Hall of Fame
This award was created in 1962 and recognizes alumni who have achieved national or international distinction by their accomplishments and leadership. Consideration will be given for: distinction in career accomplishments; leadership within career organizations; voluntary leadership efforts in charitable causes; leadership efforts which have improved the cultural, social, political or economic well-being of society; prior recognition and honors; and artistic, innovative or technical accomplishments.
Nominations for this award are due to the Office of Alumni Relations by Aug. 1 each year. For more information, contact the office at 208-885-6154 or email@example.com.
2022 Award Recipient
Past Award Recipients
Brian K. Hill ’65
2021 Hall of Fame Recipient
Richard F. Swindell ‘72
2020 Hall of Fame Recipient
Michael Donaldson ‘76
2019 Hall of Fame Recipient
College of Science graduate Michael Donaldson retired in 2014 as president and CEO of Valent U.S.A. Corporation, Valent BioSciences Corporation and Pace International, and executive officer for Sumitomo Corporation. Donaldson’s career has focused on both biorational products (a range of low environmental impact substances or productions biologically derived) and conventional chemicals for agriculture, forestry and public health. His pioneering work in the area of biorational products spanned more than 35 years and included research and development, as well as business management positions with Sandoz Crop Protection, Abbott Laboratories and Sumitomo. In these roles, he led efforts to integrate biorational products as partners with conventional chemistries for pest management and the enhancement of crop quality and yield. During his last 14 years with Sumitomo, Donaldson’s leadership significantly increased the global footprint of the Sumitomo biorational portfolio, culminating in the construction of the first world-class, dedicated manufacturing facility for biorational products located in Osage, Iowa.
Donaldson held various technical and business leadership positions in a major pharmaceutical company, as well as a global agricultural chemical company. He served on boards of the Biopesticide Industry Alliance Organization, Illinois Biotechnology Industry Association and MeisterPro Publications (Meister Media Worldwide).
Donaldson and his wife, Debbie, continue their involvement with the university in many ways. Currently they are working with the College of Business and Economics, the College of Science and others to help provide business training to enhance the skillset of students enrolled in technical degree programs.
For his leadership and contributions to the fields of agriculture and biotechnology, the University of Idaho Alumni Association proudly inducts Michael Donaldson into the Alumni Hall of Fame.
Richard Ormsby '56
2019 Hall of Fame Recipient
Richard Ormsby grew up in Coeur d’Alene, graduated from Coeur d’Alene High School and then transferred to the University of Idaho from North Idaho Junior College in 1952. He earned his electrical engineering degree from U of I in 1956, and that same year, married Marie Ingebritsen. The couple raised four children.
Upon graduation from U of I, Ormsby was immediately hired by the Western Electric Co. His first years there were spent in Boston studying computers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and writing test specifications for the SAGE radar subsystem – the first automated air defense program in the world. During the next few years, he continued working with additional SAGE programs and was promoted to Engineer. He was transferred to New York where he attended the Western Electric Co. Graduate engineering school.
In January 1962, Ormsby joined the then-fledgling National Aeronautics and Space Administration. His 30-plus career at NASA spanned some of the most exciting years in space science and exploration.
He initially was hired to provide technical management for the design, implementation and verification of the group system for the Nimbus Spacecraft program, an experimental weather satellite that provided the first weather information for the entire planet and made it possible to accurately map Earth. That project also provided the first global positioning hardware and capability.
Ormsby later served as one of the mission operations managers for NASA’s Solar Maximum Mission, which provided the first observation of the origin of solar flares. His final project at NASA was one of the largest undertakings in the organization’s history – the Hubble Space Telescope, which provided views 10 times better than any ground-based telescopes.
He retired in January 1992.
For leadership and contributions to pioneering space exploration, the University of Idaho Alumni Association proudly inducts Richard Ormsby into the Alumni Hall of Fame.
Bruce Pitman ’75, ‘89
2019 Hall of Fame Recipient
Indiana native Bruce Pitman moved to Idaho in 1973 with his wife, Kathy, and the couple have made the town of Moscow their home for more than 45 years. Pitman earned a Masters’ of Education in 1975 and doctorate in Higher Education Administration in 1989. Their three children followed their father’s example and all graduated from U of I.
An accomplished student affairs professional, Pitman retired as the Vice Provost of Student Affairs/Dean of Students in 2015 after serving the institution for 42 years and helping to shape the Vandal student experience. He began his career in 1973 as Greek and Advisor and became Dean of Students in 1981. Pitman served as a cabinet member for three U of I presidents and two interim presidents. He is known for his thoughtful demeanor and commitment to a safe and transformative community.
During his time at U of I, he faced complex campus challenges that included many types of student crises, but also celebrated the academic success, volunteerism, involvement and philanthropic achievements of thousands of undergraduates.
He has improved the university community through his caring and compassionate leadership serving on countless task forces, councils, boards and work groups such as Staff Affairs, Faculty Council, the Idaho State Board of Education Alcohol Task Force and the U of I Retirees Association. Nationally he served on the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators, Northwest College Student Personnel Association and Phi Gamma Delta Fraternity National Board of Directors.
