Alumni and Friends

ISU Alumni Association Awards

The Distinguished Alumni Award, established in 1961, is the highest honor given to alumni by Iowa State University through the ISU Alumni Association. This award honors ISU alumni who are nationally and/or internationally recognized for preeminent contributions to their professions or life's work. Up to five awards are granted annually.

The Alumni Medal, established in 1948, recognizes ISU alumni for long, loyal service to the university through alumni-related activities. Up to three medals are granted annually.

The Outstanding Young Alumni Award, established in 1968, recognizes ISU alumni, age 40 and under, who have excelled in their professions and provided service to their communities.

The Impact Award, established in 2000, recognizes individuals, businesses, organizations or units whose programs or accomplishments brought broad recognition tot he university and increased the involvement of ISU constituents in the life of the university in the year prior to being nominated.

The James Hopson Alumni Volunteer Award, established in 1999, recognizes ISU alumni, age 40 and under, who demonstrate early volunteer leadership in the ISU Alumni Association or alumni-related activities and who are members of the ISU Alumni Association.

The Alumni Merit Award, established in 1932, recognizes ISU alumni for outstanding contributions to human welfare that transcend purely professional accomplishments and bring honor to the university. Up to three awards are granted annually.

The STATEment Makers award honors alumni under the age of 32 who have made personal, service, entrepreneurial, business or scholastic statements that reflect the spirit of an Iowa State education.

Eight College of Design alumni are among recent honorees. More information on alumni awards is available on the ISUAA website.

2011 Alumni Medal
Choy Chun Leow
BA 1985 / MArch 1988 Architecture
Apple Valley, Minn.

Choy Leow is a true university champion whose impact has been felt globally. He first came to ISU from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to study architecture and quickly found not only a professional calling, but a personal passion for the people of Iowa State University. As he has carved out a successful design career in the Twin Cities, he has never forgotten his Malaysian roots—nor his Iowa State ones.

Leow was president of ISU's Association of Malaysian Students, through which he founded the Guanghua Lion Dance troupe that he continues to mentor today as the organization's honorary co-adviser. As an alumnus he has also helped foster the ISU Alumni Association’s international outreach efforts in Malaysia, which are arguably the most successful on the globe. In fact, during the Ames flood of 2010 Leow worked with ISU alumni in Malaysia to provide a $1,000 gift for the flood relief effort back "home."

Leow spent eight years as a member of the alumni association's board of directors, including a stint as president in 2004-2005. He was a key member of the board’s building planning committee that paved the way for construction of the ISU Alumni Center.

Leow has also been extremely active as a College of Design alumnus; he established an architecture scholarship, has served on the Architecture Advisory Council, and mentors ISU Malaysian graduates and architecture interns in the Twin Cities area.

Currently the director of design and construction for Allina Hospitals & Clinics in Minneapolis, Leow is a member of the Minnesota AIA and Minnesota Architectural Foundation's board of directors. He received the Minnesota AIA's presidential citation in 1997 for his work on the AIA intern development program. He also serves as president-elect of the Hunter Woods Association and as a member of the Apple Valley High School Site Council.

Leow is an ISU Alumni Association life member and a member of both the ISU President's Circle and ISU President's Leadership Council. He and his wife, Connie S.K. Cher, have two daughters—Szumei and Szuyin, an ISU mechanical engineering student.

2011 Alumni Merit Award
Scott E. Olson
BArch 1969 Architecture
Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Scott Olson is an outstanding example of the power of community service.

Olson has been a real estate broker/architect with Skogman Commercial Group since 1993, and prior to that (1979) he was the co-founder/principal of OPN Architects, Inc. In 1973, he helped establish the nonprofit child welfare agency Four Oaks, Iowa's largest children's agency, which today helps more than 14,000 children and families throughout the state. In 1995, he helped establish the Ecumenical Community Center (ECC) to provide humanitarian service to the core neighborhoods of Cedar Rapids. And in 2008, after Cedar Rapids was devastated by severe flooding, Olson donated space and real estate/architectural services to help those affected.

On campus at ISU, Olson has given back to the ISU Alumni Association, where he is a past board of directors president; to the ISU Foundation, where he is a governor and was a member of the Campaign Iowa State: With Pride and Purpose national committee; and to the College of Design, where he has served on the Architecture Advisory Council, dean's Advancement Council, and as a member of the college’s campaign committee. In 2005, Olson created a leadership and community service scholarship to recognize architecture students for activities outside the college.

