The University of Iowa Distinguished Alumni Awards


Dream Big. Dream Gold.

What do a Grammy Award-winning musician, a legendary college football coach, and a groundbreaking artist who explored themes related to race and feminism have in common? They're all Iowa alumni who've dreamed big and changed the world.

Each year since 1963, we've honored such UI luminaries with our prestigious Distinguished Alumni Awards.


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2020 Award recipients

Jeff Chapman, 79BBA

Achievement Award

Jeff Chapman (79BBA) is a highly accomplished attorney and dedicated civic leader in Dallas, Texas, who gives back to the University of Iowa and his community in numerous ways.

A co-chair of the Global Mergers and Acquisitions Practice Group at Gibson Dunn, he represents private equity firms and public and private companies in diverse cross-border and domestic transactions in a broad range of industries.

Chapman is consistently regarded as one of the top mergers and acquisitions lawyers in the country. Chambers USA has recognized him for many years in its most elite "Band 1" category, and in 2013, elevated Chapman to "Star Individual." He remains the only corporate lawyer in Texas history to be so designated.

Chambers USA reports, "Chapman is widely acknowledged as the superstar of the Texas corporate legal market and provides clients with service that is truly exceptional in every regard."

He and his wife, Kim Engman Cain Chapman, support the UI Henry B. Tippie College of Business, UI athletics, and the Iowa Writers' Workshop. Chapman also established the Gordon Chapman Memorial Athletic Scholarship for men's tennis in honor of his father and the Sheila Rivin Chapman Memorial Scholarship for women's soccer in memory of his late wife.

Chapman has served as a civic leader for several organizations, including chairman of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center President's Advisory Board and as coordinator of the Governance Review Task Force for the board of regents at Baylor University.

Says Michael Frankel, an attorney and former colleague: "Jeff embodies the character traits and values that best reflect all that is good about the University of Iowa."

Hayley Harvey, 94DDS, 96MS

Service Award

As section chief and director of dental education at Broadlawns Medical Center in Des Moines, Iowa, Hayley Harvey (94DDS, 96MS) has been a champion for increasing access to dental care and improving the oral health of underserved populations.

A native of Detroit, Michigan, and daughter of an Army veteran, Harvey came to the University of Iowa and discovered a passion for improving oral health and access to care for at-risk and rural populations. After earning two degrees from Iowa, Harvey—who served for a decade in the Army National Guard—practiced dentistry and later became the dental director for Baldwin Family Health Care. Her clinic provided dental care to at-risk populations in Baldwin, Michigan, which resides in one of the poorest counties in the state.

She returned to the Hawkeye state as the public health dental director for the Iowa Department of Public Health, which then led her to a position at Broadlawns Medical Center. Harvey has helped Broadlawns establish a new $24 million facility with 22 operatories—six of which are for extramural rotations of University of Iowa dental students. Through her work at Broadlawns, she ensures that future generations of dentists will have a solid understanding of the dental and health disparities facing Iowa's low-income populations.

Harvey is a wife and mother of two daughters, Hannah and Hadley. She is active in many community organizations and serves on the Mid-Iowa Health Foundation Board of Directors. In 2019, Harvey was awarded the University of Iowa Dental Alumni Service Recognition of the Year honor.

Peter Damiano (82BS, 86DDS), one of Harvey's professors from her time at the UI College of Dentistry and Dental Clinics, says: "She represents all that we would want in a Distinguished Alumni Service Award recipient: passion for her field, a lifetime commitment to using her UI education to help those less fortunate, and a continuing role in educating Iowa's students."

Jeffrey Parsons, 89BA

Hickerson Award

Jeffrey Parsons (89BA) is a third-generation Hawkeye who is a tireless and passionate advocate for his alma mater.

A native of Burlington, Iowa, Parsons graduated from the University of Iowa in 1989 with a theatre degree, and he credits Iowa for helping him continue to achieve his dreams. In addition to 16 years with United Airlines, he launched IGC & Associates, Inc., in 2007, a consulting firm focused on leadership and organizational development. His firm supports a range of global industries—from Fortune 20 to nonprofit.

