University of Idaho to Honor Six Distinguished Citizens at 2012 Spring Commencement

Thursday, April 26 2012

MOSCOW, Idaho – The University of Idaho will recognize the achievements, service and leadership of six distinguished citizens at its 2012 commencement ceremony Saturday, May 12 at 9:30 a.m. in the ASUI Kibbie-Activity Center.

Honorary Degrees

An honorary degree is awarded to a person deserving of honor by virtue of scholarly distinction, noteworthy public service or significant contributions to the state of Idaho. In the selection of candidates for honorary degrees, preference is given to those who are Idaho residents or University of Idaho graduates. Recipients are:

Gen. James F. Amos, who will deliver the commencement address, will receive an honorary degree at the ceremony. On Oct. 22, 2010 General James F. Amos assumed the duties of Commandant of the Marine Corps. A graduate of the University of Idaho, Amos has held command at all levels from lieutenant colonel to lieutenant general.

Amos’ command tours have included: Marine Wing Support Squadron 173 from 1985-86; Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 312 – attached to Carrier Air Wing 8 onboard USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) – from 1991-93; Marine Aircraft Group 31 from 1996-98; 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing in combat during Operations Iraqi Freedom I and II from 2002-04; II Marine Expeditionary Force from 2004-06; and Commanding General, Marine Corps Combat Development Command and Deputy Commandant, Combat Development and Integration from 2006 to 2008. Additional operational tours have included Marine Fighter Attack Squadrons 212, 235, 232 and 122.

Amos’ staff assignments include tours with Marine Aircraft Groups 15 and 31, the III Marine Amphibious Force, Training Squadron Seven, The Basic School, and with the MAGTF Staff Training Program. Additionally, he was assigned to NATO as deputy commander, Naval Striking Forces, Southern Europe, Naples, Italy where he commanded NATO’s Kosovo Verification Center, and later served as chief of staff, U.S. Joint Task Force Noble Anvil during the air campaign over Serbia. Transferred in 2000 to the Pentagon, he was assigned as assistant deputy commandant for aviation. Reassigned in December 2001, Amos served as the assistant deputy commandant for plans, policies and operations, Headquarters, Marine Corps. From 2008-10 Amos served as the 31st assistant commandant of the Marine Corps.

David L. Nicandri was director of the Washington State Historical Society from July 1987 to Oct. 8, 2011. A graduate of State University of New York (SUNY) at Plattsburgh, and the holder of a master’s degree in history from the University of Idaho, Nicandri formerly served as the chief curator of the Washington State Capital Museum.

Nicandri also was elected three times to the Tumwater, Wash. city council, and was adjunct faculty at The Evergreen State College. He has served as a consulting historian in a number of capacities, including three terms as a speaker in the “Inquiring Mind” program at Humanities Washington.

Nicandri is the author of numerous books and articles, including: “Olympia’s Forgotten Pioneers: The Oblates of Mary Immaculate” (1972); “Italians in Washington State: Emigration, 1853-1924” (1978); “Northwest Chiefs: Gustav Sohon’s Views of the 1855 Stevens Treaty Councils” (1986); and a contributing editor of “Washington: Images of State’s Heritage” (1988), the official centennial illustrated history of Washington; and most recently, “River of Promise: Lewis and Clark on the Columbia” (2010) published by the Dakota Institute and distributed nationally by Oklahoma University Press. He has published many book reviews including those that can be found in Western Historical Quarterly, Montana: The Magazine of Western History, Overland Journal, and the Oregon Historical Quarterly. He is also the executive editor of COLUMBIA Magazine, the journal of the Washington State Historical Society.

In May 2001, Nicandri received an honorary doctorate from Gonzaga University in recognition of the Washington State Historical Society’s expansion and proficiency during his tenure. The University of Puget Sound granted Nicandri an honorary doctorate in May 2007, and his alma mater, SUNY Plattsburgh, has named him a distinguished visiting alumnus.

Currently, Nicandri is researching for a book on the "Tacoma Renaissance," countenancing the intersection of the Boldt Decision, the Puyallup Land Claim settlement, and the revitalization of downtown Tacoma.

Horace Axtell is known as “Uncle” to virtually everyone on the Nez Perce Reservation, Nez Perce elder Axtell served in the U.S. Army’s 529th Engineers during World War II. While serving overseas, Horace kept up his language skills by pretending to have conversations with his grandmother in her native Nez Perce language. After the war, Axtell worked at the Potlatch Mill and married his wife, Andrea. A group of Nez Perce elders heard him speaking his language and invited him to learn the old Nez Perce religion.

Axtell spent time with other Plateau tribes while he learned how to conduct the various ceremonies, funerals and blessings in the Seven Drum Religion. He also learned how to conduct pipe ceremonies. He already knew the old songs, learned from church and from his grandmother.

He has taught Nez Perce language at Lewis-Clark State College and has an honorary doctorate from LCSC. Since 1978, he has conducted several hundred memorials at various sites linked to the Nez Perce War. His story has been told in a book co-written with Margo Aragon, “A Little Bit of Wisdom,” and in a documentary film, “Nee-mee-poo: The Power of Our Dance.”

