2023 Founders Day Awardees: Shaping a Brighter Future

The U celebrates its legacy with its annual Founders Day celebration

The University of Utah has come a long way since its inception in 1850. To commemorate its rich history, the U holds an annual Founders Day event to recognize outstanding alumni and honorary alumni who have made significant contributions to their communities, professional fields, and the university itself. The awards presented on this day are considered some of the most prestigious given by the university. Meet this year’s awardees.

Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients

Anke Friedrich BS’90 MS’93 is a professor of geology and helped lead efforts to launch one of the world’s first continuously operating space-geodetic networks, which was used to monitor tectonic activity around a proposed nuclear waste site in Nevada. At the U, she earned All-American honors on the ski team with three individual NCAA championships in giant slalom and slalom.

James S. Hinckley BS’71 MS’77 has been the chairman of the Hinckley Institute of Politics and its Investment Committee since 1990. An influential figure in Utah’s vehicle industry, he was president of the Utah Automobile Dealers Association, as well as a member of the U’s National Advisory Council and the Natural History Museum of Utah’s Board of Advisors.

Lyn Hinckley BS’73 has been an avid supporter of the Hinckley Institute of Politics in various capacities since 1973. She is a community advocate for the McCluskey Center for Violence Prevention and is deeply committed to furthering the objectives and mission of the Natural History Museum of Utah. She was previously an elementary school teacher and worked with the Junior League of Salt Lake City.

J. Charles Rich BS’62 MD’65 served as president of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons and American Academy of Neurological Surgeons, as well as chief medical officer of the 2002 Olympic Games. He was president of the Spencer Fox Eccles School of Medicine’s Alumni Association and a member of the U Alumni Board of Directors. He and his family have also hosted student-athletes and contributed to scholarships for many years.

Clifton Gregory Sanders PhD’90 is chief academic officer for Salt Lake Community College and was previously the school’s dean of science, mathematics, and engineering. Currently, he mentors U graduate students from underrepresented groups. He received the Arts and Letters Distinguished Service Award from the Utah Academy of Sciences and Salt Lake City Weekly’s Best Straight-Up Jazz Band award with The G Brown Quintet.

Honorary Alumnus Award Recipient

John Bircumshaw is passionate about the U’s gymnastics program and helped popularize the “Flash the U” gesture. He travels with the team and provides a community for the gymnasts’ parents. He worked for Utah Power from 1973 to 2015, as a meter reader, then a journeyman lineman, and finally as director of apprentice training. He served as a venue captain for skating events in the 2002 Olympic Games and was a volunteer firefighter and ski patroller in Park City, Utah.    


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