Besides continuing service to Four Oaks and ECC, Olson is active with such organizations as Rotary, Methwick Retirement Community, International Facility Managers Association, the Cedar Rapids Chamber of Commerce, Discovery Living, Westminster Presbyterian Church, and many, many others. Among the awards he has received are the Cedar Rapids Jaycees' 1977 Distinguished Service Award, the ISU Alumni Association's 1978 Outstanding Young Alumnus Award and 1996 Service Key Award, the Iowa Association of Realtors' 2003 Good Neighbor Award, the ECCF/Green Square/Witwer Senior Center 2009 Pillar of Community Achievement Award, and ISU’s 2010 Beardshear Medallion. This list of honors is only a small sample of Olson’s many professional and community service awards.

Olson is an ISU Alumni Association sustaining life member, as well as a member of the Cyclone Club and Order of the Knoll. He and his wife, Penny Olson, have two children: Scott E. Olson II and Jill Olson.

2011 Distinguished Alumni Award
William D. Chilton, FAIA
BA 1976 Architecture
Guilford, Conn.

Jon Pickard, FAIA
BA 1976 Architecture
Guilford, Conn.

Jon Pickard and William Chilton have led the design of some of the world's most widely known buildings, creating iconic structures that have defined institutions, corporations, communities, cities and countries.

As co-founders and principals of Pickard Chilton, the two Iowa State alumni and classmates believe that architecture can affirm a society's best aspirations and a client's cherished goals. They strive to create projects that offer their clients, and the public, measurable advantages—whether that means a building that stands out in the skyline and attracts the best tenants, or one that embodies the beauty of using resources lightly. The architects at Pickard Chilton give the art, function and impact of a building their closest attention, believing that excellence in each facet of building design supports an inspired whole.

Pickard and Chilton have been recognized internationally for their achievements in architecture. The two have designed, collaborated in the design of, and directed some of the world's most recognized buildings, including such prominent projects as the Devon Energy World Headquarters in Oklahoma City; Eaton World Headquarters in Cleveland; 1180 Peachtree in Atlanta; Wells Fargo Financial Headquarters in Des Moines; the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Headquarters near Washington, D.C.; Four Seasons Place in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; and the CalPERS Headquarters Complex in Sacramento. Their leadership in sustainable design has resulted in buildings representing over 22 million square feet of LEED Gold or its equivalent currently in design, under construction or completed since 2006, one of the highest volumes in the U.S. In recognition of their significant contributions to the profession, Pickard and Chilton were elected to the American Institute of Architects College of Fellows.

Before co-founding Pickard Chilton, Chilton was Ellerbe Becket's President of Architecture and led such notable buildings as the Science Museum of Minnesota and Kingdom Centre in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, which, when completed, was the tallest mixed-use complex in Europe and the Middle East. He earned a Master of Architecture degree from the University of Minnesota and served as a professor in practice at that institution's College of Design last spring.

Prior to co-founding Pickard Chilton, Pickard collaborated with Cesar Pelli in the design of numerous landmark and award-winning projects, including two of the largest commercial developments ever built: the World Financial Center in New York and Kuala Lumpur City Centre in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia which includes two of the world’s tallest buildings—the Petronas Towers. Pickard earned a Master of Architecture degree from the Yale School of Architecture and continues to serve as a visiting critic at that institution.

Pickard and Chilton individually received the Christian Petersen Design Award as well as the Design Achievement Award from the Iowa State College of Design. Chilton resides in Guilford, Conn., and is a member of the Order of the Knoll President's Circle and a lifetime member of the ISU Alumni Association. Pickard and his wife, Cassy, also reside in Guilford and are members of the Order of the Knoll President's Circle and lifetime members of the ISU Alumni Association.

2010 Impact Award
Ulrike Passe
Ames, Iowa

Iowa State University gained substantial visibility in October 2009 with its presence on Washington, D.C.'s National Mall: The university's team was one of only 20 in the world to participate in the U.S. Department of Energy's Solar Decathlon, an event showcasing sustainable residential innovation on college and university campuses. Those who were involved in the extensive project agree: Iowa State's celebrated Interlock House would not have been possible without the tremendous leadership of Ulrike Passe.

