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UC Davis Magazine

Volume 29 · Number 2 · Winter 2012

Alumni: UC Davis difference makers

Seven people selected for 2011 alumni awards for their achievements on campus and around the world.

On Feb. 4, the Cal Aggie Alumni Association will honor six alumni as well as a distinguished campus friend for their contributions to society, the university, their fields of study and their communities.

Here are this year's winners, and what CAAA had to say about them in announcing the awards:

Bruce Edwards — Jerry W. Fielder Memorial Award

Portrait photo

Bruce Edwards, Earl Wolfman Jr. andThomas Nesbitt

Bruce Edwards '60, Retired President, March Development Co.

The Jerry W. Fielder Memorial Award honors a UC Davis graduate who has provided extraordinary service to CAAA, the UC Davis Foundation and the university.

Bruce Edwards exemplifies Aggie Pride through his outstanding service to UC Davis.

Four years after graduating, Edwards made his first gift to the Annual Fund. He has continued his philanthropic support for four decades and encourages others to follow in his footsteps. He has made gifts to the Davis Chancellor's Club, the College of Letters and Science, Intercollegiate Athletics and Aggie football. Edwards is also a major contributor to Aggie Stadium, and his most recent gift to the stadium was the largest ever received by athletics from an alumnus. His legacy at the stadium will remain for years to come in the Bruce Edwards Club Room. He is a member of the Chancellor's Laureates, a prestigious society recognizing those who have given $1 million or more to support UC Davis. He is also a life member and active supporter of the Cal Aggie Alumni Association. [Read an interview in "Why I Give."]

Edwards' support of UC Davis cannot be defined by his financial generosity alone. He has always dedicated a substantial amount of his time to the university. Nominated to the UC Davis Foundation Board of Trustees in 2007, he is currently the board's vice chair and has served on its development and naming committees. Edwards is also a member of the Athletics Director's Leadership Council and has agreed to serve on a strategic framework subcommittee for athletics development. He is credited not only for his philanthropic support of athletics but for his support and advice to the athletic staff.

Earl F. Wolfman Jr. — Distinguished Friend of the University Award

Web extra: young alums in the work world

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Earl Wolfman, Founding faculty member of the UC Davis School of Medicine

The Distinguished Friend of the University Award recognizes a non-alumnus(a) whose extraordinary service has advanced the university and made significant and lasting contributions to the campus. 

Earl Wolfman's commitment to the School of Medicine goes back to before the school even opened. In 1966, he came to Sacramento to help start the medical school. He played a key role in negotiating an agreement with Sacramento County to transform the county hospital into a UC Davis clinical and teaching facility. Two years later, the first 48 students were admitted to the UC Davis School of Medicine — still a record for the fastest start of a medical school.

Professor Emeritus Wolfman served 36 years on the faculty, including stints as the associate dean of the medical school, founding chair of the Department of Surgery and chief of the Division of Surgical Sciences. His impact on surgery at UC Davis is defined by his recruitment of chiefs for surgery divisions, his success in obtaining accreditation from national agencies and his effort to mold postgraduate specialty training programs.

His philanthropic support includes the Earl F. Wolfman, Jr., M.D., and Lois J. Wolfman Endowed Fund and an endowed professorship in the Department of Surgery. Not only will these enhance basic science, clinical education and research in the field of surgery, they also will ensure his legacy as a visionary scholar and administrator.

Thomas Nesbitt — Distinguished Achievement Award

Thomas Nesbitt '75, M.D. '79, Associate Vice Chancellor for Strategic Technologies and Alliances, UC Davis Health System

This award honors a graduate of UC Davis whose entire life since graduation reflects exemplary and outstanding performance and achievements.

Thomas Nesbitt is a national leader in the use of telecommunications technology to bring expert medical care to patients in rural areas. After attending UC Davis, he worked as a primary-care physician in the rural Northwest where he was inspired to establish a tele-fetal monitoring link between UC Davis Medical Center and a small community hospital nearly two hours away.

He joined the School of Medicine faculty in 1988 and is founding director of the UC Davis Center for Health and Technology, where he oversees the university's telehealth, distance-learning and medical informatics programs.

Under his direction, UC Davis has developed one of the nation's leading telehealth programs, providing specialized medical care and health education to communities throughout Northern California.

Three years ago, Nesbitt helped to establish UC Davis' Rural-PRIME (Programs in Medical Education), which trains medical students interested in establishing practices in rural areas.

Kathleen Taylor — Emil M. Mrak International Award

Portrait photo

Clockwise, Kathleen Taylor, Jonna Mazet, William Hollingshead and Jacob Suski

Kathleen Taylor, M.D. '80, Founder/Executive Director, Prevention International: No Cervical Cancer

The Emil M. Mrak International Award honors a graduate of UC Davis who is distinguished in his or her career outside the United States.

