Alumni Recognition

With over 37,000 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.

Did You Know?


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

Mike Burton PLU on Wednesday, April 30, 2014. (Photo/John Froschauer)

Mike Burton '69

Distinguished Alumna Award

Mike Burton’s career spans four decades in an array of stellar programs and services such as forensics, baseball, national boards, and officiating. In addition, he was a master teacher who received the coveted Golden Apple Award from KCTS Channel P and Pemco Insurance for excellence in education. Mike’s career as a debate coach began in Auburn and concluded at Eastside Catholic. Both programs received national recognition. Mike is the first person to be elected to the national speech and debate hall of fame from the northwest for his long storied career. Below are some of the awards and accomplishments he and his teams received:

• Bruno Jacob for service
• University of Kentucky Tournament of Champions Hall of Fame
• 36 State Championships
• 1995 NW National federation of High Schools (NFHS) Instructor of the Year.
• 2000 NFHS National citation Award for Officiating
• 2004 Minnesota Coaches Golden Apple for Excellence in Forensics
• 2007 Nation forensic League Living Legends Award
• 2007 Bronx Achievement Award

Mike shaped policy and programs throughout the state and nation with his leadership, service and his expertise. His contributions in forensics and officiating are unprecedented. During his career, he has served in the following capacities:

• Washington Interscholastic Activities Association Forensics Committee (14 years)
• National Catholic Forensics League Executive Committee
• Football Commissioner for the Northwest Intercollegiate Football Officials
• Executive Board National Forensics League 1996-2000
• Washington Officials Association Executive Board 1985-2007
• President of National Federation of Officials in 1998
• 2000 National Federation Citation Award Winner for Officiating Excellence
• 2009 Washington Officials Association Hall of Fame

Elizabeth Pulliam Weston '85

Elizabeth Pulliam Weston '85

Distinguished Alumnus Award

Liz Pulliam Weston is the most-read personal finance columnist on the Internet, according to Nielsen//NetRatings. She’s also an award-winning, nationally-syndicated personal finance expert.
Weston is a graduate of the certified financial planner training program at University of California, Irvine.
Beginning her career at the Seattle Times, Weston moved on to the Anchorage Daily News. As author of an article on fetal alcohol syndrome, she was a part of the writing team that won a Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service in 1989 for coverage of the alcoholism epidemic among native Alaskans. While at the Orange County Register, she was part of a three-member writing team that won a prestigious Gerald Loeb Award for coverage of the comparator systems penny stock scandal. In 1998, she joined the business staff of the Los Angeles Times and began authoring Money Talk. Four years later, she left the Times to write for MSN.

Weston won a 2007 Clarion Award for her MSN series on financial benchmarks. Her MSN columns also have won four Certificates of Merit from the Society of American Business Editors and Writers.
Her first book, Your Credit Score, is the best-selling book on credit scoring and was recently published in a fourth edition. Her other recent books include The 10 Commandments of Money and the ebook There Are No Dumb Questions About Money.

Liz’s columns run twice a week on MSN Money, which reaches more than 12 million readers each month. Millions more read her question-and-answer column ‘Money Talk,’ which appears in newspapers throughout the country, including the Los Angeles Times, the Portland Oregonian, Stars & Stripes and others.

Liz has appeared on “The Dr. Phil Show,” “The Today Show” and “NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams” and is frequently featured on American Public Media’s “Marketplace Money” and NPR’s ‘Talk of the Nation’ and “All Things Considered.” She was for several years a weekly commentator on CNBC’s “Power Lunch.”

Marissa Meyer '04

Marissa Meyer '04

Outstanding Recent Alumnus Award

Marissa is the author of three best-selling books, Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress, part of a “Lunar Chronicles” trilogy. This success is a continuation of her undergraduate work as an English writing major at PLU.

She is published with a major house (part of Macmillan), and she has an agent working to sell the film rights to Cinder in Hollywood. Thus: there is a potential that the “Lunar Chronicles” might get really big, similar to Hunger Games or Twilight.

Marissa is also dedicated PLU alum. She has held the book launches for all three of her books here on campus — in coordination with the Garfield Book Co. And she is coming to campus this April to hold an event with our English writing and Children’s Literature students.

