Puget Sound Alumni Awards

As individuals and as a community, Puget Sound graduates have enormous impact. Each year, the Alumni Council honors accomplished alumni for their service to Puget Sound, their communities, and to their professions. Award winners are announced in the spring, and awards are presented during Summer Reunion Weekend. 

Do you know an alumna or alumnus who deserves recognition? Nominate him or her! 

2014 Alumni Award Winners

Service to Community Award: William (Bill) Baarsma ’64, P’93
Presented to alumni whose volunteer leadership in human services, the arts, recreation, or education has had a direct impact on their community and beyond. 

Bill Baarsma '64, P'93  

Bill Baarsma ’64 has dedicated his career to serving both Puget Sound and the Tacoma community. A native Tacoman, and perhaps this city’s biggest advocate, Bill attended Puget Sound on an academic scholarship. As a student, Bill served as The Trail editor, and as such, The Trail representative on Student Senate, and was also a member of the Sigma Nu fraternity. He majored in political science, and after graduate school, returned to Puget Sound, serving as a faculty member and coordinator of the public administration program, which he established. He was elected to the Faculty Senate and later appointed as the Faculty Representative to the Student Senate. During his 33-year tenure at the college, Baarsma also served on the Tacoma City Council, and in 2002 won the Tacoma mayoral election handily, serving two terms. He is credited with working to establish the city’s neighborhood councils, raising the profile of the city, strengthening ties with the Puyallup tribe, supporting minor league baseball in Tacoma, and was instrumental in the expansion of the University of Washington’s Tacoma branch campus.


Bill is currently president of the Zeta Alpha/Sigma Nu Puget Sound Alumni Chapter. He has long been a committed volunteer for his class reunions, and is serving as co-chair of this year’s Class of 1964 50th reunion, with John Whalley ’64.

Service to the University: John Whalley ’64
Presented to alumni who have made long-standing volunteer contributions that have made a profound impact on the Puget Sound community. 

John Whalley '64  

John Whalley ’64 took an unusual path to University of Puget Sound. Accepted to Whitman College, John spent the summer of 1960 working as a “kitchen boy” at Pilgrim Firs Church Camp in Port Orchard, Washington. One afternoon, a fellow kitchen boy told John that his future roommate had decided not to attend Puget Sound, and suggested that John join him in Tacoma. One phone call later, John was a Logger. As an undergraduate, he was a member of Phi Delta Theta, president of the spirit group Choppers, and oversaw the intermural sports program. After graduating with a degree in business, John went on to serve in the U.S. Coast Guard, before working for Boeing, Pacific Metal Co., Pop Geer Co., and Service Steel Aerospace in the metals industry.


John has long noted that his association with Puget Sound, both as a student and an alumnus volunteer, has made a major difference in his life. He has volunteered for the Alumni Fund, and served as a trustee of the college from 1982-2012. This year, he is serving with Bill Baarsma ’64 as co-chair of the Class of 1964 50th reunion.

Professional Awards are presented to alumni who have gained regional, national, or international recognition for lifetime professional achievements that reflect positively on Puget Sound and the Alumni Association

 Lifetime Professional Achievement Award: Jan Davis ’74

Jan Davis '74  

Over the course of a 40-year career in occupational therapy and continuing education, Jan Davis ’74 has influenced the work of tens of thousands of occupational therapists worldwide, and the millions of people with neurological disabilities that these clinicians have served over the years.


During her time at Puget Sound, Jan was a member of the women’s volleyball team, the Student Occupational Therapy Association, and was selected as student representative to the national conference of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA). She has maintained a strong connection with the School of Occupational Therapy as an alumna, receiving the Centennial Award in 1988, giving guest lectures, and collaborating on media projects with professors.


