2009 award recipients

Larry Mullins

NAUAA Dwight Patterson (1934) Alumnus of the Year 

1979 MA Education

Doctor and diplomat

Some people are particularly suited to succeed as an anodyne for times of trial. Larry Mullins, nominated as Alumnus of the Year by the NAU College of Health and Human Services and the College of Education, has demonstrated extraordinary leadership that models purposeful and timely action in health care and crisis management.

President and CEO of Samaritan Health Services, Inc., an integrated health care system in Oregon, Larry straightforwardly took health care out of the books and into the trenches. He trained as a registered nurse at Glendale Community College and received a BS from Arizona State University and an MA in Counseling from NAU. His proactive sensibility is eloquently illustrated by his U.S. Marine Corps service record: as a corporal, he fought in South Vietnam, and was awarded a plethora of honors for gallantry and combat including the Vietnamese Service Medal, Vietnamese Campaign Medal, and the National Defense Medal.

It's worth noting that Larry is a DHA twice over: his formal credentials name him both Doctor and Diplomat of Healthcare Administration. Larry's doctoral dissertation focused on organizational change and crisis leadership pre- and post-9/11. Appointed by Governor Kulongoski to Oregon's Homeland Security Council, he co-chairs Oregon's Emergency Support Function and Policy Group, and has participated in the Air Force War College as part of the National Security Forum. In one critical instance of forethought, he and his team were able to respond immediately to the Katrina disaster with 12 health care professionals ready for deployment.

Larry's work emphasizes strong partnerships. His stewardship extends to his role as a Fellow in the American College of Health Care Executives and Regent and chapter president for the State of Oregon. His influence has also been brought to bear on the education of future practitioners, as Samaritan and the College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific build Oregon's first new medical school in more than a century. In 2003, Samaritan's Board of Directors established the Larry A. Mullins, DHA Scholarship. Among those eligible for aid are NAU students studying the health care professions. Larry also contributes his expertise to the NAU College of Health and Human Services' Leadership Council.

Larry puts the lie to the cynical implication that people get the flawed leadership they deserve. For his preparedness, discernment and diplomacy, the NAU Alumni Association salutes Larry Mullins with the Dwight Patterson Alumnus of the Year Award.

Thomas Nunn

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



When driving through Pima County, you'd be hard-pressed to find a major roadway that does not bear Tom Nunn's stamp of quality. Whether it's the 15-mile River Road section that has become the County's major east-west corridor, or the scenic Catalina Highway winding up Mount Lemmon, you owe your ease of passage to Tom's technical expertise and organic vision.

Tom has devoted his entire career to public service. After attending NAU for several years, he took a two-year hiatus to serve in the U.S. Army near Nuremberg. In 1974 he started working for Pima County Department of Transportation as a project design engineer, drainage expert, and manager, completing and perfecting the kinds of structures we often take for granted.

For instance, as project manager of Catalina Highway, Tom oversaw traffic studies, environmental and cultural studies, geometric design and drainage design. Because of area quirks like vulnerability to monsoon runoff, he often met personally with nearby property owners to respond to their individual concerns. Tom also worked closely with a community advisory committee to ensure public input and help implement appropriate decisions and mitigations. He always gave special consideration to public welfare and safety, utility (such as the installation of bike lanes), implications for the natural landscape, and aesthetics.

Tom has also embraced the mission of universal accessibility, revising median details and access ramps to conform to American Disabilities Act guidelines. In creating transportation facilities that meet the needs of all users, Tom has collaborated with the Arizona School of the Deaf and Blind and experienced firsthand the challenges faced by people with these impairments. His findings were directly incorporated into the accessibility standards adopted by Pima County.

In his nomination, Tom Nunn is described as "instantly likeable." He's also the go-to guy. You can truly say, "Tom does good work," and mean it both qualitatively and spiritually; and his dedication has been unwavering. Even during his recovery from leukemia, he continued to work from home, remaining invaluable to County projects. His optimism has often inspired others, and he has mentored through example. One mentee gratefully reflects, "Tom always has time for questions, and shares his wisdom with respect and style."

"When you build bridges," said a famous basketball coach, "you can keep crossing them." Tom's personal empathy and inclusiveness complement his understanding of the symbiosis between humanity and infrastructure. For his sincere commitment to the public interest, and for perfecting the roads to the bridges, the Northern Arizona University Alumni Association thanks Tom Nunn with the Dr. Cliff Harkins Distinguished Citizen of the Year award.

