Alumni Association Awards

Each year, the Alumni Association recognizes the outstanding service and accomplishments of its members. We will recognize our 2023 award winners on Saturday, April 13, 2024 at a special award celebration open to the alumni and friends. We are currently accepting nominations for the 2023 Alumni Awards Celebration. Nominations are due by September 1.

Samuel Orr Honorary Alumnus/a Award

The University of Evansville Alumni Association created the Samuel Orr Honorary Alumnus Award to recognize non-alumni for their service and commitment to UE. This award, established in 1971, was renamed in 1997 in honor of Dr. Samuel Orr who served the University as a trustee for 59 years. It is the highest honor the Alumni Association can bestow upon a non-alumnus.

The Distinguished Alumnus/a Award

Recognizes an individual (or couple) for distinction in their profession and service to their community and UE. It is the highest honor the University of Evansville Alumni Association can bestow.

The Young Alumnus/a Award

Presented to a recent graduate each year in recognition of his or her personal and professional achievements and service. This award, established in 1997 by the Alumni Association Board of Directors, was created to recognize personal and professional achievements of alumni early in their careers.

Edie Bates Volunteer Service Award

In 1998, The University of Evansville Alumni Association Board of Directors established the Edie Bates Volunteer Service Award. The award recognized Edie Bates exceptional volunteerism within the University alumni community. This award is given each year to volunteers who show the same selfless dedication that Edie Bates displayed through her service to others and to the University.


2023 Distinguished Alumnus Award Winner
Major General Ondra L. Berry ’80

All his life, Major General Ondra L. Berry has championed leadership, diversity, and equity. His ongoing efforts have earned him numerous military and civilian awards, including the Defense Meritorious Medal, NAACP Community Award (Las Vegas Chapter), and – most recently – the UE Distinguished Alumni Award.

Today, he serves as the Adjutant General for the State of Nevada, and he is the first African American to hold this position in the state’s 158-year history. In his role, he is responsible for both federal and state missions of the Nevada National Guard, and he is the principal advisor on all National Guard issues.

Previously, Berry was the Assistant Adjutant General – Air, Nevada National Guard. He managed component headquarters, numbered Air Force, and major command-level support in the formulation and coordination of policy and execution of manpower, personnel, services, and training programs.

For 25 years, Berry served with the Reno Police Department. After retiring in 2005 from his position as Assistant Chief of Police, he became the Senior Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion for MGM Resorts in Las Vegas.

A native of Evansville, Berry graduated from UE in 1980 with a degree in Secondary Education. As a student, he was a running back for the football team and participated in ROTC. He later went on to earn a Master of Public Administration from the University of Nevada, Reno. Berry lives in Sparks, Nevada, with his wife, Margo, and he has three children and three grandchildren.

2023 Distinguished Young Alumnus Award Winner
Kyle Freeland ’15

A native of Denver Colorado, baseball pitcher Kyle Freeland was first drafted out of high school in 2011 by the Philadelphia Phillies. He instead chose to attend the University of Evansville, where he studied and played baseball for three years.

Throughout his college career, he cast a shining light on UE Athletics. His highlights include starting 42 games, posting a collegiate career 3.56 ERA, and striking out 282 batters, to name a few.

In 2014, Freeland went 10-2, posted a 1.91 ERA, and did not give up a home run all season. Shortly after, he was drafted eighth by the Colorado Rockies in the 2014 Major League Baseball Draft, making him the second-highest draft pick in UE Baseball history.

After excelling in the minor league, he broke into the major league in 2017, pitching against the Los Angeles Dodgers in his first game. He went on to start 28 games that year. In 2018, he had a breakout year, finishing fourth in Cy Young voting.

Overall, Freeland has started more than 150 games in the MLB and struck out over 650 batters. He even started a postseason game, where he threw 6.2 scoreless innings and struck out six batters. That day, he became the first Colorado Rockies pitcher to have a scoreless start in a postseason game.

Still pitching with the Rockies today, he remains close with Head Baseball Coach Wes Carroll.

2023 Distinguished Alumnus Award (Posthumous) Winner
Craig Tooley ’83

In 1979, Craig Tooley transferred to the University of Evansville to study Mechanical Engineering. As a student, he instigated the University’s first entry in a student engineering competition, which was a Baja buggy developed by the student chapter of the Society of Mechanical Engineers. Little did Tooley know that this event was just the foreshadowing of an outstanding career.

