2004 Award Recipients

Ron Mann

NAUAA Dwight Patterson (1934) Alumnus of the Year

1972 BS Industrial Arts Education
1979 MS Physical Education

Ron Mann received both his undergraduate and graduate degrees from NAU. His tenure with the Lumberjacks spans four decades, as both a student-athlete and a coach. In that time he built one of the nation's premier university cross country and track and field programs, and become the single most successful coach in NAU history, as well as one of the most respected coaches in the history of these sports.

Under Coach Mann's tutelage this past year, the Lumberjacks finished 15th for the women and claimed a third-place podium spot for the men. Six student-athletes earned All-American honors, the largest combined total in the program's history. Earlier in the season NAU's teams pulled off a complete sweep at the Big Sky Conference Championships, claiming both the men's and women's team titles, first through third individual honors, and both Coach of the Year awards.

To date, Coach Mann's milestones at NAU include 58 Big Sky team titles, 56 Big Sky Coach of the Year awards, 103 All-Americans, 16 top-10 NCAA finishes, five Olympians, three NAU Hall of Fame inductions—as an athlete (1971), as coach of the 1988 team, and as an individual (1999)—three national champions, and more intangible awards than words can begin to express. His name has become synonymous with the NAU programs and their constant success.

Originally intending to retire last summer, Coach Mann surprised many by accepting the head cross country/track and field post at the University of Louisville, where he is looking to elevate the teams to a higher level of competition. "This is about a challenge," said Mann, "about trying to do something in a place and time where a lot of people are cutting sports [programs]."

Ron is married to Charlene, former NAU Associate Director of Admissions, and they have three children.

Rick Renzi

NAUAA Dr. Cliff Harkins (1932) Distinguished Citizen of the Year 

1980 BS Political Science

Congressman Rick Renzi represents the First District of Arizona in the U.S. House of Representatives. This district is home to over 640,000 Arizonans, encompassing nearly half the state and an incredibly diverse landscape.

Rick grew up in Sierra Vista, Ariz., where his father, U.S. Army Major General Gene Renzi (ret.) served at Ft. Huachuca. Rick graduated from Buena High School, and attended NAU on an athletic scholarship. Elected captain of the NAU football team, he helped lead the Lumberjacks to their first and only Big Sky Championship in 1978. He and his teammates from that championship team were inducted into NAU's Athletics Hall of Fame in 1998.

After graduating from NAU, Rick and his wife Roberta were married in Flagstaff. Together they began building their first family business, a Flagstaff-based real estate investment firm. Rick went on to create two more successful Arizona businesses, including an insurance company designed to help non-profit organizations. This company insures the majority of Parent-Teacher Associations and Domestic Violence and Abuse Centers throughout Arizona. Today, the family business insures almost all the Crisis Pregnancy Centers in America and Canada.

At age 39, Rick attended the prestigious Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law in Washington, D.C., where he studied public policy and the process of federal legislation. To supplement his academic career with practical knowledge, he served as a legal extern for members of Arizona's Congressional delegation. Rick completed his law study in 2002 and received his juris doctorate degree with a dual certification in law and public policy. He was elected to his Congressional seat the same year.

The Renzis are the proud parents of 12 children, seven boys and five girls.

Nancy Serenbetz 

NAUAA Jeff Ferris (1936) Volunteer of the Year 

1975 BS Sociology

There is simply no way to characterize the remarkable energy and enthusiasm that Nancy has gifted to NAU. As coordinator of the Recruitment-Volunteer Alumni Network (R-VAN), she attends nearly every recruitment event under her watch, and helps her area volunteers understand the finer points of NAU's message. She has dedicated countless hours to graduation ceremonies, recruitment fairs, informational sessions, alumni events, community events and sporting events, some requiring out-of-state travel.

Nancy has had the distinct privilege of serving on the NAU Alumni Association Board of Directors twice: she was elected by her graduating class and served until 1981, and then started her second term in 1997 and served as board president in 2002-2003. She participated in virtually every board committee and took an extremely active role in mentoring new members, future board presidents and other officers.

Nancy lives in Chandler, Ariz. and has worked for Honeywell for 21 years, where she has a remarkable record of company service, donating her time and talent to Honeywell's Flower Program, Children's Christmas Party, and Charity Rodeo. Her many community involvements include the Tempe Community Council, Tempe Cares, and Tempe Leadership program.

Nancy is always the first to champion the cause for NAU regardless of the time commitment involved, and to congratulate others on their achievements, while maintaining her own humility. Her warmth, unaffected sincerity, and seemingly inexhaustible generosity are priceless assets that reflect the highest of the university's core values.

Febronio "Finney" Hernandez

1959 BS Social Science 

Marjorie "Marj" Hernandez 

NAUAA Joe and Marie Rolle (1941/1950) Spirit of NAU Award

Lumberjack athletes throughout the years have at least one thing in common: chances are they have looked up into the stands and have seen Finney and Marj Hernandez cheering for them. Their support of NAU sporting events, including football, basketball, and especially women's sports—and their outreach to these young men and women, with many invitations to their own home—exemplify the proud standard of the Rolle Spirit Award.

Finney himself played football for NAU in the mid-1950's. After receiving his master's degree from the University of Iowa in 1962, he worked for the Nogales Public Schools as superintendent while Marj served as a reading specialist. In later years Finney became an NAU campus fixture, working as a recruitment/retention specialist.

The couple's involvement with NAU has only increased throughout the years. A recipient of the 1985 Alumni Service Award, Finney served as president of the Alumni Association in 1988 and is a member of the Past Presidents' club. He and Marj are still seen at many alumni board meetings and functions.

Finney and Marj have two talented daughters, Margaret and Martha. Alumni, family, and friends will always fondly remember Finney as the model for the lumberjack mural in the old Lumberjack Gym, in which he appeared sporting a beard and a toothpick.