Loras Distinguished Alumni graphic

Loras College Announces 2019 Distinguished Alumni Award Winners

DUBUQUE, Iowa — The Loras College National Alumni Board has announced its 2019 Distinguished Alumni Award winners. The five individuals will formally receive their awards during the College’s homecoming on Saturday, Oct. 12.

Daniel E. Bowen III, Ph.D., (’90), Amicus Award; James A. Welu, Ph.D., (’66), Professional Achievements; Faye A. Finnegan (’78), Campus Contributions; Kelly M. Johnson (’88), Humanitarian; and Nathaniel O. Gee (’09, MA ’14), Young Alumni, will all be recognized. Each was nominated by fellow classmates, former faculty and/or family members as an individual who exemplified the Loras College mission statement and has made a difference in the lives of others.

Daniel E. Bowen III: Amicus (Latin for friend)
The Amicus Award recognizes an individual who, as its name implies, has been a friend to the college, leaving a lasting impact on students and the campus community.

After earning his American Chemical Society (ACS) approved Bachelor of Science in Chemistry at Loras, Bowen earned his Doctorate in Inorganic Chemistry from the University of Iowa, in 1995. He spent 8 years at Goodyear in Akron, Ohio, and for the last 16 years has been at Honeywell Federal Manufacturing & Technologies (FM&T), which operates the Kansas City National Security Campus (KCNSC) for the Department of Energy.

Bowen is currently a Honeywell Senior Science Fellow and the Chief Scientist at Honeywell FM&T. He is one of six individuals to be promoted to Fellow and the first Senior Fellow in the 70-year history of the KCNSC. Among numerous other contributions, recently Dan played a critical role in successfully introducing additive manufacturing (AM) to the KCNSC. Dan has more than 14 peer reviewed research publications, 38 patents and published applications, over 50 local, national, and international scientific presentations.

Bowen has received numerous individual, team, and customer awards, including 2 STARR (FM&T’s highest individual technical award) Awards (2005, 2012), a Dave Cote Honeywell Chairman’s Award for “Everyday Heroes” (2012), multiple Defense Program Award of Excellence (2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2018), Outstanding Poster Award, ACS – Polymer Division (248th Fall National Meeting) for “Thermal and Mechanical Analysis of Anthracene-Filled Epoxy Nanocomposites” (2014), and Federal Laboratory Consortium (FLC) for Technology Transfer Notable Technology Award, (2015).

Bowen holds multiple leadership roles, including the University of the District of Columbia’s Mechanical Engineering Advisory Board, Chair of the Loras College Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry Board of Visitors, and ACS Polymer Division Industrial Advisory Board Leadership.”

James A. Welu: Professional Achievements
In defining professional achievements, alumni are selected based on outstanding career accomplishments and this aptly describes Jim Welu. Welu graduated from Loras in 1966.

Following his time in Dubuque, he earned a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Notre Dame in 1968 and his doctorate degree from Boston in 1977.
Welu spent 37 years at the Worcester Art Museum in Worcester, Mass. From 1974 until 1986, Welu worked in multiple curator positions before serving as the museum’s director, a role he held until his retirement in 2011 when he was named director emeritus. In 2018, the museum’s Curator of European Art position was endowed and named in his honor.

Welu is currently a visiting lecturer at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester and adjunct professor at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

While at Loras, Welu, originally from Dubuque, was a member of the Art Club, designed and executed sets for Loras Players, and served art editor for the Purgold.

Welu has earned numerous awards including the Volunteer of the Year Award from the International Center of Worcester, 2013; ARTSWorcester Award, 2011; Telegram & Gazette Visions Cultural Enrichment Award, 2010; and Big Brothers/Big Sisters’ H. Martin Deranian Award, 2003.

He has served on multiple boards and councils, including the Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Central Massachusetts/MetroWest, Greater Worcester Community Foundation, Princeton University Art Museum Advisory Council, University of Notre Dame Snite Museum of Art Advisory Council, and as chair of the American Alliance of Museum’ Accreditation Commission and as president of the Association of Art Museum Directors.

