Extraordinary Lives

Alumni Honors celebrates achievements of 12 award recipients

Each year, the university celebrates its most notable alumni during Alumni Honors. The University of San Diego’s best and brightest graduates are the focus of the evening’s festivities, which are held on campus and meant to showcase the remarkable achievements of alumni for their volunteer service, their contributions to humanitarian causes, their athletic excellence and their outstanding career achievement. This year’s event, scheduled for Saturday, April 25, 2015 at Shiley Theatre, will honor 12 alumni. The evening’s festivities will include video tributes and a starlit soiree on the patio between Camino and Founders Halls.

The dual recipients of the Mother Rosalie Clifton Hill Award — which was established in 1991 to commemorate the legacy of University of San Diego co-founder Mother Hill — are Stephen Nasman ’71 (BS) and Victoria Nasman ’74 (BA). For more than four decades, the Nasmans have both been deeply engaged with the university, serving on numerous committees and boards and generously volunteering their time and talents, while consistently reflecting the personal values that Mother Hill espoused: loyalty, fidelity, honesty and integrity.

Hank Acquarelli ’69 (BS), will receive the Bishop Charles Francis Buddy Award, which was established in 1976 to commemorate the legacy of university co-founder Bishop Buddy. Acquarelli has dedicated his life to improving, enhancing and personifying community and spiritual values since graduating from the university, with a focus on education, athletics and community service. His pattern of blending service to others with academic achievement, all-seasons athletic participation and civic responsibility continues today, even in his retirement.

Josh Johnson, who attended the university from 2004-2007, will be inducted into the Chet and Marguerite Pagni Family Athletic Hall of Fame. Johnson, a three-time team Most Valuable Player at quarterback, directed the Toreros to two mid-major national championships and three Pioneer Football League championships. Following his senior year, he was named the MVP of the 2008 East-West Shrine Game and was selected in the fifth round of the 2008 NFL Draft by Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He is currently in his seventh year in the NFL; this season, he reunited with former Toreros head coach Jim Harbaugh when he signed with the San Francisco 49ers.

The Author E. Hughes Career Achievement Award was established in 1995 to commemorate the legacy of University of San Diego President Emeritus Author E. Hughes and is given to recipients from each school to recognize outstanding achievements in their careers.

There are two recipients from the College of Arts and Sciences in 2015: Jim J. Parsons ’01 (MFA) has received a total of six Emmy nominations and won four Emmy Awards for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series for his role as scientist Sheldon Cooper in the CBS television show, The Big Bang Theory. Parsons has publicly credited the extensive training he received in the Old Globe/University of San Diego MFA program with his success. In 2014, Parsons was nominated for an Emmy Award for his dramatic turn as Tommy Boatwright in The Normal Heart. Also, he has appeared on Broadway as Elwood P. Dowd in Harvey. He has appeared in numerous feature films and has several projects in the works.

Also being honored by the College of Arts and Sciences, Barbara A. Driscoll, PhD, ’78 (BA) has worked diligently to reach the pinnacle of her career at The Saban Research Institute, one of the few freestanding research centers in the United States where scientific inquiry and clinical care are devoted exclusively to children. Driscoll’s lab research focuses on the impact of lung aging; in the case of children and younger individuals, the focus is on how premature aging impacts lung health and function. She has earned numerous awards for her teaching and research, received more than $12 million in funding for her research and published more than 30 articles in various medical journals.

Matthew J. Reno ’80 (BBA), the founder and CEO of Reno Contracting, Inc., will be honored by the School of Business Administration. For more than two decades, his efforts in preconstruction and business development have ensured that Reno continues to be a cornerstone in the San Diego general contracting community. He has developed lasting industry relationships and a loyal client base; his projects in the area include Diamond View Tower, ResMed, the Santa Fe Summit and Marriott Hotels. Reno has been a generous contributor to nonprofits in the region and has received a number of community awards.

The Hahn School of Nursing and Health Science will recognize Sandra L. Solem, PhD, ’84 (MSN), ’02 (PhD), associate director for patient care services and nurse executive at the VA San Diego Healthcare System, a 304-bed facility providing a wide range of inpatient services at the medical center in La Jolla, Calif. and outpatient care at seven community clinics. Solem has worked in a variety of executive leadership positions in both clinical practice and in the academic higher education arena. She is known for her fresh approach to change management and workforce issue resolution and believes that her experience places her in a unique position to be an advocate for veterans, families and the staff she serves.

One Earth Future Foundation Director Lee C. Sorensen ’07 (MA) will be honored by the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies for his efforts to partner with business to prevent mass atrocities. He had a long and successful career as an entrepreneur; upon completing his MA program at the university, Sorensen moved onto a different path, working to provide volunteer medical services in various African states. His current work focuses on the role of business in helping states to protect their citizens from genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and ethnic cleansing.

Karen P. Hewitt ’89 (JD), a partner at Jones Day, will be the recipient honored by the School of Law. Hewitt is a former United States Attorney and an experienced trial lawyer who has successfully litigated hundreds of cases in federal court for more than two decades. She currently represents companies in civil and criminal investigations and in complex business litigation. Before joining Jones Day in 2010, Hewitt served as San Diego’s chief federal law enforcement officer, where she led the federal effort to protect the safety and security of the three million people residing in the region. She is involved with numerous boards and organizations and has earned a number of awards and distinctions throughout the course of her career.

The School of Leadership and Education Sciences recipient is Janine Mason ’86 (BA) ’11 (MA), who is the executive director of The Fieldstone Foundation. She has served as its leader since 1999, and is responsible for the overall management of the foundation’s giving program and leadership training programs in Orange and San Diego counties. Additionally, she has served on various boards, including San Diego Grantmakers, the San Diego Blood Bank Foundation and the United Way Government Relations Committee. She has been recognized by numerous organizations for her leadership and service in the community.

The Shiley Marcos School of Engineering will honor Emiliano Gallego ‘00 (BA/BS) ‘11 (MS), the general manager of Pagasa Pasta and Molino El Rosal. He is part of the third generation of family members to lead these companies, which were founded by his grandfather. Gallego credits his university education with helping him to make decisions based on metrics and industry standards, rather than intuition and gut feelings. Under Gallego’s leadership, Pagasa is now a multi-national company, with products sold throughout Mexico, the U.S. and Canada. He and his family are major philanthropists in Baja California.

Go to www.sandiego.edu/alumnihonors for more.