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As part of UNLV's Homecoming celebrations, the Alumni Association is honoring individuals who represent the ideals of higher learning and Rebel pride. The association's annual awards program recognizes alumni, faculty, students, and community leaders for their outstanding achievements and leadership at on campus and throughout the community.
For event information, visit the Homecoming website.
The Outstanding Alumnus/a of the Year award is the most prestigious honor given to an alumnus/a by the Alumni Association. It is bestowed in recognition of significant contributions supporting the UNLV community.
Fred C. Albrecht, ’71 MED Physical Education, retired from UNLV in 2007 after a 38-year career with the university. He came to UNLV in 1970 as assistant basketball coach and pursued a master’s degree. Throughout the years, he worked for seven UNLV presidents, beginning with Roman Zorn and ending with David Ashley. Among the many positions he held at the university were tennis coach, director of alumni relations, interim athletic director (twice), executive director of athletic fundraising, and vice president of university and community relations.
After graduation, Albrecht created the first alumni relations program on campus. He shepherded the construction of the Richard Tam Alumni Center, a building intended to help alumni develop an identity. With the aid of a number of supporters, Albrecht and the alumni board raised $1.8 million in cash. He personally oversaw the construction, tapping supporters for in-kind donations of materials and labor valued at $1.2 million and spending nearly every day at the construction site. Construction was completed in 1990. In addition, he helped develop the first alumni tailgate park at Sam Boyd Stadium and the Alumni Amphitheater next to the Student Union.
Albrecht received the UNLV President’s Medal for services to the university and was inducted into the UNLV Athletic Hall of Fame.
Mercedes Bolt, ’13 BA Communication Studies, co-stars on the popular “Mark & Mercedes in the Morning” on KMXB/Mix 94.1 Las Vegas. She is passionate about the Las Vegas community. Bolt has helped raise more than one million cans of food for the Salvation Army and funds a wide variety of local charities such as the Rape Crisis Center, Goodie Two Shoes, Communities in Schools, Boys and Girls Clubs, United Way, and many more. Bolt was named “Best Local Radio Personality” by the Las Vegas Review-Journal from 2000-12 and Billboard Magazine’s “Air Personality of the Year” in 1998, plus many more honors for her on-air work. She graduated cum laude from UNLV.
Darcy K. Neighbors, ’89 BS Marketing, is the founder and CEO of CIM Marketing Partners, a full-service marketing, public relations, and consulting firm. She is also the founder of a non-profit organization, DJs for PJs, which has collected nearly 75,000 pairs of new pajamas for needy children in Southern Nevada. Neighbors is past president of the Legal Marketing Association Southwest Chapter and founder of the Las Vegas City Group, as well as past president of the American Marketing Association. She was inducted into the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Las Vegas Hall of Fame in 2011 and was chosen as the first recipient of its Entrepreneur of the Year award. She serves on the executive advisory board for the marketing department at the UNLV Lee Business School.
Emily R. Ishkanian, ’04 BA Kinesiology, ’10 DMD, is a dentist at Green Valley Dental Center, adjunct faculty at the UNLV School of Dental Medicine, and serves as committee chair for Southern Nevada New Dentists. Her main focus has been to increase the involvement of new dentists, specifically UNLV alumni, in organized dentistry and ease the transition of senior dental students from dental school to practice. Ishkanian volunteers at the Huntridge Homeless Dental Clinic, Saturday Children’s Clinic, and Give Kids A Smile Day. She was awarded UNLV School of Dental Medicine “Best Overall Student Team Member” and General Practice Clinic” award. Ishkanian was born and raised in Las Vegas and was valedictorian of her graduating class at Bonanza High School.
Kristina L. Swallow, ’04 MS Civil Engineering, has worked as a civil engineer in Las Vegas since 1994. Swallow is a program manager for the City of Las Vegas Public Works Department. Since graduating college, she has been active with the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), taking on leadership roles from serving as president of the Younger Member Forum, to serving on ASCE’s International Board of Directors. In 2009, she was appointed as a Science and Technology Policy Fellow by ASCE through the American Association for the Advancement of Science and was awarded ASCE Young Engineer of the Year in 1998 and 2000. She served as president for the Junior League of Las Vegas from 2003-04.
Even with Swallow’s many roles, she has remained active with engineering students at UNLV and across the nation.
Pat Skorkowsky, ’94 MA Education Administration, is superintendent and 24-year veteran of the Clark County School District, the fifth largest school district in the U.S. with an annual operating budget of approximately $2 billion serving more than 300,000 students and employing more than 37,000 people in our community. He began his career as an elementary school teacher and has served in a variety of roles at the district. During his tenure as associate superintendent, Skorkowsky worked with 108 of the district’s 357 schools on curricula and aligning resources.
