For nearly 60 years, UC Santa Barbara Alumni has followed a tradition of honoring the achievements of outstanding alumni and friends of the university.
This year is no exception, and five individuals will be fêted Friday, Oct. 4, at the campus’s Corwin Pavilion. The 2019 UC Santa Barbara Alumni Award recipients include Cástulo de la Rocha, Sue Wilcox, M. Lisa Manning, Jeffrey Stewart and Gary Cunningham.
“It is truly a pleasure to honor these individuals who have done so much for UC Santa Barbara,” said George Thurlow, assistant vice chancellor and executive director of UC Santa Barbara Alumni. “They demonstrate the support and generosity of our friends and alumni.”
Cástulo de la Rocha
de la Rocha will receive the Distinguished Alumni Award while Manning will be presented the Emerging Leader Award. Stewart and Cunningham are recipients of the Honorary Alumni Award. Wilcox will receive the Graver Alumni Service Award.
The celebration begins at 6 p.m. Tickets are $50, and reservations can be made online at https://ucsbalumniawards19.eventbrite.com. Questions can be directed to Samantha Putnam at (805) 893-2654 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The president and chief executive officer of AltaMed Health Services Corporation, distinguished alumna de la Rocha (’73) is a trailblazer in community health. Under his leadership, AltaMed has transformed from a storefront barrio clinic in East Los Angeles to the largest federally qualified health center in the nation.
His innovative “whole community” approach to health care has earned him a UCLA Center for Health Policy Research Impact Award in Community Service, the Los Angeles Business Journal’s Lifetime Achievement Award and the Leader in Action Award from the PRIME Program at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. In 2017, alongside composer and playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda, de la Rocha was honored with a Medallion of Excellence from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, and last year he received the Aaron L. Brown Memorial Public Service Award from the National Association of Community Health Centers.
In addition, de la Rocha has spent 30 years assembling the AltaMed Art Collection, which champions the works of emerging and established artists who reflect the history, achievements and struggles of underserved communities. The collection lives on rotating display across AltaMed’s entire clinic network. In 2018, de la Rocha led the launch of Building Bridges: Chicano/Mexican Art from Los Angeles to Mexico City, an event consisting of an exhibit of Chicano art as well as panel discussions addressing art’s influence on U.S./Mexico relations.
M. Lisa Manning
Manning (’08), recipient of the Emerging Leader Award, is a professor of physics at Syracuse University and founding director of BioInspired Syracuse: Institute for Material and Living Systems. She is an award-winning interdisciplinary scientist studying the mechanical properties of biological tissues and the failure of disordered materials. Her work to understand how the global mechanics of tissues impact cell migration and pattern formation provides new insight into embryonic development, wound healing and cancer. In addition, her understanding of fundamental excitations in disordered solids has resulted in better predictive models for flow and failure in materials from glasses to earthquake faults.
Recently named a Science News “Top 10 Scientists Under 40,” Manning has given over 100 invited talks and published 38 peer-reviewed articles. She is the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including the 2018 Maria Goeppert Mayer Award from the American Physical Society, the 2016 Young Investigator Prize from the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics, a Simons Investigator award, a Sloan Fellowship and a Scialog award from the Research Corporation for Science Advancement.
Wilcox (’70, ’72 and ’75), recipient of the Graver Alumni Service Award completed degrees in mathematics and economics at UC Santa Barbara. An employee of the the Atlantic Richfield Company for 10 years, she also held an adjunct position at Pepperdine University. In recent years, she has been assisting her husband, Gary Wilcox (also a triple degree holder from UC Santa Barbara and a member of the board of trustees of the UC Santa Barbara Foundation) with a number of biotechnology start-ups.
A member of the UCSB Alumni Board from 2012-18, Sue Wilcox played an influential role in the design of the new 1,500 square-foot Wilcox New Venture Incubator, which she and Gary made a significant gift to endow.
Sue also served on the Dean’s Cabinet on the Division of Mathematical, Life and Physical Sciences) and the Department of Economics Advisory Board, which helps plan strategy for the department. She and Gary have established Wilcox Family Chairs in biomedicine, biotechnology, molecular biology and economics.
Jeffrey C. Stewart
Honorary alumnus Jeffrey C. Stewart, a professor of Black studies at UC Santa Barbara, is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of “The New Negro: The Life of Alain Locke” (2018). The book also received the 2018 National Book Award for Nonfiction, a 2018 Back Caucus of the American Library Association Award, a 2018 PROSE Award from the Association of American Publishers, the 2019 James A. Rawley Prize of the Organization of American Historians and the 2019 Mark Lynton History Prize, one of three awards given as part of the J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize administered by Harvard University’s Neiman Foundation for Journalism and the Columbia University School of Journalism.
A writer, curator and teacher of the history and culture of America, Stewart is a sought-after speaker with expertise in the Harlem Renaissance and the Black Arts Movement of the 1920s and 30s. As part of his course on the history of jazz, he initiated the pop-up Jeffrey’s Jazz Coffeehouse that continues to invite local and national jazz musicians to perform in Isla Vista restaurants that he and colleagues from the campus’s art, sociology and dance departments transform for one evening into spaces for music and spoken word performances.
Cunningham, also an honorary alumnus, served as UC Santa Barbara’s athletic director from 1995 to 2008. During his time here, the campus opened the new Intercollegiate Athletics Building and had one of the Big West’s highest athlete graduation rates.
A former collegiate basketball star who played under legendary UCLA coach John Wooden, Cunningham was drafted by the NBA’s Cincinnati Royals. An assistant coach under Wooden from 1965-75, he was named head coach in 1977 and had a record of 50-8, the highest winning percentage of any UCLA basketball coach. Over the course of his career, he held the position of athletic director at Western Oregon State College, the University of Wyoming and California State University Fresno before coming to UC Santa Barbara.
For two decades, Cunningham was president of the U.S. International University Sports Federation, which oversees Team USA in the World University Games. He also has served on numerous National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) committees and as president of the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics.
A member of the UCLA Athletics Hall of Fame and the Santa Barbara Court of Champions Hall of Fame, Cunningham is the recipient of the first-ever NCAA Division 1 Lifetime Achievement Award. He also has been named an NCAA Division 1 Athletic Director of the Year and is a recipient of the U.S. Sports Academy Sports Management Award.
More information about the Alumni Awards celebration can be found at https://www.alumni.ucsb.edu/events/awards.