Utah State University Celebrates Founders of a New Season of Giving

Utah State University is turning 131 in 2019 and is celebrating by honoring alumni and friends at the Founders Day and Old Main Society event Friday, March 8. The event honors two individuals and three couples with the theme “Founders of a New Season of Giving.”

“During our Founders Day and Old Main Society event we are honoring individuals who, through their generosity and tireless effort, have made a significant impact on Utah State, in their individual communities and throughout the world,” said USU President Noelle Cockett. 

The 2019 Founders Day award recipients are Peter Q. Lawson and David B. Lee, who will receive Distinguished Service Awards.

The 2019 Old Main Society award recipients are Scott and Michele Watterson, who will receive the Spirit of Old Main Award; Justin and Jocelyn Hamilton, who will receive the New Generation of Old Main Award; and Larry and Helen Cannon, who will receive the Emeriti Old Main Award.

Founders Day Awards

Distinguished Service Awards are given on Founders Day to individuals or couples who had made significant contributions to their community, the university or the world at large.

Distinguished Service Award
Peter Q. Lawson

Peter Q. Lawson is a conservation-minded individual who has devoted much of his time and energy to protecting the stunning Professor Valley Ranch near Moab, Utah, that he and his family call home. Peter, with his wife Anne Wilson, and sons, Bates and Theo, live and work on the ranch located in the spectacular cliff-lined valley with views of the La Sal Mountains and red rocks. 

Professor Valley Ranch is a natural “irreplaceable laboratory” of irrigated agricultural land including a pistachio orchard and other fruit and nut trees, as well as natural shrub land, and riparian habitat along Professor Creek and irrigation canals. The green field and trees provide a sense of the agricultural traditions of early settlement, as well as preserving attractive open space. Current management of the hayfields on the Professor Valley Ranch preserves many natural values as Peter knowingly shares irrigated resources with wildlife, including mule deer that nightly move onto the hayfields. The Conservation Easement helps to ensure that management of the Ranch in the future will agree with Peter and his family.

Peter’s longtime affiliation with Utah State University and the S.J. and Jessie E. Quinney College of Natural Resources stems back to his grandparents, the college’s namesakes. His parents, Janet Q. and Frederick R. Lawson, raised Peter to be a conscientious individual and steward of the future. Peter has been an avid supporter of students enrolled in various programs in the Quinney College of Natural Resources and has hosted them at his home for a variety of hands-on learning experiences at the ranch. He was also instrumental in providing support for the Janet Quinney Lawson Chair in Colorado River Studies at Utah State, of which professor Jack Schmidt was named inaugural chair in 2018.

As a resident of Moab, Peter involves himself in preserving the beauty of the area and has been involved in many local causes. He has served on the boards of the Nature Conservancy, the Youth Garden Project, and the Moab Charter School. He and Anne have generously supported the Alf Engen Ski Museum, Moab Art Trails, Native Seeds/Southwest Endangered Arid-Lands Clearing Resources, University of Utah Health Care, and the University of Utah. On a personal note, Peter enjoys flying and has earned a pilot’s license so he can fly his Taurus glider. 

Distinguished Service Award
David B. Lee

David B. Lee is an Aggie advocate who truly cares about the success of Utah State University. In a relationship that spans more than 30 years, David has been an essential and effective voice for the institution in the nation’s capital, thereby enhancing the institution’s reputation as one of America’s finest research universities. 

David’s partnership with the university has allowed for an in-tandem working relationship where many successfully implemented strategies have brought in hundreds of millions of federal research dollars to the institution. His insider understanding of the complexities of how the U.S. Congress works and, more specifically, how the appropriations process works have been essential to USU’s success on many fronts. David has helped secure funding for a broad array of capital and research projects, including the university’s Space Dynamics Laboratory, helping elevate USU’s national standing. The respect with which David is held by Utah’s elected senators and representatives, along with their respective staffs, has opened the doors of opportunity for the institution’s faculty researchers across the university.  

David is the president and founding principal of Lee & Smith, P.C., a Washington, D.C.-based law firm. Since the establishment of the firm in 1996, his legal practice has consisted primarily of legislative and regulatory matters, specifically matters relating to federal authorizations and appropriations for public entities.

Prior to establishing Lee & Smith, P.C., David served as vice president and as a member of the board of directors of the Utah-based law firm Jones, Waldo, Holbrook & McDonough, P.C. During his tenure with the law firm, David also served as the managing shareholder of the firm’s Washington, D.C., office.

