Office ofAlumni and Constituent Relations

Alumni Recognition

With over 45,000 active alumni, there is always a reason to applaud and celebrate the accomplishments of our remarkable alumni and friends. Take pride as you glance at the accomplishments of this year's recipients. Congratulations to all of our nominees and to this year's list of awardees.


Distinguished Alumna Award: Joyce Barr
Distinguished Alumnus Award: Michael Haglund
Outstanding Recent Alumnus Award: Nathan Schlicher
Alumni Service Award: Salvador Mungia
Special Recognition Award: Colleen Hacker
Heritage Award: LaWanna Ahrendt, Marge Kunschak and Dick Weathermon
The Brian C. Olson Award: Michelle (Mimi) Granlund

Did You Know?

Alumni Awards

The Alumni Recognition Awards are awarded based on peer nominations and are awarded during Homecoming every year.

barrJoyce Barr

Distinguished Alumna Award

For her outstanding contributions to the United States State Department, Joyce Barr ’76 receives the Distinguished Alumna award. 

A member of the Senior Foreign Service with the rank of Minister Counselor, Joyce A. Barr was confirmed as the Assistant Secretary for Administration in December of 2011. As Assistant Secretary, she is responsible for the day-to-day administration of a variety of functions ranging from logistics, acquisitions, maintenance, allowances, overseas schools, records management, privacy programs, the Working Capital Fund and presidential travel.

Barr is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service and prior to her most recent appointment, Barr was International Affairs Advisor and Deputy Commandant at the Industrial College of the Armed Forces (ICAF), for which she received the Joint Distinguished Civilian Service Award from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Barr also served as Executive Director for the East Asian and Pacific Affairs Bureau at the Department of State from 2007 to 2009 and as U.S. Ambassador to Namibia from 2004 to 2007. She was also a Senior Watch officer in the State Department’s crisis center and worked in both the House and Senate during a detail to Congress.

Since joining the Foreign Service in 1979, Barr has held numerous assignments both in Washington and abroad. Her overseas experience includes assignments in Malaysia, Turkmenistan, Sudan, Kenya and Sweden. In Washington Barr’s assignments have included: Recruitment Officer in the Bureau of Personnel, Human Rights Officer for the Middle East and South Asia in the former Bureau of Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs, and Desk Officer for the U.N. Industrial Development Organization and the World Tourism Organization in the Bureau of International Organizations. 

In 2008, Barr received an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from PLU.

HaglundMichael Haglund

Distinguished Alumnus Award

For his distinguished contributions to neurosurgical medicine as a clinician and in higher education, Michael Haglund ’80 receives the Distinguished Alumnus Award. 

Michael M. Haglund MD, PhD, FAANS, FCS (ECSA) holds the endowed chair as the Distinguished Duke Surgery Professor of Neurosurgery and Professor of Neurobiology and Global Health at Duke University in North Carolina.

He entered the University of Washington Medical Scientist Training Program and received his MD degree in 1987 and earned his PhD in 1988. Dr. Haglund then trained for eight years in the University of Washington Neurosurgery Training Program during which he did a two year postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard Medical School in Neurobiology and spent one year at Atkinson Morley’s Hospital in Wimbledon, England before finishing his training with an Epilepsy Surgery Fellowship at the University of Washington. He received the prestigious Klingenstein Fellowship in the Neurosciences and was a founding member of a start-up company, Optimedix, Inc.  

He is the only surgeon at Duke to be named a faculty member of the Duke Global Health Institute. He was also named the Program and Training Director for the Duke Neurosurgery Training Program in 2007. As the Program Director, he has led an increase to 21 neurosurgery residents in the training program and has received two Graduate Medical Education Innovation Grants, one on Leadership and the other on Physician-Patient Communications.  

