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2006 Alumni Awards


Robert Kreiger ’67

For his renowned contributions to the field of toxicology, Robert Krieger ’67 receives the Distinguished Alumnus Award.

Krieger is a Cooperative Extension toxicologist in the Department of Entomology at the University of California-Riverside. He also directs the Personal Chemical Exposure Program he established at UCR. His research focuses on the development and use of advanced analytical methods to identify the movement of pesticide residues from the environment to children and adults. His work has been extremely important in furthering the understanding of human exposure to pesticides.

After receiving his bachelor’s of science degree from PLU, Kreiger earned his doctorate from Cornell University. He is active in several professional societies and has authored more than 350 published papers, book chapters and abstracts, and edited the comprehensive Handbook of Pesticide Toxicology, issued in 2001. In 2005, he received the Society of Toxicology Public Communications Award and the International Award for Research in Agrochemicals, the most prestigious award given by the Agrochemical Division of the American Chemical Society.

He and his wife, Anasthasia, live in Riverside and have four children.



Barbara Gelman ’79

For her extensive record of service as a citizen leader and elected official, Barbara Gelman receives the Distinguished Alumnus Award.

Gelman is a Pierce County councilmember from District 5. She currently serves as the chair of the council’s Public Safety and Human Services Committee and sits on numerous other council committees and various outside boards. Gelman also served for eight years as the Pierce County Assessor-Treasurer. While serving as a councilmember from Pierce County’s District 3 (1983-1992), Gelman became well known for her work in fighting pornography and bringing new industry to Pierce County, eliminating the solid waste incinerator and promoting recycling. For five years, she produced and directed the Pierce County public affairs program ‘Pierce County Speaks.’

Recently Gelman has been instrumental in making positive changes within the community near PLU. She led a task force that worked to add amenities to a state-funded safety improvement project on Pacific Avenue. Working with state legislators, funding for landscaping, pedestrian lighting and curbs along a five-mile stretch of Pacific Avenue was provided by a $3.2-million grant, as well as Pierce County, Pierce Transit, private business owners and PLU

Gelman also helped create the Garfield Street Activity Center Task Force, a group charged with developing a design for the renovation of Garfield Street. The cornerstone of this renovation will be a new 32,000-square-foot building on the corner of Garfield Street and Pacific Avenue. Half of the building will be the new PLU bookstore, providing a greater university presence in the community.

Gelman lives in Tacoma with her husband, Herbert, and has four children.



Lea Armstrong ’74

For her great success as a community and business leader, Lea Armstrong ’74 receives the Outstanding Alumnus Award.

Armstrong, a first-generation Korean-American, has been amply recognized by state and local governments, as well as by private industry, for her accomplishments and acumen. In 1994, she began Armstrong Uniserve, Inc., which provides in-home personal care services for adults who are elderly, disabled or seriously injured. The majority of her clients have been low-income elderly on Medicaid or other publicly funded programs. The business, which has grown to 11 branches located in six Western Washington counties, has approximately 1,800 employees serving 2,000 people.

Throughout her many years of service, Armstrong has continuously sought to advance many social and charitable concerns. She has been appointed to numerous governing boards and educational institutions and has received many awards for her hard work and social conscience.

She lives in Tacoma and has two sons.



Graham Johnson ’96

For his award-winning work in television news, Graham Johnson ’96 receives the 2006 Outstanding Recent Alumnus Award.

Johnson joined KIRO-TV, a CBS television affiliate in Seattle, as a reporter in 2005. He came to KIRO from WPTZ-TV in Burlington, Vt., where his environmental and investigative reporting led to an exposé of Canadian puppy mills. He received many honors for this work, including a regional Edward R. Murrow Award from the Radio-Television News Directors Foundation and a national first place award for small-market broadcast reporting from the Society of Environmental Journalists. He also had experience as an anchor at WPTZ-TV and KOBI-TV in Medford,Ore., and as a writer for Northwest Cable News.

Throughout his career, Johnson has been recognized by peers and viewers for his integrity as a journalist. He has used his position to bring attention to issues of social and environmental justice while maintaining high ethical standards and a sense of compassion rarely seen in the cynical news business.

These qualities were already evident during Johnson’s tenure at PLU. As a student, he worked at KPLU-FM, where he was recognized for his integrity, confidence, and the ability to get the job done right and on time.

He lives with his wife, Melanie Coulson ’95, in Seattle.



James Hushagen ’70

For his long history of service to PLU, James Hushagen ‘70 receives the 2006 Alumni Service Award.

Hushagen has been an attorney with Eisenhower & Carlson in Tacoma for 25 years. He served on the board of Good Samaritan Hospital, and continues to serve organizations with Lutheran ties, including Thrivent Financial for Lutherans; Lutheran Summer Music Academy & Festival; as vice president of Southwestern Washington Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; and as an attorney for Holden Village, a Christian retreat center.

During his years as a PLU student, Hushagen was Phillip Nordquist’s teaching assistant, senior class president and chair of the Hunger Symposium, an event that brought speakers to campus to highlight the plight of the hungry in the world.

As an alumnus, Hushagen has maintained his strong commitment to PLU. He has been on the Board of Regents since 1993 and was on the Alumni Board for 11 years, serving as president during PLU’s centennial. He has served on many committees, including the most recent presidential search committee. He is currently on the Eastvold Restoration Committee with his wife, Debbie (Herivel ’72).

