by Vicki Hamende,
Office of Communications and Technology
For her advocacy of the importance of health care, her philanthropic efforts on behalf of the University of Wyoming, and her commitment to community service, Mary
Thorson Gullikson has been named a College of Agriculture Outstanding Alumnus for 2003.
“I am bowled over,” says the 1958 home economics graduate and cancer survivor whose career as a dietitian has led her to champion the needs of others.
“If you teach people how to value and take care of their bodies, they will be more responsible and will make much better choices,” Gullikson says. “Health education has been a guiding light for me.”
A past recipient of the UW Medallion Service Award for “extraordinary, exemplary service” to the university and a former president of the foundation board and member of the alumni board, Gullikson worked for many years to secure funding so that the College of Health Sciences could be housed in its own building.
“Mary’s ongoing leadership and commitment facilitated a $12.5 million appropriation this year by the Wyoming legislature to construct a new facility for the college,” says Robert Kelley, dean of the UW College of Health Sciences.
“Without Mary’s dogged pursuit of realizing the vision of a new home for the college, we would not be enjoying the success a new building generates,” he notes. “Additionally, Mary has continued her work with the board to urge others to support all the activities of UW through private gifts and grants.” Gullikson has given a personal contribution, one of more than 50 gifts she has donated to UW, to help renovate the campus’s Biochemistry Building into a health sciences complex.
In the community of Loveland, Colorado, where Gullikson and her husband David, the parents of four children, make their home, her admirers say she has applied
“her talents, abilities, and get-it-done skills” to be recognized as a major supporter of the local hospital.
As a member and current president of the McKee Medical Center Foundation Board executive committee, Gullikson has provided the leadership that has resulted in the addition of a conference and wellness center, a therapy pool, a chapel, a downtown clinic for the uninsured and underinsured, a cancer treatment center, and other enhancements to medical care in the Loveland area.
Gullikson says her father’s fund-raising efforts on behalf of cancer organizations and her own bout with the disease at 28 “really impressed upon me how we need to help each other. Everything that we do to help our community ends up as a benefit for everybody.”
Her devotion to community service has also touched United Way, Rotary International, the National Western Stock Show, Zonta, the P.E.O. Sisterhood, the Chamber of Commerce, and church and political organizations.
Gullikson is described as “a vigorous advocate” of UW “who is proud of her education and who maintains a substantial loyalty and dedication” to the promotion of the university. “I believe that you need
to make an investment of yourself to secure a good uture for others,” she says.