Scott Hanson

NAUAA Jeff Ferris (1936) Volunteer of the Year 

1983 BS Telecommunications 

Our man in the field 

It isn't enough for the recipient of the NAUAA Jeff Ferris Award to be professionally accomplished and personally energetic; he must also be a wizard of sorts, with the arcane ability to wield and maximize that elusive commodity known as "spare time." Public relations maven Scott Hansen has found the magic that transmutes his career resources into a proactive momentum for volunteerism.

A consistent motif propels Scott's volunteer efforts: his commitment to nurturing young PR professionals. To begin with, he has served as professional advisor to the Public Relations Student Society of America's NAU chapter for more than a decade, modeling creativity, practical methodology and professional ethics. In this role he furnishes many professional development opportunities, including tours and immersions in a variety of PR environments from corporate communications departments to government offices. Scott is also a welcome fixture in NAU public relations classes, guest lecturing every semester. A founding member and former chair of the NAU School of Communication's original advisory council, he also had a hand in rewriting the communications curriculum in the early '90s. His other efforts on the university's behalf include fundraising for the new Comm building and coordinating golf tournaments in the Valley for NAU Athletics.

Scott is well-positioned to inspire his students, as president of HMA Public Relations, a full-service marketing communications and PR firm in Phoenix with an impressive clientele. He has an extensive personal history of recognition for achievement: high school and college scholarships from The Arizona Republic/Phoenix Gazette and Arizona Broadcasters Association; prestigious Copper Anvil Awards from the Public Relations Society of America Phoenix Chapter; writing awards from Associated Press; and a Gold Award for media relations from Bulldog Reporter magazine. A longtime network and cable sportscaster, he served on the board of the Society of Professional Journalists' Phoenix Chapter. He is also a founding member of the Public Relations Global Network, which connects top local PR agencies for leverage in major markets worldwide.

Also a board member for the Arthritis Foundation's Greater Southwest Chapter and Junior Achievement of Arizona, Scott's volunteerism extends to his avid support of high school sportsmanship. Since 1979, as an NAU freshman, he has refereed and umpired high school football and baseball throughout the state. The ability to call a game dispassionately is directly proportional to one's passion for the sport, and Scott is firmly grounded in both ethics and enjoyment. For working overtime to replenish his industry with knowledgeable and conscientious advocates, the NAU Alumni Association lauds Scott Hanson with the Jeff Ferris Volunteer of the Year Award.

Harry D. Hengl

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

1976 MA Education

The Yuma connection 

In bestowing this award, Joe and Marie Rolle have once again read our collective minds. As the university proudly emphasizes its status as the Arizona statewide university, and as we conclude the 20th anniversary of NAU-Yuma, there is a clear front-runner for the personification of Lumberjack spirit: Harry Hengl.

Harry's credentials encompass the high standards we've come to expect from a Rolle Spirit recipient. As a master's degree candidate at the university, he was a member of Phi Kappa Phi, and was later recognized for excellence in teaching with a 1997 Centennial Year of Education award. He is currently vice chair of the NAU Foundation Board as well as a member of the College of Education Leadership Council; and he rounds out his frequent student advocacy by participating in the Volunteer Alumni Network. A past president of the NAU Alumni Association Board of Directors, Harry was honored with the 1996 Alumni Service award for building the NAU Alumni Association Yuma Chapter into a model grassroots organization.

The Yuma Chapter -- which has thrived in spite of the paradigm shift towards social media -- has also evolved into a fundraising force, in part because of its annual golf tournament, now in its 17th year. Harry has co-chaired the event since its inception, resulting in hundreds of thousands of dollars for the NAU Alumni-Yuma Chapter Scholarship. This manifestation of his stewardship -- in addition to the Hengl Family Scholarship, which encourages students from Yuma to pursue a college degree at NAU -- demonstrates an unshakeable confidence in the rich worth of NAU.

Of the Rolles' honor Harry says, "It is a wonderful, moving experience to associate, even in a very small way, with the fine folks at Northern Arizona University. To be recognized with any award is humbling; but to be recognized with an award named after Joe and Marie Rolle is an experience that I shall cherish always. Joe and Marie are two of the reasons why NAU is such a great institution, and I am proud to be their friends." Whether he's cheerfully hauling tables for an NAU-Yuma block party celebration, or hanging at tailgate with his wife, Maureen (who is also part-time NAU faculty), or proudly checking in with news of his children, Ryan and Melissa -- both NAU alumni -- Harry is a remarkable ambassador for the university's integrity and vitality. On behalf of the Rolles, we delight in celebrating his unflagging dedication with the Spirit of NAU Award.