Cal Lutheran Alumni

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2018-2019 Alumni Awards

The Cal Lutheran Alumni Board of Directors announce their selections for this year's alumni awards.

The California Lutheran University Alumni Board of Directors is pleased to announce the Alumni Award recipients for the 2018-2019 academic year.

This year’s Outstanding Young Alumni Award will be presented to Oliver Thornton ’16at Founder’s Day Convocation on October 19, 2018. Thornton, a School of Management alumnus and winner of Cal Lutheran’s 2016 New Venture Competition, launched a successful crowd funding campaign for his start-up company, Coding Autism. The company’s mission is to help those with autism to develop highly sought-after coding skills and become successful employees in the tech industry. Instead of looking at individuals on the autism spectrum as “disabled,” Coding Autism helps employers understand that autistic people can bring a different kind of diversity—neurodiversity—to the workforce.

The Outstanding Alumni Award will be given to Tracy Downs ’88, M.D., at Honors Day Convocation on April 30, 2019. Downs, a science major and former football player at Cal Lutheran, serves as the Director of Bladder Cancer and Intravesical Therapy Programs as well as the Associate Dean for Diversity and Multicultural Affairs at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. In addition to providing compassionate, cutting-edge urologic care to his patients, Dr. Downs works to mentor students from groups who are traditionally underrepresented in medicine.

The Honorary Alumni Award will be bestowed upon Paul Hanson, Ph.D., at Undergraduate Commencement on May 17, 2019. Hanson, a beloved history professor, joined Cal Lutheran in 1978, and was honored with the President’s Award for Teaching Excellence in 1997. Twice a Fulbright Scholar in India, Hanson has focused his research on Islamic history in South Asia and has traveled to over 40 countries. He served as co-director of Cal Lutheran's international studies major and coordinator of the Global Studies Program.

Congratulations to these three outstanding individuals!  Be sure to join us as we honor each of their achievements during the academic year.

Nominations for Alumni Awards are accepted year-round by the Alumni & Family Relations office. If you are interested in submitting a nomination, please visit