With over 37,000 active alumni, there is always a reason to applaud and celebrate the accomplishments of our remarkable alumni and friends.

Award Categories

Distinguished Alumnus Award

Through years of dedication and service, this alumnus has achieved professional or vocational distinction.

Distinguished Alumna Award

Through years of dedication and service, this alumnus has achieved professional or vocational distinction.

Mission Award

Awarded to an alumnus or friend of the university who has embodied the PLU mission through service, leadership and care— for other people, for their communities and for the Earth.

Brian C. Olson Student Leadership Award

Presented to a student who has demonstrated commitment to the university and the alumni association. By recognizing the importance of connecting students and alumni, this student has shown a potential for lifelong service to the university.

Did You Know?

Homecoming PLU, Saturday, Nov. 3, 2018. (Photo: John Froschauer/PLU)

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

2019 Award Recipients

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 Alumnus Award: Dr. Munro Cullum '81

Through years of dedication and service, this alumnus has achieved professional or vocational distinction.

Dr. Munro Cullum ’81 has helped design concussion testing programs for teams in the NFL and NHL for more than a decade. He is a tenured Professor of Psychiatry, Neurology, and Neurological Surgery at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center while also serving as Vice Chair and Chief of the Division of Psychology in the Department of Psychiatry, and is the Senior Neuropsychologist in the Peter O’Donnell Brain Institute at UT Southwester. He is board-certified in clinical neuropsychology and has 180 peer-reviewed publications, co-authored 35 book chapters, two books, and has developed several neuropsychological tests. Dr. Cullum has spent his life as an involved family person, an active community member sharing his time and expertise in generous ways and as an unbelievably productive researcher, professor, administrator and clinician working in areas that affect us all.

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Distinguished Alumna Award: Jen Cohen '94

Through years of dedication and service, this alumnus has achieved professional or vocational distinction.

Jen Cohen ’94 puts the student first in her role as University of Washington athletic director. From a young age, Cohen has been fascinated with sports and new that it was a community that she would be a part of some day. Fulfilling her childhood dream, she was named the 15th athletic director in UW history; the only female athletic director in the Pac-12. During her time as a graduate student at PLU, Cohen worked in an athletic department that fostered a community of service-driven student athletes, which is something she strives for daily. She has helped reverse the department’s budget out of a $7.6 million deficit and most recently orchestrated a $119 million apparel deal with Adidas, the Huskies program is soaring to the top.

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Mission Award: Samuel Torvend '73

Awarded to an alumnus or friend of the university who has embodied the PLU mission through service, leadership and care— for other people, for their communities and for the Earth.

Samuel Torvend ’73 has a long legacy of excellent work and deep dedication to PLU. He has served in a multitude of ways including; Professor and Endowed Chair for Lutheran Studies, Professor of Religion, Director of Vocational Reflection, Director of the Wild Hope Center for Vocation, and Partner Chaplain for Campus Ministry. His dedication to service for others is demonstrated through his work directing the Center for Religion and Culture in the Pacific Northwest, his role as a theological consultant to various regional and national church agencies and societies as well as active engagement with an international consortium of scholars whose work is economic, political, and social. An internationally-recognized scholar, his recent books, Luther and the Hungry Poor and Flowing Water, Uncommon Birth, balance deep historical analysis with pastoral concerns. His work enhances PLU’s mission, its classrooms, faculty, and staff through his various skills as an educator, scholar, and leader in service to his alma mater.

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Brian C. Olson Student Leadership Award: Nai-Nai Watts '19

Presented to a student who has demonstrated commitment to the university and the alumni association. By recognizing the importance of connecting students and alumni, this student has shown a potential for lifelong service to the university.

Nai-Nai Watts ’19 has made an impact at PLU since the moment she stepped on campus. In her sophomore year, Watts created a display using archival information to create a seven-panel display of the events and experiences of Black students throughout PLU’s history starting in 1960. As a result of her work, Archives and Marketing and Communications are developing a project to better document the experience of Black students at PLU. Since then, she has advocated for herself by gaining an understanding of and from other people as well as learning to cope with her various identities and how they interact with the world around her. She composed Spectrums of Color, a play that explores the aspects of her own struggles and successes as a person on the Autism Spectrum with Intersecting Identities. Her goal through this play and programming during Autism Awareness Month is to educate the campus on a condition that her and many others live with, but also highlighting the many strengths that come with it as well. Watts tells her story to encourage others to think differently and be an advocate for others in marginalized groups.

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