WSU Friends and Alumni to be Honored During Homecoming Week

OGDEN, Utah – With rich and varied personal and professional accomplishments, 10 outstanding individuals will be honored at Weber State University’s 49th Annual WSU Salutes ceremony on Sept. 21. The public is invited to attend the free event hosted by WSU’s Alumni Association during Homecoming. The program begins at 7 p.m. in the Hurst Center for Lifelong Learning Dumke Legacy Hall and will include a short biographical video of each award recipient. For more information, contact the Alumni Association at 801-626-7535.

This year’s honorees are: Distinguished Alumna, Barbara Chrisman; Outstanding Young Alumnus, Jessica Schreifels Miller; Distinguished Service, Kevin J. Sullivan; WSU President’s Award, Kerry W. Gibson; Emeriti Lifetime Achievement, Thomas Grimm; Lewis W. Shurtliff Award for Contributions to Education, Lynnda Wangsgard; Emeriti Homecoming Royalty, Francis R. and LeAnn Wheeler; and Student Homecoming Royalty, Deborah Belnap and Colt Jarvis.

“We are extremely proud to honor this year’s award recipients,” said Nancy Collinwood, WSU Alumni Relations executive director. “Each one is accomplished in areas of scholarship, leadership and service, and yet they are gracious and approachable. Each one is also proud of being a Wildcat.”

Bios of 2017 WSU Salutes Honorees:

Distinguished Alumna

“To thine own self be true.” From Shakespeare’s quill to Barbara Chrisman’s ’76 ears. Chrisman’s rise from financially strapped single mom to bowling business kingpin stems from her refusal to abandon who she is and what she loves. She learned to bowl at a young age and joined leagues at 11. Following an abusive first marriage, Chrisman enrolled in Weber State’s medical technology program. Difficult classes and challenges associated with raising two young sons by herself didn’t diminish her passion for bowling. In 1985, she and her second husband started selling bowling products they concocted in their garage. Today, their company, Storm Products Inc., is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of high-performance bowling balls and accessories. The company even patented the process of adding customized fragrances, such as red velvet cake, to bowling balls. Chrisman has served on the boards of local charitable groups and is a generous philanthropist. She and her husband sponsor numerous bowling events and organizations, including Weber State’s bowling club. The couple established a scholarship at WSU to help student bowlers defray the cost of training and traveling to tournaments.

Outstanding Young Alumna

As the courageous editor-in-chief of The Signpost, Weber State’s student newspaper, Jessica Schreifels Miller ’09 stood her ground when outraged fans lambasted her for publishing serious allegations involving a student-athlete. Eight years later, as a member of a tenacious team of journalists at The Salt Lake Tribune, Miller’s groundbreaking investigation of rapes at Utah colleges landed the daily paper its second Pulitzer Prize. The coveted award capped a year of relentless probing into allegations and evidence of systemic mistreatment and re-victimization of university students who had survived sexual assaults. The coverage exposed problems and led to reforms at Brigham Young University and Utah State University. In addition to the Pulitzer Prize for Local Reporting, Miller and her colleagues received the Frank A. Blethen Award for Local Accountability Reporting from the American Society of Newspaper Editors.

Distinguished Service

Retired Maj. Gen. Kevin J. Sullivan has dedicated his life to serving his country and community. After graduating from the University of Connecticut with a bachelor’s degree in business administration, Sullivan became a commissioned officer through the U.S. Air Force ROTC program. Throughout his celebrated military career, Sullivan held numerous leadership roles including Directorate of Logistics and Engineering at U.S. Air Force Headquarters in Washington, D.C., and Commander of the Ogden Air Logistics Center at Hill Air Force Base. To keep his mind sharp and acquire new skills, Sullivan completed several post-graduate programs at Central Michigan University, Pennsylvania State University and Harvard Business School. Sullivan was appointed to Weber State University’s Board of Trustees in 2010. His unique perspectives and well-rounded education were invaluable assets as he advised two WSU presidents and other senior administrators on matters of policy and management. Sullivan is also a generous supporter of Wildcat Athletics.

WSU President's Award

Given the fact that Kerry W. Gibson co-owns and operates a fifth generation dairy farm, it should come as no surprise that milk is his beverage of choice. (In fact, Gibson’s preference for milk is so strong, Weber State strives to provide it at every university function he attends.) Growing up in a rural community, Gibson learned early that good yields require hard work. In 2001, the American Farm Bureau Federation named him the nation’s Top Young Farmer. Two years later, as an Agriculture Eisenhower Fellow, Gibson spent several months in Europe working on food safety and security issues with European Union officials. His extended visits to Washington, D.C., sparked his desire to become politically active. In 2004, voters in District 6 elected him to the Utah House of Representatives, where he eventually served three terms. In 2010, believing that “local government is where the rubber really meets the road,” Gibson ran for (and won) a Weber County Commission seat. Throughout his years of public service, Gibson has been a strong advocate for WSU. He has supported the university’s efforts to secure funding for building projects, expand engineering and computer science offerings, and obtain operating budget appropriations to help WSU address critical workforce needs in Northern Utah.

