Four Hamline alumni and a former Hamline faculty member were recognized this October as exemplifying the outstanding leadership, service, and achievement that distinguishes Hamline University alumni by the College of Liberal Arts Alumni Association.
The Outstanding Achievement Award was presented to John Downing ’73 in recognition of his extraordinary work sustaining and improving the health of water worldwide. John is currently a Regent’s Excellence Professor of Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology At Iowa State University, where he chairs the Environmental Science Graduate Program. His more than 150 publications cover limnology, oceanography, ecology, climate change, and ecosystem restoration; his awards include the Thieneman–Naumann Medal from the International Society of Limnology, the Ruth Patrick Award from the Association for the Science of Limnology and Oceanography, and the Gardner Prize from the Agriculture and Applied Economics Association.
The Distinguished Service Award was presented to Scott Koch ’58 for his dedication and service to Hamline. Scott has served as a Hamline University class agent for seventeen years and as a member of Hamline’s Alumni Annual Fund Board of Directors for nine years. He and his brother Keith Koch ’64 established an endowed scholarship in honor of their parents, Lyle ’26 and Elsie Koch ’28, and Scott is a loyal donor to the fund. Scott has been a member of his fifty- and fifty-five-year class reunion committees.
Michael Pesko ’07 was recognized with the First Decade Award for his extraordinary work within ten years of graduating from Hamline. Michael is assistant professor at Cornell University’s Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City. Mike received a PhD in economics from the University of Illinois–Chicago in 2012. Prior to his current role at Cornell, he conducted empirical tobacco control research for the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Arkansas attorney general’s office. In his young career, Mike has published eight peer-reviewed journal articles and has been named principal investigator of three grants studying the economics of e-cigarettes. He presents his research nationally and internationally. He recently published a paper showing that one million former smokers relapsed into smoking following the 9/11 terrorist attacks; this study received media coverage in U.S.News & World Report, The Atlantic, CBS–New York, Fox News, and the Daily Mail, among other outlets. Mike was recently named to Forbes’ "30 Under 30" list in science and healthcare for his tobacco control research.
The Outstanding Faculty Award was presented to former Hamline professor and dean F. Garvin Davenport
in recognition of his exemplary teaching and writing, as well as his continued support of the university since his retirement. Garvin arrived at Hamline University in 1966, teaching many courses including “Writing for the Sciences and Social Sciences” and seminars on Herman Melville, Emily Dickenson, and William Faulkner. Garvin created the Hamline Writing Program, serving as its first director. He helped to design and implement the College of Liberal Arts’ core curriculum and taught a popular first-year seminar, “The Mighty Mississippi,” focused on important issues affecting the river. In 1986, Garvin received the Burton and Ruth Grimes Outstanding Teaching Award. In 2000, he was selected as dean of the College of Liberal Arts. In 2004, he was named as academic vice president and dean, serving as the transitional academic vice president between the terms of Hamline University presidents of Larry Osnes and Linda Hanson. His publications include the book The Myth of Southern History, as well as articles, essays, short stories, and poems. He is an honorary member of Hamline’s Phi Beta Kappa chapter. Upon retirement from Hamline, he was granted professor emeritus rank and received special recognition from the president and the board of trustees for forty years of extraordinary service to Hamline University.
Gordon Erspamer ’75 was recognized with the Making the World a Better Place Award for his service to society in his profession. Gordy has made it his life’s passion to make the world a better place for U.S. military veterans and their families. Gordy graduated summa cum laude from Hamline University in 1975 and from law school at the University of Michigan in 1978. Shortly after graduating from law school, Gordy’s life took a significant turn. After his father, a veteran, died, his widow Jean submitted a claim for death benefits to the VA and the claim was denied. Gordy saw an injustice to his family and other veterans. He took on the fight that his father could not. He dove into learning about the experiences of veterans and the legal barriers they face. In 1982, he joined the law firm of Morrison & Foerster in San Francisco. With the support of the law firm, Gordy embarked on thirty years of pro bono legal work on behalf of veterans. In addition to his pro bono work, Gordy has represented individual cases of veterans denied benefits and has been a source of advice to veterans, attorneys, and organizations working on behalf of veterans. Gordy’s work is legendary: he has received numerous awards in recognition of his tireless efforts. Most recently, he was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the American Lawyer in 2011.
The College of Liberal Arts Alumni Association makes its call for nominations in the spring of each year. Watch Piper Posts for the next call for nominations in spring 2015.