An ISU assistant professor of architecture, Passe served as the team’s principal investigator for more than two years. She brought faculty and students from four different colleges together to create the 800-square-foot solar-powered residence, which created substantially more energy than it consumed and earned 12th overall place in the competition—including third in market viability, fourth in communication, fifth in engineering, and sixth in net metering. Passe was a passionate advocate and spokesperson throughout the project and was instrumental in securing more than $220,000 of in-kind donations.

Following the competition, ISU's solar decathlon team, including Passe, was honored with the 2010 Iowa State Live Green! Excellence in Sustainability Award for its efforts in the areas of awareness and innovation.

Passe, one of the 1998 Bund Deutscher Architekten Berlin Young Architects of the Year who earned her architecture degree from Technical University Berlin in Berlin, Germany, also received the 2009 ISU College of Design Faculty Award for Extraordinary Performance.

2010 James Hopson Alumni Volunteer Award
Tanya Davidson Skelton
BFA 1998 Graphic Design
Chicago, Ill.

Tanya Skelton is one half of an incredible leadership team that has worked tirelessly to make the ISU Alumni Association Club of Chicago as vibrant and active as it has ever been. Through her work as club co-president with Katherine Hallenbeck (BS 2002 MIS and Finance), Skelton has brought dedicated leadership and passionate enthusiasm to Chicagoland in the name of Iowa State University.

Skelton coordinates Chicago's annual "Game Before the Game," which pits alumni of the University of Iowa against Iowa Staters in flag football just days before the college football rivals' annual showdown. She coordinates the club's website and marketing materials. Other events on which she has placed her Cardinal and Gold touch include monthly happy hours; gamewatches; outings for miniature golf, bowling and broomball; and events surrounding last year's Iowa State vs. Duke men's basketball game at Chicago's United Center.

But perhaps Skelton's most valuable skill as club president, her nominators say, is her warm and inviting nature and enthusiasm for connecting Cyclones with one another. In fact, it's how she met her husband, Ben (2002 Mechanical Engineering).

In addition to her work with the ISUAA Club of Chicago, Skelton is the co-leader of MetroCeliacs, a group she co-founded to offer support to Chicagoans with gluten-free dietary restrictions. Skelton is employed by RBC Wealth Management in Chicago and is a lifetime member of the ISU Alumni Association.

2010 STATEment Maker
Matt Ostanik
BArch 2001 Architecture / MBA 2009 Business Administration
Dallas Center, Iowa

Entrepreneur Matt Ostanik is the founder and president of Submittal Exchange, a company that offers comprehensive online systems for the exchange, review and archiving of construction submittals, RFIs and other construction communications. While an MBA student at ISU, Ostanik submitted the business plan for Submittal Exchange to the Pappajohn Center's statewide business plan competition in 2004 and won $5,000 to get his business off the ground. Three years later, he won an 80-entry statewide business plan competition and $25,000 more after demonstrating his plan's success. Today, Submittal Exchange does business in 48 states with more than 15,000 construction professionals, and the "green" company is steadily growing.