Emeriti Lifetime Achievement

Retaining a fresh, entrepreneurial spirit within the confines of large business entities is a challenge, but certainly not an insurmountable one for alumnus Thomas Grimm ’69. Grimm, who earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Weber State, is currently a partner with RST Brands, a leading merchandise fulfillment company that supplies top internet companies such as Amazon, Overstock, Home Depot and Costco. Prior to that, Grimm was the executive vice president of Walmart, during which time he was recognized as one of Utah’s top 10 business leaders. Grimm is a former president and CEO of Sam’s Club. He was the CEO and founder of the Utah-based discount company Price Savers. Raised by parents who emphasized honesty, integrity and hard work, Grimm is deeply committed to improving the lives of others. For three years, he chaired the board of governors for Operation Smile, an international medical charity. Grimm shared insightful stories and professional advice with students and the public at WSU’s Nye Executive Lecture Series in 2008; he presented a Buehler Leadership Lecture in 2016.

Lewis W. Shurtliff Award for Contributions to Education

Technology in the Information Age has changed the form and function of Utah’s public libraries. Thanks in large part to the vision and tenacity of Weber County Library System (WCLS) Director Lynnda Wangsgard ’70, Weber County libraries are no longer just warehouses for reading materials; they’re multifaceted, community-gathering hubs that promote literacy in all of its forms. Wangsgard’s lifelong devotion to education and community service is evidenced in WCLS-sponsored or hosted offerings such as hot meal service for the elderly, art exhibits, film screenings, health and wellness programs, free computer time for job searches and online education, and interactive learning materials for children. In partnership with Weber State University and the Standard-Examiner, WCLS sponsors the annual Weber Reads program, which makes classic titles available in multiple editions so that everyone in the community, regardless of age, language or reading level, can find an appealing version. In support of an ambitious five-year plan to build, renovate and expand libraries in Ogden, Roy, North Ogden and Huntsville, Wangsgard spearheaded the Weber County Library Development Fund’s public awareness campaign to inform voters about a general obligation bond election.

Emeriti Homecoming Royalty

Francis R. ’73 and LeAnn ’70 Wheeler may live in Colorado, but their loyalty to the Weber State Wildcats never wavers. Fran served as Weber State’s student body president and graduated magna cum laude in chemistry. He received a Juris Doctor degree and MBA from Harvard University. Currently, he practices law as a partner at Cooley LLP, where he represents a broad range of public and private companies and board committees in corporate, securities and transactional matters. He is active in the American Bar Association and is an officer and board member of the National Association of Corporate Directors Colorado Chapter.

At Weber State, LeAnn was active in Student Affairs and was named Woman of the Year. She earned a bachelor’s degree in political science at Weber State, a master’s degree from George Washington University and a Juris Doctor degree at Rutgers University. LeAnn was a clerk for the Colorado Supreme Court before deciding to stay home to raise the couple’s five children — four of whom have since graduated from law school. The Wheelers have endowed a lecture series that brings WSU alumni and law school graduates together with pre-law students for advice and mentoring. For more than a decade, the Wheelers have been dedicated members of WSU’s National Advisory Council.

Student Homecoming Royalty

If you’re looking for two students who exemplify the university’s commitment to scholarship, integrity and service, you need look no further than Deborah Belnap and Colt Jarvis. In terms of student involvement, Belnap literally hit the ground running when she arrived at WSU. As a freshman, she participated in the Emerging Leaders Scholarship Program, joined the Student Alumni Association, and competed with the women’s track and field team. Belnap currently serves as the Student Alumni Association’s vice president of philanthropy. Despite her extensive volunteer work with United Way, Your Community Connection and other nonprofits, Belnap maintains a 3.99 grade point average. After she graduates, she plans to attend physician assistant school. She hopes to eventually fund a WSU scholarship as a way of giving back to the niversity that has given so much to her.

Jarvis, who says his hobby is making friends, has been a member of the Student Alumni Association each of the four years he has attended Weber State. He is a former president of the WSU Student Ambassadors, a StrengthsQuest trainer, and director of the university’s American Democracy Project. Through his involvement with the Walker Institute of Politics & Public Service, Jarvis served internships with the U.S. House of Representatives and the Democratic National Committee in Washington, D.C. Those experiences complement his current study of business and political science. Jarvis participated in an alternative spring break service project and was 2016’s Crystal Crest Man of the Year.


Nancy Collinwood, alumni relations director
 801-626-7948 •


Karin Hurst, WSU Marketing & Communications
801-626-7337 •