Parsons also has been dedicated to advancing the mission of the Chicago Iowa Club by expanding it beyond game watches—all in an effort to build an inclusive, welcoming network of Hawkeyes in the Chicagoland area. He joined the Chicago Iowa Club Board of Directors in 2018, and after serving as its vice president, he now acts as a club consultant.

As a Chicago Iowa Club volunteer, Parsons has supported 14 official Chicago Iowa Club event locations through promotions and business development; served as guest speaker for a number of university events in Chicagoland; formed the Women In Business network and has helped build other network groups; led and participated in club business development strategy, outreach, and partnerships; and has coordinated and promoted arts outreach in the city. He also has partnered with the university's more than 60 Iowa Clubs to share best practices for increasing business networking opportunities.

On campus, Parsons has become an active contributor and facilitator with the Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center within the UI Henry B. Tippie College of Business.

Says Lenee Wolf (89BGS), Chicago Iowa Club president: "Jeffrey is more than a fan or an alum. He's an ambassador to all things Iowa. He lives, breathes, and loves as a Hawkeye should. He embodies Once a Hawkeye, Always a Hawkeye."

Mark Stinski, PhD

Faculty/Staff Award

Mark Stinski, PhD, devoted his career at the University of Iowa to the study of human cytomegalovirus (HCMV), a pathogen that can cause birth defects and infections in the immunosuppressed.

His laboratory discovered the CMV promoter, a mammalian gene expression enhancer that dictates the fate of HCMV infection. The CMV promoter has been used by research laboratories around the world and by pharmaceutical companies to facilitate high expression of proteins. The first successful therapeutic protein was Rituxan for the treatment of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

The CMV promoter patent generated more than $160 million. The patent's royalties helped the UI recruit at least five professors, retain senior faculty members, and establish the Mark Stinski Endowed Chair in Microbiology and Immunology and the Stinski Undergraduate Research Fellowship.

Stinski, who published peer-reviewed articles in top journals, was elected Fellow in the American Academy of Microbiology and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He also received the Alexander Von Humboldt Award from Germany and conducted research at the Institute for Clinical and Molecular Virology in Erlangen, Germany.

The success of his teaching and mentoring is evident in his mentees, who have become leaders in biomedical research at academic institutions and biotech companies.

One of those trainees, Eain Murphy, associate professor of microbiology and immunology at SUNY Upstate Medical University, says: "Mark instilled a scientific ethic and sense of quality in each of his mentees. This led to a generation of Iowa-trained virologists who have made major contributions to a broad range of scientific fields."

Joseph A. Walder, MD, PhD

Friend Award

A brilliant scientist with the spirit of an entrepreneur, Joseph A. Walder, MD, PhD, has helped everyone from farmers and scientists to physicians and patients thanks to his breakthroughs in biological research. Along the way, he also has inspired colleagues and championed the University of Iowa, where he launched his illustrious career.

After earning his MD and PhD degrees from Northwestern University, Dr. Walder joined the UI in 1978 as an assistant professor of biochemistry. He eventually became a full professor and conducted cutting-edge biochemical research that included developing anti-sickling compounds and a hemoglobin derivative blood substitute.

In 1987, Dr. Walder established Integrated DNA Technologies (IDT) through a seed grant from Baxter Health Care, which was interested in his work on hemoglobin and sickle-cell disease. Before selling the company in 2018, he grew IDT into the world's leading provider of synthetic oligonucleotides—or short DNA fragments—that benefit researchers in a range of disciplines.

Known for his creative solutions in the field of molecular medicine, Dr. Walder's notable honors include CEO of the Year from the Technology Association of Iowa and Entrepreneur of the Year from the Iowa Biotechnology Association.