Kathleen Taylor is helping save the lives of women in developing countries by training local medical providers to detect and treat cervical lesions before they become deadly cancers.

In 2003, the San Francisco Bay area gynecologist volunteered on a two-week medical mission to the Mosquito Coast in Honduras. Three cases of invasive cervical cancer she saw there inspired her to develop her own mobile clinic.

Since its founding in 2005, the nonprofit Prevention International: No Cervical Cancer has provided services to more than 3,000 women and trained more than 200 professionals in underserved areas in Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, Peru, Kenya, Zambia, Tanzania, Uganda and India. Taylor spends three months each year on the overseas missions, guiding volunteer staffs of doctors, nurses, interpreters and counselors.

Jonna Mazet — Outstanding Alumna Award

Jonna Mazet '90, D.V.M./M.P.V.M. '92, Ph.D. '96, Professor and Director, Wildlife Health Center and One Health Institute, UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine

The Outstanding Alumna(us) Award recognizes an alum who is in the midpoint of his or her career and who has displayed outstanding achievement, promoted innovative change and made professional contributions to the community and UC Davis.

Jonna Mazet is one of the nation's leaders in the field of wildlife health teaching, research and service. During her first year of veterinary school at UC Davis, she began research on psoroptic mange in bighorn sheep. She developed a serologic assay that eventually revealed the widespread nature and complexity of the disease. Later, she conducted her dissertation research on mink as an experimental model for the effects of acute and chronic exposure to oil in sea otters. Her research remains the definitive work in the field. After graduation, she was hired by the California Department of Fish and Game's Office of Spill Prevention and Response to bring together oil industry, academic, government and wildlife care groups to build the Oiled Wildlife Care Network.

Mazet is now the co-director of the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine Wildlife Health Center. Since her appointment in 1998, she has worked to transform the Wildlife Health Center from a concept into a reality. Under her leadership, the center administers several core programs and has established grant programs to help researchers and students. She also is a member of the UC Global Health Institute and is the School of Veterinary Medicine's executive director of the One Health Institute, which leads educational and disease response and surveillance programs in 20 countries, recognizing that the health of animals, people and the environment are all connected. Mazet is also a professor of wildlife epidemiology in the Department of Medicine and Epidemiology and is committed to training future veterinarians, epidemiologists and wildlife biologists.

Jakob Suski — Young Alumnus Award

Jakob Suski '05, Deputy Communications Director, Jon Huntsman for President 2012

This award honors a graduate of UC Davis who has graduated within the past 10 years and has made outstanding contributions professionally, to the community or to UC Davis.

Jake Suski has always been a committed and engaged Aggie. During his time on campus, he was involved with Associated Students, Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity, the crew team, the boxing club, the UC Washington Center and peer advising for the College of Letters and Science.

After graduation, Suski began a career in politics working as a constituent affairs specialist in Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's office. He then worked on the governor's 2006 re-election campaign, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder's 2010 successful Republican primary campaign and in GOP candidate Chris Dudley's close 2010 race for Oregon governor.

These successes, combined with his knack for political communication, led to his current senior staff position in the Jon Huntsman for President campaign in the Republican primary.

William Hollingshead — Aggie Service Award

William Hollingshead '59, Entertainment Management, Bill Hollingshead Productions

This award honors a UC Davis graduate who, during the previous year, demonstrated exemplary Aggie pride and dedication to UC Davis through personal commitment of time and energy, volunteerism and leadership, which had the purpose or effect of furthering CAAA and UC Davis.

Bill Hollingshead is a dedicated volunteer who loves UC Davis and takes great pride in being an Aggie. After graduating with a bachelor's degree in political science and a minor in music, he traveled the world and worked in various jobs: touring musician, magician, talent agent and amusement park entertainment director.

Since retiring and moving back to Northern California, Hollingshead has made giving back to UC Davis a top priority. In 2004, he joined the alumni band and a year later became a member of the UC Davis Concert Band. He mentors music students and has contributed to the Cal Aggie Band-uh uniform fund. Life members of the Cal Aggie Alumni Association, Hollingshead and his wife, Dianne '63, actively participate in Aggie Diner, Take an Aggie to Lunch, Pajamarino and the Golden Society Reunion.

Hollingshead also has given guest lectures on topics ranging from the history of rock 'n' roll to postpolio syndrome. As a polio survivor and the PolioPlus Fund chairman for the Davis Rotary Club, he has lectured for UC Davis Medical Center for the Campus Rotaract Club. He also gives his time to the UC Davis Community Fair and recently displayed a historical photography collection in the Buehler Alumni and Visitors Center. He shares his enthusiasm for UC Davis and his love of life with every person he meets. Bill Hollingshead is the definition of Aggie Service.


Brooke Converse is CAAA's communications officer.