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Published July 27, 2023
Four University of Wyoming graduates will be honored by the UW Alumni Association (UWAA) and the Office of the President for their professional achievements and support of the university during Homecoming Sept. 25-30.
Hamid Khan, Caitlin Long and Phil Nicholas are the recipients of the 2023 Distinguished Alumni Award, and Charlotte Hearne Davis is the 2023 Medallion Service Award recipient. John Easterbrook Jr. also has been selected as a Distinguished Alumnus. Due to Easterbrook’s role as the chief membership officer for the PGA and his participation in this year’s Ryder Cup events that will take place in Italy at the same time as this year’s Homecoming, he will be recognized during the 2024 Homecoming celebration.
The Distinguished Alumni Award recognizes alumni who have achieved excellence in their profession; appreciate the impact of their UW education; and are people of integrity, stature and demonstrated ability.
The Medallion Service Award recognizes outstanding service to the university. The award honors alumni or friends of UW who are people of integrity and stature and who have unselfishly given of their time, talent and support.
“We couldn’t be more excited to recognize these incredible alumni during Homecoming this fall,” says Jack Tennant, UWAA executive director. “The honorees represent UW, our students and alumni in the best regard.”
The UW tradition of Distinguished Alumni and Medallion Service awards has a long and notable history. In 1953, the first Distinguished Alumni Award went to U.S. Navy Vice Admiral Emory Land, who helped design the submarine during World War I. In 1968, the first Medallion Service Award went to UW head football Coach Lloyd Eaton. Those who have received awards since then are a “who’s who” across the globe.
To some, UW may seem an unlikely place to prepare for a high-profile international career. But for Khan, who grew up in Worland and Sheridan, UW provided the perfect launchpad. He says it gave him top-notch instruction, mentoring from professors and singular opportunities.
After completing his bachelor’s degree in political science in 1998, he earned his J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School. Khan now serves as a judicial education attorney for the Federal Judicial Center, the education and research agency for the federal judiciary, located in Washington, D.C. Additionally, he is an international consultant for the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative, which helps to protect women’s rights in Islamic marriage contracts. Khan also serves as an adjunct professor of Islamic law at the University of Michigan Law School.
Khan says three memories from his time at UW are particularly impactful.
The first was when he signed up for UW’s London semester. The late Duncan Harris, who led the UW Honors Program, helped arrange an internship with the British House of Commons. Khan was short on money, however. He talked to UW administrators he knew -- from deans to the president -- and they helped him come up with the difference. At most universities, students would not know these administrators, let alone be able to go to them for help. The semester was a fantastic experience and ignited his love of travel. He later returned to London, showing his wife and children the sights he saw as a student.
Second, Michael Horan, former head of the Department of Political Science, invited him and some other students to breakfast, not telling them the meal was with former Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger.
Third, Khan secured an internship with former U.S. Sen. Alan Simpson via his Associated Students of UW (ASUW) connection with Pete Simpson, Alan’s brother, a UW professor emeritus of political science and a former Wyoming state representative.
Khan says all of these amazing experiences helped position him for his career, which has included serving as a national security fellow for the Truman National Security Project; a senior adviser for the Interagency Outreach and Response Team in the Office of Refugee Resettlement for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; and a consultant for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
Long grew up in Laramie. Her father was a UW professor for 40 years, and her mother was a teacher in Rock River. Long earned her bachelor’s degree in political economy in 1990 and made lifelong friends through Pi Beta Phi sorority; cheered on the Cowboys basketball and football teams during a highly successful period; and learned a new way of thinking from her favorite course -- an English class taught by Professor Cedric Reverand. It taught her to be a systematic thinker, which she applied in the worlds of business and technology, she says.
Long earned a master’s degree in public policy and a law degree from Harvard, both in 1994. At that time, a high-level finance career required living and working in a big city, so Long headed to New York. She began as an associate at Salomon Brothers, then served as managing director at Credit Suisse. From there, she became managing director at Morgan Stanley. Her 20-plus-year career on Wall Street also included serving as president and chairman of the board for Symbiont, a smart contracts platform for institutional uses of blockchain technology.
Long never forgot her Wyoming roots, serving on UW’s College of Arts and Sciences Board of Visitors and the UW Foundation Board. She hoped to return to Wyoming upon retirement, but a gift to the university changed her trajectory.
In 2017, Long wanted to endow a scholarship for female engineers at UW via appreciated bitcoin. However, the gift could not be accepted due to Wyoming’s outdated money transmission law. Blockchain is a growing technology that enables cryptocurrencies and digital assets but also has many other uses. Long agreed to help Wyoming update its law, but state Rep. Tyler Lindholm and others wanted to take things much further, making Wyoming a leader in blockchain and a home for related businesses.