As superintendent, Skorkowsky plans to partner with UNLV to increase support of second language learners at reading development centers in 15 targeted schools.
Ronnie Vannucci, Jr., ’11 BA Music, is a prolific songwriter and musician. His band – The Killers – signed with a major record label in 2003. They toured the world and released several platinum selling records in over 50 countries. He has appeared in TV shows and movies, has been featured on the cover of magazines, and has become an icon in the drumming world.
Vannucci completed most of his music studies before 2003 in the area of music education with aspirations of teaching elementary music in Las Vegas. He maintained his connection with UNLV and returned to complete his degree in 2011.
Henry L. Schuck, ’05 BS-BA Accounting, ’05 BS Hotel Administration, graduated as a University Honors Scholar, cum laude from UNLV. During his first year of law school at The Ohio State University, he founded DiscoverOrg, an information services company specializing in software and database services for technology vendors around the globe. DiscoverOrg was named to Inc. Magazine’s “500 Fastest Growing Private Companies” three times in a row and was ranked the fourth fastest growing company in Portland and Southwest Washington. DiscoverOrg now boasts 100 full- time employees and $25 million in annual revenue. In 2011, Schuck was named one of the “Top 10 East Asian Entrepreneurs” in the country by Inc. Magazine.
Schuck was student body president at UNLV in 2004-05, a member of the Rebel Pride Council, floor president in the Tonopah Residence Halls, and president and founder of the UNLV Water Polo Club. He is on the advisory board for the UNLV Foundation and serves on numerous boards for the Columbia River Economic Development Council.
Chuck Lehman, ’71 BS Hotel Administration, is the founder and CEO of Lehman Foods, Inc. - Fresh & Ready Foods® and Fresh & Ready Foods® of Nevada. Previously, Lehman successfully owned and operated several full-service, continental cuisine restaurants in Los Angeles and Houston. Along the way, he also worked and consulted for major food industry firms such as Sysco and Overhill Farms.
Lehman currently serves as a board member of the Collins College of Hospitality Management at Cal Poly Pomona and supports Careers through Culinary Arts Program which works with public schools to prepare underserved students for college and career opportunities in the restaurant and hospitality industry. Among his proudest achievements is mentoring aspiring young entrepreneurs in the industry.
Heather Procter, ’03 JD, is a senior deputy attorney general in the appellate division of the Nevada Attorney General’s Office, where she has worked for more than nine years. She has prosecuted state criminal actions, defended the State against state and federal habeas corpus petitions, and litigated inmate civil rights cases. She has argued more than a dozen cases before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and the United States District Court, District of Nevada. In addition to her appellate work, Procter works on a variety of special projects for the office, including presenting bills to the Nevada Legislature; organizing tribal colloquiums and the training of Mexican prosecutors and investigators; creating and implementing the Nevada Identity Theft Program Card; and teaching Continuing Legal Education (CLE) courses. She was named the Attorney General’s Office “Rookie of the Year” in 2005.
Procter continued her commitment to the law school by serving as the president of the Boyd School of Law Alumni Chapter in 2006-07, and as the editor of the Boyd Alumni Newsletter, which she created in 2007. During her time as a student at the law school, she served as an executive board member and lead special projects editor for the Nevada Law Journal. She is a member of Phi Alpha Delta Law fraternity, American Bar Association, Federalist Society, and Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society; and recipient of the 2003 Dean’s Award for contributions to the law school.
Barbara Buckley, ’86 BS Criminal Justice, is an attorney and executive director of Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada, the largest non-profit legal assistance organization in Nevada. She has grown the organization to 70 staff members and approximately 1,000 attorneys who volunteer their time. Under her leadership, the center has created many new programs such as the District Court Civil Law Self-Help Center, the Foreclosure Protection Program, the Domestic Violence Project, and Children’s Attorneys Program.
Buckley has served in the Nevada State Legislature for 16 years and was the first female elected as Assembly Speaker in 2007. She was voted “Best Assembly Member” for six consecutive sessions by her fellow legislators. She was honored as the “UNLV Outstanding Alumna of the Year” in 2007.
Andrée Prigoda Reed, ’71 BS Chemistry, ’78 MA Education Administration, taught for 33 years in Clark County School District and is currently an adjunct chemistry professor at the College of Southern Nevada. Her love of chemistry and education is a life-long passion. She has continued her studies in biology, computer literacy, and chemistry and has taught at numerous universities and high schools since 1965.
