Distinguished alumni honored at banquet


George Bellah, Associate Professor of theatre, presents a Distinguished Alumni Award at the CWU Alumni Banquet in the SURC Ballroom. The banquet included alumni as far back as 1968.

Nick Tucker, Senior News Reporter

CWU alumni were recognized for their achievement and philanthropy at the annual Distinguished Alumni Awards Dinner on April 5. After pleasantries and dinner, board member of the CWU Alumni Association, Jada Rupley, opened the award ceremony, saying “welcome home” to the many dozens of CWU alumni and their guests.

The first awards of the night were the 4 Under 40 Leadership Awards, given to CWU alumni under 40 years old who are making outstanding progress in their career and contributing to their communities.

Jason Goetz, who graduated in the class of 2005 with a degree in construction management, is now operations manager at PCL construction in the Seattle area. He credits CWU and specifically the construction management program with giving him the skills he needed to succeed, such as an attention to detail and a work ethic towards accomplishing his dreams.

“It’s a great honor to be a part of [the 4 Under 40], for me personally it comes from the school that helped me progress my career and now they’re turning around and recognizing the accomplishment that have been made, it means a lot,” Goetz said.

Also honored with the 4 Under 40 Award were Jennifer Schwope from the class of 2001 who now works as the commercial software engineering HR lead for Microsoft, Nolan Teasley who graduated in the class of 2007, currently the director of pro personnel for the Seahawks and Emily Von Jentzen from the class of 2005 who is an attorney and has been a part of many children’s charity programs, including her historic swim across the length of Lake Chelan in 2011.

The next award went to Andrew Mork, who graduated in the class of 2011 and was recognized as the Young Philanthropist of the Year. Mork works as portfolio manager and financial paraplanner qualified professional (FPQP) for the Mork Wealth Management financial planning firm. He has made numerous donations to CWU as an alumnus over the years. He said he sees it as giving back to the place that brought him to where he is today.

“It’s life-changing. I’m honored to be here, it was something I was not expecting. CWU was such a big part of my life that it’s fun to come back to campus and kind of experience it all over again,” Mork said. “[CWU] is almost fully responsible for where I am in my career, not just the classes that I went through here, but the social experiences and the networking that I learned while I was here.”

Next was recognition of the classes of 1968 and 1969 who were hosting a reunion as a part of the alumni dinner. CWU Provost Katherine Frank invited the room to remember a time when gas was 35 cents per gallon and the 747 airliner was taking its first flight before presenting 50-year medallions to the members of the two classes.

Robert Dowle who graduated in the class of 1969 recalls his time in Muzzall Hall which has since been torn down. He shared the hall with the current US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, who he said he “didn’t know that well but well enough that he signed my birthday card.” Dowle says that his floor is one of the only ones that has kept in contact over the years and regularly holds reunions.

“It’s been 50 years since I graduated and that means a heck of a lot. A lot’s happened to the country and to us graduates in the last 50 years,” Dowle said. “The campus has changed tremendously and I hope they’ve invested in faculty as much as construction because it is, after all, a learning institution.”

Distinguished Alumni Awards were then presented to Rachel Harry from the class of 2004, Amy Hanson from the class of 1990, Teresa King from the class of 2002 and Scott McGuane from the class of 1995.

In 2017 Harry, a teacher at Hood River Valley High School in Hood River, Oregon, became the third person to win a Tony Award for theater education.

“The only reason I’m here is because of the Tony Award,” Harry said. “And maybe not all, but 65-70 percent of the reason I was on that stage at Radio City Music Hall is because of my CWU education.”

Ben and Nancy Remak were presented the Philanthropists of the Year award for their contributions to CWU students in the form of the Ben and Nancy Remak Scholarship. This scholarship has allowed many students to attend CWU when they otherwise would not be able to due to financial obstacles.

“As long as we have the ability to do so, we will continue to do so,” Nancy Remak said concerning her family’s donations.

CWU President James Gaudino concluded the evening by presenting the Alumni of the Year Award to Doug and Sharon Andrews. President Gaudino remarked on the pride CWU holds for its alumni, saying: “We like hanging our distinguished alumni from our flagpoles.”