Distinguished Alumnus Award

The Distinguished Alumnus Award is AASCU’s highest honor, celebrating outstanding graduates of AASCU institutions who have made a significant contribution to the public, intellectual, or cultural life of the nation.

Learn more.
2023 DAA recipient Claire Babineaux-Fontenot With President Joseph Savoie of University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Photo by Rhonda Nunn.
2023 DAA recipient Claire Babineaux-Fontenot With President Joseph Savoie of University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Photo by Rhonda Nunn.
2023 Award winner

“My journey is emblematic of what is possible when someone has dreams that are deeply invested in by other people. The investments made in me at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette provided a strong foundation that I have carried with me throughout my career, without which I do not believe I would have the privilege to serve as CEO of Feeding America. I am sincerely grateful.”

2023 Recipient Claire Babineaux-Fontenot

Chief Executive Officer
Feeding America
About the award

To be eligible for the award, the nominee must have graduated from an AASCU member institution and be nominated by a president or chancellor. Presidents and chancellors may nominate graduates from any AASCU member institution, not only graduates of their institution. Honorary degree recipients and graduates of nonmember institutions that belong to an AASCU system member are not eligible. Elected state and federal officials currently holding office are also ineligible. 

The nominee’s life and accomplishments should exemplify the leadership and distinguished service exhibited by former award recipients. For example, past recipients have contributed to breakthrough medical research, led a newspaper to win three Pulitzer Prizes, and helped transform the telecommunications industry.  

AASCU member presidents and chancellors are encouraged to nominate candidates by Feb. 9, 2024.

Paul LeBlanc, President, Southern New Hampshire University
Bachelor of Arts in English, 1980, Framingham State University (MA)

Richard R. Arnold II, Educator and NASA Astronaut
Bachelor of Science, 1985, Frostburg State University (MD)

Al Roker, Weather and Feature Anchor of NBC News’ TODAY, Co-Host of Third Hour of TODAY
Bachelor of Arts in Communications, 1976, State University of New York at Oswego

Brenda J. Hollis, Lawyer
Bachelor of Arts in Political Science
1968, Bowling Green State University (OH)

Judith Baca, Artist, Educator, Scholar/Activist and Community Arts Pioneer
Bachelor of Arts Degree in Art, 1969 and Master of Arts Degree in Art Education, 1980, California State University, Northridge

Dr. Doris Taylor, Director of Regenerative Medicine Research at the Texas Heart Institute
Bachelor of Science, 1997 graduate of Mississippi University for Women

Kathy Best, Editor, The Seattle Times, Masters of Arts in Public Affairs Reporting
1990 graduate of University of Illinois at Springfield

Dr. Michael Marletta, President and CEO of The Scripps Research Institute
1973 graduate of State University of New York at Fredonia

Ivan Seidenberg, Former Chairman and CEO of Verizon Communications, Inc.
1972 graduate of Lehman College – City University of New York

Julius Chambers, Noted Civil Rights Attorney and Educator
1958 graduate of North Carolina Central University

Robin Roberts
, Good Morning America Co-Anchor
1983 graduate of Southeastern Louisiana University

General Ann E. Dunwoody
, Commanding General, U.S. Army Materiel Command
1975 graduate of State University of New York College at Cortland

Hala Moddelmog, President and CEO, Susan G. Komen for the Cure
1979 graduate of Georgia Southern University

Tom Brokaw, Journalist and author
University of South Dakota

Nancy Aossey, President & Chief Executive Officer, International Medical Corps (IMC)
The University of Northern Iowa

Julius H. Jacobson, II, Dr. Emeritus of Vascular Surgery and Distinguished Service Professor of Surgery at Mt. Sinai Medical in New York City
The Unversity of Toledo, Ohio

General Tommy Franks, Ret. Commander-in-Chief, United States Central Command
The University of Texas at Arlington

Marvin Hamlisch, Composer and conductor
Queens College, City College of New York

Amy Tan, Author
San José State University, California

The Honorable Tom Daschle, Minority Leader of the U.S. Senate (D-SD)
South Dakota State University

Robert A. Ingram, Chief Executive, Glaxo Wellcome, plc
Eastern Illinois University