Axtell has given much of his time as a cultural interpreter and tribal historian to scholars, documentary filmmakers, and others interested in Nez Perce traditions.

Hall of Fame
The University of Idaho Alumni Association Hall of Fame was created in 1962. It recognizes individuals who have achieved national or international distinction through their accomplishments and leadership. The two individuals being inducted into the Hall of Fame are:

Linda Shreve Davidson ’75 is associate vice president for Development and Alumni Affairs and chief development officer/West Coast at the University of Tennessee. In this role, Davidson reports to the president of the UT Foundation and she represents all UT campuses to the 12,000 alumni in the seven western states.

Davidson previously served from 1998 to 2011 as vice chancellor for Development and Alumni Affairs. During that time, the UT System surpassed a $1 billion Campaign for Tennessee goal with a total of $1.3 billion. Davidson led a 60-member alumni and development team that raised more than $830 million of that goal. In addition, the alumni team established an alumni board of directors, an alumni awards program and initiated a series of new programming with the goal of creating lifetime relationships between the 220,000 UT Knoxville alumni and their university.

In 1980, Davidson was hired as the first college based fundraiser at The University of Tennessee with responsibility for the College of Liberal Arts. For a seven year period in the 1990s, Davidson returned to her undergraduate alma mater, the University of Idaho, to serve as executive director of the University of Idaho Foundation. It was during this period that she became active nationally in the arena of institutionally related foundations, and she ultimately served as chair of the Society of Institutionally Related Foundations.

Other national activities include serving on the judging panel for the CASE Awards for Excellence and as a member of the Board of Directors of the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities (formerly NASULGC). Locally, Davidson has served on the boards of directors of the Downtown Rotary Club, Florence Crittenden, Tanasi Girl Scout Council as well as president of the Executive Women’s Association and as an elder of Westminster Presbyterian Church. In 2010, she was named a Woman of Achievement by the Southern Appalachian Girl Scout Council.

Davidson’s husband, Mike Davidson ’73 is professor and head of the Department of Food Science and Technology at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. They have two grown daughters, Laurel and Holly.

Wayne C. Solomon earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry at the University of Idaho in 1955. His expansive career in aerospace started in the 1960s with propulsion research at the Air Force Rocket Propulsion Laboratory at Edwards Air Force Base in California. He subsequently served as a visiting professor at Germany’s University of Goettingen for two years.

After a stint in the U.S. Air Force, he joined Bell Aerospace Textron as director of high-energy laser systems and later, Director for Advanced Systems. He moved to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he now is a professor emeritus, to head the Aerospace Engineering Department in 1988.

During his tenure, Illinois’ aerospace engineering department gained national prominence for research on aerodynamics, lasers, structures and space systems. Solomon also oversaw a graduate education program for McDonnell Douglas, now Boeing, in St. Louis.

Additionally, he organized and received NASA support for the Illinois Space Consortium and served as its director from 1991 until 2002. This NASA-sponsored research and education program reaches students from elementary to Ph.D. levels within institutions across the state of Illinois.

He is best known for his innovative research efforts in the areas of propulsion and of high-energy lasers. In the ‘70s and ‘80s, he and a team of scientists conducted major research and design programs for chemical lasers and laser radar devices.

Honorary Alumni
The recognition of University of Idaho honorary alumni is a reward bestowed by the University of Idaho Alumni Association from the national Board of Directors and the Awards and Recognition Committee. It is presented to a very limited number of persons who have served the University of Idaho, and the university’s alumni with great distinction while providing faithful and distinguished service to the University of Idaho. One person will receive the distinction this year: Bonnie Amos.

Bonnie Amos, First Lady of the Marine Corps and wife of U.S. Marine Corps Commandant James Amos, has served as honorary co-chair of the University of Idaho’s Operation Education Scholarship Program since 2010.

Operation Education is designed to help permanently disabled veterans and/or their spouses who seek to attain a degree at the University of Idaho. Veterans must have a service-connected injury caused or aggravated by military service after Sept. 11, 2001, and as a result of that injury, have a physical disability that severely impacts function of one or more major life activities.

Amos has a strong connection to the University of Idaho through her husband, James F. Amos, who is a University of Idaho alumnus. She is dedicated to providing help for wounded military personnel. She was instrumental in the creation of the first Run for the Warriors to Lejeune, an event dedicated to the men and women who have received a service related injury after Sept. 11, 2001.

Together with University of Idaho First Lady Ruthie Nellis, Amos has joined together to advocate and promote Operation Education. She has also advised the Operation Education committee about programming, marketing and fundraising for the past three years.

The event is free and open to the public. Seating is available first-come, first serve; no tickets are required. Family, friends and faculty are invited to individual college celebrations that will take place at various locations immediately following the ceremony. Additional commencement information, including parking, lodging and maps are available at
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About the University of Idaho
The University of Idaho helps students to succeed and become leaders. Its land-grant mission furthers innovative scholarly and creative research to grow Idaho's economy and serve a statewide community. From its main campus in Moscow, Idaho, to 70 research and academic locations statewide, U-Idaho emphasizes real-world application as part of its student experience. U-Idaho combines the strength of a large university with the intimacy of small learning communities. It is home to the Vandals, and competes in the Western Athletic Conference. Learn more: