Iowa State University alumni, friends to receive top awards April 20

AMES, Iowa -- Iowa State University will present its highest awards to alumni and friends during its Distinguished Awards Ceremony on Thursday, April 20, at 4:15 p.m. The university community is invited to attend the ceremony in the Sun Room, Memorial Union.

The awards are given through the ISU Alumni Association and the ISU Foundation, and recognize outstanding achievement and leadership.

The Distinguished Achievement Award will be presented to four alumni who are nationally and internationally recognized for contributions to their professions or life's work. They are:

-- Lauro Cavazos, professor of family medicine and community health at Tufts University, Medford, Mass. Cavazos was U.S. Secretary of Education under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. Prior to that, he was president of Texas Tech University, Lubbock. Cavazos has published widely in the physiology of reproduction, fine structure of cells and tissues and medical education. He also has served as a consultant to the World Health Organization and other health groups. Cavazos earned a doctorate degree in physiology from Iowa State in 1954. He received his bachelor's and master's degrees in zoology from Texas Tech.

-- Luis Ernesto Derbez Bautista, Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Mexico. After completing his doctorate in economics at Iowa State in 1980, Derbez was appointed vice rector for academics at the University of the Americas in Puebla, Mexico. He went on to join the World Bank as an economic adviser and analyst, and quickly advanced to become supervisor of multilateral economic assistance programs in several Asian and Latin American nations. He entered the political arena in his native Mexico in 2000.

-- Deborah Diersen-Schade, Research Fellow, Mead Johnson Nutritionals. Diersen-Schade has made infants the focus of her life's work in nutritional science, and thanks to her efforts, some babies -- both full-term and pre-term -- may expect to life fuller, healthier lives. She has led Mead Johnson's research on lipid nutrition of infants for the past 20 years. Her work has resulted in what some experts describe as "the most significant innovation in infant formula composition in several decades." Diersen-Schade received her bachelor's degree in animal science in 1978, and master's (1981) and doctoral (1984) degrees in nutritional physiology -- all from Iowa State.

-- James Oblinger, chancellor and professor of food science, North Carolina State University, Raleigh. Oblinger's visionary and dynamic leadership at North Carolina State has resulted in significant advancements throughout the institution, including the expansion of Centennial Campus and the development of the Biomanufacturing Training and Education Center. He also is credited with significant expansion of the university's interdisciplinary programs in the biological sciences, and is leading the institution's $1 billion capital campaign. Oblinger received a bachelor's degree in bacteriology from DePauw University in 1967, and master's (1970) and doctoral (1972) degrees in food technology from Iowa State.

The Honorary Alumnus/Alumna Award will be presented to three individuals who have significantly contributed to Iowa State. Honorees are:

-- Christina Hixson, Las Vegas, who in 1995 launched the Hixson Opportunity Awards Program with a gift from the Lied Foundation Trust. Since that time, the Hixson Opportunity Awards Program has allowed approximately 100 young Iowans every year to receive tuition assistance and renewable scholarships to Iowa State. This assistance has helped 600 students who faced significant personal or financial adversity to graduate from Iowa State, at a rate 10 percent higher than the all-university average.

-- Bobbi Reiman, Greendale, Wis. Reiman and her husband, Roy, have been partners in life, family, business and many interests for 44 years. One of their primary interests has been Iowa State, but only Roy is an alumnus. Bobbi is a graduate of Clark Business College. Now, she also will be an honorary alumna of Iowa State. The Reimans built Reiman Publications into the largest private subscription-based publishing firm in the nation, raised six children, and have been ardent supporters of Iowa State. They have endowed programs in the College of Business, supported the renovation of Morrill Hall and the Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication, and provided the lead gift for the future Iowa State University Alumni Center. One of the most beautiful and visible examples of their support for Iowa State is Reiman Gardens, which has become a major attraction synonymous with Iowa State.