General Henry H. Shelton, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Auburn University at Montgomery

The Honorable Griffin B. Bell, former United States Attorney General
Georgia Southwestern State University

Antonia Coello Novello, Visiting Professor of Health Policy and Management, Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health and Special Director for Community Health Policy, former Surgeon General of U.S. Public Health Service
University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus

Gertrude Belle Elion, Biochemist and Recipient of the Nobel Prize in Medicine
City University of New York, Hunter College

Leon M. Lederman, Director Emeritus, Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory and Pritzker Professor of Science, Illinois Institute of Technology
City University of New York, City College

Sook He Kim, Minister of Education, Republic of Korea
Texas Woman’s University (recipient of the International Distinguished Alumnus Award)

R.C. Gorman, Artist and Sculptor
Northern Arizona University

Dan Rather, Journalist and CBS News Anchor
Sam Houston State University, Texas

General Colin L. Powell, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
City College of the City University of New York

Eudora Welty, Pulitzer Prize Winning Author
Mississippi University for Women

Mary Lowe Good, Chair, National Science Board, and Senior Vice President, Technology, Allied Signal, Inc.
University of Central Arkansas

Douglas J. Heir, world champion wheelchair athlete, legal advocate for senior citizens and persons with disabilities and chairman and chief executive officer, Access, Inc.
Ramapo College of New Jersey

Katherine Davalos Ortega, Treasurer of the United States
Eastern New Mexico University

Eva Marie Saint, Academy Award-Winning Actress
Bowling Green State University, Ohio

James M. Buchanan, Professor, Center for the Study of Public Choice, George Mason University and recipient of Alfred Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences
Middle State University, Tennessee and George Mason University, Virginia

Jaime A. Escalante, Teacher
California State University, Los Angeles

Shirley Chisholm, Former Congresswoman
City University of New York, Brooklyn College

Burl Ives, Singer, Actor, Entertainer
Eastern Illinois University

Rosalynn Carter, mental health advocate, author and former First Lady
Georgia Southwestern College

Claude E. ZoBell, Professor of Marine Microbiology Emeritus, Scripps Institution of Oceanography
Idaho State University

James M. Bowen, Professor of Virology and Vice President for Academic Affairs, The University of Texas System Cancer Center
Midwestern State University, Texas

The Honorable Edith Green, Educator and Former Congresswoman from Oregon
Western Oregon State College

Jim Davis, Cartoonist
Ball State University, Indiana

The Honorable Robert Dole, U.S. Senator from Kansas
Washburn University of Topeka, Kansas

Val Fitch, James H. McDonnel Distinguished Professor of Physics, Princeton University, 1980 Nobel Prize Winner
Chadron State College, Nebraska

Barbara Jordan, Lyndon B. Johnson Public Service Professor, University of Texas, Former Congresswoman from Texas
Texas Southern University

Paul Woodring, Distinguished Service Professor, Western Washington University, and Former Editor, Education Supplement, Saturday Review
Bowling Green State University, Ohio

John F. O’Connell, Former Chairman, California State University Board of Trustees, and Former President, Bechtel, Inc.
California State University, Chico

Merze Tate, International Scholar, Historian, and Former University Professor
Western Michigan University

Donald F. McHenry, Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations
Illinois State University

Wilson Riles, Former Superintendent of Public Instruction, State of California
Northern Arizona University

Ruth Chickering Clusen, Former President of the League of Women Voters and Assistant Secretary for Environment, U.S. Department of Energy
University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire

Marvin L. Stone, Former Editor, U.S. News & World Report
Marshall University, West Virginia

The Honorable Val Peterson, Former Governor of Nebraska and Former Ambassador to Denmark and Finland
Wayne State College, Nebraska

The Honorable Philip Sanchez, Former U.S. Ambassador to the Honduras
California State University, Fresno

James A. Michener, Author and Pulitzer Prize Winner
University of Northern Colorado

Leslie H. Warner, Former Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer, General Telephone and Electronics Corporation
Wichita State University, Kansas

Julian Goodman, Former President, National Broadcasting Company
Western Kentucky University

President Lyndon B. Johnson
Southwest Texas State University

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