Two months querying agents, Marissa had three offers of representation and ended up signing with Jill Grinberg. After a couple weeks of minor tweaking to the manuscript, she went on submission and had her first offer the following week—on the two-year anniversary from the day she’d started writing Cinder. About a week later, the series went to auction between two publishing houses and she accepted the offer from Macmillan’s Feiwel and Friends on November 11, 2010, less than three months after she’d sent her first query.

Ed Hrivnak '96

Ed Hrivnak '96

Alumni Service Award

Upon his graduation from PLU’s School of Nursing Education in 1996, Ed went to Officer Training School and then went on to Flight Nurse training. Hrivnak was an instructor flight nurse in the Air Force Reserve. He was the Crew Director on a seven person Medical-Evacuation Team, flying wounded service personnel out of the active war zone. He retired as a captain after twenty years of service. A veteran of the first Gulf War and Operation Iraqi Freedom, Ed also participated in peacekeeping missions supporting Somalia, Rwanda, and the Balkans. Combining his military and civilian flying career, the author has logged over four thousand flight hours on twenty different types of aircraft. Much of his published work is based on treating casualties out of the Middle East. His published memoir, Wounded, A Legacy of Operation Iraqi Freedom, came out last year.

Ed’s words have been published in the New Yorker, the Seattle Times, the Tacoma News Tribune, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and several international nursing journals. His war stories have aired on PBS, NPR, ABC World News, and numerous talk shows. His writing was featured in theatrical presentations at Tacoma’s Broadway Center for the Performing Arts, and the adaptation Soldier’s Circle was performed at the University of Louisville.

Prior to retiring, Captain Hrivnak conducted research for the Assistant Surgeon General’s Office of the US Air Force on the stress of caring for combat casualties. He has lectured at colleges, trauma conferences, and to international audiences on this subject.

Ed has been a featured speaker about all this on multiple media venues from national and local television, radio, newsprint, and social media. His work was the feature of an Emmy Award Winning, Oscar nominated documentary and he is an acclaimed Significant Writer of War-time Literature.

Ed’s has made contributions to the greater good of the Northwest region through his involvement in aviation as well as nursing. Ed has multiple ratings to fly, one of which is for rotorcraft. His abilities to ‘communicate, navigate, and fly the plane’ exponentially increase his value in whatever duties he undertakes. He is an original member of the Puget Sound Regional Aviation Program, the Puget Sound Urban Search and Rescue Task Force, and the Pierce County Rescue Systems. Currently, Ed is serving as Assistant Fire Chief for Central Pierce Fire Department. In this position, Ed is the Air Operations Branch Director for the Pierce County Emergency Operations Center. He designed and implemented the Aviation Program for CPFR as its manager. Ed co-authored a grant that brought the Regional Rescue Helicopter to the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Department and he is a volunteer pilot for that Helicopter Rescue Team.

Ed is the CPFR representative to the Pierce County Thun Field Aviation Advisory Commission. Tying together his expertise in Nursing, Aviation, and Firefighting, Ed has drafted a partnership between PLU School of Nursing and Central Pierce Fire and Rescue to have Nurse Practitioner students act as case managers for high users of the 911 system. This pilot project is looking to reduce the abuse of the 911 system.

In the immediate aftermath of the recent mudslide in Oso, Wash., Hrivnak served as a volunteer helicopter pilot and his search and rescue crew scoured the debris, rescuing eight people.

David Olson - PLU on Tuesday, April 29, 2014. (Photo/John Froschauer)

David Olson

Special Recognition Award

Dr. Olson served as athletic director and dean of the School of Physical Education from 1968-96. During Olson’s tenure, PLU athletic teams won nine National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics championships, including three each in football and women’s soccer, two in softball and one in women’s cross country. At the same time, PLU garnered 167 conference titles and 25 conference all-sports awards, while increasing from 12 to a combined 19 men’s and women’s intercollegiate sports. He was president of the NAIA from 1985-86, president of the NAIA Athletic Directors Association from 1991-92, and chairman of the NAIA Council of Athletic Administrators from 1992-94. He was inducted into the NAIA Hall of Fame in 1989. Dr. Olson represented the United States as an administrator at the World University Games in Sofia, Bulgaria (1989), Sapporo, Japan (1991), Zakopane, Poland (1993) and Jaca, Spain (1995). In 1984, he was one of only five U.S. educators invited to the International Olympic Academy in Greece.

