The CSU Alumni Association will honor some of its most influential members Thursday at the annual Distinguished Alumni Awards Dinner.
Two individuals and a couple who have combined to have significant impact on their alma mater and the world will receive major awards, while CSU’s eight colleges and the Department of Athletics will shine the light on the accomplishments of outstanding alumni. The event is set for 7:30 p.m. at the main ballroom in the Lory Student Center.
Here is the full list of winners:
WILLIAM E. MORGAN ALUMNI ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
Ed Warner (B.S., geology, ’68) and Jackie Erickson
It’s almost impossible to measure the impact Ed Warner and Jackie Erickson have had at Colorado State University – which is what makes them the perfect couple to honor with the William E. Morgan Alumni Achievement Award.
Warner, a noted conservationist, businessman, and philanthropist, is best known on campus for his generous gift in 2005 to establish the Warner College of Natural Resources, CSU’s first named college.
As a career geologist, Warner made his professional mark in the late 1990s, when he devised a way to extract previously untapped natural gas resources from the Jonah and Pinedale fields in Wyoming. Together, they form the third largest natural gas deposit in the country, containing 50 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
Warner left the natural gas industry in 2000 to become a full-time philanthropist. After establishing two endowed chairs in his beloved Department of Geology at CSU, he made history with his generosity. His $30 million gift not only was the largest in CSU’s first 135 years, it was the catalyst to launch the University’s first comprehensive campaign, which raised more than $500 million.
Warner returned to the business scene in 2009 as a principal and chairman of the Board for SWIIM System, Ltd., an ag-tech company that manages water balance on farms.
“Dame Jackie,” as the CSU Marching Band knows her, fell in love with the Marching Band during the first CSU football game she attended. She later established the Dame Jackie Marching Band Scholarship, designed to encourage students to remain band members throughout their college careers.
Erickson’s love of bands extends to her youth, when she played the glockenspiel in the high school marching band. She is a painter, a reader, and a delightful storyteller. She soaks up the culture and the people she encounters in her and Warner’s world travels, and she weaves that into her creative life.
Warner and Erickson live in the Denver area and are frequent campus visitors.
CHARLES A. LORY PUBLIC SERVICE AWARD
Polly Baca (B.A., political science, ’62)
Polly Baca was born on a Colorado farm in the most ordinary of circumstances. Since then, however, her life can only be described as extraordinary.
Baca became interested in politics at Colorado State University, changing her major from physics to political science. That decision led to career of more than 50 years in politics at the local, state, and national levels, including work with several U.S. presidents.
She might be best known in Colorado as the first Hispanic woman (and first minority woman) elected to the State Senate, where she served from 1978-1986. She was also the first Hispanic woman in the nation to serve in both houses of her state legislature, and she was the first Hispanic woman in the U.S. nominated by a major political party for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Baca’s political career, though, was not limited to her home state. She was the first Latina to co-chair two national Democratic National Conventions, and she served as vice chair of the Democratic National Committee from 1981-1989. She has attended every Democratic National Convention since 1964.
In 1994, she was named special assistant to President Bill Clinton and director of the Office of Consumer Affairs. She then returned to Colorado and served as regional administrator for the General Services Administration Rocky Mountain Region, supervising a six-state region that supported 48,000 government employees for 43 federal agencies.
Baca has received countless state, regional, and national awards for her community service, and is a frequent contributor to national television and radio broadcasts. She is a member of the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame and was one of the 14 original members of the National Hispanic Hall of Fame.
She remains politically active locally and nationally, and is president and CEO of Baca Barragan Consultants.
JIM AND NADINE HENRY AWARD
Ann Gill (M.A., speech and theater arts, ’76)
Ann Gill is one of those once-in-a-lifetime people. Her impact, crafted over more than 40 years as a student, teacher, mentor and dean at Colorado State University, will be evident for generations to come.
Gill, the longtime and beloved dean of the College of Liberal Arts, retired in 2016. Her work as a professor of communication studies and as dean can be seen in the faces of alumni, the scholarships that bear her name, and in some of the buildings that house the students she loved.
A strong supporter of the University Center for the Arts, she helped make the Gregory Allicar Museum of Art become a reality. She also oversaw the remodeling of Eddy Hall and watched the Department of Communication Studies flourish in its new home in the Behavioral Sciences Building.
She was respected by faculty and staff and was fully dedicated to making liberal arts a primary part of a CSU education. But it was her relationship with students that warmed her heart and changed the lives of many.
One former student said, “For those who have the privilege and the honor to get to know Ann, she was more than just a college professor or dean. She was someone who became not only your friend, but someone who you would cherish and consider part of your family.”
She was particularly successful mentoring student-athletes, many of whom came from disadvantaged backgrounds and were the first in their family to attend college. She wanted to know about them as people before she learned of their athletic feats – an approach that endeared her to hundreds of them.
True to form, Gill did not really retire – you can still find her most every day, volunteering her time bringing alumni and CSU stories to life for the CSU Alumni Association.
See full bios on these winners at alumni.colostate.edu:
GRADUATE OF THE LAST DECADE AWARD
Eric Berlinberg (B.S., business administration, ’12)
DISTINGUISHED ATHLETIC AWARD
Retired Army Col. Bill (B.S., physical education, ’58) and Jan Woods
COLLEGE OF AGRICULTURAL SCIENCES
Karl Hoppess (B.S., soil science, ’60)
COLLEGE OF BUSINESS
Mary Catherine Morris (B.S., finance-real estate, ’80)
COLLEGE OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SCIENCES
Marie Macy (B.S., child development, ’55)
COLLEGE OF LIBERAL ARTS
Jim Vidakovich (B.A., speech arts, ’69)
COLLEGE OF NATURAL SCIENCES
John H. Cochran, M.D. (B.S., biological science, ’68)
COLLEGE OF VETERINARY MEDICINE AND BIOMEDICAL SCIENCES
Nicholas Booth, Ph.D., D.V.M. (M.S., physiology and biophysics, ’51)
WALTER SCOTT, JR. COLLEGE OF ENGINEERING
Donald Law (B.S., civil engineering, ’75)
WARNER COLLEGE OF NATURAL RESOURCES
Scott Fifer (B.S., watershed sciences, ’73)