After graduating in 1983, he became a mechanical engineer at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. He also married his high school sweetheart, Terri Lyn Rutledge, in 1986.

During his career at NASA, Tooley served as mission manager for five successful space shuttle-borne SPARTAN missions, which focused on solar science. In 1996, he joined the Flight Projects Directorate, where he built a reputation as the “go-to guy” for some of NASA’s highest profile missions. He also became deputy project manager for the climate observation mission DSCOVR. Tooley was heavily involved with the Hubble Space Telescope’s fourth servicing mission by developing procedures and training astronauts. Years later, he would oversee Hubble’s Instrument Development Office for the fifth and final servicing mission in 2009.

In one of his most defining roles, Tooley served as project manager for the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, the agency’s flagship mission for better understanding the moon. He oversaw a successful launch in 2009, and the mission continues to make groundbreaking discoveries to this day.

After his passing in 2017, the International Astronomical Union officially named a lunar “crater” after Tooley for his contributions to space science. He will forever be remembered as a humble mentor for numerous UE Engineering alumni who worked with him at NASA over the years.

2023 Samuel Orr Honorary Alumna Award Winner
Henrietta Chubb

Born and raised in Leicestershire, England, Henrietta Chubb earned a Bachelor of Science in Applied Consumer Sciences from the University of Northumbria. Later, she served in biochemistry and public relations roles at Pedigree Petfoods in Melton Mowbray, England.

Continuing her education, Chubb enrolled at De Montfort University to earn her Master of Science in Conservation Science. During this time she also helped run a farming business, renovated a house, and gave birth to twins. In 2000, she joined the Student Life Committee of Harlaxton College, and she provided leadership as chair from 2009 to 2016. She is currently Chair of the Advisory Council and a trustee for Harlaxton. She also serves on the University of Evansville Board of Trustees.

Chubb is a trustee of the charity CleanupUK, a litter picking charity. She has served as a Magistrate (Justice of the Peace) in Leicestershire since 2007 and sits on the Lord Chancellor’s Advisory Committee. She was a member of the fundraising group for Coston Church and, until recently, chaired the parish council for 20 years. She also sits on the steering group for No Going Back, a livery companies initiative supporting people from prison into employment on release.

As a Liveryman of The Worshipful Company of Grocers in 2018, Chubb became one of the first two women elected to the Court of the Grocers Company in its 600-year history. She currently sits on the Grocers’ Education and Charities Committee and has been instrumental in setting up a scholarship for two students from an academy in Hackney, London. In 2023, she also became the High Sheriff in Nomination for Leicestershire, the oldest royal appointment.

2023 Edie Bates Volunteer Service Award Winner
Nafeeza “Birdie” (Mohammed) Harrison ’03

After graduating high school, “Birdie” Harrison left the beautiful island of St. Thomas to attend the University of Evansville. She quickly became an active student on campus by joining the International Student Club, Black Student Union, and Delta Sigma Theta. While working at the former Harper Dining Center, she discovered her passion for working with people of diverse backgrounds and serving the community. She left the University to pursue a life of service, but she later returned and earned a Bachelor of Science in External Studies in 2003.

With a career that spans more than 30 years in the nonprofit sector, Harrison has helped countless individuals in the community. But it wasn’t until she began working for the Girl Scouts of Southwest Indiana that she learned what true volunteerism is. Later, she carried that experience to United Way and became the Community Impact Manager and Engagement Coordinator. She is now the Family Services Director of Habitat for Humanity of Evansville and has helped numerous families achieve the goal of homeownership.

Outside of her work, Harrison has been part of the NAACP and Fiesta Evansville. For 15 years, she played an integral part in the Just for Kids Spring Break Program held at the C.K. Newsome Center. She also served on the executive and international committees for Altrusa International of Evansville. In 2007, she traveled with the UE School of Education for the inaugural study abroad program in Trinidad.

As an alumnus, she continues to serve as a member of the UE African American Alumni Association (UEAAA) as well as the Outstanding Educator of the Year committee. Harrison has also previously received the UEAAA Student Service Award.