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.
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."
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) 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, 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."
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."
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."