Recognizing Our Alumni Successes

The University of Iowa Distinguished Alumni Awards Committee—which includes members of our Alumni Leadership Council—aims to recognize a broad range of qualified candidates who embody the university’s core values by honoring them with Distinguished Alumni Awards. The committee selects an annual recipient in each of the following categories:

  • The Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award recognizes graduates or former students who demonstrate significant accomplishments in their business or professional lives as well as distinguished service to their university, community, state, or nation.
  • The Distinguished Alumni Service Award recognizes graduates or former students who demonstrate specific and meritorious service to their university, community, state, or nation.
  • The Distinguished Alumni Hickerson Recognition Award recognizes graduates or former students for outstanding contributions to their alma mater. This award is named in honor of the late Loren Hickerson (40BA), the university’s first full-time alumni director and an ardent UI champion.
  • The Distinguished Recent Graduate Award recognizes graduates or former students, age 40 or younger at their time of nomination, for significant accomplishments in their business or professional lives as well as for distinguished service to their university, community, state, or nation.
  • The Distinguished Friend of the University Award recognizes individuals who are not alumni for specific and meritorious service that enhances and advances the university.
  • The Distinguished Faculty Award recognizes retired or former faculty for significant achievements and for specific meritorious service that enhances and advances the university. Nominees need not be alumni.
  • The Distinguished Staff Award recognizes retired or former staff for significant achievements and for specific meritorious service that enhances and advances the university. Nominees need not be alumni.


Graduates, former students, faculty, staff, and friends of the University of Iowa may make nominations (the Distinguished Alumni Awards Committee reserves the right to reassign nomination categories, if deemed applicable). Nominators should submit the following:

  • Cover letter that states the nomination category, endorses the candidate’s qualifications, and highlights how the nominee embodies the UI's core values
  • Nominee's vita or professional résumé, including a current address
  • Three or more letters of recommendation from other individuals who support the nomination
  • Any additional information that would further substantiate the nomination


Current members of the University of Iowa Center for Advancement’s board of directors and staff, members of the Alumni Leadership Council, and current university faculty and staff are not eligible to receive these awards.


Nominations for the 2023 awards will close on January 31, 2023. The Distinguished Alumni Awards Committee will meet in April 2023 to review all nominations and make the annual selections. Distinguished Alumni Awards will be presented at a special ceremony on the Friday before the University of Iowa’s Homecoming (October 2023).


The University of Iowa Center for Advancement
Distinguished Alumni Awards
One West Park Road
Iowa City, Iowa 52244

For more information, email Nici Bontrager or call (319) 467-3607.

