MISSOULA – Five outstanding University of Montana graduates will receive 2014 Distinguished Alumni Awards during Homecoming weekend festivities on Friday and Saturday, Sept. 26-27. The awards are the highest honor presented by UM’s Alumni Association.
This year’s distinguished alumni are Eric Sprunk ’86 of Beaverton, Ore.; Elizabeth Vinson Kohlstaedt, Ph.D. ’89, of Helena; Charles Hood ’61, M.A. ’69 (posthumously awarded); Denise Juneau, J.D. ’04, of Helena; and James Murray ’76 of Washington, D.C.
Sprunk, the first chief operating officer in Nike’s history, is responsible for leading all manufacturing, logistics, IT, procurement, and global real estate and facilities. After more than seven years with PricewaterhouseCoopers in Portland, Ore., during which he was promoted early to the level of manager, Sprunk was recruited by Nike as finance director of the Americas region. During the next 20 years, he served the company in various roles, from finance director of Nike Europe to executive vice president of global product and merchandising, becoming one of the youngest people to hold the position of vice president in Nike’s history. Sprunk, who earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration at UM, has served on the School of Business Administration Dean’s Business Advisory Council, National Advisory Board for Grizzly Athletics and the Portland Opportunities Industrialization Center/Rosemary Anderson Board. He spent more than 15 years coaching his children in Little League baseball, youth basketball and youth football.
Kohlstaedt, who earned her psychology doctorate at UM, is chief clinical officer of Intermountain, a nonprofit agency that has provided emotional and behavioral health services to children and their families for more than 100 years. As clinical director for more than 24 years, she has facilitated the dramatic growth, diversification and clinical excellence of Intermountain; the education and training of professionals from the United States, Australia and Scotland; and the development of a growing partnership between the agency and UM. Before her appointment at Intermountain, Kohlstaedt worked in private practice in Helena and was an assistant psychologist for St. Joseph’s Hospital in Syracuse, N.Y. She has written or co-written more than 45 publications and presentations and has appeared in multiple interviews for the mainstream media. She served as an adjunct faculty member at Syracuse University, taught at Helena College UM, trained medical interns from SUNY Health Science Center and trained psychology, social work and counseling interns from across Montana.
Hood, who earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in journalism at UM, was a faculty member of the UM School of Journalism for 26 years and served 10 years as dean. He was a widely respected expert on U.S. Sen. Mike Mansfield’s life and career, a reporter for United Press International in Helena, and a reporter and editor at the Lewistown Daily News, Great Falls Tribune and Missoulian. He was co-winner of a National Headliner Award in 1975 and has earned recognition from the American Medical Association for his work as a journalist. A leader in promoting international education at UM, he served as exchange professor at Kumamoto University and exchange scholar in journalism at Toyo University in Tokyo. In his retirement, Hood created a journalism exchange between UM and Charles University in the Czech Republic, worked for the Prague Post and copyedited for the International Herald Tribune in Paris. He also volunteered as a writing coach and mentor for UM journalism students and served on the advisory board of the Montanan magazine. He died of Parkinson’s disease in 2013.
Juneau, who earned her law degree at UM, is serving her second term as the superintendent of public instruction for Montana. A member of the Mandan and Hidatsa tribes and descendent of the Blackfeet Tribe, she is the first American Indian woman to serve in a statewide elected office. In 2010, she launched Graduation Matters Montana, a statewide effort that has resulted in increased graduation rates and decreased dropout rates during the past four years. She also created the Montana Schools of Promise initiative, an unprecedented effort to turn around Montana’s lowest-performing schools. In addition to her work with the Montana Office of Public Instruction, Juneau has taught English in public schools and worked as an attorney specializing in federal Indian law. She holds an honorary doctorate in humane letters from Carroll College, was named Educator of the Year by the National Indian Education Association in 2009, received an Alumni Achievement Award from the Harvard Graduate School of Education in 2013 and the Alumni Achievement Award from Montana State University in 2013.
Murray, a trial lawyer with a prominent national practice, is the professional development leader of Dickstein Shapiro’s Insurance Coverage Group, a member of the firm’s executive committee, and past chairman of the firm’s pro bono committee. The only insurance coverage attorney to twice be named national MVP in Insurance Coverage by Law360, he has assisted clients in securing well more than $1 billion in insurance recoveries in the last decade. Murray, who earned his bachelor’s degree in philosophy, became UM’s 20th Rhodes Scholar in 1976, earned two degrees at Oxford University and was a teaching fellow in the philosophy department at Harvard University while earning his law degree. He clerked at the United States Court of Appeals, became a litigation partner at Covington and Burling in Washington, D.C., and served as a special assistant to then-FBI Director William H. Webster. A founding partner of Gordon Murray Tilden in Seattle, Murray served on the Montana State Rhodes Scholarship Selection Committee for more than a decade and is a member of UM’s College of Humanities and Sciences External Advisory Board.
The public is invited to attend a panel discussion featuring the Distinguished Alumni Award recipients at 5:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 26, in the University Center Ballroom on the UM campus. An awards ceremony and reception will follow.