Posted 7 a.m. Friday, March 18, 2022

The UWL Alumni Association will honor five graduates with 2022 Distinguished Alumni Awards.

Five selected for university's top honors

The UWL Alumni Association is awarding graduates from the ’70s through 2011 its top alumni awards for 2022. They’re being honored for distinguished service and successful careers. 

The distinguished alumni will return to campus Friday and Saturday, Sept. 16 and 17, to speak with students and take part in a panel discussion, along with being recognized.

Get details from the Alumni Association calendar.

The 2022 honorees include:

The Maurice O. Graff Distinguished Alumni Award

Recognizes outstanding achievement of alumni who have brought honor and distinction to the university. Long-time administrator Maurice O. Graff instituted the honor in 1977.

Bryan Heiderscheit, ’94

Bryan Heiderscheit, ’94

  • Recognized worldwide for integrity, passion, creativity and innovation in sports medicine.
  • Frederick Gaenslen Professor in Orthopedics and Vice-Chair for Research, Department of Orthopedics and Rehabilitation, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.
  • 2020 Excellence in Research Award, American Academy of Sports Physical Therapy; 2019 Catherine Worthingham Fellow of the American Physical Therapy Association; others.
  • Bachelor’s in physical therapy, 1994; master’s, 1998, and doctorate, 2000, University of Massachusetts.
Jeremy Richter, ’94

Jeremy Richter, ’94

  • Pioneer in digital cinema; outstanding professional mentor, coach, colleague and leader. 
  • Founder and chief executive officer of Richter Studios since 1997, Chicago; writer/director of “Discovering Deerpath” (Rated “G” by the MPAA, 2008); director of multimedia at McClier Corp., 1997-2000.
  • 2018 German Design Award; 2016, 2017, 2019 and 2020 Cannes Award Winner; 2019 Deauville Green Award; 2014 Upper Midwest Emmy Award; others.   
  • Bachelor’s in marketing, 1994. 

Rada Distinguished Alumni Award

Recognizes alumni who have graduated within the last 20 years, achieved professional distinction and taken part in humanitarian activities. Professor emeritus Ron Rada and his wife, Jane, created the award in 2002. 

Justin Schmitz, ’11

Justin Schmitz, ’11

  • Innovator in theatrical sound design, valued partner and collaborator for Gallaudet University theatre and dance programs.
  • Freelance sound designer and composer in the Washington, D.C. area and regionally across the nation including the John F. Kennedy Center.
  • Awarded John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the Kenan Institute Fellowship 2015-16; Carnegie Hall performer; Helen Hays nominations; others.
  • Bachelor’s in theatre design and technology, 2011; Master of Fine Arts, University of North Carolina School of the Arts, 2015.

Parker Distinguished Multicultural Alumni Award

Recognizes outstanding alumni who have contributed significantly to the improvement of multicultural understanding on the campus and in their careers. History Professor Emeritus James Parker initiated the award in 1997.

Marquell Johnson, ’04

Marquell Johnson, ’04

  • Impactful instructor, author and researcher in disabilities, adapted physical education.
  • Professor, Department of Kinesiology, UW-Eau Claire.
  • 2019 Outstanding Contributor Award for Access UW System; 2017 Dr. Ron Satz Teacher/Scholar Award, UW-Eau Claire; others.
  • Master’s in exercise and sport science, adapted physical education, 2004; bachelor’s, Huntingdon College, 2001; doctorate, Oregon State University, 2008.

Burt and Norma Altman Teacher Education Award

Honors and recognizes outstanding educators and the significant contributions they make to children and communities. Professor Emeritus Burt Altman and his wife, Norma, long-time supporters of teacher education, created the award in 2015.

Mary Lee Vance, ’79 & ’83

Mary Lee Vance, ’79 & ’83

  • Transformational educator, leader, writer, presenter and editor of four books and numerous research articles, passion for removing educational barriers for people of color and individuals with disabilities.
  • Office of Equal Opportunity Interim Director and Services for Students with Disabilities Director, California State University Sacramento; previous student services and adjunct faculty positions at Orange Coast College, University of California Berkeley, Purdue University-Calumet, University of Montana, UW-Superior, George Mason University and Iowa State University.
  • 2007 UWL Parker Distinguished Multicultural Alumni Award; 2012 Association on Higher Education and Disability Professional Recognition Award; others.
  • Bachelor’s in art, 1979; Master’s of Education-Professional Development, 1983; doctorate, Michigan State University, 1993.

These recipients from 2020 and 2021 will also be recognized in September:

  • Margaret Van Bree, ’82, Maurice O. Graff Distinguished Alumni Award
  • James Burkhart, ’68, Maurice O. Graff Distinguished Alumni Award
  • Anna Hatch, ’09, Rada Distinguished Alumni Award
  • Scott Noet, '90, Burt and Norma Altman Teacher Education Award

Nominate deserving alumni

Nominate deserving UWL alumni for the university’s distinguished alumni awards. Simply fill out the nomination form; the Alumni Office will contact nominees.

Nominations are accepted throughout the year. They must be received by Oct. 1 to be considered for the award the following year. 

See all past recipients .

Here are the award criteria.