In the first few years of these efforts, Long served as gubernatorial appointee for the Wyoming Blockchain Task Force and the co-founder of the Wyoming Blockchain Coalition. UW launched the Center for Blockchain and Digital Innovation in 2020, and Long chairs the related WyoHackathon, an annual nonprofit event offering challenges and bounties for software developers, entrepreneurs and business professionals that has raised several million dollars for UW and brought many tech luminaries to Laramie.
In 2019, Long moved back to Wyoming to found Custodia Bank, which will provide banking and financial services for customers navigating the digital asset frontier.
Some students leave UW ready to change the world. For Nicholas, that desire was amplified by a liver disease diagnosis in his 20s. The doctor said he had about five years before he would reach end-stage liver disease, so he set big goals. After the first five years, he was still healthy and continued setting new goals, helping him accomplish big things as a father, a lawyer and a legislator. He eventually received a liver transplant but never stopped setting those goals.
Nicholas grew up in Lander. After attending college in Oregon, where he met his wife, he returned to Wyoming. Nicholas earned his J.D. from UW in 1979 and settled down to raise a family and practice law, founding Nicholas and Tangeman in Laramie. As a trial lawyer, Nicholas was awarded the highest rating of AV by Martindale-Hubbell and Super Lawyers by Thomson Reuters.
He also served in the Wyoming Legislature starting in 1997 in the House of Representatives for eight years, followed by the Senate for 12 years. Nicholas took part in many committees, including chairing the appropriations committee in both the House and the Senate for 10 years. In the Senate, he was vice president, president and majority floor leader. Two of his major accomplishments were improving Laramie and investing in UW.
All four of his children attended UW, where Nicholas saw firsthand how the university offers avenues for students to excel and also caring professors for those who need extra help.
Nicholas’ ancestors went all the way to Oregon as settlers on the Oregon Trail but then turned around and came back to Wyoming. He recalls his grandmother telling tales of taking a wagon from the Devils Tower area to attend UW back when there were just two buildings. Now, thanks to Nicholas and others, UW grows each year with new state-of-the-art facilities.
Nicholas co-founded the Laramie Beautification Committee and served on many other boards and organizations, including the Wyoming Trial Lawyers Association, the Uniform Law Commission, the Albany County Hospital District Board of Trustees, Hospice of Laramie, the Laramie Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, the Albany County Planning Commission and the Laramie Economic Development Corp.
Charlotte Hearne Davis
When Hearne Davis retired as associate director of student life for UW in 2000, the students she served threw her a party, saying that, in UW’s 114-year history, there have been few people who have had such a positive impact on the institution and its students as she has had.
Hearne Davis served the university for 34 years, all in mentorship roles for students, including as associate dean of students. She advised numerous student groups on campus, including almost all of UW’s honorary societies, the Panhellenic Council, SPURS, the Mortar Board chapter, ASUW, the first UW Minority Student Leadership Initiative and Freshman Senate. She also served her sorority, Delta Delta Delta, as academic adviser for over 40 years.
Hearne Davis was born in Hanna but moved to Laramie in high school. She and her six siblings all attended UW, with Hearne Davis earning her bachelor’s degree, with honors, from the College of Commerce and Industry in 1960 and her master’s degree in counselor education in 1964. Aside from a six-year stint as a high school teacher and counselor in Glendora, Calif., her entire career was based in Wyoming.
The recognition Hearne Davis received from those she mentored meant the most to her. Her accolades include a Distinguished Lifetime Membership from the national Mortar Board’s Alumni Awards; Mortar Board’s Alumni Achievement Award; Mortar Board “Top Prof”; the Each Student a Person Award; the ASUW Distinguished Service Award; the Division of Student Affairs Outstanding Professional Staff Member Award; Service Award for Exceptional Service and Dedication to UW; the Greek Achievement Awards for Outstanding Chapter Advisor; and the Distinguished Alumni Award from the College of Education. Two scholarship funds were created in her honor -- the Charlotte H. Davis Scholarship and the Charlotte H. Davis Leadership Fund.
Hearne Davis’ commitment to women’s leadership development went beyond UW, with roles in Zonta International, the Philanthropic Educational Organization, the Colorado-Wyoming Association of Women in Education and the National Association for Women in Education. She hopes to inspire students also to serve.
After she retired, Hearne Davis worked as a volunteer for the Andros Dental Project alongside her husband, Maron, who also is a UW graduate, to provide dental hygiene education and services to children on Andros Island in the Bahamas.
For more information about the recipients and awards, call the UWAA office at (307) 766-4166 or visit www.uwyo.edu/alumni.