Before entering private practice, David served as staff director and chief counsel to Congressman Gunn McKay (D-UT), a member of the House Appropriations Committee. Prior to joining the McKay staff, David also served on the staff of Senator Frank E. Moss (D-UT) and Governor Calvin L. Rampton (D-UT).

David attended the University of Washington and graduated magna cum laude in 1972 from the University of Utah with a bachelor’s in history. He received his law degree from Brigham Young University in 1976. He is a frequent lecturer on the federal legislative and appropriation process and is a member of the Utah State Bar and the D.C. Bar.

Born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah, David is a proud descendent of Peter Maughan, an early pioneer settler of Cache Valley. In 1972, David married the former Marilyn Durham; and they became parents of four children, Allison, Brooke, Jessica, and Joshua. Marilyn passed away in 2000. Today, David is the proud grandfather of 16 terrific grandchildren. Believing one is only as old as one feels, David recently became engaged to Kathleen Barlow, who will bring an additional 14 terrific grandchildren to the family.

Old Main Society Awards

The Old Main Society was established in 1967 to recognize those seeking to continue the tradition of excellence at Utah State University by providing generous gifts that enhance funding from the state, research grants and other sources. The event celebrated Old Main Society members, both old and new, whose generosity ensures the future success of Utah State University and the students it serves.

This year’s festivities will induct 161 new members into the Old Main Society joining more than 3,300 other Aggies. The university will also recognize 128 current members who will move up to new giving levels.

Spirit of Old Main
Scott and Michele Watterson

As alumni of Utah State University, Scott and Michele Watterson have supported the Aggies in many ways, thus embodying the Spirit of Old Main. 

As co-founder of ICON Health & Fitness, Scott’s leadership has allowed the company to become one of the world’s largest developer and marketer of products and services for a healthy life. Scott, along with support from Michele, has grown ICON from a small local business to an internationally-known company recognized for innovative products including treadmills, ellipticals, stationary bikes, fitness wearables, road and trail running shoes, and fitness accessories for strength training, yoga, and flexibility. The company’s success provides Scott and Michele the opportunity to give back to Utah State University, with particular emphasis in programs supporting Aggie athletes. The couple was instrumental in the creation of the ICON Strength and Conditioning Center, built in 2013, that features areas for weight training, cardiovascular workouts, and speed and agility training for nearly 400 athletes from 16 sports programs. 

In his role as chair and CEO of ICON, Scott is involved with product development, manufacturing, importation, marketing, sales, and distribution. His innovative designs have garnered many accolades for the company where he is the primary inventor of the company’s 272 patents and more than 500 trademarks. ICON’s leading brands include NordicTrack, ProForm, Weider, FreeMotion Fitness, and Altra Footwear. Over the years, Scott has served on many boards including the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Utah, USU Foundation, USU Board of Trustees, Employers Council of Utah, and on the Mountain States Employers Council. Scott graduated from USU with a degree in business marketing and a minor in Chinese. 

After graduating from USU with a degree in history, a minor in physical education, and a teaching certificate for secondary education, Michele supported Scott as their company’s success flourished. The couple raised five children, three who would become USU graduates, and Michele involved herself in many community activities. She has served on the board for the Utah Festival Opera & Musical Theatre, the American West Heritage Center, Cache Valley Food Pantry, USU Caine College of the Arts Dean’s Advancement Council, and as Parent Teacher Association president for River Heights Elementary School. 

While Scott and Michele are busy with various business and volunteer commitments, the couple have always made time for family. They enjoy spending time with their children and their children’s families, with a total of 16 grandchildren. As dedicated members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Scott and Michele have served in many callings over the years, most notably a three-year mission from 2004-2007 where they presided over the Taiwan Taizhong Mission. 

New Generation Old Main
Justin and Jocelyn Hamilton

Justin and Jocelyn Hamilton are Aggies that will forever hold Utah State University in their hearts and are always looking for ways to give back to the institution.

Justin says his Aggie pride has been with him since he first set foot on the USU campus. As a student, he was always looking for opportunities to be involved on campus, something that continues for him as an alum. Justin and Jocelyn give generously with both their time and resources to many areas of the university, including the College of Humanities and Social Sciences and Aggie Athletics with particular focus on student scholarships and activities.

