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Innovators awarded at Founders' Day event

February 25, 2010

The ASU Alumni Association honored several faculty members and alumni, involved in solving challenges with world-changing consequences, at its Founders’ Day Awards Dinner, Feb. 24.

The award ceremony honors individuals who exemplify the spirit of the founders of the Territorial Normal School of Arizona, ASU’s predecessor institution, who received their charter from the Thirteenth Territorial Legislature on March 7, 1885.

Here are the honorees:

James W. Creasman Award of Excellence
About the award: The Creasman award is presented to an individual or group whose contributions to the Alumni Association, the university, and the community illustrate qualities exemplified by James W. Creasman, a key contributor to the success of the ASU Alumni Association over his six decades of service to Arizona State. 

Honoree: Craig Weatherup ’67 B.S., former CEO/chairman, PepsiCo

Craig Weatherup is being honored for his leadership and his philanthropic service to Arizona State University.
Weatherup spent 24 years in leadership positions with PepsiCo, Inc., including four years as the company’s CEO and chairman of the board. He currently serves on the Boards of Directors of Federated Department Stores, Starbucks Coffee Company and The Arizona Nature Conservancy. 

Weatherup has contributed to the university in many capacities. He served for five years as the chairman of the board of directors for the ASU Foundation, and stepped into the role of interim president/CEO of the foundation to ensure continuity of leadership.

His philanthropic focus at ASU has included revitalizing the university’s athletic infrastructure. He and his wife Connie led the Sun Devil Legacy Campaign and provided a $5 million lead gift to create the Weatherup Center, a state-of-the-art indoor practice facility and training center for the men’s and women’s basketball teams.
Weatherup was nominated for the award by William Kavan ’92 B.A., advancement product owner, SunGard Higher Education, and chair of the ASU Alumni Association Board of Directors.

Philanthropist of the Year
About the award: Making its debut at the 2010 Founders’ Day celebration, the ASU Foundation’s Philanthropist of the Year Award gives the foundation and the university the opportunity to thank community-minded citizens who make a difference by providing support to community organizations and institutions.  Those recognized by this prestigious honor are shining examples of how individuals can have a major impact on people’s lives and on social issues.

Honorees: Gregory and Emma Melikian

Gregory and Emma Melikian are Phoenix civic leaders whose commitment to urban development, historic preservation, culture and the arts has made a profound impact upon the quality of life in Arizona.  They represent the values of civic engagement and excellence that rest at the heart of the New American University. 

Gregory Melikian was born in New York City, the son of parents who had fled the Armenian massacres during World War I. Following military service during World War II, he practiced real estate law before assuming a position as a civil judge in the New York City municipal court system.

Emma Melikian was born in Persia (modern-day Iran) to an Armenian family that had earlier fled the Soviet Union. She eventually settled in New York City. She became founding president of Thank You America, a charitable organization of immigrant Americans offering educational support to needy children.

The Melikians moved to Phoenix during a period of unprecedented development for the metro area. Mr. Melikian, who worked for the commercial real estate firm Great Western Realty, was integral to the restoration of more than a dozen historic properties in the state during the 1960s, including the landmark Hotel San Carlos in downtown Phoenix.

The couple has four children—Robert, Richard, James, and Ramona—all of whom attended Arizona State University.  Beginning in the 1970s, the Melikian family began a pattern of support for ASU that includes endowment of the Melikian Center and its Critical Languages Institute, one of the nation’s leading international research and training centers for regional study of Russia, Eurasia and Eastern Europe.

Alumni Achievement Award
About the award: The Alumni Achievement Award recognizes an alumnus or alumna who has excelled in his or her profession and has contributed to Arizona State University and/or the ASU Alumni Association and the community.

Honoree: His Excellency Sultan Saeed Nasser Al Mansoori ’88 B.S.E.

Currently Minister of Economy for the United Arab Emirates (UAE), H.E. Al Mansoori is being honored for his work advancing Arizona State University’s mission and goals at the highest levels.

H.E. Al Mansoori was appointed to the UAE’s federal government in 2004, and served as the Minister of Development for Government Sector and as Minister of Communications before assuming his present position in 2008. Prior to his work for the federal government, H.E. Al Mansoori was employed for many years in the fields of commerce and banking in the Emirate of Dubai. He is chairman and founder of the Al Mansoori Group of Companies.

Since graduating from ASU in 1988 with a degree in industrial engineering and management systems, H.E. Al Mansoori has pursued a number of initiatives with ASU, including the ASU SkySong Innovation Alliance, the Global Decision Network and the Education Technology Platform project.

H.E. Al Mansoori was nominated for the award by James O’Brien, vice president and chief of staff for ASU’s Office of the President.

Young Alumni Achievement Award
About the award: 
Awarded annually since 1989, the Young Alumni Achievement Award is presented to an outstanding alumnus or alumna who attended Arizona State University within the last 15 years.