Since 2007, he has led nine teams of 20 to 55 medical professionals from Duke to Uganda, Kenya, and Rwanda to perform over 300 brain and spine surgeries for free and train the local neurosurgeons. He helped develop the Duke Global Health PLUS (Placement of Life-giving Usable Surplus) program that has delivered over 40 tons of medical equipment worth over six million dollars to Uganda. He is the Co-Director of the Uganda Neurosurgery Training Program and is helping train the first five neurosurgery residents in Uganda. His clinical expertise focuses on the cortical organization of language and mapping eloquent cortical regions during awake brain surgery for intractable epilepsy. 

SchlicherNathan Schlicher

Outstanding Recent Alumnus Award

For his personal and professional accomplishments at such an early age, Nathan Schlicher ’00 receives the Outstanding Recent Alumnus Award. 

Nathan Schlicher graduated from high school at age 14, and then at 17 completed his undergraduate degree at PLU, double majoring in political science and chemistry. He went on to finish law school, achieving a Juris Doctorate at age 19, and then completed his Doctorate of Medicine at age 23, both from the University of Washington. Dr. Schlicher, with his wife Dr. Jessica Kennedy Schlicher, completed their residencies at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio.  He is board certified in Emergency Medicine.  They live in Gig Harbor and have three children: David, Juliette, and Henry.

Schlicher currently works clinically at the Emergency Department at St. Joseph’s Medical Center. He also serves nationally as the Associate Director of the Patient Safety Organization for TeamHealth.  His diverse background also includes experience as a lay preacher in multiple Methodist Churches, a national lecturer on health care, and a published author of books and articles on the importance of political involvement by every citizen.  

Recently, Schlicher was appointed as a Washington State Senator representing the 26th District. In this, his first session representing his friends and neighbors in the Legislature, Schlicher’s top priorities are job creation, supporting a strong education system, and improving health care for Washingtonians.  His desire to serve grew out of his work on health care advocacy, caring for the disenfranchised, and the need for a return of common sense citizens in the legislature. 

MungiaSalvador Mungia

Alumni Service Award

For his outstanding service to his community through his work as an attorney, Salvador Mungia ’81 receives the Alumni Service Award. 

Sal Mungia's service to the bar began more than 20 years ago, when he was a trustee for the Young Lawyers Division of the Tacoma-Pierce County Bar Association. Since that time, his accomplishments and involvements include his service as a lifetime member of the Board of Directors for LAW Fund, and service as president of the Tacoma-Pierce County Bar Association. He has also served on the Board of Directors of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law and on the WSBA Board of Governors as a governor representing District 6, serving in that capacity for three years before being elected president for the 2009-2010 year. 

From 2011-2012, Mungia was the co-chair for the Campaign for Equal Justice. Last year Mungia was a Delegate for the House of Delegates for the American Bar Association and Executive Committee member for the National Caucus of State Bar Associations.

In addition to his many other awards, Mungia was this year honored as Top 100 Litigation Lawyers in Washington State, which is selected by the American Society of Legal Advocates; and in Best Lawyers in America selected by peer review process as Best Lawyer in the fields of appellate practice, commercial litigation, and personal injury litigation.

Mungia is also involved in his local community. He is a past commissioner of the Tacoma Human Rights Commission. He has served on the Grand Cinema Board of Directors and is currently serving as a member on both the Gates Advisory Board for the Gates Public Service Law Scholarship Program at University of Washington School of Law, and the Mayor's Education Task Force in Tacoma. 

Mungia has been with the firm of Gordon, Thomas, Honeywell, Malanca, Peterson & Daheim since 1986, where he is now a partner.


HackerColleen Hacker

Special Recognition Award

For uniquely serving the university, Colleen Hacker receives the Special Recognition Award.

Dr. Colleen Hacker is a professor in the PLU Department of Kinesiology. Dr. Hacker arrived at PLU in 1979 and in addition to her outstanding work in the classroom, served the university for two seasons as the women’s field hockey coach and fifteen as the women’s soccer coach. Dr. Hacker took her soccer teams to post-season play 11 consecutive times, won numerous district, conference, and regional championships and three NAIA National Championships. Colleen has received prestigious national coaching honors and been inducted into several Athletic Hall of Fames. Dr. Hacker has served on various university committees and administrative capacities within her academic unit including 11 years as Assistant Dean and two years as Interim Dean. Dr. Hacker has always been willing to share her expertise and her experiences with the campus community as well as alumni, parents and friends.