After coming to USU from Idaho on a Presidential Leadership Scholarship, Justin spent time in student leadership roles in the Student Alumni Association, President’s Leadership Council, and Associated Students of Utah State University. His extracurricular activities did not get in the way of his academic success as Justin made the Dean’s List every semester. In 2003, Justin received the university’s prestigious Bill R. Robins Memorial award. He graduated from USU in 2009 with degrees in political science and economics. 

While still a student at USU, Justin opened Café Sabor, a Mexican bistro, located at the old train station in Logan. The venture proved to be a success, allowing Justin to expand and open Hamilton’s Steak and Seafood in 2004. His business endeavors flourished over the next several years and Justin never forgot the network USU provided him, laying in part the foundation for his many achievements. Today, Café Sabor has expanded with locations in St. George, Utah; Idaho Falls, Idaho; Layton, Utah; and seasonal locations in Bear Lake, Utah; and Island Park, Idaho. In addition to Café Sabor, Justin and Jocelyn own and operate Off-Premise Catering that takes care of off-sight weddings, corporate, and university events, in addition to the food service operations at the Logan Country Club, Birch Creek Golf Course, and Beaver Mountain Ski Resort.

After growing up in Rigby, Idaho, Jocelyn began her undergraduate studies at USU and completed her bachelor’s in dental hygiene at Dixie State University in 2006. She worked as a dental hygienist in Cache Valley for the past decade and, most recently, she has worked closely with Justin in their several businesses including playing an instrumental part in the renovation and innovations at the Bluebird Candy Company. She and Justin were grateful for the opportunity to travel with the Crown Council to the Dominican Republic where they participated in a dental service mission. The couple are expecting their first child, a little girl, in April of this year. 

Justin and Jocelyn make it a point to stay active with the many activities Utah State University provides. They enjoy attending Aggie athletics events together and are patrons of the many arts activities the university provides. Logan and the Cache Valley area are important to them and they never forget their close link to USU. Even when setting up business ventures afar, the couple is always incorporating some bit of USU wherever they go. 

Emeriti Old Main
Larry and Helen Cannon

Larry and Helen Cannon are educators, readers, learners, and givers. The couple have spent many years at Utah State University inspiring and mentoring students, thus creating impactful lifelong bonds.

A retired professor of mathematics and statistics in the College of Science, Larry began his tenure with USU in 1962. Helen, inspired by the university community, spent time at the USU Herbarium before beginning a graduate program in English where she started as a graduate instructor in 1987, thus beginning her love for teaching. Giving back to the students at the institution has become an important part of the Cannon’s life. They have given generously to many areas of the university and established the Helen B. and Lawrence O. Cannon Endowment in the areas of math and English.

Shortly after Larry began his degree in mathematics, he soon discovered it was more fun, challenging, and satisfying than he ever imagined. He earned a bachelor’s from Utah State, and although several career and academic pursuits pulled him away from the institution, Larry kept returning to Cache Valley and USU, where he would eventually become department head of the Mathematics and Statistics. His career garnered many highlights. Larry was instrumental in organizing a National Science Foundation Summer Institute for Secondary Mathematics Teachers for 10 years and, with the help of close USU colleague, Bob Heal, Larry created his most lasting contribution to mathematics education, the National Library of Virtual Manipulatives (NLVM). The NLVM contains a large number of interactive applets where students control activities on the computer screen and draw their own mathematical conclusions. The library has been translated into a number of languages and is used by students all over the world. Larry received the Utah Governor’s Medal for Science and Technology in 2009.

Helen has been an Aggie all of her life. With encouragement from her USU colleague, Joyce Kinkead, Helen created a course for the Department of English using the New Yorker magazine as text. Her students used the New Yorker as their textbook and were required to respond to an item in the magazine as she wanted to teach her students to read as writers. Helen firmly believes that reading and writing go hand-in-hand, and she was thrilled in the delight her students took in the assignments. Some of her fondest memories of her USU tenure were reading and commenting on every student’s paper. Helen’s teaching experience even inspired her to write a book, Teaching with the New Yorker. Although the book was never published, her class was a resounding success. Many former students keep in touch with Helen and say that her New Yorker class was something they would never forget. 

Aside from their time at the university, Larry and Helen make time to enjoy life. The couple raised their family in Cache Valley, their “soul home,” taking advantage of the area’s many outdoor offerings, including a favorite pastime, cross-country skiing.  Larry became involved with the local theater and music scene, acting in several productions, while Helen enjoys reading with Larry. As the couple says, “there are too many books and not enough time.”

Sky Optics Media drone video