Though he left the UI in 1994, Dr. Walder remained a loyal supporter of the UI Department of Biochemistry. His company also invested in biochemistry graduate education and donated $1 million to create a sibling play space in UI Stead Family Children's Hospital's neonatal intensive care unit.

A visionary researcher, innovative thinker, and transformative philanthropist, Dr. Walder embodies the best of Iowa's values. As Charles Brenner, the UI Roy J. Carver Chair and Head of Biochemistry, says, "Dr. Walder's accomplishments in biotechnology and philanthropy have made him a living legend at the University of Iowa."

Cori Zarek, 01BA, 05JD

Recent Graduate Award

Cori Zarek (01BA, 05JD) is a public interest technologist and lawyer whose role in helping governments maximize technology and strive for greater transparency has taken her to the White House—and around the world.

An expert on everything from technology strategies and digital rights to freedom of information, Zarek has worked to transform both government and the private sector. She also has assisted numerous countries in crafting policies related to technology, transparency, and press freedom.

Zarek graduated from Iowa with degrees in journalism and mass communication, political science, and law. As an undergraduate, she rose from reporter to editor-in-chief of The Daily Iowan, and after law school, she became a legal fellow for the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press in Washington, D.C. She eventually became that organization's freedom of information director before accepting a role as attorney advisor for the United States National Archives and Records Administration in 2009.

She joined President Obama's White House in 2013, first as senior advisor for open government and then as deputy U.S. chief technology officer. While there, Zarek helped improved how the federal government uses data and technology to deliver its mission.

In addition, she led the nation's involvement in the Open Government Partnership, a global collaboration that empowers citizens, combats corruption, and harnesses new technologies. As part of that initiative, Zarek represented the United States at global summits in Mexico, South Africa, and France, and she also traveled to more than a dozen countries to advise on open government and technology. Such efforts earned her induction into the National Freedom of Information Act Hall of Fame in 2016.

Today, Zarek is on the faculty at Georgetown University and serves as director of data and digital for its Beeck Center for Social Impact and Innovation. In that role, she helped create the U.S. Digital Response organization during the COVID-19 pandemic. She also is president of the board of MuckRock, a nonprofit news organization.

"Cori's name is synonymous with freedom of information and open government," says Randy Evans (72BA), executive director of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council. "She's an outstanding University of Iowa representative and has lived and worked in a manner that combines service, leadership, and humility."

