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The University of Wyoming College of Arts and Sciences will honor outstanding alumni and former faculty members during its annual awards banquet Saturday, May 17, at the UW Fine Arts Center.
Alumni award winners for 2008 are: Robert E. Bonner, Northfield, Minn.; Robert Klesges, Germantown, Tenn.; and Jack Speight, Cheyenne.
Outstanding former faculty recipients are: Dennis H. Knight and Robert Roripaugh, both Laramie. Also, Elinor Hitchcock Mullens, Laramie, will receive the newly established A&S Heritage Award.
Bonner came to UW from Powell and earned a bachelor's degree in American studies in 1961. In 1967, he accepted a teaching position in the Department of History at Carleton College, a private liberal arts college in Northfield, Minn. In 1997, Bonner became director of American studies at Carleton and was later awarded the newly created endowed chair, the Marjorie Crabb Garbisch Professorship of History and the Liberal Arts. Bonner has published numerous articles in academic journals and has written two privately published books.
Klesges is recognized as a leading authority in two areas of research-tobacco use and weight control. He taught and conducted research at the University of Memphis for more than 20 years. In 2004, Klesges joined the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine faculty where he also served as a consultant at the clinic's Cancer Center. He is now a faculty member at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and the University of Tennessee Health Science Center.
Cheyenne native Speight earned a law degree from UW in 1965 after his undergraduate work. Before entering private practice in 1972, Speight was an assistant attorney general for Wyoming and consultant to Governor and Secretary of the Interior Stanley K. Hathaway. Known for his strong advocacy for the underdog, he has quietly offered pro-bono legal services to dozens of individuals and families over the course of his career, and he established and funded a family foundation in Laramie County from which grants are used to meet the special needs of children and the elderly. Speight has worked on landmark cases such as school finance litigation, lender liability, toxic tort litigation, and insurance bad faith grievances.
Professor Emeritus Knight is a nationally and internationally renowned ecologist. A UW faculty member from 1964-2001, Knight specializes in plant ecology, ecosystem analysis, and the application of ecological concepts to land management. Most of his research has been on forests. A prolific author, Knight has published more than 65 scientific articles, many in prestigious journals. His book, "Mountains and Plains: The Ecology of Wyoming Landscapes," serves as an important reference for scientists, naturalists, and land managers.
Growing up in California, West Texas, and Wyoming (where he has remained since 1949) inspired Department of English Professor Emeritus Robert Roripaugh to write about the landscapes and characters of the West. An award-winning novelist, short story writer, literary critic and poet, Roripaugh is known for creating work rooted in Wyoming's natural setting, climate, ways of life and people. After his retirement from UW in 1993, Roripaugh was named Wyoming poet laureate in 1995 and served the state for eight years.
Lifelong Laramie resident Elinor Hitchcock Mullens is the daughter of Wilber A. Hitchcock, the university architect who built a scale model of the center of campus and designed many of the buildings that surround Prexy's Pasture. She married Glenn Mullens, a UW graduate who later was a professor in the College of Engineering, in 1942, and she received a bachelor's degree in French in 1943. A continuous supporter of the university, Mullens participated in various faculty activities and served as an adviser to her sorority, Pi Beta Phi. She and her husband often allowed graduate students to stay in their home.