Recognizing Our Alumni Successes

The University of Iowa Distinguished Alumni Awards Committee—which includes members of our Alumni Leadership Council—aims to recognize a broad range of qualified candidates who embody the university’s core values by honoring them with Distinguished Alumni Awards. The committee selects an annual recipient in each of the following categories:

  • The Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award recognizes graduates or former students who demonstrate significant accomplishments in their business or professional lives as well as distinguished service to their university, community, state, or nation.
  • The Distinguished Alumni Service Award recognizes graduates or former students who demonstrate specific and meritorious service to their university, community, state, or nation.
  • The Distinguished Alumni Hickerson Recognition Award recognizes graduates or former students for outstanding contributions to their alma mater. This award is named in honor of the late Loren Hickerson (40BA), the university’s first full-time alumni director and an ardent UI champion.
  • The Distinguished Recent Graduate Award recognizes graduates or former students, age 40 or younger at their time of nomination, for significant accomplishments in their business or professional lives as well as for distinguished service to their university, community, state, or nation.
  • The Distinguished Friend of the University Award recognizes individuals who are not alumni for specific and meritorious service that enhances and advances the university.
  • The Distinguished Faculty Award recognizes retired or former faculty for significant achievements and for specific meritorious service that enhances and advances the university. Nominees need not be alumni.
  • The Distinguished “Forevermore” Staff Award recognizes retired or former staff for significant achievements and for specific meritorious service that enhances and advances the university. Nominees need not be alumni.


Graduates, former students, faculty, staff, and friends of the University of Iowa may make nominations (the Distinguished Alumni Awards Committee reserves the right to reassign nomination categories, if deemed applicable). Nominators should submit the following:

  • Cover letter that states the nomination category, endorses the candidate’s qualifications, and highlights how the nominee embodies the UI's core values
  • Nominee's vita or professional résumé, including a current address
  • Three or more letters of recommendation from other individuals who support the nomination
  • Any additional information that would further substantiate the nomination


Current members of the University of Iowa Center for Advancement’s board of directors and staff, members of the Alumni Leadership Council, and current full‑time university faculty and staff are not eligible to receive these awards. Individuals currently in a position of elected or appointed office or known to be launching a campaign are also not eligible to receive these awards. All nominees must be living at the time of nomination and cannot have received a University of Iowa Distinguished Alumni Award in the same category in the past. Nominations by active Awards Committee members will not be reviewed until the member’s term has concluded on the committee. The Awards Committee reserves the right to consider and approve exceptions to the exclusions from eligibility.


Nominations for the 2025 awards will open in May 2024 and close on January 31, 2025. The Distinguished Alumni Awards Committee will meet in April 2025 to review all nominations and make the annual selections. Distinguished Alumni Awards will be presented at a special ceremony on the Friday before the University of Iowa's Homecoming (October 2025).


The University of Iowa Center for Advancement
Distinguished Alumni Awards
One West Park Road
Iowa City, Iowa 52244

For more information, email Nici Bontrager or call 319-467-3607.

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Former John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center innovator raises $3 million to expand telehealth services. Photo: OpenLoop OpenLoop co-founders Jon Lensing (left) and Christian Williams Several months into the pandemic, Jon Lensing (20MD) chose a path with boundless potential. As hospitals nationwide suspended elective surgeries and laid off health care professionals to focus on specialties most affected by the coronavirus, Lensing redirected his business' efforts to leverage an expanding pool of clinicians looking for work. OpenLoop, a web-based platform co-founded by Lensing under the name Apollo in January 2020, originated as a means for streamlining the process for clinicians (health care professionals who work as caregivers to patients) to work for different hospital systems. Though as his business grew exponentially in the early months of the pandemic and telehealth's prominence increased, Lensing shifted OpenLoop's focus to match telehealth's growing demand. A former medical student at the Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine, Lensing believed he could help more patients through starting a business to increase health care access to rural communities. Shifting OpenLoop's focus to telehealth greatly accelerated his vision to provide health care to all 42,000 zip codes in the United States. "With the growth we experienced during the pandemic, we saw a clear need for what we were doing," says Lensing. "We are a telehealth company that helps power other telehealth companies." GROWTH OPPORTUNITY Expanding OpenLoop's services required additional funding to increase its staff. "We had a lot of customers and potential clients in our pipeline that needed our services, yet we didn't have the personnel infrastructure to handle bringing in new clients," says Lensing. Over a three-month span earlier this year, Lensing used skills he sharpened in the UI's John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center (Iowa JPEC) to make 200 pitches to investors. Initially hoping to raise $1.5 million in seed funding, Lensing secured $3 million by April through a mix of private investors and venture capital groups. The funds will allow OpenLoop to increase its sales, marketing, and accounting staff to manage more partners. Most importantly, the Des Moines-based business will bolster its software engineering team to improve efficiencies in its platform's features and matching functionality?decreasing the time it takes to deliver telehealth to patients. To expedite the matching process, OpenLoop is developing a clinician tracking system. Similar to an applicant tracking system that organizations may use to handle recruitment and hiring needs electronically, this software application provides a comprehensive view of OpenLoop's various telehealth partners, clinicians, and schedule gaps. The automated system pairs the clinicians' preferences, including availability, pay rates, and specialties, with telehealth companies' needs. Clinicians are matched with telehealth companies within an hour?and once a match is made, OpenLoop verifies the provider's credentials and streamlines the onboarding process with the telehealth partner. EXPANDING THEIR REACH Lensing estimates 60% of OpenLoop's patients seek primary care, while the remainder seek specialty care ranging in areas from mental health and male fertility to general cardiology and smoking cessation. OpenLoop has aligned with 15 telehealth companies, many of which are in the early stages and don't have the necessary funding or patient volume to support hiring full-time clinicians. Others are looking to expand but don't have the infrastructure to recruit and onboard 20 to 30 clinicians. "Our goal is to become the dominant driver within this space and be the No. 1 place for clinicians to get integrated within the health care ecosystem," says Lensing, who was recently named to the Forbes Next 1000. "To accomplish that, we'd like to work with every telehealth company out there." FOUNDATIONAL EXPERIENCE Reflecting on his path to develop OpenLoop, Lensing credits Iowa JPEC in helping set the foundation for his business?connecting him with mentors and providing financial assistance. Iowa JPEC executive director David Hensley says the Pella, Iowa, native is a shining example of the successful innovators that have benefited from the center. "We are impressed with Jon and the team's success in building an innovative telehealth solution to ensure access to high-quality medical care regardless of an individual's location," says Hensley. "OpenLoop is a great example of the types of successful entrepreneurial ventures launched by Iowa students, staff, faculty, and alumni who are supported by Iowa JPEC." EXPEDITING PATIENT CARE Lensing's vision for OpenLoop stems from his time in medical school where he witnessed numerous patients who were very sick by the time they sought care at University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics. For many, distance was the biggest barrier. Had the patients been able to see a clinician earlier, many of the diseases could have been prevented. That experience remains a driving force for Lensing to bridge the gap between clinician and patient. "It's our hope that we can deliver health care to anybody anywhere at any time," says Lensing. "And we believe telehealth is the quickest and most direct path in getting that care to patients." Support the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center at Iowa and its mission to foster student innovation.

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