UNI recognizes 2023 Distinguished Alumni

UNI recognizes 2023 Distinguished Alumni

Jim Jermier speaks at the 2023 Distinguished Awards Celebration


Notable graduates and loyal supporters were recognized at the annual Distinguished Awards Celebration, held on Nov. 17, 2023, hosted by the UNI Alumni Association, UNI Foundation and UNI President Mark Nook. The celebration includes the President's Philanthropy Awards and the Heritage Honours Awards.

Stan & Rose Lorenz are recipients of the Purple and Gold Award. This award is the most prestigious award for lifetime giving and recognizes the extraordinary, long-time support of an individual or couple who have had a significant and inspiring impact on UNI. The two are incredibly strong supporters of UNI, providing large gifts to the McLeod Center, Lorenz Athletic Scholarship Endowment, Lorenz Athletic Scholarship Fund and Lorenz Scholarship Fund.

Joel & Linda Haack received the Faculty and Staff Award. Their numerous gifts to areas across campus — including the College of Humanities, Arts & Sciences, Tallgrass Prairie Center, McLeod Center, McCollum Science Hall, Campanile renovation, Panther Scholarship Club, School of Music, Varsity Men’s Glee Club and the Department of Mathematics — have helped countless students succeed by providing supportive learning environments.

Kevin Zaugg was awarded the Emerging Philanthropist Award. A 1996 accounting graduate, Zaugg is a managing partner of the Ernst & Young accounting office in Des Moines and a proud UNI alum. In 2022, Kevin led the charge to support the newly created Ernst & Young Accounting Endowed Faculty Fellowship, a position he and other partners have committed to grow into a professorship. In addition to funding the fellowship, Kevin and another UNI partner in Des Moines office, Chris Yuska, continue to support the Ernst & Young Accounting Scholarship.Due largely to Kevin's guidance, Ernst & Young is the second largest recruiter of UNI accounting students.

The Bright Foundation is the recipient of the Corporate and Foundation Award. To date, the Bright Foundation has contributed millions of dollars in scholarships at UNI and has made a lasting impact on the 94 Bright Scholars at UNI. Each year, the foundation has increased the number of awards given to UNI students. As of this year, 33 UNI students are recipients of the Bright Scholars of Iowa Award and five UNI students have been named Bright Persistence Scholars. Thanks to the support of the foundation, these students are able to attend UNI and gain all of the benefits a UNI education offers.

Paul Donahue received the Alumni Achievement Award. Donahue, a 1978 management alum, joined the Genuine Parts Company as an executive vice president in 2003 and was appointed chairman and CEO in 2019, a title he still holds today. Genuine Parts Company is in the top 200 largest publicly traded companies in the United States, with sales of $18.9 billion in 2021 and 10,000 locations in 15 countries. Notably, Genuine Parts Company is the parent company for Napa Auto Parts, one of the largest auto parts dealers in the United States. During Donahue’s tenure as CEO, they have set to have the best year in the company’s 93-year history. He is very active in the Atlanta community, where he serves on the boards for the Trust Bank, Metro Atlanta Chamber, Carlyle Fraser Heart Center and the Shepherd Center.

Kip Elliott was recognized with the Alumni Service Award for his long and continuous service to UNI. A 1989 accounting alum, he immediately began giving back to UNI after graduation. While working for a public accounting firm in Minneapolis, he and several other UNI accounting graduates created an accounting club. This club has grown over the years and expanded into a group that encompasses all business graduates. Elliott currently works for the Minnesota Twins as the chief administrative officer and chief financial officer. Nearly every year, he hosts an event in conjunction with a Minnesota Twins baseball game, allowing UNI alumni to connect in a fun, social setting. Elliott has served on many boards across campus, including the accounting advisory board and campaign steering committee for the Our Tomorrow fundraising campaign.

Katy Susong was awarded the Young Alumni Award. A 2004 UNI graduate, Susong joined Cardinal Construction in 2016 and experienced an extraordinary series of promotions before being named CEO in 2021. Not only is Susong a young CEO, sheʼs a female leader in the construction industry where just 1.4% of CEOs globally are women. She is known for supporting women in construction and promotes a culture that values both men and women at the leadership table. Susong and her team are heavily involved in UNIʼs construction management program, including volunteering to mentor senior projects, routinely serving on the advisory board and hiring construction management alumni. Susong serves on the boards of the Boys and Girls Club of the Cedar Valley, Grow Cedar Valley, the Community Development Council and is a sustaining member of the Junior League of Waterloo-Cedar Falls.

Cathy Irvine was recognized with the Honorary Alumni Award. The award is presented to a friend of the university in recognition of their exceptional support of the University of Northern Iowa. As a tribute to her husband, David, and his love of the land, Irvine donated 297 acres of their farmland to UNI for the creation of the Irvine Tallgrass Prairie. UNI students, faculty and staff from the UNI Tallgrass Prairie Center began carrying out prairie restoration in 2018. She’s been an active participant in the restoration and is active with UNI students, passing on her knowledge and passion for conservation. Irvine established an endowment that, in addition to covering prairie installation and maintenance expenses, will support wages, stipends, undergraduate research, scholarships and other expenses for UNI students involved with the prairie.

Read more about the 2023 recipients and award winners from past years by visiting the Distinguished Awards Celebration and Heritage Honours Awards web page.