Outside of the PLU, Dr. Colleen Hacker is best known for her work as a sport psychology consultant with professional, international and Olympic athletes in a variety of sports. Her strategies for peak performance are sought by corporations, business groups, civic organizations and both print and television media. Dr. Hacker has delivered over 100 professional presentations, published more than 45 articles and book chapters and co-authored a book.

Dr. Hacker has uniquely served Pacific Lutheran University over the past 35 years. Her extensive work and high profile on a national and international level has given Pacific Lutheran University great exposure. Being a PLU faculty member is one of Dr. Hacker’s greatest joys, and it shows. Her collective experiences working with world-class athletes and teams along with the passion for teaching that Dr. Hacker brings to the PLU classroom gives her students a very rare gift and richly enhances their educational experience.

Alumni AngelsLaWanna Ahrendt, Marge Kunschak and Dick Weathermon

Heritage Award

In recognition of their loyalty and dedicated service to the university, LaWanna Ahrendt ’51, Marge Kunschak ’51 and Dick Weathermon ’50, receive the Heritage Award. 

This trio of Lutes have come into the Nesvig Alumni Center nearly every single Wednesday morning, for ten consecutive years, to assist the Alumni and Constituent Relations Team with their work. One of their most important contributions has been to make the buttons that are worn by thousands of alumni, parents and friends of the university each year. The buttons – Go Lutes!, Proud PLU Mom, Dad, Sister, Brother, Grandparent, and Future Lute – are handed out at Orientations and other campus events. They are made for the fans of every sports team on campus and for nearly every occasion. These buttons go on the road to tailgate parties and connection events. They are used to identify volunteers and boosters! Nearly every single one was cut out by Marge Kunschak and LaWanna Ahrendt and pressed by Dick Weathermon. We often refer to these Golden Club Alumni as our “Alumni Angels” but they often refer to themselves as the Buttoniers!

In addition to making literally ALL of our specialty buttons each year, they cheerily stuff, label and stamp invitations, SCENE magazine mailings for International alumni and much, much more.

Dick, LaWanna and Marge are graduates of the 50’s and have served in a variety of volunteer roles at PLU over the years. And while all three are involved in a number of other volunteer activities, hobbies and family, they continue to express their dedication and love for their alma mater, PLU, in this unique and special way. Each Wednesday at 10am, the alumni and constituent relations team staff and students alike, takes a break to have coffee and hear the stories of these amazing Lutes!

GranlundMichelle (Mimi) Granlund

The Brian C. Olson Award

For her leadership on campus and commitment to a life-long relationship with the university, Michelle (Mimi) Granlund ’13 receives the Brian C. Olson Leadership Award.

Mimi grew up in Lake Oswego, Oregon, and while at PLU triple-majored in Physics, Mathematics and Art. Not only is Mimi a triple major – she excels in each of her chosen areas, graduating summa cum laude in May 2013. In addition to academic accomplishments, Mimi was a 4-year letter winner and a co-captain of PLU’s varsity women’s soccer team. She earned the 2012 Capital One Academic All-District 8 NCAA Division III First Team recognition. Mimi was the only Northwest Conference representative on the District 8 team that includes Division III programs throughout 21 western states and Canada. Mimi also received honorable mention for the 2012 NSCAA Scholar All-West Region Team. As well, PLU named her the 2013 George Fischer Scholar Athlete, an award for the top female scholar athlete of all PLU Athletics for the 2012-2013 academic year.

As a student intern in the Office of Alumni and Constituent Relations for all four years of her college career, Mimi was an outstanding leader and ambassador for PLU. Mimi’s parents, Karl ’82 and Renae (Schiff ’82) Granlund are both alumni. Mimi understands what it means to be a Lute for Life and her potential for continued involvement and service to PLU is great.