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L.A.-based artist Charles Ray to receive CLAS Alumni Fellow award, give talks this month. Unpainted sculpture by Charles Ray, 1997, fiberglass and paint, 60x78x171 inches. Photograph by Josh White and courtesy of the Matthew Marks Gallery. Charles Ray (75BFA) was walking through the UI physics and astronomy department one day when he came across an inspiring scene. Ray, an art student whose curiosity extended far beyond the studio, hoped to hitch a ride out to the observatory for some evening stargazing. Instead, he found a group of students constructing a satellite bound for a space mission. "It just blew my mind," recalls Ray. Just as mind-blowing were the sculptures Ray was creating across the river, years before he would establish himself as one of the world's most important artists. For one physics-defying piece, he fashioned a 2,000-pound slab of concrete atop a slender tree trunk. For another, he dropped a massive wrecking ball onto a crumpled steel plate, as if Sputnik had just crashed outside the old Art Building. Charles Ray "It was such a formative experience for me," the Los Angeles-based sculptor says of his time in Iowa City. "It did something to my soul and my brain. Even though I was young, the university and my mentors gave me a great deal of independence. My curiosity was endless." A professor emeritus at the UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture, Ray returns to campus this month to speak and receive the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences' Alumni Fellow award. Rather than just waxing nostalgic about his time at Iowa, Ray has organized a three-day lecture series April 16-18 with two fellow art scholars. Iowa native Graham Harman, a philosophy professor at the Southern California Institute of Architecture, will open the series by discussing his theory of aesthetics known as object-oriented ontology. On the second day, Ray will speak about the nature of sculptural objects. And Richard Neer, an art historian at the University of Chicago, will bookend the series by lecturing on the question of provenance, or art's origin. Ray will also give a separate public lecture April 17 in Art Building West titled "My Soul is an Object." Recognized as one of the leading artists of his generation, Ray is known for his strange and enigmatic sculptures so loaded with nods to the past that they've been called "catnip for art historians." His 2014 Horse and Rider, for example, is a 10-ton solid stainless steel work in the tradition of a war memorial, but depicts the artist slouch-shouldered atop a weary nag. Ray is also famous for his wry re-imaginings of familiar objects, like the 47-foot-long replica of a red toy fire truck that he parked in front of New York's Whitney Museum of American Art for a 1993 biennial exhibition. Ray and his studio team often spend years working on a given piece, which can fetch as much as seven figures at auction. His sculptures can be found at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, and the Art Institute of Chicago, among other major U.S. museums. Ray is currently preparing for a retrospective show in Paris next year?one of several upcoming international exhibitions. Isabel Barbuzza, UI associate professor of sculpture, describes Ray's work as beautiful and witty, while using scale in unexpected ways. Ray's 8-foot-tall Boy with Frog?commissioned for a prominent spot in Venice, Italy, then removed after some controversy (a version now stands outside the Getty Museum in Los Angeles)?is among Barbuzza's favorites. "His sculptures have a presence you can only see when you're in front of the work," she says. "They're very moving, and to me it's interesting what happens with scale?the viewer relates to the piece in a very profound way." Steve McGuire (83MA, 90PhD), director of the School of Art and Art History, says few others have contributed more to contemporary art than Ray. "This is a big deal for us to be able to celebrate his career," McGuire says of presenting Ray with the alumni fellow award. "I think it's pretty meaningful to him, and of course it's really meaningful for our school." A Chicago native, Ray arrived at Iowa as a gifted artist but hardly a model student. Ray's dyslexia made schoolwork a chore, and his parents had sent him to military school with the hopes of straightening out his academics. It was at the UI, however, where he finally found his language in the studio and, in turn, his footing in the classroom. "Through the syntax of sculpture, I could express myself intellectually for the first time," Ray says. "That gave me a kind of confidence." Ray studied under UI art school pillars like Wallace Tomasini, Julius Schmidt, and Hans Breder. But it was his bond with Roland Brenner?a South African professor and former pupil of sculptor Anthony Caro?that proved to be the most influential. Ray still remembers his first sculpture in Brenner's class, a steel configuration with long stems and discs at the end. Its bouquet-like resemblance didn't sit well with Brenner. "That showed me you made something, but didn't want to discover something," Ray recalls Brenner telling him. "Don't ever do that in my class again." The two would become lifelong friends. Iowa City is a different place today than the 1970s, particularly the transformation of the arts campus after the flood of 2008, Ray says. Still, his visits back to campus over the years always remind him of those crisp and clear Iowa nights at the observatory and gazing out the studio window while exploring the frontiers of sculpture. "It feels like you can see right through the galaxy when you look up," Ray says. Handheld bird by Charles Ray, 2006, painted steel, 2x4x3 inches The UI is home to six pieces by Ray, all found in the Pappajohn Biomedical Discovery Building and displayed through the university's Art on Campus program. Among them is Handheld bird, a tiny but ornate piece depicting a creature in an embryonic state. Lunchtime Lecture Series What: College of Liberal Arts and Sciences fellow Charles Ray and two guest art scholars?Graham Harman and Richard Neer?will deliver a series of public lectures this month at the UI. When, where: 12:20 p.m. April 16?18 at Art Building West, room 240, 141 N. Riverside Drive, Iowa City More information: events.uiowa.edu/26915 My Soul is an Object: Artist Talk with Charles Ray What: A public lecture by renowned sculptor and UI alumnus Charles Ray When, where: 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, April 17, at Art Building West, room 240, 141 N. Riverside Drive, Iowa City More about Ray: charlesraysculpture.com/ Support the UI School of Art and Art History

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