Nine Idaho State University alumni representing seven colleges and schools will be honored with Professional Achievement Awards at ISU commencement exercises on May 12 in Holt Arena.
They are Roger Akers, Fair Oaks, Calif., College of Business; W. Jeffrey Allard, PhD, Harleysville, Penn., College of Arts and Sciences – Natural Sciences; Earl Boen, Honolulu, Hawaii, and Los Angeles, Calif., College of Arts and Sciences – Arts and Humanities; Janet C. Burdick, Twin Falls, College of Education; Ray Furstenau, Idaho Falls, College of Engineering; Thomas Harris, Eagle, College of Technology; Lisa K. Higbee, Pocatello, Kasiska College of Health Professions; Norman L. Jones, PhD, Logan, Utah, College of Arts and Sciences – Social Sciences; and Gary Tauscher, PhD, Hilton Head Island, S.C., College of Pharmacy.
Biographies of ISU Professional Achievement Award winners follow:
• College of Business – Roger Akers
Roger Akers is a managing partner of Akers Capital LLC, which invests in, mentors and helps build emerging technology companies. He has more than 20 years’ experience in technology-related environments, including national consulting firm SCT, regional IT consulting firm PRODATA, and Akers-Waterman & Company, which consulted to Intel, Cisco Systems and others. An ISU graduate with accounting and computer-science degrees in 1975 and an MBA in 1978, Akers is part owner of Idaho Independent Bank, serves on the boards of Golden State Capital Network, Emerging Technology Institute and University of California Connect, and sits on the University of California, Davis, Graduate School of Management advisory board.
• College of Arts & Sciences – Natural Sciences – W. Jeffrey Allard
W. Jeffrey Allard, PhD, is vice president and chief scientific officer for Fujirebio Diagnostics, Malvern, Pa. A biochemist and immunologist with more than 25 years’ experience, he holds eight patents for key diagnostic processes. The author of more than 100 scientific papers and abstracts, his numerous awards include two Bayer research and development awards for the U.S. introduction of carcinoembryonic and prostate-specific antigens. Allard holds a 1978 MS degree in immunology from ISU and a PhD in biochemistry from Dartmouth College. His expertise is considered invaluable in the effort to launch new biomarkers to detect and monitor specific cancers in their early stages.
• College of Arts & Sciences – Arts & Humanities – Earl Boen
Question: Aside from the current governor of California, what actor has appeared in all the Terminator motion pictures? Answer: ISU alum Earl Boen (pronounced Bowen), who played Dr. Peter Silberman and is a 2007 Professional Achievement Award winner. Boen, a 1963 graduate in speech, has a six-page résumé of movie and television credits that includes the critically acclaimed “Missiles of October” and box-office smash “9 to 5.” He also has an armload of repertory and theatrical credits. Sherri R. Dienstfrey, PhD, chair of ISU theatre and dance and Boen’s nominator, notes, “His résumé is extremely impressive and quite remarkable because less than 4 percent of all professional actors make their living by performing.”
<>• College of Education – Janet C. Burdick
<>Janet Burdick is director of special services for the Twin Falls School District, and as such, directs the district’s special-education programs. The holder of a 1980 ISU MS degree in human exceptionality, she is nearing the end of a distinguished career in which she served Idaho’s children with disabilities in almost every capacity, starting as a schoolroom teacher; consulting on the national, state, and local levels; and working in administration. But it is within the 45,000-member organization Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) that she has achieved her greatest recognition. Burdick was elected the CEC governor at large for the United States, then president-elect, and finally president.
• College of Engineering – Ray Furstenau
Ray Furstenau is the Department of Energy Idaho’s acting assistant manager for research and development at the Idaho National Laboratory. As such, he has been instrumental in planning new programs that will benefit the INL and research institutions across the country. He has provided leadership and guidance in researching effects of radiation on materials for more than 20 years. In 2003-05, he led the board responsible for the INL contract proposal that, among other things, merged the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory and Argonne-West into the INL more smoothly than anyone dared hope. Furstenau received an MS in Nuclear Science and Engineering from ISU in 1985.
• College of Technology – Thomas Harris
<>Thomas Harris is president of the Western States Equipment Co., a Caterpillar machinery dealer headquartered in Boise employing some 600 people in four states. Shortly after his 1973 graduation from ISU with a certificate in diesel mechanics, he began his career with Western States – his jobs included field service technician, industrial engine salesman, and machine sales manager before his 2002 promotion to president. He was instrumental in starting the firm’s profitable Cat Rental Store. Harris has been supportive of the College of Technology, serving as an executive in residence, attending diesel advisory board meetings and providing equipment and expertise for training programs.
• Kasiska College of Health Professions – Lisa Doering Higbee
Lisa Doering Higbee is a dental hygienist in Pocatello with more than 20 years’ dental hygiene experience. She was recognized in 2006 as the first “Breath Rx Dental Hygienist of the Year” in a national competition sponsored by Discuss Dental. Higbee, a 1985 graduate of ISU’s dental hygiene program, was chosen from a field of 500 applicants and five finalists and was featured in and on the cover of Modern Hygienist magazine. She is the Idaho Delegate Chair for the American Dental Hygienists Association and serves on the Practice and Regulations Committee for the Idaho Dental Hygienists Association. She has been a presenter and facilitator for various continuing education professional issues forums.
• College of Arts & Sciences – Social Sciences – Norman L. Jones
Norman L. Jones, PhD, is the head of the Department of History and director of Religious Studies at Utah State University. A native of a small community in Idaho’s Magic Valley, he earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in history from ISU in 1972. He went on to earn his master’s degree at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and his PhD from Clare College in the University of Cambridge, England, in 1978. Jones has had a distinguished career as a historian focusing on early modern English history. He has published six books, collaborating with one of the foremost publishers in his field for four of them. He has published numerous articles in leading journals and delivered scholarly presentations throughout the world.
• College of Pharmacy – Gary Tauscher
Gary Tauscher, retired vice president of marketing for Eli Lily after a 30-year career and current consultant for Boston Healthcare Associates, made a tremendous impact on the pharmaceutical industry through his ability to market important products and educate the public and practitioners. He has been devoted to the better delivery of health care, which has been demonstrated by his commitment to the American Psychiatric Association and Foundation, the National Coalition of Hispanic Health and Human Service Organization, the National Depression and Manic Depression Association and the National Mental Health Association. A resident of Hilton Head Island, S.C., Tauscher earned a BS degree in pharmacy from ISU in 1962 and was a 1957 graduate from Pocatello High School.