When Cal Poly’s six colleges are given the task of choosing one alumnus each year to honor, the decision is difficult, but the results are always impressive.
Last November, hundreds of people gathered to celebrate eight alumni whose careers and lives took them in eight different directions. What connects them is a deep appreciation of the education and experiences they received at Cal Poly and a drive to give back to others.
“Each year at this event, I am amazed at the breadth and depth of the experiences and contributions of our alumni. This year’s class is no exception,” said Cal Poly President Jeffrey D. Armstrong.
The Honored Alumni Award is the highest honor bestowed upon alumni by the Cal Poly Alumni Association. Each year a distinguished graduate is chosen by the university’s six colleges. In addition, two honorees are chosen by the Cal Poly Alumni Association to receive the CPAA Distinguished Service Award and the Sandra Gardebring Ogren Leadership Award.
The 2015 Honored Alumni include a journalist who puts his life at risk reporting the news, a scientist working on the next wave of life-changing drugs, and a computer engineer who develops technology to improve people’s daily lives. The honorees represent Learn by Doing at its finest and draw from their Cal Poly experience to effect change in their communities and beyond.
Charles F. Walton (Ornamental Horticulture, ’66)
College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences
Anyone who has received a floral arrangement in the past 20 years, has been touched by the career of this alumnus. Walton changed the field of ornamental horticulture during his long tenure as CEO of the Smithers-Oasis Co., known for its Oasis Foam and other floral and horticultural products. He’s known on campus for always being available to students. He’s served on the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences Dean’s Advisory Council for the last 16 years.
Scott Gaudineer, A.I.A. (Architecture, ’79, ‘80)
College of Architecture and Environmental Design
Step into an elementary school, high school or community college in Southern California and there’s a good chance that you’re at the design work of Scott Gaudineer. As president and CEO of Flewelling & Moody, Gaudineer has overseen the design and construction of educational buildings throughout the state, making functional and beautiful learning environments. He’s a member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the Trustee Division of the State Architect Advisory Board.
Russell Nash (Business Administration, ’82)
Orfalea College of Business
Entrepreneurship is everywhere on the Cal Poly campus today, but Russell Nash was a pioneer when he left a large accounting firm in Los Angeles to start his own company, Professional Education Services, offering continuing education to CPAs. When he’s not working on his real estate ventures in business development and investing, he serves as a mentor to fellow Orfalea College of Business graduates and future Mustang entrepreneurs from Cal Poly’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.
Kim Vorrath (Computer Science, ’88)
College of Engineering
From a college intern to the vice president of Operating Systems Programs at Apple, Kim Vorrath has come a long way with her computer science degree, including serving as one of the first members of the iPhone software team. Vorrath is a huge supporter of women in technology. At Cal Poly, she has championed Women Involved in Software and Hardware (WISH) and student participation in the national Grace Hopper Conference, which connects, inspires and guides women in computing. Vorrath is a member of the Computer Science Department Advisory Board in Cal Poly’s College of Engineering.
David Kerley (Journalism, ’79)
College of Liberal Arts
David Kerley has traveled to every continent except Antarctica on behalf of ABC News. As the network’s senior travel correspondent based in Washington, D.C., Kerley has covered presidential campaigns, natural disasters, and the war in Iraq. He was the first to report that important communication systems on missing Malaysian Flight MH370 were apparently intentionally turned off. He has been honored with national and regional Emmy Awards, a Peabody, and the Edward R. Murrow award. Kerley serves on the Journalism Department Advisory Board in the College of Liberal Arts.
Jeffrey R. Jasper, Ph.D. (Chemistry, ’84)
College of Science and Mathematics
Jeffrey Jasper is vice president of Preclinical Sciences at Revolution Medicines Inc. and co-founder of Altos Therapeutics, devoted to developing pharmaceuticals for gastrointestinal disorders. When he’s not writing scientific articles (he’s published more than 50 in peer-reviewed journals), Jasper can frequently be found on campus serving as a guest lecturer.
Thomas F. Lebens (Electronic Engineering, ’89)
CPAA Distinguished Service Award
Thomas Lebens lives and breathes service to Cal Poly. A patent attorney at Fitch, Even, Tabin & Flannery in San Luis Obispo, he is a past president of the Cal Poly Alumni Association, current member of the board of directors, and the chair of the Professional Development and Networking Committee. Lebens is secretary on the Dean’s Advisory Council for the College of Engineering and a member of the Student Affairs Advisory Council. He has served as a member of the Cal Poly Corporation board of directors and enjoys volunteering for the Cal Poly Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. It’s not surprising to learn that Lebens was ASI president while at Cal Poly.
Gilbert H. Stork, Ed.D. (Mathematics, ’84 ’88)
Sandra Gardebring Ogren Leadership Award
A legend on the Central Coast, Gilbert H. Stork was a member of the 1960 football team and was instrumental in the dedication of the Mustang Memorial Plaza honoring his teammates lost in a tragic plane crash that year. He began a long and storied career at Cuesta College in 1967 as a mathematics professor and football coach and then served the campus in many capacities over the years, culminating in his appointment as the college’s superintendent and president in 2010. Stork cherishes his student experience and is proud to send as many Cuesta transfers as he can to Cal Poly every year.