Honored Alumni

The Honored Alumni Award is the highest honor bestowed upon Cal Poly alumni by the University’s Alumni Association. The award was established more than 50 years ago by the Association to provide recognition for outstanding graduates and former students of Cal Poly.

One Honored Alumni Award recipient is chosen every year from the University’s six colleges. Awardees are honored each year during Homecoming at the Honored Alumni Banquet.

2021 Honoree


Walter J. Ruzzo
Natural Resources Management, ‘78  

Walter Ruzzo, a retired leader of environmental health and safety in the mining and biopharmaceutical industries, has served on the college’s Natural Resources Management and Environmental Sciences Department Advisory Council since 2012, and as its chair since 2013. In this capacity he provides frequent guidance and counsel to the dean, department head and other college leadership and serves as a mentor and resource for students.  

Ruzzo is also actively involved with Swanton Pacific Ranch, currently serving as the chair of the Swanton Pacific Ranch Advisory Council and as a member of the core planning team to create a new strategic intent following the CZU Lightning Complex fires that badly damaged the ranch in August 2020. He also represents Cal Poly and Swanton Pacific Ranch as the secretary of the Central Coast Rangeland Coalition.

He is also deeply involved with Cal Poly’s nationally ranked logging team, frequently traveling with the team to competitions in California and throughout the western United States. He serves as a judge at competitions and a mentor to many of the student competitors. He also serves as a volunteer judge for the Forestry Challenge (a non-profit for high school students interested in forestry and natural resource careers) and uses this platform to recruit forestry students to apply to Cal Poly.


Past Honorees

Awarded Name Major Graduated
2020 Karen Carey Watts Ornamental Horticulture 1979
2019 Kirk Messick Agricultural Business 1983
2018 David Gill Crop Science 1972
2017 Paul F. Burkner Agricultural Engineering 1964
2016 Cotton Rosser Animal Husbandry  1952
2015 Charles F. Walton Ornamental Horticulture 1966
2014 Peter Oppenheimer Agricultural Business Management  1985
2013 Chuck Harrington BioResource & Agricultural Engineering 1981
2012 Michael & Wendy Hall Animal Science 1973, 1975
2011 John Salmonson Crop Science 1967
2010 Ken Volk Fruit Science 1983
2009 Ed Boutonnet Crop Science


2008 Joe Bannon Agricultural Business 1976
2007 Omer King, Jr. Soil Science 1956
2006 George Gowgani Crop Science 1964
2005 Bonnie Mojas Rosser Home Economics 1977
2004 Gene Starkey Dairy Science 1953
2003 Stephen Barnard Agricultural Business 1975
2002 Manfred Sander Animal Science 1953
2001 George Foster Poultry Industry 1970
2000 James Errecarte Agricultural Business 1970
1999 Robert Scofield Ornamental Horticulture 1953
1999 Robert Heuvel Agricultural Business 1973
1998 Ralph Grossi Dairy Science 1971
1997 Tom Bordonaro, Jr. Agricultural Business 1983
1996 Thomas Payne Agricultural Chemistry 1958
1995 Howard Brown Ornamental Horticulture 1943
1994 Rick Antle Crop Science 1979
1993  John Lacey Animal Science 1960
1992 Guenther Stotzky Soil Science 1952
1991 Daniel Sumner Agricultural Business 1972
1990 W.R. Gomes Dairy Science 1960
1989 Alfred Amaral, Jr. Agricultural Business 1964
1988 Albert Smith Crop Science 1944
1988 Gini Bailey Home Economics 1965
1987 George Soares Agricultural Business 1966
1986 Merle Jensen Crop Science 1964
1984 Al Quist Dairy Science 1947
1983 Marilyn Hamilton Hone Economics


1983 George Gomes Agricultural Business 1966
1982 Robert Meyer Crop Science 1954
1981 Douglass Maddox Dairy Science 1957
1980 Marjorie Sue Home Economics 1971
1980 Richard Loomis Animal Science 1952
1979 William Verdugo Animal Science 1947
1978 Jack Wick Ornamental Horticulture 1951
1978 Ronald Pardini Animal Science 1962
1977 Tom Veblen Crop Science 1953
1977 Shirley McCallum Home Economics 1971
1976 Edwin Hobson Soil Science 1950
1975 George Strathearn Animal Science 1950
1974 Edward Bradshaw, Jr. Ornamental Horticulture 1964
1973 John Carricaburu Animal Science 1942
1972 Martha Eichorn Home Economics 1966
1971 Marlene Van Wagner Home Economics 1971
1971 Chester McCorkle, Jr. Agriculture 1947
1970 George Raymond Animal Science 1940
1970  Ann Davis Home Economics 1965
1969 Carl Gill Agriculture 1921
1968 Ronald Regan Ornamental Horticulture 1950
1966 Donald Fiester, Jr.  Crop Science 1947
1964 Robert Smith Animal Science 1954
1963 John Jones Crop Science 1947
1961 Alfred Miossi Mechanical Agriculture 1907
1960 Helen Wong Jean Home Economics 1921
1959 Herman Sperber Agricultural Business 1942
1953 Walter Wells, Jr. Animal Science 1950

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