Arthur Ullian was living what many would call “the good life.” Running a successful real estate development company in Boston that included the Eliot Hotel provided a comfortable lifestyle — influential friends, sailing and skiing trips, frequent travels abroad.
That life, however, took a sudden and dramatic turn on the morning of July 5, 1991, when an innocent bicycle ride on a quiet country Massachusetts road ended tragically. Ullian was unexpectedly flipped over the handlebars of his bike, landed on his chin and hyper-extended his neck. Despite wearing a bike helmet, he suffered a bruised spinal cord that left him a quadriplegic.
Undeterred, Ullian turned his personal tragedy into public advocacy, putting his political, entrepreneurial and financial experience into helping others through neurological research.
Ullian will be among six Lawrence University alumni who will be honored for their career accomplishments and service June 16-18 when the college hosts its annual Reunion Weekend celebration. More than 900 alumni and guests from 38 states and six countries are expected to return to campus to participate in the weekend-long festivities. Two alumni will be recognized with distinguished achievement awards and four will he honored with service awards during the annual Reunion Convocation Saturday at 10:30 a.m. in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel.
A 1961 Lawrence graduate, Ullian will receive the Lucia R. Briggs Distinguished Achievement Award. Named in honor of the second president of Milwaukee-Downer College, the Briggs award recognizes alumni of more than 15 years for outstanding contributions to and achievements in a career field.
Since his accident, Ullian has devoted his life to advancing neuroscience research and raising public awareness on the cost of neurological disease through a variety of organizations and committees. For the past 13 years, Ullian has served as president of the National Council on Spinal Cord Injury, becoming a fixture at congressional hearings where he passionately advocates for increased funding for research. During his NCSCI tenure, he has collaborated with the Christopher Reeve Foundation, the Laskar Foundation and the Dana Alliance, among others.
In addition to his NCSCI presidency, Ullian is currently serving the second four-year term of an appointment that began in 1999 on the Advisory Committee to the Director of the National Institutes of Health. The committee advises the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Director of the NIH on biomedical research, medical science and biomedical communications. From 1996-99, Ullian also served as a member of an advisory panel to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), helping review scientific applications for financial support for biomedical research and training on disorders of the brain and nervous system.
In 2005, he was named to the Harvard University Stem Cell Advisory Committee and currently serves as chairman of the Boston-based Task Force on Science, Health Care and the Economy, which examines factors related to biotechnological innovation that will combine to alter medical knowledge and practice, outcomes and costs in the coming decades.
The American Academy of Neurology Foundation recognized Ullian’s efforts on behalf of neurological disorders in 1996 with its Public Leadership in Neurology Award. In 1999, Ullian became just the second recipient of the “CURE” Award, which honors exemplary service and dedication to the field of spinal cord injury research. The Boston-based mentoring organization Partners for Youth with Disabilities honored him for his contributions to the disabilities community in 2004 and that same year, Rutgers University presented him an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree.
Growing up on a 50-head dairy farm in Sauk Prairie gave Catherine Statz an early appreciation for rural life and the value of cooperatives. Since graduating from Lawrence in 1996, Statz has dedicated her career to advancing the quality of life for farm families, rural communities and all people as the education director for the Wisconsin Farmers Union in Chippewa Falls.
Statz will receive the Nathan M. Pusey Young Alumni Distinguished Achievement Award, which recognizes Lawrence alumni of 15 years or less for significant contributions to and achievements in a career field. The award honors the 10th and youngest president of Lawrence and an exemplary figure in higher education in the 20th century.
As the WFU’s education director, a position she has held since 1997, Statz coordinates a variety of cooperative education programs for its members, their children and the general public. Among her duties is serving as director of Kamp Kenwood on Lake Wissota, a camp she attended herself from the time she was nine years old until she graduated from high school. The camp, which specializes in securing products and services from local farmers, businesses and co-ops, was featured in the 2001 Wisconsin Public Television program “Camp Co-op.”
As camp director, Statz organizes and leads learning opportunities about family farms, cooperatives and social justice for more than 200 youngsters each summer. Among the array of educational and team-building activities she oversees are campfire sing-alongs, where she puts her B.M. in voice performance to work, and “theme nights,” when she utilizes her B.A. in English for a primer on Grendel by staging “Beowulf Night.”