Pitman volunteers and serves as the president of Family Promise of the Palouse Board of Directors, addressing the needs of families and individuals who lack sufficient housing, food and other needs. As a member of the Moscow Human rights Commission, he works to eliminate discrimination, improve human relations and effectuate the spirit and intent of applicable human rights legislation.
His deep-rooted passion for the university, love of the community and genuine compassion toward others has led to his natural role as mentor to countless students, staff and colleagues. He has received the Outstanding Employee Award, Staff Service Award, National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA), Northwest College Personnel Association awards and Rosa Parks Human Rights Community Award. In 2015, the then-Student Union Building was renamed the Bruce M. Pitman Center in honor of the man who, for many, represents the heart of the student experience.
For leadership and contributions to student life and success, the University of Idaho Alumni Association proudly inducts Bruce M. Pitman into the Alumni Hall of Fame.
James Russell ‘56
2019 Hall of Fame Recipient
James (Jim) Russell was born in Sandpoint, Idaho in 1933 and grew up in North Idaho as one of six children of Alex and Mae Russell.
In 1952, he enrolled at the University of Idaho was actively involved in student organizations, ROTC and his living group. Upon graduation he received an Army commission and accepted an engineering job at Research Analysis Corporation (RCA) in Lancaster, Penn., where he worked for one year and obtained a patent for the company in power tube design and manufacturing.
Russell married Virginia (Ginny) Kelley in Sandpoint before moving east in 1956. The couple raised two children, James and Debra.
He served as a U.S. Army officer at the Redstone Arsenal Guided Missile School in Huntsville, Alabama, where he established the first military course in transistors and directed 75 instructors on missile guidance and propulsion courses for U.S. and foreign military personnel.
From there, Russell accepted a position at Johns Hopkins University's Operations Research Office, which later transitioned to Research Analysis Corporation, developing skills in operations research methods and improving security and efficiency. He published over a dozen reports on military communications and presented briefings throughout the Pentagon up to the Deputy Secretary of Defense.
Russell spent the bulk of his career as senior vice president of Science Applications International Corporation, helping grow a startup of 90 people into an employee-owned science and technology company with 42,000 employees and over $6 billion in annual revenue.
Russell has since worked as an independent consultant, corporate board member, senior advisor and private investor in helping over 100 technology companies develop and grow.
In recognition of his accomplishments and many technical contributions to the College of Engineering, Russell was inducted into U of I’s Academy of Engineers in 2012. Inspired by Janssen, Russell “paid it forward” by giving to the Engineering Student Success Center and the Grand Challenge Scholars Program. He is a Loyal Donor to U of I with 29 years of generous support. During his career, Russell has served as a director on corporate boards, senior corporate advisor, information technology consultant for universities, private investor and a member of several professional and military technology committees. His private foundation provides charitable support to U of I and non-profit organizations fostering science and technology initiatives in the U.S. He has enjoyed a lifetime in sports as a player, coach and commissioner and his ongoing favorites are tennis, golf and fishing (especially in Idaho).
The Russells currently live in Rockville, Maryland and have a vacation home on the Pend Oreille River near Sandpoint where they enjoy gathering with family and friends.
For his leadership and many contributions to advanced technology applications, the University of Idaho Alumni Association proudly inducts James Russell into the Alumni Hall of Fame.
Roger Contor '53
2017 Hall of Fame Recipient
Roger J. Contor served in the U.S. army during the Korean War before graduating from U of I in 1953 with a degree in zoology from the College of Science. For 30 years, he worked for the National Park Service (NPS), as a park ranger, superintendent and then director of the Alaska Region.
A major career accomplishment for Contor came in 1972 when he served as the Secretary General of the Second World Conference on National Parks held in Yellowstone. 600 delegates from 88 nations attended and saw to the establishment of the World Heritage System.
In addition to serving in the United States park system, in 1968 Contor served as an advisor to the State of New South Wales, Australia, as it established is own national parks and reserve programs.
Contor dedicated his career to wilderness preservation, wildlife and the outdoors. After retiring in 1985, he served as a member of the Washington Fish and Wildlife commission as well as the Committee on Improving Science and Technology in the NPS. He currently lives in Port Townsend, Washington, with his wife, Susan.
John Norbury '83
2017 Hall of Fame Recipient
John Norbury ’83, applied to attend the University of Idaho because he was looking for a new adventure and the opportunity to work with the interim chair for the College of Science, Phil Deutchman. Norbury, who has his master’s and bachelor’s degree in nuclear physics from the University of Melbourne in Australia, was asked by Deutchman to join him in his study of nuclear theory.
“He helped develop the theory and write the computer programs and do the calculations and make predictions before there was any data to compare it to,” said Deutchman, who retired in 2002 after 34 years at UI. “He was excited about every aspect of it. We wrote a paper together after he finished his thesis and we got that published!”
Norbury was hired as a post-doctoral researcher at NASA Langley. He returned to Australia briefly before coming back to the U.S. to enter a career in academia. He was a visiting assistant professor of physics at UI from 1986-87. He joined visiting assistant professor of physics at UI from 1985-87 and joined the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse in 1992, moving to UW Milwaukee in 1997. Norbury had contracts with NASA throughout his time in academia and began working for NASA full time in 2007, after earning his U.S. citizenship.
