University of Puget Sound names 2011 Distinguished Alumni Award recipients

University of Puget Sound has announced the recipients of its 2011 Distinguished Alumni Awards, which honor graduates who make exemplary contributions to their local community, their profession, or their alma mater. The six distinguished alumni will return to campus, along with many other former students, for the 2nd Annual Summer Reunion Weekend, an event including class reunion activities, receptions, and a return to the classroom during Alumni College.

The awardees will be recognized at the Reunion Weekend Dinner and Distinguished Alumni Award Gala. The evening will feature music, food, and dancing, from 6 to 9 p.m. on Sat., June 4 in Memorial Fieldhouse on campus. This year’s distinguished alumni are:

— C. Mark Smith ’61 / Professional Achievement Lifetime Award, presented to alumni who have gained wide recognition for professional achievements that reflect positively on University of Puget Sound / For more than 40 years, C. Mark Smith has played a leading role at economic development organizations at the local, state, and federal level. In 2004 he received a Lifetime Achievement Award from Washington Gov. Gary Locke and was named the Washington Economic Development Association’s first honorary lifetime member. A history major who was active in many roles as a student, Smith is a former member of Puget Sound’s board of trustees and a co-founder of the university’s Harry P. Cain scholarship. He also is the author of Raising Cain, a biography of former Tacoma mayor and U.S. senator Harry Cain. Now semi-retired, he is president of C. Mark Smith & Associates, providing economic development services to local governments and nonprofits. In the wider community, he serves on the Tri-Cities Research District board, Richland Public Library Foundation board, and Columbia Basin Badger Forum.

— Seema Sueko Ahmed Hirsch ’94 / Professional Achievement Mid-career Award / Seema Sueko Ahmed Hirsch began exploring the relationship between politics and performance during her student days at Puget Sound. A politics and government honors student, she performed on stage and sang with the Adelphian Concert Choir. She received her Master of Arts degree in international relations from The University of Chicago and launched a successful stage career, performing at theaters including Yale Repertory Theatre in New Haven, Conn.; The Old Globe in San Diego; Ohio Theatre in New York City; and The 5th Avenue Theatre in Seattle. In 2004 she co-founded the Mo`olelo Performing Arts Company with the goal of creating professional, socially-conscious theater, and to provide a voice for diverse communities. Hirsch has written four plays, including remains, which earned her the Anti-Discrimination Committee’s 2004 Artistic and Cultural Achievement Award. She is a three-time winner of the Chicago Jeff Citation, and her playwriting was acknowledged with the KPBS Patté McDonald Playwriting Award and an Ivey Award. Hirsch was recently honored by the San Diego Theatre Critics Circle for her “inspired and risk-taking artistic vision.”

— Lowell Daun ’68 / Service to University of Puget Sound, presented to alumni who have made long-standing volunteer contributions that have had a profound impact on the Puget Sound community / Since graduating from Puget Sound, Lowell Daun has devoted himself over several decades to the service of his alma mater. For many years he was what one nominator called “the face of Puget Sound in California.” While a student, Daun majored in biology, played trumpet, sang in the chapel choir, served in student government, and was selected Homecoming King. Since then he has helped in virtually every area of alumni involvement—from undergraduate admission to career mentoring, from alumni networking to advising on Greek life. He chaired the National Alumni Board and served three terms on the board of trustees. During this time he helped expand alumni engagement and served on the President’s Advisory Committee for Campaign Planning. Daun earned his Doctor of Dental Surgery at University of the Pacific and later headed federal government-related businesses at Delta Dental Plan. He is a longtime contributor to the Puget Sound Alumni Fund and is a member of the Legacy Society.

— Ellen Ferguson ’72 / Service to Community Award, presented to alumni whose volunteer leadership in human services, the arts, recreation, or education has had a profound impact on their community and beyond / Described as “profoundly committed to the welfare of the diverse communities of the Puget Sound region,” Ellen Ferguson has been a longtime philanthropist. After majoring in political science and history at Puget Sound, Ferguson earned her Master in Museology degree from University of Washington. She is currently director of community relations at the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture and a trustee for her family’s Ferguson Foundation. She also is co-president of the board of the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience. Ferguson has served as chair of the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture board and as president of Seattle’s Ethnic Art Council. She was named the Women’s Funding Alliance “Inspirational Leader of the Year” and received the Washington Museum Association’s Board of Directors Award of Excellence. Ferguson, a longtime donor to Puget Sound, established the Ellen Ferguson Scholarship in the area of diversity and now serves on the Honorary Degrees Committee.

— Patrick Erwin M.A.T.’93 / Service to Community Award / Nominated unanimously by the faculty of Puget Sound’s School of Education for “his remarkable educational vision, daily commitment, and professional skills in leadership,” Pat Erwin is a renowned education leader in the community. As co-principal of Lincoln High School in Tacoma, Erwin established the Lincoln Center, a program designed to keep at-risk students engaged during critical after-school hours. This year Lincoln High School and the center will receive a Washington Achievement Award for School Improvement from the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. Erwin has served at several schools and is currently an adjunct faculty member at University of Washington Tacoma. A popular community lecturer on education issues, he is the founder of Tacoma Reads Together, a joint project with the public library. Erwin helped start the Tacoma College Support Network and was a member of the educator’s advisory board for the Washington State History Museum.

— Ted Meriam ’05 / Young Alumni Service Award, presented to a graduate of the last decade or a current student who has made significant contributions to creating programs that bring young alumni or alumni and students together and that familiarize them with the alumni association / A Clayton, Calif., native, Ted Meriam is currently West Coast Coordinator for Regional Alumni Clubs. Since graduation from the Business Leadership Program at Puget Sound, he has participated on the Alumni Council, served as a Career and Employment Services Committee member, and as a class agent for the Class of 2005. While studying at Puget Sound, Meriam was an admission tour guide, a member of the SPURS and Mortar Board honor societies and the Jewish Student Organization, and a reporter for The Trail. He served as chief justice of the ASUPS Honor Court and as president of the Film and Theatre Society. He also was a member of the ASUPS Governance Committee and Budget Task Force. He received the Norton Clapp Arete Award as a senior. Meriam currently works as a technical accounts manager at Microsoft and has been active in his hometown as planning commissioner for the City of Clayton, founder of the P2C Foundation, and president of the Clayton Historical Society and Museum.

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The Year of Harry P. Cain (05/16/11) —

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