By Jessica Romine Peterson, director of Marketing and Development, University of Utah Alumni Association

To commemorate the founding of the University of Utah on Feb. 28, 1850, the U Alumni Association will celebrate four outstanding alumni and one honorary alumnus at the annual Founders Day banquet, Thursday, March 3, at the Little America Hotel, beginning with a reception at 6 p.m. and dinner at 7 p.m.

This year’s Distinguished Alumnus/a Award recipients are Deneece G. Huftalin, president of Salt Lake Community College; Patricia W. Jones, former Utah State Senator and president of Dan Jones & Associates; Fred P. Lewis, a renowned meteorologist and retired brigadier general with the U.S. Air Force, currently a senior vice president with Sutron Corporation; and Harris H. Simmons, chairman, president and CEO of Zions Bancorporation. This year’s Honorary Alumnus is Marion A. Willey, executive director of the Utah Non Profit Housing Corporation.

The Alumni Association will also recognize Chimedyudon “Yudko” Tsogdelger, a U student studying metallurgical engineering, as the 2016 Founders Day Scholarship recipient. The $8,000 scholarship is awarded annually to a student who has overcome difficult life circumstances or challenges and has served the U and the community.

Distinguished Alumnus/a Awards:

Deneece Huftalin

Deneece G. Huftalin, B.S. ’84, Ph.D. ’06

Huftalin was named president of Salt Lake Community College in 2014. She previously worked in higher education at the U, William Rainey Harper College, Northwestern University, Stanford University and the University of California, Los Angeles. In addition to her degrees from the U, she holds a master’s degree from UCLA.

Pat Jones

Patricia W. Jones, B.S. ’93

Jones served 14 years in the Utah State Legislature and was the first female leader in both houses. She co-founded and served 34 years as president of Dan Jones & Associates, a well-respected public opinion and market research firm. Today she is CEO of the Women’s Leadership Institute.

Fred Lewis

Fred P. Lewis, Ph.D. ’79
Lewis is a retired brigadier general and renowned meteorologist of 30-plus years with the U.S. Air Force, where he served as director of weather, leading efforts to develop doctrine, policy and standards for the weather career field to support the armed forces and the national intelligence community. He now serves as a senior vice president for Sutron Corporation.

Harris Simmons

Harris H. Simmons,
B.A. ’77
Simmons is chairman, president and CEO of Zions Bancorporation, a $56 billion-asset bank holding company that operates nearly 500 full-service banking offices throughout the western United States. In addition to his bachelor’s degree, he holds a master’s degree in business administration from Harvard Business School.

Honorary Alumnus Award:

Utah Non-Profit Housing Project staff headshot, 223 W. 700 S. in Salt Lake City, Utah, Feb. 19, 2015.

Marion A. Willey
Willey is now in his 21st year as executive director of Utah Non Profit Housing Corporation and is board president of the Western Region Nonprofit Housing Corporation. His efforts have benefited more than 21,000 households and helped preserve and build more than 4,300 units of affordable housing.

Founders Day Scholar:


Chimedyudon “Yudko” Tsogdelger
Yudko is a Mongolian student who carried a full course load in a demanding major while caring for her father as he fought cancer. Since her father’s passing in June 2015, Yudko has joined an engineering research team to help develop a cancer detection sensor. She loves studying metallurgical engineering, a major that is both academically rigorous and predominantly male.

Learn more about all of this year’s honorees at