Honoree: Cody Friesen ’00 B.S.E., associate professor, School of Mechanical, Aerospace, Chemical and Materials Engineering, and co-founder, Fluidic Energy

Cody Friesen – alumnus, faculty member and entrepreneur – is rapidly making his mark in the world of energy research. Friesen recently was selected to receive a $5.1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to explore advances in battery technology. His research centers on the development of ultra-high-energy metal-air batteries that use advanced ionic fluids. He is the co-founder of a company, Fluidic Energy, dedicated to developing commercial applications based on this research.

After earning his bachelor’s degree in materials science and engineering in 2000, Friesen earned a Ph.D. in materials science from MIT in 2004. He returned to ASU to accept a faculty position with the School of Mechanical, Aerospace, Chemical and Materials Engineering. Since that time, he has distinguished himself by winning a National Science Foundation Career Award and an ASU Faculty Achievement Young Investigator Award. He has been recognized by Technology Review Magazine as one of the top innovators in the United States under age 35.

Friesen was nominated for the award by Paul Johnson, executive dean and professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering.

Faculty Achievement Awards
About the awards: Faculty excellence is the heart of an outstanding university. Faculty achievement at ASU is recognized at the Founders’ Day event with individual awards for contributions in teaching, research and service.

Faculty Achievement Research Award
Honoree: Nancy Grimm ’80 M.S., ’85 Ph.D., professor, School of Life Sciences, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences

Nancy Grimm is being honored for her contributions to the emerging field of urban ecology, which brings together earth, life and social sciences to study human-dominated ecosystems. With her research collaborators, Grimm has sought to establish a conceptual basis for including human choice and action in theories of urban ecosystem dynamics.

Grimm was instrumental in the development of the Central Arizona-Phoenix Long Term Ecological Research (CAP-LTER) program at ASU, which has been the nexus for more than 290 research projects over the past decade.
Grimm was chosen as a fellow in the prestigious American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2008.

Grimm was nominated for the award by Dr. Robert Page, founding dean of the School of Life Sciences, a unit of the university’s College of Liberal Arts & Sciences.

Faculty Achievement Service Award
Honoree: Scott Ridley, associate dean and associate professor, Office of Innovation and Partnerships, College of Teacher Education & Leadership

Scott Ridley is being honored for his efforts to prepare new teachers and principals and support existing educators, particularly in high-poverty urban and rural school districts. He is the principal investigator and project manager for a five-year, $33.8 million Teacher Quality Partnership grant.

His work on developing Professional Development Schools have enabled partner school districts to “grow their own” qualified teachers and principals. He also is currently participating as principal investigator in a grant, URBAN-EXCEL (Urban and Rural Bridge for Action Network – Excellence and Collaboration in Educational Leadership), which facilitates the ongoing professional development of district-level educators by providing access to coursework designed to improve their skills as evaluators and coaches.

Ridley was nominated for the award by Mari Koerner, dean of the College of Teacher Education & Leadership.

Faculty Achievement Teaching Award
Honoree: Miles Orchinik, associate professor, School of Life Sciences, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences

Miles Orchinik is being honored for his work teaching undergraduate and graduate students in the School of Life Sciences. An authority in the field of stress research, his research has helped promote an integrated understanding of how stress alters brain function.

As a teacher, Orchinik has taught undergraduate courses such as Human Anatomy and Physiology and Basic Physiology, facilitating student learning in classes that typically have more than 100 students per section. He employs an inquiry-based approach and encourages discussion of the “big picture” of the coursework, rather than the recitation of dry facts. He has done outreach to K-12 students and teachers through participation in the “Ask-A-Biologist” podcast series and Web site run by the School of Life Sciences, and by acting as a science fair judge for elementary and middle school students.

Orchinik was nominated for the award by Robert Page, founding dean of the School of Life Sciences, a unit of the university’s College of Liberal Arts & Sciences.

Staff Achievement Award
About the award: The Staff Achievement Award is presented to an Arizona State University staff member whose outstanding contributions to ASU have significantly enhanced the well-being and reputation of Arizona State University within the community at large.

Honoree: Gerald Snyder ’76 M.B.A., Senior Advisor

Gerald Snyder is being honored for his work as the senior associate vice president for finance and the university’s deputy treasurer during a period of unprecedented growth for the university.

He began his employment with ASU in 1972 as a senior accountant. By 1982, he had become ASU’s Comptroller. During his nearly 40-year career at ASU, he coordinated an estimated 55 separate financings or refinancings, for a total of $2.7 billion – the largest number of financings by any person in the state.

Units under his supervision have received an ASU Presidential Citation and the Governor’s Recognition Award for superior performance. Snyder himself received the Student Affairs Tribute to University Staff, and the Faculty and Staff Appreciation Award for exemplary service and dedication to the students of ASU.

Snyder retired from university employment in December and currently is serving ASU as a senior advisor.