and effective advocate for children. She successfully lobbied the State of Iowa to increase the number of nurses in schools; established a TeenScreen mental health evaluation program; and developed an online school health registration program. Yearous earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 1993 and her Master of Science in Nursing in 1999.

The Distinguished Friend of the University Award honors those individuals who are not Iowa alumni, but who have provided outstanding service on behalf of the University of Iowa. This year, the UI Alumni Association is honoring Lloyd and Betty Schermer. For nearly three decades they have demonstrated remarkable generosity to the UI, most notably in their leadership and support of the construction of the Philip D. Adler School of Journalism and Mass Communication Building, which is named in honor of Betty's father.

Additional information about current and past award recipients can be found at

PHOTOS: Photos of the recipients may be found at

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACTS: UI Alumni Association, 319-335-3294; George McCrory, University News Services, 319-384-0012, Writer: Tessa McLean.