2008 Award Recipients

08 Award Winners 

2008 Alumni Award recipients, l.-r.: NAU President John D. Haeger, NAU Alumni Association President Barbara McCloud, Albert L. Esparza, John E. Bridger, Sherman R. Frederick. 

Sherman R. Frederick

NAUAA Dwight Patterson (1934) Alumnus of the Year 

1977 BS Journalism

In a nomination submitted by highly respected representatives of the fourth estate and the judiciary profession, Sherman Frederick is described as surpassing the potential for reputability he demonstrated at NAU. An active member of the Society of Professional Journalists/Sigma Delta Chi, Frederick distinguished himself as one of the most dedicated and committed editors in The Lumberjack student newspaper's history. During his tenure, the paper won several regional and national awards for excellence -- which, according to NAU Professor-Administrator Emeritus Ray Newton, was a testament to the editor's "quiet but firm reportorial and editorial leadership, and his insistence upon accuracy, balance and completeness." Former NAU journalism faculty member Dr. David Bennett, '69 M.ED., now executive director of the Illinois Press Association, remembers Frederick as "a straight-A student, one of the best I ever taught -- yet he was humble and unpretentious."

After graduating magna cum laude, Frederick was hired by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, where he quickly rose through the ranks to become city editor. While serving as editor for the highly-rated Hawaii Tribune-Herald, Frederick was offered the publisher's position at The Daily News in Alamogordo, N.M. His oversight resulted in such profitability and public acceptance that the Las Vegas Review-Journal eagerly "made him an offer he couldn't refuse." Tapped as the Review-Journal's editor in 1988 and then as publisher four years later, he held that position until 1999, when he became president of the Review-Journal's parent company, Vegas-based Stephens Media Group, one of the most prestigious publishing enterprises in the nation.

Frederick's peers have honored him with a wealth of state, regional and national awards. A past president of the Nevada Press Association, he was recently inducted into their Hall of Fame; he has also worked assiduously with the Associated Press Managing Editors organization. But his greatest professional influence would appear to be in the moral and ethical sphere. Nevada Supreme Court Associate Justice A. William Maupin cites Frederick's "commitment to providing a forum for disseminating public information and framing debates of the great issues of the time...investigative pieces have often led to direct government action, even within the administration of the state judiciary." Maupin adds, "Please know that this very unique and respected individual reflects the highest traditions of what your university has tried to accomplish through its graduates."

Loyalty to country and community and an unquestionable dedication to the exacting ethical standards of his profession: for achieving and transcending these hallmarks of personal and professional mastery, the NAU Alumni Association proudly names Sherman Frederick the 2008 Dwight Patterson Alumnus of the Year. 

Albert L. Esparza

NAUAA Dr. Cliff Harkins (1932) Distinguished Citizen of the Year 

1994 MEd Counseling

Often, in the non-profit sector, a single-minded leader is so closely identified with an organization you can't imagine one without the other. Such an intrinsic symbiosis has been achieved by Albert Esparza, as founder, president and CEO of Si Se Puede Foundation (Yes, We Can!), serving more than 1,000 families and children who attend Title I schools and reside in Arizona low-income neighborhoods.

The Si Se Puede Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that advocates non-violent conflict resolution among young people by increasing positive behaviors through community service, educational/recreational activities, and parental involvement in the lives of their children. Programs include after-school reading and math tutoring, a Lego robotics program, youth soccer, Baile Folklorico, adult ESL classes, citizenship and GED classes, as well as workshops and presentations focusing on parenting, life skills and leadership.

For the past 14 years, Esparza has orchestrated these programs singlehandedly; limited funding has not deterred him from expanding to meet the needs of the schools and communities he serves. In earlier years, when the agency still hadn't received funding, he spent his life's savings to keep the programs afloat, experiencing personal financial hardship. Esparza's nomination states that he "fondly recalls sleeping in borrowed offices, traveling by bus between communities...and on many occasions walking from school to school just to keep his program alive."

Esparza earned his bachelor's degree from Arizona State University and his master's in counseling from NAU. He has served and chaired the boards of directors of both Chicanos Por La Causa and the Salvation Army Advisory Board, as well as the City of Phoenix Human Relations Commission, serving as vice-chair and co-founding the cultural diversity program, We're All on the Same Team. In 1999 the nationally recognized Commission honored Esparza for his work in civil rights. That same year he received the City of Mesa Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Spirit of Unity Award, followed by the City of Phoenix Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Living the Dream Award in 2001. He has been honored repeatedly by the City of Chandler as a volunteer and champion of diversity.

According to the Si Se Puede website, Esparza attributes his work ethic and compassion for others to his role models and loving parents, Marcelino and Amada. As a guest speaker, he reminds his audiences that the community of a man and his influence on children are more important than all the material things he acquires. For his unparalleled insistence on universal education and personal accountability, the Northern Arizona University Alumni Association thanks Albert Esparza with the Dr. Cliff Harkins Distinguished Citizen of the Year Award.

John E. Bridger

NAUAA Joe and Marie Rolle (1941/1950) Spirit of NAU Award 

1974 BS Management

Continuing their cherished annual tradition, NAU's beloved Joe and Marie Rolle have once again personally chosen the deserving recipient of their eponymous Spirit of NAU Award. This year the Rolle honoree is John Bridger, who has made his engagement in the life of the university a corporate commitment.

John currently serves as executive director of the Thunderbirds, a public service group that voluntarily organizes the PGA tour's FBR Open, which many consider the finest sporting event in Arizona. In a tangible demonstration of his belief in this institution's value, John has created an NAU presence at FBR that resonates throughout the year, raising awareness of Northern Arizona University among luminaries from the Valley and throughout the U.S.

As one pundit has attested, "it's so much easier to write a résumé than to craft a spirit." In John's case, his spirit is eloquently illustrated by his NAU résumé, from his undergraduate experience as part of signature university organizations such as Sigma Nu, Sophos, and Chain Gang, to his informed participation as a member of the NAU Alumni Association and Foundation Boards of Directors. John continues to advocate the university mission through his work with the W.A. Franke College of Business Advisory Board and as a supporter at the major gift level.

John Bridger's personal and professional contributions epitomize the high standard of humanistic enthusiasm that the Rolles have modeled during their half century of stewardship, and the NAU Alumni Association gratefully recognizes him with our most heartfelt honor, the Joe and Marie Rolle Spirit of NAU Award.