Dr. John E. Larkin (B.S. '53) and Linda Wells (M.A. '84) were chosen to receive the Outstanding Achievement Award, the highest non-academic honor conferred by the Board of Regents on University graduates.
John Larkin, a pioneering orthopedic surgeon, earned his M.D. from the University in 1960. He performed the first total joint replacement procedures in the Twin Cities as well as the first arthroscopies in Minnesota. But Larkin began his remarkable career in General College in 1949 after graduating from St. Paul Harding High School, where only 7 percent of his class went to college. He completed his bachelor's degree in science education in 1953, having done his student teaching at University High School in Peik Hall.
Following two years of service in the U.S. Army, Larkin pursed his studies in Switzerland at the universities of Bern and Geneva as preparation for admission to the University of Minnesota Medical School. He was elected senior class president and went to Harvard Medical School for his residency at Massachusetts General Hospital.
Beyond his many ground-breaking academic and professional accomplishments, Larkin has distinguished himself as a preeminent collector of American art; a renowned horticulturalist; a dedicated leader on community, arts, and cultural boards; and an enthusiastic alumnus of the University. His passion for the role of education in transforming lives and society is further reflected in his past membership on the Minnesota State Council for Quality Education.
In 1974, at the age of 21, Linda Wells was named the first full-time head coach at the University of Minnesota in three women's sports - basketball, softball, and volleyball. She quickly became a role model and inspiring mentor for countless women and girls. Within a decade, she had helped put women's sports on the map at the University and became one of the most influential figures in women's intercollegiate sports.
At an early age, long before Title IX, Wells was breaking glass ceilings and fighting for equity for women. A small-town kid from Pacific, Missouri, she played five collegiate sports (volleyball, basketball, softball, field hockey, and tennis) as an undergraduate at Southeast Missouri State. She also played softball professionally from 1975 to 1979, earning her hall of fame inductions with professional organizations such as the National Fastpitch Coaches Association. But it was at the University of Minnesota that Wells completed her master's degree in exercise physiology, launched her distinguished coaching career, and established herself as a tireless advocate for all women in sport.
In 1982 she founded the Wells Sports Corp. specializing in coaching clinics, speaking engagements, and products and services for youth sports. After 15 years coaching the Gophers, Wells took over the softball program at Arizona State University in 1989. She retired in 2005 after 31 years of collegiate coaching with an impressive record of 884-653, numerous conference championships, All-America awards, and national tournament berths. She coached at the Olympics, overseeing the Greek (2004) and Dutch (2008) softball teams and continues to conduct workshops around the globe for Olympic caliber athletes and coaches.
Larkin and Wells will receive their awards at separate ceremonies later this year. Larkin's award will be presented jointly by the College of Education and Human Development and the Medical School; Wells's jointly by the School of Kinesiology and Intercollegiate Athletics. The honorees' names will be engraved on the Alumni Wall of Honor adjacent to the McNamara Alumni Center.