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Five Outstanding Drake Alumni to be Honored

CONTACT: Katie Knorovsky, 515-271-1834, katie.knorovsky@drake.edu

The Drake University National Alumni Association will honor five alumni for their professional accomplishments and community service at the annual Drake Alumni Awards Dinner on Saturday, May 12, in Parents Hall, Olmsted Center, 29th Street and University Avenue.

The program, which is open to Drake alumni and friends, will begin with a reception at 6 p.m. followed by dinner and the awards program at 7 p.m. Steve Barry, a 1983 Drake graduate and 1986 Drake Law School graduate, will emcee the event. Cost is $25 per person and reservations are required. For more information, contact the Office of Alumni and Parent Programs, 515-271-2500.

The recipients and their awards are as follows:

Betty Grandquist, a 1974 Drake graduate, will receive the Distinguished Service Award. This award is the top honor bestowed upon alumni of Drake and recognizes outstanding achievement by an individual in a career or profession and exemplary service to the community and University. Grandquist served as division administrator for health, planning and development at the Iowa Department of Public Health. In 1987, she was appointed director of the Iowa Department of Elder Affairs by Gov. Terry Branstad. Though retired, she continues to serve as executive director of the Iowa Association of Area Agencies on Aging. 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.

Charla Lawhon, a 1978 Drake graduate, will receive the Alumni Achievement Award. Lawhon started her career as an intern with Meredith Corp.’s Apartment Life magazine 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, a 1957 Drake graduate, will receive the 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.

Jonathan Azu, a 1999 Drake graduate, will receive the 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, a 1993 Drake graduate, will receive the 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 and 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.