2009 Outstanding Young Alumni Award
Derek J. Anderson
BFA 1991 Art and Design
Minneapolis, Minn.
In a society increasingly rife with competition for children's attention, Derek Anderson has captivated and nourished it.
His New York Times best-selling children's book Little Quack and the 11 others he has created or helped to create, have truly inspired children. Little Quack and Little Quack's Bedtime both received the National Parenting Publication Gold Award, and Little Quack and Little Quack's New Friend received the International Reading Association/Children's Book Council Children's Choice Award. Many of Anderson's publications have appeared on national "best book" lists, and Little Quack has been translated into nine languages.
Anderson regularly speaks to and works with children, as well as other writers and artists, to offer his expertise and share his contagious, youthful joy. He was chosen by the Minnesota State Supreme Court to speak to disadvantaged youth, and his tale of a colorful purple gorilla with a nose for bananas, Gladys Goes Out to Lunch, was the featured book for Minnesota libraries in 2007.
Two illustrations from Anderson's latest book, Ballyhoo Bay (written by Judy Sierra), are featured in the College of Design alumni exhibition "30 and Beyond." He was selected as "Favorite Author of the Month" in February 2005 by the Red House Book Club, and his books have also been distributed in boxes of Cheerios as part of the "Spoonfuls of Stories" program.
Anderson is a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators and the Children's Literature Network.
2007 Outstanding Young Alumni Award
Deeia M. Topp
BFA 1990 Interior Design
Sarasota, Fla.
What started in the fall of 1991 as Deeia Topp exploring her passion for residential design out of a small room in her home has become Deeia M. Topp Interiors, Inc., a multimillion-dollar custom residential design company that has won six Aurora Awards and one Grand Aurora Award for home construction and design excellence in the southeastern U.S. and earned "Home of the Year" recognition from SRQ magazine.
Prior to founding her company, Topp was a successful commercial designer for Interior Architects, Inc., a division of the architectural firm The ADP Group, where she helped design the Bird Key and Sarasota Yacht Clubs and the El Conquistador Country Club. Today she enjoys working for private, high-end clients and custom-home builders on one-of-a-kind residential projects. She is proud of the fact that her company has never advertised; Deeia M. Topp Interiors, Inc., is successful because of the referrals and repeat business it has received due to Topp's strong interior architecture background and business integrity.

Topp has made it a priority to give back to the organizations she believes helped her achieve her success, including significant financial contributions to the ISU College of Design and the Cyclone women's gymnastics program, of which she is an alumna. She has also built upon her love of gymnastics and volunteerism by serving as a Special Olympics gymnastics official at the county, area, and state levels.

Topp is a member of the ISU Letterwinners Club and a lifetime member of the ISU Alumni Association. She and her spouse, John W. Sparling, are the parents of Aiden and Greyson. 
2007 Distinguished Alumni Award
Charles E. "Chick" Herbert
BS 1951 Architectural Engineering
Des Moines, Iowa
Charles Herbert has had a profound impact on the built environment in Iowa as a result of his more than 50 years of architectural leadership, design and innovation. In 1961, he founded Charles Herbert and Associates, and in 1987 organized Herbert Lewis Kruse Blunck (HLKB) Architecture.
Under Herbert's leadership, HLKB developed into one of the leading architectural firms in the nation. In 2001 HLKB received the National American Institute of Architects Firm Award, one of 37 so recognized since 1961. They have also received seven National AIA Honor Awards, 77 Central States Region AIA Honor Awards, 130 Iowa AIA Honor awards, and 37 other state, regional, and national design awards. Herbert retired as a principal of HLKB in 1996.

Notable facilities HLKB designed in Des Moines during Herbert's tenure include the Civic Center and Nollen Plaza, Meredith Corporate headquarters and Gateway expansion, Center Street transportation facility and, at Iowa State, the College of Design, Black Engineering, and Jacobson Athletic buildings, the Parks Library addition, the remodeling of Alumni Hall, and Maple Hall. The Civic Center and Meredith Gateway projects were recognized as best in their decades in AIA Iowa's 100 Years of Iowa Architecture awards program.

Herbert has provided outstanding leadership and service to his profession, his community, and his alma mater. In 1976 he was elected to Fellowship by the American Institute of Architects and received the Iowa AIA's first Gold Medal of Honor award. He is an honorary trustee and past president of the Des Moines Art Center, past president of Iowa State's National Cyclone Club, served six years as a member of the ISU Athletic Council, and was a Governor of the ISU Foundation. He received the Iowa State College of Engineering Professional Achievement Citation for Architecture in 1975 and the College of Design Christian Petersen Design Award in 1985.

Herbert attended Rice University, where he was commissioned as an ensign in the U.S. Navy. While a student at Iowa State, he lettered in varsity basketball and was a member of several honor societies.

He and his first wife, Adrienne (1951 Home Economics Education), were members of the Order of the Knoll and parents of five sons: Jeffrey, Christopher, Timothy (1982 Computer Science), Matthew, and Charles II (1989 Industrial Engineering). In 1998 he married Marilyn Wyant Connelly (1951 Home Economics Education), who is mother to Craig Connelly (1977 Industrial Administration) and Sally Connelly Euson (1979 Industrial Administration). He and Marilyn are annual members of the ISU Alumni Association and Order of the Knoll.