Faye Finnegan: Campus Contributions
Faculty, staff and administrators often times devote their entire careers to Loras leaving a legacy. The campus contributions award was created to recognize these individuals, like this year’s recipient Faye Finnegan. Finnegan is a 1978 graduate of Loras and received her master’s degree in education leadership and policy studies from Iowa State University in 2005. She began working at Loras in 1980 and working most recently as the academic internship coordinator before becoming director of donor relations at Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque in 2015.

Beginning as an admissions representative, Finnegan held several positions at the College, including associate vice president of advancement, 2004 to 2006; director of development, 2000 to 2014; associate director of development, 1990-2000 senior development officer, 1997 to 1999; and director of alumni and College relations, 1992 to 1997.

Her service to Loras spanned many different responsibilities, including the Loras Alumni Club, benefits Committee, college hearing board, and work with international students.

Her past community involvement includes the Archdiocese of Dubuque Stewardship Committee, Dubuque Girls and Boys Club Board, Creative Adventure Lab Board and National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium Board.

Kelly Johnson: Humanitarian
The Loras College motto is Pro Deo et Patria, For God and Country. The Humanitarian award recognizes an alumni who has had an impact through volunteer, Christian or public service. This year’s recipient is Kelly Johnson. Johnson is a 1988 graduate of Loras with a bachelor’s degree in marketing and English Literature. Her humanitarian efforts through Christ-centered ministry across the country and impact that reaches around the globe.

Johnson is the co-founder of Nourish for Caregivers, which supports the practical, emotional, and spiritual needs of family caregivers, where they are, in their parishes and communities. Since it was first launched in February 2018, it has been established in 45 churches and organizations across 20 dioceses, including an Ecumenical reach into Lutheran and Christian non-denominational churches. It also has an online component, with a Facebook community of more than 3800 members, and partners with Sagacity.care to provide trusted health information for caregivers and those for whom they care.

Johnson is a member of the National Association of Catholic Family Ministry (NACFLM) and the National Conference of Catechetical Leadership (NCCL). With 20+ years of parish ministry, she is certified in lay ministry through the Lay Leadership Institute (Diocese of Joliet/Archdiocese of Chicago) at the University of St. Mary of the Lake in Mundelein, IL.

Nathaniel Gee: Young Alumni
Ten years ago, Loras created the Young Alumni award to recognize graduates of the last 15 years who are making a difference in their community and in their career. This year’s recipient is Nathaniel Gee. Gee, a graduate of West Aurora High School in Aurora, Ill., earned his bachelor’s degree in philosophy and religious studies in 2009 and Master’s degree in clinical psychology and theology from Loras in 2014. He has also earned high honors for his teaching acumen. While at Loras Gee was an All-American in Track and Field, played a leadership role with Student Senate both his junior and senior years, performed with the Loras College Concert Choir and Con Brio and coordinated and participated in several service trips to Kentucky and Chicago.

After earning his bachelor’s degree, Gee worked as a theology teacher at Columbus Catholic High School in Waterloo, Iowa, before spending a year as a novitiate with the St. Dominic Order of Friars. In 2011 he returned to returned to teaching at Columbus where he was honored as the school’s Teacher of the Year in the 2011-12 for consistently providing an atmosphere of Christian ideals and is a positive role model to students.

In 2014, Gee moved over to Wahlert Catholic High School in Dubuque. In addition to teaching theology, he is the Bible study coordinator, tech retreat director, Kairos Retreat leader and head football coach for 7th grade.

Gee has been involved with Loras for many years as Loras All-sports Camp counselor, peer assistant and Spiritual Life intern. As a student, he played football and was earned All-American honors in Track & Field.


About Loras College
Founded in 1839, Loras College leverages its historic roots as Iowa’s first college, the second oldest Catholic college west of the Mississippi River and one of the nation’s 10 diocesan colleges to deliver challenging, life-changing experiences as part of its residential, Catholic setting. In 2019, Loras was the second-highest ranked Catholic college in the state of Iowa according to College Consensus, the 16th Best Regional College in the Midwest by U.S. News & World Report and one of America’s Top 200 Most Loved Colleges/Universities by Forbes Magazine for the third consecutive year. Loras students ranked No. 2 in the world as part of the global Peeptrade Investment Challenge while a second group ranked No. 4. For the 10th consecutive year, Loras Media Studies student-led television station (LCTV) was named the TV Station of the Year by the Iowa College Media Association (ICMA).

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