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2019 Alumni Award Winners

By Barbara Christiansen | Photography by August Miller

Young Alumni Award

Amanda Kimball

A recent graduate of UVU who continues to support the University in a profound and substantive manner. This award is given to an individual who has continued to contribute their time, energy, and/or money to help support the University even after graduation.

Amanda Kimball graduated in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in music. Her piano and vocal studies indirectly led her to her career as a corporate event planner, but the field draws upon her talents in much more than music.

She keeps up her interest both in music and in UVU through the UVU Alumni Music Society, which she founded. Kimball also serves as vice president of the Young Alumni Board.

After her graduation, she and other alumni wanted to perform together and put the name of UVU out in the community, she says. Some of their performance opportunities were service-based, such as singing at rest homes and doing special performances. “We did a Disney princess day at the Orem Library,” she says. “To this day, it is one of my favorite memories.”

“I feel UVU gave me the experiences and life skills necessary to be a whole person,” she says. “I feel like I would not have had the same experiences at another institution. The professors here saw my potential even when I didn’t see it. They challenged me and gave me opportunities. UVU has passion and I have passion.”

Distinguished Service Award

Dr. Richard R. Tolman

A living individual who has served to further the purposes and the mission of UVU through their affiliation with the University as an employee or volunteer. Their act of service should be recent and have a profound effect upon the University.

Richard R. Tolman’s recent retirement came at the end of a 55-year career in science. He started in 1964 in the public school system, then became a community college faculty member and held a 13-year appointment on the National Science Foundation’s Biological Science Curriculum Study. He taught at Brigham Young University and held several leadership positions in its College of Biology and Agriculture. He had been a professor of biology at Utah Valley University since 2003.

Tolman was nominated for the alumni award by Dean Daniel J. Fairbanks of UVU’s College of Science, who says, “It would be most fitting for UVU to honor him in this manner, for he is unquestionably deserving of such. It is a rare honor for UVU to be the institution where someone of his caliber and influence has so capably served in the last chapter of a truly world-class career.”

Tolman is known for mentoring students and adding to the effort to provide more than 100 scholarships for them.

“What I enjoyed most has been the interaction with students from junior high school, where I started, to the college level,” he says. “It has been a choice experience to work with the students.”

UVU Legacy Award

Jack Sunderlage

An alumnus/alumna or friend, living or deceased, whose contribution to UVU and/or the Alumni Association was above and beyond the call of duty. The recipient of this award have gone the extra mile to contribute time, energy, and/or money to UVU and/or the Alumni Association.

Jack Sunderlage served on UVU’s Board of Trustees and on the President’s National Advisory Board, serving as chairman of the latter group. He has also chaired the Utah Technology Council and spent 41 years in the technology industry.

“The UVU experience has just been terrific,” he says. “I have gratitude and satisfaction for having played somewhat of a role in the transformation of UVU from state college to a university.” He also looks back fondly at other milestones he has seen. “Being on Capitol Hill and getting approval for The Noorda Center for the Performing Arts was also very satisfying. Being on the search committee for President Astrid S. Tuminez was great. We could see the potential of this woman and how good she was. She could take UVU to the next level.”

Despite his years of volunteer service, Sunderlage said he was surprised to receive the honor. “I feel like I am part of a team,” he says. “I am aware of so many other people who have done so much. I feel very humbled and honored to get this award.”

Corporate Catalyst Award

Noel Vallejo

A business whose pioneering initiatives have demonstrated success and contributions to the community and the mission of UVU. This award recognizes strategic planning, employee development, community involvement, customer service, and corporate integrity.

The CEO of TestOut Corporation, Noel Vallejo attended UVU and loves supporting the university. His company develops training products and technologies that enable networking professionals to prepare for the industry certification exams that help them progress in their information technology careers.

Vallejo often speaks to students in the Woodbury School of Business and says he enjoys the experience. “My favorite part of anything that I do here is really speaking with the students, talking to them about careers, and trying to instill hope in their futures,” he says. “It gives an opportunity to go back in the room and eat lunch with a few of the students and be able to understand their stories, what their background is, their struggles, and hopes.

“There are so many students at UVU, but if I could help one person finish school or encourage them to excel, be successful, that would be the best reward I could receive. It’s really all about the one, helping the individual, even though there’s a lot of students out there. You may not be able to touch everyone—but if I could help one person, it would be worth it.”

Outstanding Alumni Award

Jake Reynolds

A living alumnus/alumna who has a distinguished record and service in their specialized area of endeavor, thus bringing honor and recognition to the University.

Jake Reynolds is a 2005 graduate of UVU who leveraged his education and basketball experience to build a career that continues to flourish. He has served as chief revenue officer for the Philadelphia 76ers of the National Basketball Association. He has also held responsibility for the team’s affiliate, the New Jersey Devils, and the Prudential Center in which both teams play. His positions have put him in charge of the team’s sales and service departments. Through Reynolds’s oversight, the 76ers have always been near the top of the league for new season ticket membership and related businesses quantifiers.

Prior to his position with the 76ers, Reynolds was the director of inside sales for Monumental Sports and Entertainment, overseeing the ticket sales, servicing, and sales staff efforts for the Washington Wizards, Washington Capitals, Washington Mystics, and Georgetown men’s basketball. His first job out of UVU was an internship with the Indiana Pacers, then sales manager experience with the Pacers, followed by being named premium sales manager for the New York Giants of the National Football League.

A native of Salt Lake City, Reynolds thanks those he calls “mentors that have invested in me” at UVU who have helped the father of three to get to the top in a special form of business.

Wilson W. Sorensen Lifetime Achievement Award

Jeff Olson

An individual who has continually served throughout their life to further the purposes and the mission of UVU through their affiliation with the University as an employee, past or present, who has made a significant contribution. This award is given to someone who has dedicated themselves throughout their life to the growth and advancement of UVU.

On June 23, 1973, Jeffery Olson decided to devote his career to transforming lives through higher education as a professor and administrator. He sought guidance from University of Utah President David P. Gardner, and Executive Vice President and soon-to-be Utah State Commissioner of Higher Education Arvo Van Alstyne. This resulted in his seeking a J.D. from the University of Utah and a Ph.D. in higher education administration and policy from Stanford University.

After completing the J.D., Walter Oberer, the dean of the College of Law, asked him to stay as the assistant dean. In 1984, after seven years as assistant dean and then associate dean, he left for Stanford for the Ph.D. There he was asked to take a leave of absence for a semester to serve on the faculty. The next year, he took another leave to serve as director of a study of indirect cost rates in major research universities.

In 1988, he joined the faculty of St. John’s University, New York, because of its mission of providing access to first-generation students. For the next 26 years, he taught leadership, organizational theory, the economics of education, and law, primarily to aspiring university and school administrators, and conducted research in related areas. For the last 16 of those years, he also served as associate provost, primarily launching a university-wide transformation to enable all students to benefit from online learning and services. In the first year that U.S. News ranked online programs, two of St. John’s programs were ranked in the top-10 nationally. In 2014, he joined Utah Valley University as senior vice president of academic affairs and redirected his efforts to meet the postsecondary educational needs of the people of Utah, Wasatch, and Summit counties, and anyone else who chose to enroll.

During that time, UVU’s enrollment grew from 31,331 to 39,931 (17%), 89 new academic programs were added, and 310 full-time faculty members were appointed. He oversaw the development of an academic master plan and a plan for the university’s digital transformation. He also served as acting president during the summer of 2017 and interim president during the summer of 2018.

On July 1, 2019, after 42 years as a professor and administrator, seeking to transform lives, he retired. In retirement, he plans to continue to help UVU meet the needs of the people it serves.