Each year, our Alumni Association honors Colorado State alumni and friends who have brought honor to the University by excelling in their professions and giving back to their industries, communities, and the institution. The Distinguished Alumni Awards celebration was Oct. 3, 2019, during Homecoming and Family Weekend. Congratulations to the honorees! Here, we share a bit about them and excerpts of their acceptance remarks.
Photography: Joe A. Mendoza / Colorado State University
“A big part of the Morrill Land Grant Act of 1862 was expanding education to the masses, so people who wouldn’t have gone to college had the opportunity. I stand here, more than 150 years later at Colorado State University, a land-grant University, grateful for that act and for the opportunities it provides because I was a first-generation graduate. Without that, I don’t know that I could be here today.” – Don Law
William E. Morgan Alumni Achievement Award
The Alumni Association’s highest honor, for alumni who have excelled at the national and international levels
Don and Susie Law
Don, B.S., civil engineering, ’75; Susie, B.S., computer science, ’76
The Laws, who met as CSU students, are entrepreneurs and philanthropists. In 1980, Don Law founded Prima Exploration, an oil and gas exploration and production company based in Denver. The couple later established Law Estate Wines, a premium boutique winery in Paso Robles, California. Inspired by their experiences, the two have devoted time and financial support to a number of nonprofit educational organizations, including Colorado State, which work to boost opportunities for students and families.
Distinguished Graduate of the Last Decade Award
B.A. in economics, ’16
Rosser, a first-generation student, came to CSU as a star youth polo player after growing up in inner-city Philadelphia. A nonprofit called Work to Ride introduced him to horses, riding, and the rewards that can come from goal-oriented work when kids have opportunities. Rosser won the 2015 national collegiate polo championship with his team at CSU. He returned to Philadelphia, is starting a career as a financial analyst, and is giving back to Work to Ride. He attended the awards ceremony with his former CSU polo teammates. Find a full story about Rosser here.
“Coming to Colorado State led me to my polo teammates sitting here and the best four years of my life so far. What we were able to accomplish as a team means this award is not just my award. It’s for everyone sitting at that table. Without them, I wouldn’t be here.”
Distinguished Athletics Award
In 2018, Susemihl retired from her influential role as Colorado State’s senior associate athletics director with oversight of women’s programs. During her 45-year career in CSU Athletics, Susemihl led the first NCAA compliance program, developed beloved traditions for fans and former student-athletes, and twice served as interim director of Athletics. She was earlier inducted into the CSU Athletics Hall of Fame.
“I’m proud of the challenges we overcame and the many successes and accomplishments we shared. And I want to reaffirm that your belief in, support of, and love for Colorado State University are all very well placed and deeply appreciated.”
“Statistically, odds are an African American first-generation gay male should not be on this stage. Statistically, you should be aware that most black men are not going to make it out of high school, and a lot less make it to college. That I am here is a testament to this institution being true to its land-grant mission of providing access to education.”
Charles A. Lory Public Service Award
For exceptional leadership and significant contributions to the University
Morris Price Jr.
B.A., speech communication, ’87
Raised in Colorado and an alumnus of Denver Public Schools, Price has dedicated himself to education and public service. He is vice president and executive director of City Year Denver, the Colorado branch of a national organization that promotes educational access and success; the nonprofit partners with the AmeriCorps volunteer program, with many activities supporting public schools and students of color from low-income households. Price also has worked in higher education and is a leading advocate for the rights of LGBT people.
“My education at CSU provided me a foundation of awareness and gratitude. It gave me the desire to help as many people as I possibly can. We are so proud to be CSU Rams.” – Ross Thompson
Jim and Nadine Henry Award
For extraordinary service to Colorado State University and its academic, athletics, and alumni programs
Ross and Sue Thompson
Ross earned a B.S. in finance-real estate, ’78
After attending his hometown University, Ross Thompson moved away, established a career as a trust officer, and then returned to Colorado with his family. Thompson, now senior vice president and trust officer at MidFirst Bank in Denver, enlisted his wife as a Rams fan, and the couple have been ardent advocates of CSU and its athletics and alumni programming. The Thompsons are leaders in the University’s alumni community in Denver and support student scholarships in the College of Business.
College of Agricultural Sciences Honor Alumnus
B.S. in agricultural business, ’86; M.B.A., ’04
Swanson is chief executive officer of Birko Corp., a company headquartered near Denver that provides food-safety equipment and technologies for processors in the protein, produce, and brewing industries. He’s passionate about innovations that protect the food supply and reduce risks of foodborne illness and has been active in industry associations addressing these and other critical issues. Swanson has been an adviser for CSU’s Alumni Association and colleges of Business and Agricultural Sciences.
