Influential Trailblazers honored at Utah Tech University Presidential Awards

Influential members of the Utah Tech University and Washington County communities were recently recognized at the University’s Presidential Awards Banquet for blazing new trails and making a difference in Southern Utah.

Utah Tech awarded Community Engaged Awards to individuals committed to service learning, community engagement and campus-community partnerships to promote civic responsibility, service, collaboration, inclusiveness and flexibility.

Susan Harrah received the Committed Community Partner Award. Harrah, who has been a teacher for 10 years and a principal for 21 years, is currently principal of Paradise Canyon Elementary School.

Cindy King received the Community Engaged Scholar Award. King, an associate professor of creative writing at Utah Tech, is also an author whose poems have appeared in more than 50 literary journals. King also serves as faculty editor of “Route 7 Review” and “The Southern Quill” and editorial associate at “Seneca Review.”

Kayla Dent received the Community Engaged Staff Member Award. Dent is a staff accountant in Utah Tech’s Business Services Department and serves as the Staff Association secretary. Dent is also co-chair of the Staff Association’s Service & Event committees.

Jason Cowley received the Community Engaged Student Award. Starting as a freshman at Utah Tech at 47 years old, Cowley has helped formed undergraduate research projects and community outreach programs as well as volunteered hundreds of hours helping the U.S. Forest Service, Washington County and several municipalities in the state develop recreational spaces.

Dannielle Larkin received the Community Engaged Alumnus Award. Larkin is a St. George City Council member and serves on a number of boards in the community, including the St. George Art Commission Board, the St. George Children’s Museum Board and the Washington County Solid Waste District Board.

As part of the Presidential Awards Banquet, the Board of Trustees also awarded Excellence in Service Awards to Jon Gibb, Ali Threet and Brad Last.

Gibb has assisted in seeing the campus more than double in square footage as director of facilities planning and management and has previously worked on projects in Salt Lake City, Denver, New Mexico and St. George.

Threet, assistant vice president for student affairs and dean of students, has spent 20 years working with high school and college students, administrators, faculty and staff, members of the Board of Trustees, industry professionals, community members and retirees.

Last is the vice president of development at Utah Tech. He started working at the university in 2011 as a development officer and also served in the Utah State Legislature from 2002 until 2022.

The Board of Trustees also honored Dr. Wayne Provost, Susan Hart and Dr. Ka-Wai Yu with Excellence in Education Awards.

Provost has assisted more than 200 individuals through the patent process by helping with prototype construction and proof of concept analysis. He also founded the Innovation Guidance and Solutions Center at Utah Tech five years ago.

Hart developed Utah Tech’s Exercise Science degree program within a few years of arriving on campus while teaching activity classes. This degree led to the development of the Department of Health and Human Performance, of which Hart served as founding chair for six years. Additionally, Hart recently developed a new university center, the Trailblazer Center for Lifelong Health and Wellness.

Yu is an associate professor of music at Utah Tech, where he teaches cello and string chamber music. He has held workshops, served as an adjudicator and guest-conducted regularly at various institutions and festivals in the Southwest and Midwest. Additionally, Yu is the principal cellist of Southwest Symphony Orchestra and a founding member of the Zion Trio and Cosmopolitan Baroque.

The final Trustee Award of the year, the Distinguished Citizen Award, was bestowed upon Kyle Case. Case is CEO of the Huntsman World Senior Games, the largest annual Olympic-style event in the world for athletes over the age of 50. Case leads a team that welcomes over 11,000 athletes to St. George every October to participate in the games.

Also at the banquet, an Honorary Doctorate, which will also be recognized at the University’s 112th Commencement Ceremony on May 5, was presented to Dr. Patrick Carroll. Carroll is a neonatologist and the Intermountain Health medical director at St. George Regional Hospital. He has worked with the American Board of Pediatrics to develop continuing education for pediatricians and neonatologists throughout the country.

The University also honored valedictorian Briley Wyckoff, who will be the student speaker at Commencement and is graduating with a bachelor’s in English and a minor in piano performance. Additionally, Outgoing Student Body President Devon “Dink” Rice, Outgoing Faculty Senate President Glenn Webb and Outgoing Staff Association President Shane Blocker were thanked and recognized.