-- Neal Smith, Des Moines. Smith represented Iowa as one of its most distinguished, respected and longest-serving members of the United States Congress (1959-1996). As a Representative for Iowa's 4th and 5th districts, Smith was a champion of agriculture, small business and the environment. From 1986 to 1991, he helped Iowa State obtain more than $200 million in appropriations to provide new facilities, expand research, and develop programs to convert the results of the university's research into viable economic ventures. Smith's support led to the creation of the Institute for Physical Research and Technology, the Center for Crops Utilization Research, the Center for Designing Foods to Improve Nutrition, the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute and the National Soil Tilth Laboratory. Smith earned a law degree from Drake University.

The Order of the Knoll Campanile Award will be presented to Gerald and Karen Kolschowsky, Oak Brook, Ill., for service and generosity advancing the excellence of Iowa State. Jerry Kolschowsky (ISU bachelor of science, agricultural business, 1962) is the retired chairman and co-CEO of OSI Industries, LLC, one of the world's largest providers of processed meats, poultry and related products. He and his wife, Karen, are deeply committed to doing all they can to overcome one of the world's most widespread and insidious problems -- hunger. The Kolschowskys were already major supporters of the Sustainable Rural Livelihoods program in Iowa State's College of Agriculture when, in 2004, they accompanied college and program officials on a trip to Uganda to see both the challenges and the work that was being done there. After that trip, the Kolschowskys permanently endowed the SRL program to enable a large-scale effort in Uganda -- a commitment now totaling $10 million. The Kolschowskys' involvement also has benefited University Museums, Athletics, the Intensive Livestock Teaching and Research Facility and the General University Fund for Excellence. They also established the Gerald A. and Karen A. Kolschowsky Foundation Scholarships for minority students in agriculture.

The Order of the Knoll Cardinal and Gold Award will be presented to John (Jack) Cosgrove, Cedar Rapids, for long-term service to Iowa State. Cosgrove is the retired president and CEO of Rockwell Collins and senior vice president of Rockwell. When he retired in 1999, Rockwell created an endowed scholarship in Cosgrove's name in Iowa State's College of Engineering. Cosgrove, who earned a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from Iowa State in 1956, has served on several university advisory boards. He and his wife, Dilla, were volunteer leaders of Iowa State's "Campaign Destiny" in the 1990s. The Cosgroves' four children are graduates of Iowa State, and in 1986, Jack and Dilla were named ISU Parents of the Year. They have supported the College of Engineering, Department of Athletics, marching band, Stephens Auditorium, Plaza of Heroines and the General University Fund of Excellence.

The Order of the Knoll Faculty/Staff Award will be presented to James and Katherine Melsa, Naperville, Ill. As dean of Iowa State's College of Engineering, Jim Melsa led a transformation that included construction of the Engineering Teaching and Research Complex; a revamped undergraduate curricula, expanded internships, research and technology transfer activities; and the "Reach for the Top" initiative. Under his leadership, the college set new records in sponsored funding, and enrollment increased by 20 percent. Upon Melsa's retirement in 2004, the Melsas were honored with the creation of the James and Katherine Melsa Professorship in Engineering. The Melsas, who met as students at Iowa State, support several Ames community programs. Jim Melsa received his bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from Iowa State (1960), and master's and doctoral degrees in electrical engineering from the University of Arizona. Kathy Melsa earned a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Arizona and a master's in education from National-Louis University.

Monsanto Company will receive the Order of the Knoll Corporate and Foundation Award. Ted Crosbie, Monsanto's vice president for global plant breeding and holder of three Iowa State degrees, will accept the award. Monsanto Company is a leading multinational provider of agricultural products and solutions. Monsanto has been a longtime partner with Iowa State in the improvement of agriculture and the preparation of students for successful careers in agriculture. Monsanto has supported Iowa State with grants totaling more than $2 million, gifts of more than $2.4 million, state-of-the-art equipment for the Plant Sciences Institute, and employment opportunities for Iowa State graduates, among other efforts.