He and his wife live in Tacoma and have two sons, Morgan and Aaron.



Kerstin Ringdahl ’82

For decades of dedicated service to PLU, Kerstin Ringdahl ’82 receives the 2006 Heritage Award.

For more than 40 years, Ringdahl has been a valuable resource to the PLU community. Ringdahl has worked in various capacities in the PLU library over the years, and has served as the university archivist since 1987. Her work has involved meticulously collecting, describing, preserving and providing access to the permanent records created by the university’s departments and offices. In this role she has demonstrated highly specialized knowledge of university resources.

Ringdahl has a particular interest in collecting material relating to the Pacific Northwest immigration experience, and under her direction, a special collection about this phenomenon has grown in the PLU archives. In celebration of PLU’s centennial, she collaborated with several faculty members in collecting recorded interviews of 282 men and women who immigrated to the Pacific Northwest from Scandinavia.

Her tireless efforts to promote PLU and to preserve its history have gone far beyond her part-time position. She has been an enthusiastic supporter of the Scandinavian Cultural Center and an advisor to the Lucia Bride Festival. She has also played a vital role in Faculty House leadership, served on many committees and regularly attends many university events.



Kurt and Pam Mayer

For their many years of support of PLU, Kurt and Pam Mayer receive the 2006 Special Recognition Award.

As the first person of the Jewish faith to serve on PLU’s Board of Regents (1995-2005), Kurt was instrumental in the development of the university’s Holocaust Studies Program, which deals with the two major Christian religions’ responsibility in the Holocaust. Through his involvement with the Raphael Lemkin Awards, he has been important in encouraging regular attendance among the Jewish community at this annual event.

Pam has worked for more than 20 years as a volunteer, supporting PLU arts and building the School of Fine Arts board. Both have been members of the Eastvold Leadership Committee since 1999. Pam serves as co-chair with emeritus School of the Arts dean Richard Moe.

The Mayers are enthusiastic cheerleaders for PLU in the community. Their commitment to PLU’s mission extends beyond their countless volunteer hours – they even brought a student from Germany to Parkland and paid for her education.

They live in Tacoma and have two children.

Alumni Board Nominations - Official Ballot

2006-2007 Alumni Board of Directors

The following candidates are nominated for the 2006-2007 Alumni Board of Directors. Please vote for two candidates – two response boxes are provided if two alumni live in the same household.

Print this form and mail before Aug. 1, 2006, to the Office of Alumni and Parent Relations, Nesvig Alumni Center, Pacific Lutheran University, Tacoma, WA 98447. You can also cast your ballot online at


LaWanna Ahrendt, ’51

Tim Vialpando, ’01

Write-in candidate(s)

Alumni office offers many ways to stay in touch

Former ASPLU president Willie Painter ’06 is now engaged in the job search process, and using his status as a PLU grad in a subtle but noticeable way.

Painter has a permanent PLU e-mail address – a benefit available to all alumni – and is using it as he sends out resumes.

The free permanent PLU e-mail address is just one feature of the Office of Alumni and Parent Relations’ online community at

All registered users of the online community have the option to create an email address with the domain “”

The online community also provides access to a full database of over 33,000 alumni worldwide, making it even easier to stay in touch with classmates and network professionally. Nearly 4,000 alums are now registered and taking advantage of the free directory on a regular basis.

The alumni Web site was recently redesigned to make it easier to access from PLU’s home page and provide more information about the programs and services available to PLU alumni.

“The online community was available on earlier versions of the site, but it now takes front and center as one of the easiest ways for alumni to stay connected to PLU and the alumni office,” said Erik Melver ’96, assistant director of programs and services in the alumni office.

One of the most obvious changes to the site is the list of contents in the navigation bar on the left hand side of the screen. Headings in this area link to the online community, events, volunteer opportunities, past Alumni Award recipients, a Class Notes link (for publication in Scene magazine) and a programs and services list.

The “events” link helps alumni stay connected to campus by identifying opportunities to meet with other alums. The Year-at-a-Glance calendar provides access to the most current information on upcoming events, along with registration information.

The “volunteer” heading highlights service opportunities. Here, visitors can access information on the Alumni Board, Parent Council, PLU Graduates of the Last Decade (GOLD), PLU Lutes in Volunteer Endeavors (LIVE) and the Student Alumni Association, among others.

The new site will prove useful as alumni plan to attend events surrounding homecoming in October. There will be pages on the site dedicated to listing the schedule of events during the weekend of Oct. 6-8 and registration information for homecoming activities.

Alumni are encouraged to visit the new site often. It will be refreshed with new events, programs and services weekly.


Pencil Us In

Upcoming events

July 7-10
Alumni College Ashland Tour

August 31
New Student Orientation

September 22-23
Alumni Board Fall Meeting

September 23
Washington, D.C., Connection Event

October 6-8
Homecoming Weekend

November 10-12
Family Weekend

November 12
Parents Council

December 1
President’s Christmas Dinner and Concert (Portland)

December 2
President’s Christmas Dinner and Concert (Seattle)

December 3
Campus Christmas Concert

December 9
President’s Christmas Concert and Reception (Tacoma)

For more information: or call 800-ALUM-PLU.


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© Scene 2006  •  Pacific Lutheran University  •  Summer 2006

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