Five outstanding Drake alumni to be honored May 12

The Drake National Alumni Association will honor five alumni for their accomplishments and contributions to Drake and society at the Annual Alumni Awards Dinner on Saturday, May 12, in Parents Hall, Olmsted Center. All alumni and friends are welcome to attend this highly entertaining event, which will be emceed by Steve Berry, LA’83, LW’86. It starts with a reception at 6 p.m. followed by dinner and the awards program at 7 p.m. Cost is $25 per person. For more information, contact the Office of Alumni and Parent Programs, 800-44-DRAKE, x2500, or 515-271-2500.

The recipients and their awards are as follows:

Jonathan Azu, BN’99, Young Alumni Achievement Award. As president of the Student Activities Board as a Drake student, Azu brought Dave Matthews to campus in 1999; in March 2006, he was promoted to the newly-created position of vice president of strategic music partnerships with CBS Radio in New York City. He also has helped organize the annual Bulldog Bash in his area, the Missouri Valley Conference men’s basketball tournament alumni event and Drake’s 125th birthday party in New York City in October 2006.

Vinaya Sharma, BN93, Young Alumni Loyalty Award. An ardent Drake fan, Sharma has served on his five-year reunion committee, helped organize local Bulldog Bashes and supported numerous other regional alumni activities. He’s attended the annual Windy City Golf Outing for Drake alumni and friends in the Chicago area. He also hosts annual Drake Relays parties in his home, which features a Drake “alumni room” fully adorned with Drake memorabilia. As a Drake student, Sharma attended men’s basketball games costumed as a fired-up Darth Vader. He is a credit analyst and actuary with Quantitative Risk Management in Chicago.

Charla Lawhon, JO78, Alumni Achievement Award. Lawhon started her career as an intern with Meredith Corporation’s Apartment Life magazine in Des Moines and went on to become managing editor of Meredith’s Metropolitan Home magazine. In 1993 she was part of a team that tested a new magazine that eventually became InStyle magazine, of which she was named managing editor in 2002. Lawhon has shared her expertise with Drake students, meeting with magazine majors and speaking as part of the School of Management and Communication’s Executive in Residence speaker series.

William “Bill” Buchanan, BN57, Alumni Loyalty Award. A member of the Drake College of Business and Public Administration National Advisory Council, Buchanan and his wife, Jean, have hosted alumni receptions at their Kansas City home for prospective students and their families. The couple also has made leadership gifts to Drake to endow a scholarship fund in their name and to support new and continuing programs in the College of Business and Public Administration. Chairman of the Board of Unified Life Insurance Co. in Overland Park, Kan., Buchanan also served on a committee to create and support the Adams/Bowers Actuarial Education Center at Drake. As a member and gift chair for the Drake Class of 1957’s 50-year reunion committee this year, he recently issued a generous gift-match “challenge” to his classmates to support the class’s reunion gift.

Betty Grandquist, LA74, Distinguished Service Award. After working as a nurse, raising her three children with husband Donald and earning her Drake degree, Grandquist joined the Iowa Department of Public Health and became division administrator for health, planning and development. In 1987, she was appointed director of the Iowa Department of Elder Affairs by Governor Terry Branstad, LW’74. Though retired, she continues to serve as executive director of the Iowa Association of Area Agencies on Aging and a member of numerous boards relating to the elderly and elder care. At Drake, Grandquist is secretary and program chair of the RaySociety, which provides university-level non-credit educational opportunities to citizens of retirement age in central Iowa. She was a member of the National Commission on the Future of Drake University and the National Commission II. She also is a member of the Friends of Drake Arts and former member of the Drake College of Arts and Sciences National Advisory Board.