College of Business Honor Alumnus
Balog built a successful career in accounting, finance, and management, notably as an executive at ADP, the global provider of human capital management solutions. Now semi-retired, he owns a consulting business in Southern California. Balog and his wife, Mary, were both first-generation college students and are dedicated to improving educational opportunities for others; they established the Frank and Mary Balog First Generation Scholarship for students in CSU’s College of Business, and Frank is a regular guest speaker, offering students valuable career insights and encouragement.
College of Health and Human Sciences Honor Alumna
B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. in food science and nutrition, in ’67, ’70, and ’78, respectively
Morris-Fine grew up on a farm in eastern Colorado and came to CSU as a first-generation college student. She soon rose in the field of food science and toxicology, working for Coca-Cola, Syracuse Research Corp., and Boeing, where she was a highly regarded leader in safety, health, and risk management. Morris-Fine returned to Fort Collins and actively supports the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, with a focus on graduate students and early-career researchers.
“Meeting students and faculty has been a special highlight for me. Their excellence gives me hope for the future.”
College of Liberal Arts Honor Alumnus
M.A., history, ’67
Tyler is a professor emeritus of history at Colorado State. He grew up on a ranch on Colorado’s Western Slope, attended Harvard, and later circled back to his home state as a history professor with expertise on the American West. Tyler is a noted authority on water issues in Colorado and the West and has written books related to water law and water development. In retirement, he continues to consult on water-rights cases. Tyler established CSU’s Gateway to Graduation Scholarship; it helps exceptional juniors and seniors facing financial hurdles to achieve graduation.
College of Natural Sciences Honor Alumna
Ph.D. in chemistry, ’89
Rutherford has built an esteemed 30-year career at 3M, a multinational corporation headquartered near St. Paul, Minnesota, that provides a range of adhesive, abrasive, film, and advanced materials for consumers and industry. She has filled a number of leadership roles, currently as senior vice president of 3M corporate affairs. In the course of her scientific career, Rutherford has become an enthusiastic champion of STEM education and female leadership in science.
College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences Honor Alumnus
B.S. in physical science, ’55; D.V.M., ’57
Beeman is a preeminent equine veterinarian who helped establish Littleton Equine Medical Center as one of the nation’s best horse hospitals. Beeman has held many high-profile leadership roles and has been honored many times for his service; among those accolades, he was named 2005 National Western Stock Show Citizen of the West. He is a fourth-generation Coloradan who grew up on a horse farm in what is now Highlands Ranch, near Denver, and became devoted as a boy to mounted foxhunting. Beeman’s early years on horseback inspired him to dedicate his life to horse health and welfare, and he attended CSU as a first-generation college student who went on to heal elite equine athletes, including a gold-medal Olympic jumper. Beeman and his wife, Eunice, recently established a scholarship for CSU veterinary students pursuing equine medicine.
“I was the first in my family to be able to go to college. And to have the opportunity to come here and pursue what I had wanted to do all of my life was just a wonderful, wonderful privilege.”
Walter Scott, Jr. College of Engineering Honor Alumna
B.S. in chemical engineering, ’96
While growing up in Loveland, Colorado, Larson wanted to cure cancer. Now, she is a rising leader in the field of biotechnology – pursuing cures for disease. Larson works as president and chief operating officer for Recursion, a biotech startup in Salt Lake City, Utah. Her company seeks to identify new medical treatments through a combination of artificial intelligence, automation, and experimental biology. Larson serves as an adviser for the Walter Scott, Jr. College of Engineering.
“One of the things I’m incredibly proud of is the investment in getting more students from underrepresented groups into engineering. There are so many problems we’re solving, really important problems that impact society, and we need all kinds of people coming into engineering.”
Warner College of Natural Resources Honor Alumnus
B.S. in wildlife management, ’65; M.S. in fishery and wildlife biology, ’67
Capp led a distinguished 38-year career with the U.S. Forest Service, earning international recognition for his contributions to global conservation. In retirement, Capp has been dedicated to supporting and advocating for CSU students, athletics, and academic and alumni programs. Among other contributions, he has helped students through the Jack Capp Natural Resource Conservation Leadership Scholarship.
“When I graduated, President William Morgan congratulated all of us graduates and said, ‘The reason you are sitting in that chair is because of the people who came before you. They built this University with their commitment to higher education, their hard work, their dedication, their sacrifices, and their treasure.’ He said, ‘You cannot pay them back, but you can give back so others will have a chance to sit in that very chair you’re sitting in today.’ I have never forgotten his words.”
Know an outstanding educator? Nominate through the CSU Alumni Association – Distinguished Alumni Awards