On Aug 24, 2016, Norbury received NASA’s Exceptional Achievement Medal, one of the highest honors given by the organization.
Norbury is currently the lead research physicist and leader of the Space Radiation Group at NASA Langley Research Center in Virginia. His work centers on calculating the radiation astronauts and spacecraft are likely to experience in space.
Ford Elsaesser '77
2016 Hall of Fame Recipient
John Ford Elsaesser, Jr. received a Juris Doctor from the University of Idaho College of Law in 1977. Following graduation, Elsaesser co-founded the law firm now known as Elsaesser Jarzabek Anderson Elliott & Macdonald, in Sandpoint, Idaho.
Elsaesser has developed a nationally-recognized practice in bankruptcy law and has extensive experience in every aspect of insolvency, restructuring and bankruptcy issues. Ford's first major Chapter 11, filed in 1985, was the case of Riley Creek Lumber Co. This company was one of the very few lumber companies to successfully reorganize, and the company has now become Idaho Forest Group, one of the largest lumber producers in the Northwest.
Ford also served as the Receiver and Trustee operating the Schweitzer ski area for three years in the 1990’s; and in 1994, successfully argued a case before the United States Supreme Court, resulting in a 9-0 decision written by the late Justice Antonin Scalia.
Ford has served for many years as Chairman of the Board of Bonner General Health, which operates the largest community health facility in the region. He recently joined and helped found Food For Our Children, to deal with the problems of food insecurity for children in low-income households in Bonner County.
Elsaesser has been the bankruptcy professor at the U of I College of Law for over ten years. At the College of Law, he has coached the bankruptcy moot court team to a national championship in 2001; and in 2016, his team won the Award for Best Brief.
Ford was also recently recognized by the U of I College of Law faculty by receiving the Order of Legal Merit Award.
His daughter, Katie Elsaesser, a “double-Vandal” (undergraduate and law), has joined the law firm in Sandpoint
Marke Hedge '85
2016 Hall of Fame Recipient
Mark Hedge grew up in St. Anthony and graduated from the University of Idaho College of Engineering in 1985 with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. Following graduation, Hedge joined a growing civil firm in Las Vegas. After four years designing residential subdivisions, he took a position with a small firm doing casino and resort work.
Hedge co-founded Lochsa Engineering with fellow alumnus Jess Haldeman’84, ’86. Their timing was fortunate and in 10 years L o c h s a had approximately 170 employees in Vegas and Boise. They provided civil and structural design and consulting on resorts such as Mandalay Bay, Wynn, Encore, Palms, LINQ, City Center, Planet Hollywood, Hard Rock, and Silverton. Unique projects include spiral escalators at the Forum Shops, the Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay and the Grand Canyon Skywalk. They continue to participate in gaming and non-gaming properties in Nevada and throughout the country. Lochsa celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2015.
Jess passed away in 2007 after a long bout with cancer. Mark and his remaining partners (including Ted Egerton,’90) took the company reins and unknowingly lead the firm directly into the Great Recession. Eventually , a reformatted Lochsa Engineering emerged as times got a little better. Now they have approximately 70 staff members in Las Vegas, Boise and Denver.
Moving forward, Hedge anticipates Lochsa’s involvement in significant projects to continue. Lochsa’s current projects includes design on the new Las Vegas Arena, expansions at various resorts, and numerous education, warehouse and commercial projects.
Hedge served on the UI Foundation Board of Directors and is avid golfer who thinks his 40 slump will eventually end. He lives with his wife of 22 years, Carole, two cats and two dogs. They have a 27 year old daughter, Katie, who is a professional in sports marketing and administration.
Brian Oswald '92
2016 Hall of Fame Recipient
Brian Oswald graduated with a doctorate from the University of Idaho College of Natural Resources in 1992. After graduation, Oswald took a position as assistant professor of forestry at Alabama A&M University in Huntsville, Alabama.
Oswald currently holds the Joe C. Denman Distinguished Professorship in fire ecology, silviculture and range management at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas, joining the faculty there in 1995. His research on fire ecology in England and The Netherlands has gained him international recognition as an expert lecturer on fire ecology and resulted in books and courses in The Netherlands. He has authored over 70 articles, proceeding papers and book chapters.
Oswald’s contributions to silviculture and fire management of southern forests in the United States has led to a better understanding of these forests responses to fire and management activities. He works tirelessly to make his findings available to forest land managers in Texas and throughout the South.
Oswald’s dedication to students has gone beyond the call of duty, encouraging student potential and providing them with communication skills essential within and beyond the realms of academic life. His ability to simplify complex ideas and concepts has attracted admiration among students and peers.
Oswald has been recognized many times for his achievements in teaching and research. In 2004, U of I’s College of Natural Resources presented him the Mid-Career Alumni Achievement Award and in 2002 he was presented the Carl A. Schenck Award by the Society of American Foresters for outstanding forestry education.