Today, Jan is widely recognized as a clinician who has the ability to reach and mentor clinicians, as well as faculty —a unique quality in the field. She began her career at the prestigious Sharp Rehabilitation Center in San Diego, was Director of Occupational Therapy at the Klinik Valens in Switzerland and went on to found International Clinical Educators (ICE), one of the oldest continuing education companies in the profession. Jan creates innovative state-of-the-art educational materials used by faculty and students of physical therapy and occupational therapy university programs, and teaches continuing education courses to PT and OT practitioners. Her intellectual curiosity and collaborative style have kept her courses timely and engaging, and she is regularly invited to present at respected conferences and represent AOTA as a media consultant.

Mid-Career Professional Achievement Award: Jason Carey ’92

Jason Carey '92  

Jason’s journey has taken him from Colorado to Washington, Los Angeles, and most recently New York, in search of great stories. A master storyteller, with a passion for the outdoors and a lifelong sense of curiosity, Jason is currently Senior Vice President of Production for the cable giant, Animal Planet. In this role, he oversees production of the innovative television series “Surprisingly Human.” He has led editorial direction for a number of series critical to the network’s rebranding, including the Emmy-nominated “Whale Wars,” now in it’s third season, and “Escape to Chimp Eden.”


Prior to joining Animal Planet, Jason worked in Los Angeles as a freelance writer, director, and producer on high-profile projectsfor VH-1, Disney Channel, CBS, HBO, Showtime, NBC, and TBS.  


Like many other Coloradans, Jason was attracted to Puget Sound for it’s access to the wilderness, and appreciated learning how to think and analyze in a healthful way. As a student he played in a band and studied creative writing, earning a degree in English. 

Early Career Professional Achievement Award: Chase Curtiss ’06

Chase Curtiss '06  

Chase Curtiss ’06 is a pioneer in the field of mobile technology in healthcare, and in just a few short years has positioned himself as an innovator to watch over the next decade. Chase graduated with honors in exercise science, and went on to earn a master’s from Wichita State University, where he focused on business as a complement to his research work.


With a mission of advancing outcomes-based patient care with mobile diagnostics, Chase founded Sway Medical, a software company focused on reinventing the way medical outcomes are measured. His mobile balance testing system that monitors athletes and patients for stability has been recognized by The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, and Forbes among others. The product is the first ever to receive FDA clearance for a diagnostic software application using only existing components of a mobile device. In 2009, Chase co-founded Shot Science basketball, a tutorial online hub for basketball players that has garnered nearly 15 million views.


Chase remains deeply involved in the Puget Sound community, serving as a mentor for current students and a regular guest lecturer in exercise science. A former student-athlete, Chase also keeps up with the men’s basketball team.  

Young Logger Award: James Oppenheimer ’14 and Gabe Davis ’14
Presented to current student(s) or recent graduate(s) who has/have made significant contributions to creating programs that bring alumni and students together, that familiarize students with the alumni association, and that encourage class identification. 

James Oppenheimer '14 and Gabe Davis '14  

Friends and classmates James Oppenheimer ’14 and Gabe Davis ’14 are the forces behind the Student Alumni Association. Working tirelessly over the past three years with the Alumni Council and university staff, James and Gabe have developed a program that connects alumni with current students through networking opportunities and other events that strengthen lifelong loyalty to Puget Sound. Under James’ and John’s leadership, the Student Alumni Association has taken students on workplace tours with alumni leaders in top businesses including Google, Microsoft, Netflix, and Coca Cola, planned alumni-student events like bowling nights and bolstered school spririt by planning signature events like the Logger 5K run during Homecoming and the annual “Battle of the Classes” events each spring. The program has been wildly successful among students and alumni alike.


James is an economics major, and member of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity, in addition to serving as a campus tour guide, and president of the Student Alumni Association. James’ parents, Trustee Deanna ’80 and John ’80, and sister, Jeni ’11, are all Puget Sound graduates.


Gabe is a double major in business and international political economy, with an economics minor. He is also a member of Phi Delta Theta, vice president of the Student Alumni Association, and serves as a campus-tour guide and resident advisor.