Top (L to R): Brooks, Carter-Harris, Connor, Cook, Dronawat, Heaton, Helfat. Bottom (L to R): Maull, Saag, Schulte, Triplett, Watkins, Whitehead, Wilson.

The University of Louisville has fostered some of the most brilliant minds across the spectrum, including a dentist who provides free care to underprivileged youth, multiple CEOs and award-winning philanthropists. These are just some of the extraordinary people to be honored at the 2018 Alumni Awards next Thursday during Homecoming week.

The awards ceremony recognizes the top UofL alumni throughout the colleges and units. The Alumni Association selects 13 Alumni Fellows, representing each of the schools, libraries and student affairs. Winners are selected based on their merit and contributions to the community.

Penny Heaton, chief executive officer of The Bill and Melinda Gates Medical Research Institute, is the 2018 Alumna of the Year. Heaton received her undergraduate degree in 1986 and her Doctor of Medicine in 1990. Read her story here

The 2018 Alumni Fellows are:

  • Ernest A. Brooks, III, College of Arts and Sciences, 1996

Brooks is a financial advisor affiliated with the brokerage services of COEX Partners Inc. He lives in New Jersey but is heavily involved with the university by partnering with high schools from his hometown and helping students get the support they need to get into college. He also created the Brooks-Gibson Scholarship Fund.

  • Lisa Carter-Harris, School of Nursing, 2004, 2013

Carter-Harris serves as assistant professor at the Indiana University School of Nursing and an associate member of Cancer Prevention and Control at the IU Simon Cancer Center. Her research targets the reasons behind whether or not people choose to engage in lung cancer screenings, writing several books on the subject as well.

  • Avonne Connor, School of Public Health and Information Sciences, 2005, 2007, 2011

Connor is an assistant professor at John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in the Department of Epidemiology/Cancer Epidemiology with a joint appointment in the School of Medicine. Her research interests are breast cancer, cancer survival, tumor phenotype, chronic inflammation, polymorphyisms/genetic variants, health disparities, ethnicity and race, obesity, Hispanic and African Americans and quality of life.

  • Lottie Cook, Raymond A. Kent School of Social Work, 1985

Cook retired as superintendent of Evansville Psychiatric Children’s Center in December 2017. She also held several leadership positions with the National Association of Social Workers Indiana Chapter, including president of the board, and was instrumental in helping the University of Southern Indiana develop its Master of Social Work Program.

  • Sundeep Dronawat, J.B. Speed School of Engineering, 1996, 2001

Dronawat is a serial entrepreneur and president of Payment Holdings and CEO and co-founder of POS on Cloud, as well as co-founder and partner in West Wind Power, a startup in green energy. He gives back to his community as an adjunct professor at UofL and works with leaders from the City of Louisville in the Leadership Louisville Program.

  • Jonathan Helfat, Louis D. Brandeis School of Law, 1971

Helfat is co-general counsel to the Commercial Finance Association and co-authors a column in The Secured Lender magazine relating to current legislative and judicial developments in asset-based lending. He and his wife, Robin, established the Helfat Endowment at the Brandeis School of Law.

  • George Marriner Maull, School of Music, 1970, 1972

Maull is the founder and artistic director of the Discovery Orchestra and has conducted performances at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, as well as in England, Belgium, The Netherlands, Poland, Hungary and Romania. He received many accolades including the Bronze Telly Award, Cable Telly Awards, Emmy nominations, Somerset County New Jersey Excellence in Arts Award, and Conductor Laureate, New Jersey Youth Symphony.

  • Michael Saag, School of Medicine, 1981

Saag serves on the International AIDS Society-USA Board of Directors, is president-elect of the HIV Medical Association, a member of the HHS Guidelines Panel on Antiretroviral Therapy, and on numerous state, local and national committees. He received the Myrtle Wreath Award from Hadassah and has been listed as one of the Best Doctors in America since 1994.

  • Mark Schulte, School of Dentistry, 1977

Schulte began his dental career in South Louisville and helped start Smile Kentucky, an organization that secures dental care to underprivileged youth, providing over $1 million in free dental work for children in Kentucky over the last 10 years. He was recognized as a Fellow of the American College of Dentists and the International College of Dentists.

  • Jeanine Triplett, Student Affairs Legacy Award, 1982, 1985

Triplett is the chief development officer of the Girl Scouts of Kentuckiana, having also served 33 years with the Delta Zeta – Beta Gamma chapter. She also has a long career working in Louisville at Churchill Downs, the Kentucky Derby Festival, University of Louisville/Alcohol & Drug Coalition, University of Louisville/Greek Housing Task Force and the Younger Woman’s Club of Louisville.

  • Lowry Watkins Jr., College of Business, 1968

Watkins is a semi-retired real estate developer and a contributing author for the best-seller “Solicitor General Bullitt: The Life of William Marshall Bullitt.” He established the Lowry Watkins Jr. Endowed Chair in the College of Business and received the University of Louisville Dean’s Service Award and the Kentucky Country Day Exceptional Service Award.

  • Eddie Whitehead, College of Education and Human Development, 1967

Whitehead is president and chief executive officer of KPST Channel 66 TV San Francisco, as well as president and chief executive officer of the Whitehead Media Group. In 1992, he received the Order of Merit award from the UofL Alumni Association.

  • Richard “Dick” Wilson, University of Louisville Libraries, 1974

Wilson established the Robin Hood Project, Wilson Geriatric Fund, Wilson Piano Enrichment Fund, Preservation Fund for the Wilson Comic Books, Wilson Scholarship for JCTCS Transfers, Wilson Mentoring Endowment and the Wilson Music for Children Endowment. He received numerous awards for his community service in the state of Kentucky.

“This year’s alumni awardees are true examples of leadership and excellence both at UofL and in their respective fields,” said Josh Hawkins, assistant vice president of the Alumni Association. “We are overjoyed to celebrate Penny and our 13 alumni fellows because of their significant contributions to their communities, the university, and the world.”

The Alumna of the Year and the Alumni Fellows will be honored at an event Oct. 25, at the Henry Clay Building downtown. Attendees may register here.

Cheyenne Hill is a graduate assistant for the UofL Office of Communications and Marketing. She is currently studying Higher Education Administration as a part of her master's program. She graduated with her Bachelor's of Science in Communication from UofL in 2017.