Since retirement, Dr. David Olson has been the man behind the PLU Retirees organization. Originally started as a phased retirement project, the PLU Retirees “club” has continued to exist under the volunteer direction of Dave. While he has involved others, such as Ken Dunmire and now Audrey Eyler (both have helped to keep people informed and connected “electronically”) Dave has been the driving force behind the organization. This group includes all retired faculty and staff members. The purpose is to keep these folks connected to Pacific Lutheran University long after retirement. Some of the ways they do this is by programming an on-campus lunch and speaker session 3 or 4 times a year. In addition, Dave and Arvis Olson have invited the group to a potluck luncheon at their home on Lake Lawrence.

Craig Hamilton '82

Craig Hamilton '82

Heritage Award

After 13 seasons as the Pacific Lutheran men’s tennis head coach (1999-2011), Craig Hamilton became an assistant coach in the program starting with the 2011-12 school year and joined the women’s coaching staff as an assistant during the 2013-14 season.

During Hamilton’s head coaching tenure, PLU men’s tennis teams compiled a 183-100 dual match record and won four Northwest Conference titles.

Hamilton graduated from Pacific Lutheran in 1982 and was a member of the Lute tennis team from 1979-82. He is ranked number four on the PLU career singles victories list with 84, highlighted by a 25-win season as a freshman in 1979. As a senior, Hamilton was recipient of the NAIA’s prestigious Arthur Ashe Award, given for his athletic and academic achievements, community involvement and sportsmanship. He was the Northwest Conference singles champion in 1980, won the conference doubles championship in 1980, 1981 and 1982, and was the NAIA District 1 doubles champion in 1980 and 1981. He was an Academic All-American in 1981 and 1982.

In his many years with the tennis program, Craig has given PLU tennis team members quality coaching, encouragement, extra hours of team fellowship meetings, and countless trips and parties at his home. For a good number of those years, Craig asked his company if he could work 2/3 time in order to free him up to do this.

In everything that Craig has done for PLU Tennis over the years Craig has just been about serving. He has a gift for relating to young people, and the student athletes in the PLU Tennis Program have been blessed by his gifts.

Hamilton works in the financial services field. He and his wife, Jill, have four children.

Katie Curtis '14

Katie Curtis '14

The Brian C. Olson Student Leadership Award

Katie is a Communication and Theatre double major from Puyallup, WA. PLU runs in Katie’s family; she is not only a legacy student, but also the daughter of a dedicated staff member (Ardys Curtis) and sister of an alumna. Katie has been employed in the Office of Advancement for nearly four years.

As Advancement Student Intern, Katie has helped to provide excellent customer service and support to her colleagues and our constituents. She looks for opportunities to get to know alumni, parents and friends of PLU and acts as a terrific representative of the university. Katie was promoted to Administrative Student Lead in 2012, and serves as a mentor to her fellow student employees. She helps to train, coach and guide her team so they can be successful.

Additionally, Katie volunteers with the Student Philanthropy Committee and Graduation Gift Committee. Katie leads the charge by example, having given her first gift last year as a Junior and planning to contribute again when this year’s Grad Gift campaign launches.

Lauren Peterson '14

Lauren Peterson '14

The Brian C. Olson Student Leadership Award

Lauren is a senior transfer student from Nashville, Tennessee, majoring in Fine Arts. Both her sister, Amanda (Peterson) Negi ’11 and her father, Michael Peterson ’80 attended PLU.

Lauren has worked in the Office of Alumni and Constituent Relations for 3 years, including two summers. As a student intern, Lauren has been an outstanding ambassador for PLU. Lauren’s favorite part of her job is chatting up our alumni and constituents – she has terrific interpersonal skills, and her enthusiasm for Pacific Lutheran University has made her one of the best interns we have had the privilege to work with. She has taken on extra responsibilities in the office during our many transitions in the past year, which has led to her being promoted to Student Lead. Her creativity and artistic talents has been such a great asset to the office.

For the past year, Lauren has been on the PLU Student Advisory Board to the Dean of the School of Arts and Communication where she serves as a source of student advice to the Dean and as a student ambassador for prospective SOAC students. It is this kind of extra involvement at PLU that proves Lauren’s commitment to PLU, and to furthering PLU’s mission.