Distinguished Alumni Award Honorees
The Distinguished Alumnus/a Award was created by the Alumni Council in 2001 to honor an alumnus or alumna who has demonstrated the highest standards of achievement, leadership, and service that represent the enduring principles of Sewickley Academy.
Judge William L. Standish '44 - Inducted in 2001
Judge Standish is a 1953 graduate of Yale University and the University of Virginia Law School in 1956. He began his career at Reed, Smith, Shaw & McClay in Pittsburgh working in the civil litigation department. A highly successful litigator, he was appointed to the bench by then-Governor Dick Thornburgh and assigned to the Family Division of the Court. In 1982, he won a general election for Judge of the Court of Common Pleas. He was appointed to United States District Court by President Ronald Reagan for the Western District of Pennsylvania, where he continues to serve with distinction.
Judge Standish has a reputation for preparedness, fairness, civility and professionalism. Fellow members of the bar describe the high standard he sets for every case, for his patience and wisdom in the face of difficult decisions and rulings.
In October 2000, he received the A. Sherman Christenson Award at the annual American Inn of Court Leadership dinner held at the U.S. Supreme Court. This award is bestowed upon a member who has provided distinguished, exceptional, and significant leadership. Judge Standish was unanimously nominated by all five of the Inns in western Pennsylvania, a remarkable testament to his far-reaching influence.
Victoria "Torie" Clarke '77 - Inducted in 2003
From the Pentagon to the private sector, Victoria Clarke has been at the center of some of the most historic events in the United States in recent years.
Serving as Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, Clarke was at her desk in the Pentagon's outer ring when the World Trade Center was attacked on September 11, 2001. By the time the Pentagon was hit, Clarke had already moved to the Command Center, where she was one of the small handful of aids to stay with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld throughout the day--leaving the building only to see the crash site and brief the media. From those first moments on 9/11, to embedding correspondents with military units in Operation Iraqi Freedom, a program she conceived, designed and ran, Clarke has played a role in shaping the public's understanding of the war on terrorism. Her televised briefings and appearances on programs such as 60 Minutes, Good Morning America and The Daily Show have made her a recognized public figure.
As press secretary for President George H.W. Bush's 1992 re-election campaign, Clarke was broadly praised for her poise and professionalism during the campaign's most difficult days. She was a close advisor to Arizona Senator John McCain from the earliest days of his Congressional career. As Assistant U.S. Trade Representative during the first Bush Administration, Clarke worked extensively with journalists from around the world and ran a comprehensive private sector liaison program.
Widely respected as one of the nation's most innovative communications stategists, Clarke has advised some of the nation's best-known executives. She has been President of Bozell Eskew advertising, head of the Washington office of the internationally known public relations firm of Hill and Knowlton and Vice President of the National Cable Telecommunications Association.
Lt. Col. E. Michael Fincke '85 - Inducted in 2005
Lt. Col. E. Michael Fincke served as co-pilot on the Soyuz TMA-4 spacecraft for the International Space Station (ISS), Expedition-9 (April 18-October 23, 2004) where he continued ISS science operations, maintained space station systems, and performed four spacewalks.
Mike attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) on a full Air Force ROTC scholarship and graduated in 1989 with a BS in Aeronautics and Astronautics and Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences. Immediately following graduation, Mike enrolled in a summer exchange program with the Moscow Aviation Institute where he studied cosmonautics. He also earned a master of science degree in Aeronautics and Astronautics from Stanford University in 1990.
In addition to two NASA Distinguished Service Medals and two NASA Spaceflight Medals, Mike is a recipient of the first ISS Leadership Award as well as a United States Air Force Meritorious Service Medal, three Commendation Medals, two Achievement Medals and various unit and service awards. He is also the recipient of the USAF Test Pilot School Colonel Ray Jones Award as the top Flight Test Engineer/Flight Test Navigator in Class 93B.
Selected by NASA in 1996, Mike was a back-up crew member for ISS Expeditions 4 and 6 as well as a back-up commander for ISS Expeditions 13 and 16. He was the Commander of the second NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO 2) mission during which he lived and worked underwater for seven days in May of 2002.
Fincke is currently assigned to the crew of STS-134 to the International Space Station. The mission will deliver the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS), a state-of-the-art cosmic ray particle physics detector designed to examine fundamental issues about matter and origin of the universe. The mission will also mark the final flight of the Space Shuttle Endeavor.
J. Stephen Mikita '74 - Inducted in 2007
Steve Mikita is an Assistant Attorney General for the State of Utah. He is legal counsel for Utah's two largest state agencies that provide protection and services for people with disabilities and vulnerable adults. He is also a national expert on the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.
Mr. Mikita was the first student in a wheelchair to attend Duke University where he graduated magna cum laude, with a double major in Political Science and Religion. He received his law degree from Brigham Young University. During law school, he was law clerk for the United States Senate Judiciary Committee.
Among his many awards, Steve received the first National Personal Achievement Award from the National Muscular Dystrophy Association for his advocacy on behalf of individuals with disabilities. He has also received the Alumnus of the Year Award from BYU Law School.
Mr. Mikita has published several works including his autobiography, The Third Opinion (2000) and most recently, I Sit All Amazed: The Extraordinary Power of a Mother's Love (2011).
Dr. James Bower '80 - Inducted in 2011
Earning his undergraduate degree at Duke University and his M.D. at New York University, Dr. James Bower '80 now serves as associate professor of neurology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. He is a leading researcher of movement disorders and Parkinson’s disease and has published over 70 articles on the subject in the last 14 years. During medical school, Dr. Bower embarked on two rotations to Brazil and India that would ultimately change his life and the lives of countless others. Time spent in these two countries sparked his interest in international health.
Through the American Academy of Neurology, Dr. Bower found and contacted the only professor of neurology in Ethiopia at the Addis Ababa University School of Medicine, the main teaching hospital for the country. After learning more about the nation’s growing burden of neurological diseases and lack of formal neurological training, Dr. Bower traveled to Addis Adaba to teach neurology in the summer of 2001 and has returned to do so every summer since. In 2006, Dr. Bower helped to develop a Neurology Residency program which has since graduated 11 new neurologists. This new found corps of specialists allows every medical school in the nation to have one neurologist on the faculty, improving the overall neurological education of all future Ethiopian physicians.