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You did it! As a newly minted graduate from the University of Iowa, it's time to celebrate. Students celebrate their graduation from the University of Iowa during a 2019 commencement ceremony. This guide is a collection of ideas and resources to help you (or your family and friends) plan for a special weekend in the Iowa City area. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Iowa's commencement ceremonies will take place virtually May 13 ? June 4, but an in-person celebration, with limited capacity, is being held Sunday, May 16, at Kinnick Stadium. Visitors to the community are reminded that a mask mandate is still in place in Johnson County and not all restaurants are operating at full capacity. Contact individual businesses if you have questions before you visit. WHERE TO TAKE GRADUATION PHOTOS Fill your Instagram feed with amazing graduation photos featuring your favorite places on campus. Pose in your cap and gown, and grab a few pics with friends and family. Use #AlwaysAHawkeye when you post! Graduation Herky This is a must. Herky, donned in full graduation attire, is standing in front of the Old Capitol at the intersection of Iowa Avenue and Clinton Street in downtown Iowa City. A student poses with Herky for a graduation photo. Old Capitol Another important stop. There are several shots you can grab here with this beautiful, historic backdrop. Graduates like to take photos in front of the building, near the pillars, and in the doorway where "Iowa" is inscribed above the door. There are also beautiful views from the back of the building, overlooking where Madison Street and Iowa Avenue intersect. View this post on Instagram A post shared by Casey Stone (@caseyannaphotography) View this post on Instagram A post shared by Lisa (@liannholm) Your Favorite Buildings The UI is known for its beautiful architecture. Stop for a photo outside the buildings that meant the most to you during your time on campus. View this post on Instagram A post shared by ColleenRamsey (@vineyardfam4) View this post on Instagram A post shared by A B B E Y P A T T E R S O N (@krabbeythepatty) Iowa River Walk The views are gorgeous along the Iowa River. Take your family for a walk, and stop for a photo on the IMU bridge, Hancher pedestrian bridge, or somewhere along the winding riverfront trail. Carver-Hawkeye Arena Unfortunately, there will not be any commencement celebrations inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena in 2021, but you can still pose for a photo with Herky, Dan Gable, or the giant Tigerhawk outside the south entrance. New Iowa alumni stand outside of Carver-Hawkeye area for a photo on graduation day. Kinnick Stadium If you plan to attend the in-person Celebration of Graduates event at Kinnick Stadium, this is an opportune time to pose with Nile Kinnick or one of the Tigerhawks on display. View this post on Instagram A post shared by uiowasportrecmgmt (@uiowasportrecmgmt) Pedestrian Mall Favorite photo spots on the ped mall include the Weatherdance Fountain Stage (outside of The Graduate Hotel), one of the story walls at the Clinton Street or Dubuque Street entrances, and in front of one of the breathtaking downtown murals. THINGS TO DO People sitting and enjoying the Weatherdance Fountain on the ped mall in downtown Iowa City. Outside of official graduation-related celebrations, you may be interested in taking your family or friends on a small outing. Here a few ideas in the Iowa City area: Pedestrian Mall Take a walk around the downtown area and explore the shops, restaurants, and public artwork. Museums Visit the Pentacrest Museums ? Old Capitol and the Museum of Natural History are open between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. on the Friday and Saturday of graduation weekend. Bring a mask. Capacity is limited. Literature Celebrate Iowa City's unique designation as a UNESCO City of Literature and home to the world-renowned Iowa Writers' Workshop. Take a self-guided, 1-mile literary tour. Or complete a literary walk in downtown Iowa City, where the sidewalks are decorated with bronze panels that feature words from authors who launched their careers here. Iowa City Parks Take a walk or jog in one of Iowa City's beautiful parks. Terry Trueblood Recreation Area offers a lake loop and trail. City Park and Riverfront Crossing Parks also feature riverfront views in addition to shelters, grills, and picnic areas. ? Rural Nature Areas If you are looking for more serenity, visit Coralville Lake and the fossil gorge located there. Or venture out further to Kent Park in rural Johnson County or Lake MacBride State Park in nearby Solon.? Day Trips If you want to escape Iowa City for a few hours, consider visiting two charming communities: The Amana Colonies and Kalona. Both feature breweries, restaurants, shops, and unique histories. WHERE TO EAT People enjoy eating Yotopia frozen yogurt, outside on the ped mall in downtown Iowa City. The Iowa City area is home to many award-winning restaurants. Bring your mask and either dine-in, sit on a patio, or take out a tasty, celebratory meal. Upscale Iowa City's downtown area includes several upscale restaurants that are perfect for celebrating a major milestone?like graduation. From Italian specialties at Basta, to steaks at Iowa Chop House, to foodie favorites at Pullman Diner, the options are vast. If you are looking outside of downtown, you might head over to the Iowa River Landing in Coralville for Mediterranean inspired dishes at Vesta or wood-fired Oaxacan fare at La Vecina. Iowa River Power Company and Monica's are also nice options located just outside of Iowa City. Casual For something more casual, try one of the Iowa City area's famous breweries, like Big Grove Brewery, which offers an expansive outdoor patio, frothy brews, and sensational food. You could also venture out to Backpocket Brewing, Reds Alehouse, or Millstream Brewing Company, which are all located in communities near Iowa City. Or consider ordering a pizza?your fellow Iowa alumni have a few opinions when it comes to good pizza in the area. Breakfast or Brunch If you are looking for one last hurrah before the family heads out of town, consider stopping for coffee at Java House, an Iowa alumna-owned business. Or order a full breakfast from Northside neighborhood novelties like Bluebird Diner or Hamburg Inn. The Dandy Lion, located downtown, is also a local favorite. STAY IN TOUCH Once a Hawkeye, always a Hawkeye. Your Hawkeye family is proud of your accomplishments. Please stay in touch. Here are three easy ways: Update Your Contact Info Before you head off on your next adventure, be sure to share your updated email address and any other contact information so we can reach you about news and upcoming events. ? Join an Alumni Network Meet other Iowa graduates by joining an alumni club or group in your area. Read Iowa News and Stories You can read about the latest happenings at the University of Iowa in the Iowa Newsletter?an email newsletter sent to Hawkeyes?and in Iowa Magazine. ?

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