UW-Madison ‘originators’ honored with Distinguished Alumni Awards

April 21, 2008

by Kate Dixon

Seven UW-Madison alumni whose original contributions have earned them global recognition will be honored next month with the 2008 Distinguished Alumni Awards, presented by the Wisconsin Alumni Association (WAA).

"Through their one-of-a-kind endeavors, these UW alumni are credited with some of the world's most innovative and important contributions," says Paula Bonner, WAA's president and CEO. "We're proud to recognize them as part of the worldwide community of 370,000 passionate, inspired UW-Madison alumni."

The recipients will be honored at an awards program at 5 p.m. on Thursday, May 8, at the Wisconsin Union Theater in Memorial Union, 800 Langdon St. The awards program is free and open to the public.

The Distinguished Alumni Award is the highest honor bestowed by the Wisconsin Alumni Association. The award celebrates outstanding UW-Madison graduates whose professional achievements, contributions to society and support of the university exemplify the Wisconsin Idea.

The 72nd annual Distinguished Alumni Award honorees are:

  • Joanne Disch '68: A graduate of UW-Madison's School of Nursing, Disch is the Katherine R. and C. Walton Lillehei Chair in Nursing Leadership at the University of Minnesota, where she directs the Katharine J. Densford International Center for Nursing Leadership. She currently serves as chair of AARP's national board of directors and is a former president of the American Association of Critical Care Nurses.
  • Truman Lowe '73: Lowe earned his master of fine arts degree from UW-Madison, and is now a professor of art and a curator at his alma mater. A nationally and internationally acclaimed sculptor, he served as curator of contemporary art in 2000 for the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of the American Indian. His works reflect his Ho-Chunk ancestry and culture, and often capture the beauty and force of moving water.
  • Sheldon '51, LLB'53 and Marianne x'54 Lubar: The Lubars have lent their support to higher education in Wisconsin for more than a decade. Sheldon, a graduate of UW-Madison's School of Commerce and Law School, is the founder of the Milwaukee investment firm Lubar & Co. and a former president of the UW System's Board of Regents. Marianne has held prominent roles with the Milwaukee Public Library, the Milwaukee Art Museum and UW-Milwaukee's Golda Meir Library. The couple endowed UW-Milwaukee's Lubar School of Business and UW-Madison's Lubar Institute for the Study of Abrahamic Religions. In 2007, they were contributors to the $85 million Wisconsin Naming Partnership at the Wisconsin School of Business.
  • Linnea Smith '81, MD'84: Smith is the founder and medical director of the Yanomono Medical Clinic, located in the remote Amazon jungle of northeastern Peru. A UW-Madison-educated physician who founded the clinic in 1990 following a vacation in the Amazon, she left behind a successful medical practice in Wisconsin to start the clinic for indigenous people who previously had to travel 50 miles by dugout canoe to reach a doctor. Now supported by a nonprofit foundation, the Amazon Medical Project, Smith's work at the clinic has saved thousands of lives.

The 2008 Distinguished Young Alumni Award honorees are:

  • Shihoko Fujiwara '03: Fujiwara is a coordinator with the Polaris Project, a nonprofit organization that combats human trafficking — a form of modern-day slavery. Based in Tokyo, Fujiwara provides food, shelter, medical assistance and other support to human-trafficking survivors, educates law enforcement about how to identify victims, and advocates for improved public policy. She earned her UW-Madison bachelor's degree from the Division of International Studies.
  • Stephen Turner '91: Turner is founder and chief technology officer of Pacific Biosciences, a company based in Menlo Park, Calif., that is developing groundbreaking DNA sequencing technology. Turner, who earned his UW-Madison bachelor's degree in applied math, engineering and physics, is the inventor on nine issued U.S. patents and more than 20 published applications.

A reception and dinner will follow the awards program at Memorial Union. Details, online registration and more information about the 2008 recipients are available.