Since 1963, the University of Iowa has annually recognized accomplished alumni and friends with Distinguished Alumni Awards. Awards are presented in seven categories: Achievement, Service, Hickerson Recognition, Faculty, Staff, Recent Graduate, and Friend of the University.
2018 Award recipients

Michael Nelson, 71MD
2018 Distinguished Alumni Service Award

Michael Nelson (71MD) is a distinguished professor of radiology, specializing in breast cancer imaging, at the University of Minnesota. He also is a committed humanitarian who advances global health in East Africa. In addition to his work as a co-founder of Minnesota's Jane Brattain Breast Center, Nelson helped found the East Africa Medical Assistant Foundation, which supports diagnostic radiology services in northern Tanzania for approximately 15 million patients.

Advocating for cancer services where there were none available, Nelson has worked tirelessly to bring medical equipment and expertise to a region where there are more deaths from cancer than AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined. His unique ability to connect with people from different countries and backgrounds helped forge agreements and partnerships with physicians and administrators to advance innovations in technology, training, health systems design, and a national cancer registry. What is most striking about his humanitarian efforts is the complexity and scale of the work and results. The comprehensive cancer center that Nelson and his colleagues through Foundation for Cancer Care are developing to serve northern Tanzania includes a chemotherapy program and radiation unit, for which Nelson has been instrumental in the planning, as well as the funding.

"Mike is compassionate and caring, and his involvement has affected more than 15 million people in northern Tanzania," says John Reiling at the Foundation for Cancer Care in Tanzania.

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Nicholas Colangelo
2018 Distinguished Faculty/Staff Award

Nicholas Colangelo is an innovative leader whose many contributions have advanced the university and the field of gifted education in significant ways.

Colangelo arrived at the University of Iowa in 1977 and quickly established himself as one of the earliest voices and leading experts in the emerging field of gifted education. As the result of extensive outreach to educators, the Connie Belin and Jacqueline N. Blank International Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development was established in 1988, with Colangelo named as its founding director. Through his effective leadership, the center has grown to serve the needs of thousands of students and hundreds of educators. Colangelo's scholarship may be best known through the internationally acclaimed report, "A Nation Deceived: How Schools Hold Back America's Brightest Students," which has been translated into nine languages and downloaded more than 150,000 times with greater than four million hits to the website.

Colangelo dedicated his entire professional career to the University of Iowa and has served in various capacities, including on faculty senate and the Presidential Committee on Athletics. He served with distinction as dean of the UI College of Education from 20122016. As emeritus dean, Colangelo continues to represent the university as an active donor and advocate.

"Nick leaves things much better than he finds them," says UI College of Education Professor Debora Liddell. "We are a better university because of his love and commitment."

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Jay Daniliuk, 99BBA
2018 Distinguished Recent Graduate Award

Jay Daniliuk (99BBA) is at the forefront of the U.S. government's efforts to fight poverty and hunger in Africa. In his current position as private sector advisor in the Bureau for Food Security at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Daniliuk is working to make sure famine is a thing of the past.

Daniliuk's seven years at the USAID build upon a series of distinguished positions in the private, public, and international sectors. After a successful career in advertising, he took the unusual step of giving up his career on Madison Avenue to serve as a Peace Corps volunteer in Togo, a tiny country in West Africa.

This experience changed his personal goals. After completing a master's degree in foreign service at Georgetown University, Daniliuk moved into a career in the federal government with a specific bent toward agencies who serve developing nations. In his current role, he travels the world to help build and maintain partnerships related to food production and distribution.

The work has taken Daniliuk to more than 30 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, and Latin America, and he has been recognized for its creativity and impact by the U.S. government, foreign donors, and international nonprofit organizations.

"Jay's journey is still unfolding," says Kristi Ragan, DAI Chief of Party for the USAID Invest Project. "His commitment to service will continue to make a difference for the invisible poor whose voices we don't hear on a daily basis."

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Kelly Ortberg, 82BSME
2018 Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award

Kelly Ortberg (82BSME) is a visionary and an accomplished business leader who gives back to the university, community, state, and nation in many ways. As CEO of Rockwell Collins, Ortberg's primary goal was to accelerate the company's growth, which he has done organically and with a major acquisition. Under his leadership, Rockwell Collins has been added to the Forbes 500 list with more than $5 billion in annual revenues; has been named one of "America's Best Largest Employers" by Forbes magazine two years in a row; and is the only aerospace and defense company named as one of the "World's Most Ethical Companies" by the Ethisphere Institute.

Ortberg is a strong supporter of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) programs. He takes every opportunity to encourage women and underrepresented minorities to pursue STEM careers. As a key member of the University of Iowa College of Engineering Advisory Board, he helped double undergraduate enrollment with ideas to attract and retain the highest quality students.

His work to advance economic development across Iowa and the country can be seen through the considerable time and energy he devotes to building a STEM-skilled workforce and elevating the nation's global integrity.

"Mr. Ortberg is the epitome of an Iowa success story," says Debi Durham, director of the Iowa Economic Development Authority. "He is someone who has persevered to advance his company, his community, and the people around him."

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