Reed won the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science Teaching for Nevada in 1987 and the American Chemical Society Western Regional Award for High School Chemistry Teaching in 2003. She formerly served as a board member of the Southern Nevada Science Teachers Association and the Nevada State Science Teachers Association. Additionally, Reed was a long-time member of the Nevada Science Standards Review Committee, the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, and had her work published in trade journals. Reed continues to be an active supporter of UNLV and is a member the UNLV Foundation President’s Inner Circle.
The Alumni Association recognizes a distinguished UNLV faculty member for their commitment to teaching, research, and service, as well as lasting contributions to student growth and development.
Jean Hertzman, ’06 PhD Educational Leadership, is an associate professor and assistant dean of operations and academics in the William F. Harrah College of Hotel Administration. She volunteers her culinary expertise to non-profit organizations and includes her students in these activities: organizations include Opportunity Village, the Cultural Diversity Foundation, Chefs for Kids, the American Heart Association, and the International Foodservice Executives Association’s Jerry Berry Scholarship Fundraising Dinner. She is the coordinator and judge for the S. Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef regional competitions (2008-2012). In addition, she is the advisor for the UNLV Beverage Management Club and the UNLV Epicurean Society.
Hertzman serves as culinary director for UNLVino, the annual beverage festival and fundraiser for the Harrah Hotel College, and teaches FAB 372 UNLVino Management Working, and she supervises more than 200 culinary and 300 wine-pouring volunteers.
Hertzman is a member of the Council on Hotel, Restaurant, and Institutional Education (CHRIE), where she is the West Federation president and recently received the Chef Herman Breithaupt award in recognition of her contributions to culinary education. She was inducted into the ACF Chefs of Las Vegas Hall of Fame in 2010.
This award of distinction is presented to a non-alumnus/a by the association for noteworthy contributions to the university and the community at large.
Robert L. Mendenhall has been an owner of Las Vegas Paving Corporation since founding the organization in 1958 and serves as its chief executive officer. Born on a farm in Alberta, Canada, Mendenhall learned the value of a strong work ethic at an early age. His first job in 1937 was as a water boy. He later worked as a flagman for his grandfather’s Utah construction company.
Although he doesn’t have a degree in engineering, Mendenhall is a master of ingenuity. In 2001, he developed America’s first recycled freeway—using 100% recycled asphalt. This idea earned him the Bicentennial Patent Award. He has been a respected, high-profile advocate for the conservation of natural resources through recycling. Mendenhall has received numerous awards, including the Industry Recognition Award and SBA Man of the Year. His innovation and determination have earned him the nickname “The Grandfather of Asphalt Recycling.” To date, a total of 47 different United States patents have been issued in his name.
Mendenhall was inducted into the Nevada Inventors Hall of Fame in 1984 and continues to pursue process patents to improve the construction industry. He was awarded an honorary doctorate from UNLV in 2006. Mendenhall is member of the UNLV Palladium Society. He and his wife, Paula, have invested greatly in UNLV. They were instrumental in the development of the UNLV Mendenhall Basketball Practice Facility and the Mendenhall Innovation Design Lab at UNLV's Howard R. Hughes College of Engineering.
The Achievement in Service award gives recognition for service to UNLV, the UNLV student body, and/or the Alumni Association in support of alumni-related activities and events.
Ian Ross is a co-trustee of the Richard Tam UNLV Trust and vice chairman of the Richard Tam Foundation. He is the co-developer of Brookspark Industrial Office Park in North Las Vegas, Cobblestone planned community, and other real estate projects.
While a student at Nevada Southern University, the precursor to UNLV, Ross was freshman and sophomore class president. He graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno and Stanford Law School and served as law clerk to the Nevada Supreme Court. His career included service as deputy district attorney for Clark County, the assistant city attorney of Las Vegas, special counsel to Boulder City and Henderson, and as alternate municipal judge for the cities of North Las Vegas and Las Vegas. He practiced administrative, business, and real estate law outside of his government positions and served a variety of clients.
Ross served as a Nevada State assemblyman, is a former president of the North Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce, and has served on a variety of Mayoral Task Forces, committees, and groups devoted to benefit the City of North Las Vegas. As trustee of the Richard Tam UNLV Trust, Ross has played a key role in improvements to the Tam Alumni Center including a remodel of the kitchen and redesign of the lobby and boardroom, and also, an alumni membership campaign which added more than 400 new, UNLVIP members.