Office of Ceremonies
Alumnus Summa Laude Dignatus
Since 1938, the University of Washington has presented an award to a former University of Washington student whose work has attained national or international prominence. The Alumnus Summa Laude Dignatus Award (Alumna Summa Laude Dignata for women – the phrase means “alumnus worth of the highest praise”) is the highest honor bestowed by the University. Award winners include:
Chester (“Chet”) R. Huntley – As a newscaster for NBC’s Huntley-Brinkley Report, Huntley’s acclaim equaled that of legendary newscaster Walter Cronkite. The Huntley-Brinkley report was the NBC television network’s flagship evening news program from October 29, 1956 until July 31, 1970. In competition with Cronkite’s CBS Evening News report, Huntley’s newscast stayed atop the ratings until Huntley’s retirement in 1970. He graduated from the UW in 1934.
Imogen Cunningham – Cunningham was one of the most celebrated photographers of the 20th century. She was a founding member, along with Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, and others, of Group f/64. As a photographer for Vanity Fair in the 1930’s, she photographed many celebrities and political figures, but she was perhaps best known for her stunning floral images. She majored in chemistry at the UW and graduated in 1907.
Bonnie Dunbar – Dunbar joined the Johnson Space Center in 1978 and three years later became one of the first female astronauts. She has made five space flights totaling 796 orbits of earth, more than any other female astronaut. In 1995 she was part of the first U.S. space mission to dock with the Soviet space ship Mir. She retired from NASA in September 2005 to serve as President and CEO of Seattle’s Museum of Flight. At the UW she earned her bachelor (1971) and master’s (1975) degrees, later earning her Ph.D. Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering from the University of Houston.
Nobel Prize winners – ASLD Nobel Prize winners include George Joseph Stigler, who won the Nobel Prize in Economics in1982, and two winners of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine: Martin Rodbell (1994) and Linda Buck (2004).
Other notable ASLD award winners include Minoru Yamasaki, the architect of the World Trade Center, John E. Steiner, who designed the two best-selling commercial jets of all time – the Boeing 727 and 737, Edwin O. Guthman, winner of the 1950 Pulitzer Prize for national reporting, and Dr. Elizabeth Soule, founding Dean of the UW School of Nursing.
See the complete list of ASLD award winners.
The President’s Medal is presented annually by the University of Washington president to two graduating seniors who have achieved the most distinguished academic records in their class. Those graduating summa cum laude are considered for the awards. One medal is given to a student who has completed at least three-fourths of his or her degree requirements at the University. Beginning in 2004, a second medal has been awarded to a student who entered the University with at least 60 transfer credits from a Washington community college.
See the complete list of President’s Medalists.