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SJMC alumni receive University awards

College of Liberal Arts honors former SJMC students with Alumni of Notable Achievement Award.

By Jen Keavy

C.L.A. Alumni: Carol Pine, Annie Griffiths Belt, Steve Gordon, Jennifer Bloom, David Burrington, Wing Young Huie, Chris Spencer, and SJMC director Al Tims

CLA Alumni of Notable Achievement honorees, left to right, Carol Pine, Annie Griffiths Belt, Steve Gordon, Jennifer Bloom, David Burrington, Wing Young Huie, and Chris Spencer, celebrate with SJMC director Al Tims.

In March, several SJMC alumni were honored by the College of Liberal Arts (CLA) at its Alumni of Notable Achievement banquet.

The CLA Alumni of Notable Achievement (ANA) program was created in 1994 as part of CLA's 125th anniversary to celebrate and honor the significant achievements and contributions of college alumni. All ANA honorees have been nominated by CLA alumni, faculty, and staff. Of the College's 115,000 living graduates, approximately 1,200 have been selected as recipients. The award winners are alumni whose accomplishments and leadership have brought distinction to their professions, their communities and the College. By honoring its alumni, CLA recognizes and celebrates not only their singular accomplishments but also the collective depth and breadth of their interests, talents, career paths and achievements in all sectors of society.

The 2007-08 Alumni of Notable Achievement honorees with SJMC lineage include: David Burrington (B.A. '53), a veteran NBC News reporter and foreign correspondent; Annie Griffiths Belt (B.A. '76), award-winning National Geographic photographer whose work has appeared in Life, Smithsonian and Fortune magazines; Stephen L. Gordon (B.A. '70), veteran advertising professional and senior executive at Campbell Mithun; Wing Young Huie (B.A. '79), award-winning photographer whose work documents the changing cultural landscape of Minnesota and the United States; Christine E. (Chris) Spencer (B.A. '75), retired vice president at Morgan Stanley and director of Art Workshop International; and Jennifer Bloom (B.A. '78), director of the Learning Law and Democracy Foundation, which promotes civics and citizenship education in K-12 schools.

University honors SJMC alumnus Chikuen Lau with Distinguished Leadership Award for Internationals

Portrait: Chikuen Lau

Lauded for his commitment to create an informed public and democratic dialogue in Hong Kong, SJMC alumnus Chikuen (C. K.) Lau (M.A. '83) was awarded the University's Distinguished Leadership Award for Internationals last spring. Former SJMC faculty member Arnold Ismach, who served as Lau's adviser, along with SJMC director Albert Tims, nominated Lau for the award.

In naming Lau as a recipient of the Distinguished Leadership Award for Internationals, the selection committee cited his dedication to defending press freedom and his commitment to Hong Kong as significant to his achievements.

An accomplished journalist and a leading figure in the Hong Kong media for more than 20 years, Lau came to the SJMC in 1982 to pursue his Master of Arts degree after graduating with distinction from Hong Kong Baptist College. In his letter of support for Lau, professor Ismach described him as "an ambitious, promising student" who completed his master's thesis and all requirements in less than a year, which he called "an impressive performance."

In 1983, upon completion of his master's degree, Lau returned to Hong Kong to work full time at the South China Morning Post and, over the next eight years, was a rising star, serving as general reporter, China reporter, education writer, chief of staff and deputy news editor from 1983 to 1990. The Newspaper Society of Hong Kong named him Journalist of the Year in 1986.

From 1991 to 1993, Lau gained diverse experience working at The Australian newspaper as senior reporter and property editor. During his time in Australia, he also earned a graduate diploma in management from the University of New England.

Today, Lau serves as editor of the South China Morning Post, the largest English-language daily newspaper in Hong Kong. Taking the helm during a turbulent time in Hong Kong's history, Lau played an important role as the most prominent Chinese journalist working for an English-language newspaper during the critical years of the handover of Hong Kong from British to Chinese sovereignty.

Lau has passionately dedicated himself to his work for the best interests of Hong Kong. He has served his community as a member of the board of the Newspaper Society of Hong Kong, and is currently vice president of the board. He is a member of the Journalism Education Foundation and the Hong Kong News Executives' Association. His book, "Hong Kong's Colonial Legacy: A Hong Kong Chinese's View of the British Heritage," was published by the Chinese University of Hong Kong in 1997. In 2005, he also contributed to a chapter in "Education Reform and the Quest for Excellence: The Hong Kong Story."

Dave Mona receives University's Outstanding Achievement Award

Portrait: Dave Mona

Dave Mona and University regent Dallas Bohnsack clap along to a surprise performance of the "Minnesota Rouser," sung by VocalEssence.

Known for his remarkable professional accomplishments and exemplary community leadership, J-school grad Dave Mona (B.A. '65) was honored with the University's highest distinction for its graduates, the Outstanding Achievement Award (OAA). Mona was presented with the OAA at a ceremony at Eastcliff, the official residence of the president of the University of Minnesota, on June 2, 2008.

An award-winning journalist and accomplished public relations professional, Mona began his career as a reporter for WCCO-TV and the then-Minneapolis Tribune. In the 1970s, he left the newspaper business and began working in corporate public relations. Along with journalism alumni Scott Meyer and Dennis McGrath, Mona founded Mona Meyer McGrath & Gavin, a full-service public relations firm. In 1987, the company was named to the Inc. 400 list of fastest-growing private companies in the United States. One year later, the company was acquired by London-based Shandwick. Today, the Twin Cities office of Weber Shandwick is the leading public relations office in the Upper Midwest. Mona still logs 40 hours a week at the once small public relations firm he help turn into an international company.

In addition, Mona is a co-host of "The Sports Huddle" on WCCO-TV and serves as the color analyst on WCCO radio's University of Minnesota football broadcasts. In 2005, he won both the Associated Press and Edward R. Murrow writing awards for his pregame vignettes.

Mona, a longtime community leader and volunteer, serves on the boards of Meet Minneapolis (formerly Greater Minneapolis Convention & Visitor's Association), Achieve!Minneapolis, VocalEssence and the Minnesota Vikings Children's Fund. He is the past national president of the 60,000-member University of Minnesota Alumni Association and past national president of the Council of Growing Companies.