For the past seven years, Statz has collaborated with the Minnesota Farmers Union to organize the annual College Conference on Cooperatives in Minneapolis. Each year, 80 post-secondary students and faculty from throughout the Midwest meet for a three-day educational conference on the challenges facing the cooperative environment and the future face of co-ops.
She also has been instrumental in developing the international Building Cooperative Futures youth program. Started as a pilot program in 2003 with the help of a $5,000 grant from the Cooperative Foundation of St. Paul, Minn., the program has grown into an annual conference held each May to provide a collaborative, cross sectional approach to cooperative education for young adults.
Last month, Statz led a delegation of American representatives to this year’s conference in Manchester, England, where 100 participants gathered from 10 countries. Manchester is near Rochdale, widely considered the birthplace of the modern cooperative movement and conference participants visited the legendary store — now a small museum — on Toad Lane where the first co-op was launched.
In 1999, the Association of Cooperative Educators honored Statz with its William Hlusko Memorial Award to Young Cooperative Educators in recognition of outstanding achievement in cooperative education.
Jose Hernandez-Ugalde, a 1996 Lawrence graduate and native of Costa Rica, will receive the George B. Walter Service to Society Award. Named in honor of Walter, a 1936 graduate, former faculty member and dean of men at Lawrence who believed strongly that every individual can and should make a positive difference in the world, the award recognizes alumni who best exemplify the ideals of a liberal education through socially useful service in their community, the nation or the world.
For the past four years, Hernandez-Ugalde has served as Costa Rica’s country director for Cross-Cultural Solutions, an international organization founded in 1995 that provides individual and small-group volunteer experiences in 10 countries. The program is recognized for its on-site support and education for volunteers and the year-round presence it maintains in the communities it serves.
Since joining CCS, Hernandez-Ugalde has established two volunteer centers, one in his childhood hometown of Ciudad Quesada and a second in Cartago, the country’s oldest and third-largest city.
Praised as “an ambassador who connects North American and Latin American experiences” by those who have worked with him, Hernandez-Ugalde is responsible for hiring and supervising all in-country CCS staff members. He also matches volunteers from around the world with locally-run partner programs that include everything from working with deaf children and creating positive activities for at-risk youth to helping provide care for nursing homes patients. Beyond placing participants with volunteer opportunities, Hernandez-Ugalde plays a central role in immersing volunteers in the local culture and the lives of the people they are there to help.
His personal interests center around incorporating the arts into his home community and he serves as a liaison in nearby San Carlos for the National Theater Company located in the capital city of San Jose.
Prior to joining CCS, Hernandez-Ugalde worked with the Foreign Service Foundation for Peace and Democracy, where he specialized in conflict resolution and the elimination of child labor. He was a visiting faculty member at the Close-Up Foundation in Washington D.C., teaching courses on civic education and democracy and has served as a protocol official for the United Nations Conference on the Environment.
Margaret (Banta) Humleker, Kathleen (Karst) Larson, and Peter Kelly will each be presented the Gertrude B. Jupp Outstanding Service Award. The award honors Jupp, a 1918 graduate of Milwaukee-Downer College who was named M-D Alumna of the Year in 1964 for her long volunteer service to the college and recognizes Lawrence and Milwaukee-Downer alumni who have provided outstanding service to the college.
Humleker, Fond du Lac, a 1941 graduate, served the college as member of the Board of Trustees for 24 years and has spent more than 30 years as a class secretary. She has served on numerous reunion gift and steering committees over the years and has been a Lawrence representative at college presidential inaugurations. A second generation Lawrence graduate, Humleker also had two sons and a granddaughter earn degrees from Lawrence.
Larson, McAllen, Texas, a 1960 graduate, holds the distinction of being the longest serving class secretary in Lawrence history — 42 years and counting. In addition, she is a long-serving reunion steering committee member and former board member of the Lawrence University Alumni Association. She also has served as a Career Center contact, an admissions office volunteer and was instrumental in helping Lawrence launch LENS, an electronic alumni newsletter.
Kelly, West Newton, Mass., a 1987 graduate, will be recognized with the college’s highest alumni service award at the youngest possible age — during his 20th class reunion. He has served in numerous lead volunteer capacities since leaving Lawrence, including co-chair of his class’ 10th reunion gift committee. He spent three years as a member of the executive committee of the Lawrence University Alumni Association and has been an ambassador peer solicitor the past three years. He also has been active as a Career Center contact and admissions volunteer.