2013 Alumni Awards

Alumni Association honors Eagles who are making a difference

The EWU Alumni Association announced the recipients of the 2013 Alumni Awards at its annual gala, “Celebrating Awesome,” on May 18.

Since 1973, the Alumni Association has recognized more than 100 alumni for their outstanding achievements and contributions to the community, the university and their professions.

Nominations are reviewed by the EWU Alumni Awards Selection Committee made up of past award winners, EWU faculty, EWU Alumni Association board members and various community members.

Lifetime Achievement Award: Cher Desautel ’98, ’94

As the highest honor bestowed upon alumni, the Lifetime Achievement Award is presented to those individuals who have inspired, served and celebrated excellence throughout their lives.

Desautel earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at EWU while working full time. She completed her doctorate degree from Gonzaga while serving as CEO of Desautel Hege Communications, which she co-founded with her husband Jim Desautel.

A committed mentor to aspiring public relations students, Desautel has helped countless EWU students and graduates with job-search advice and community connections. Desautel Hege currently employs seven EWU grads and is always looking for ways to support the university and ensure more students have the opportunity to attend and succeed at EWU.

Over the years, Desautel has served on boards and committees for numerous non-profit organizations, including the YWCA, YMCA, Spokane Area Workforce Development Council, PRSA, Northeast and West Central Community Centers, GSI’s health care and diversity committees and advisory groups for EWU’s College of Business and Public Administration and Gonzaga’s Professional Studies program.

Alumnus of Service Award: Lori Wyborney ’95, ’86

When Cheney Normal School was founded in 1882, it committed to provide the region and the state with the best educators possible. Eastern is, at its core, a university of service and education. The Alumnus of Service Award recognizes alumni who have upheld this mission.

The award recognizes someone who demonstrates outstanding leadership and serves as a role model and  mentor within their school, community and/or organization and who displays creativity and imagination in their lesson plans and teaching methods that inspire students to learn.

Lori Wyborney is the principal of Roger High School in Spokane. Named the 2012 Spokane Public Schools’ Principal of the Year, Wyborney is also a teacher, a coach, and an athletic director. Her leadership has transformed a school in one of the state’s poorest areas to one of its greatest success stories. The graduation rate at Rogers High School went from 50 percent in 2009, to 84 percent in 2012.

Inspirational Young Alumnus Award: Jason Clerget ’07

This award recognizes up-and-coming leaders among EWU’s alumni who have graduated within the past 15 years. Recipients demonstrate a commitment to excellence in their life after graduation and a commitment to extraordinary work, research or volunteerism.

Jason Clerget is a serial entrepreneur. He’s the co-founder of Dollar Per Month Charitable Foundation, a cutting-edge organization that combines the best of social media and micro-donations with crowd-sourced philanthropy, as well as Propaganda Creative, which specializes in social media marketing. In addition, he is the owner of The Basement, a proverbial hot spot in Cheney, where many Eagles have showcased their awesome dance moves.

While at Eastern, Clerget served as the Associated Students of EWU (ASEWU) president, making many significant contributions, including the first online student elections, free student STA bus rides and the addition of the University Recreation Center.

Clerget continues to give back to the university by volunteering on Eastern magazine’s editorial board and working with the Alumni Office’s Young Professional Network. He’s likeable, dedicated,talented and accomplished, but also humble, selfless and someone who embodies the true meaning of Eagle pride.

Distinguished Mentor Award: Melanie Monek ’04

This year, the Alumni Association presented its first Distinguished Mentor Award. The recipient of this award has been a consistent presence on EWU’s campus. She’s a positive example, a role model, an advisor and a guide for students and young alumni who are starting their professional lives.

Melanie Monek’s career as a human resource professional has taken her to some of Spokane’s largest organizations, including LeMaster and currently Washington Trust Bank.  The field of human resources is described in many different ways, but she once explained her job to her son by saying “Mommy goes to work to help people.” But just saying “help people” doesn’t begin to describe it. Monek has spent countless hours visiting campus to help students prepare for life after graduation.

Monek also practices what she preaches; setting a positive example and blazing trails in her own career. She heads the Inland Northwest Sharepoint User Group, a technology-based professional organization in which she’s the only female member as well as the only member from outside the technology industry. She remains active with the Inland Northwest Society for Human Resources and has achieved her Senior Professional in Human Resources Certification.

Exceptional Military Service Award: Maj. Gen. (R) Ken Privratsky ’69

Maj. Gen. Privratsky retired in 2003, after more than 30 years in the Army. His career began on Eastern’s campus with an ROTC scholarship. After graduation, as a commissioned officer, he served as a Rifle Platoon leader with the 101st Airborne Division in Vietnam. It was the beginning of an illustrious career that eventually made him responsible for all logistic operations in the military, to include worldwide transportation and military terminal operations.

Privratsky has continually demonstrated outstanding leadership and he has exemplified meritorious service throughout his military career. He has been recognized with multiple awards, including the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit and the Bronze Star Medal.

Privratsky’s military career alone provides enough to celebrate, but there’s more. He has an MBA from Adelphi University, an MA in English from Purdue and a master’s in military art and science from the United States Army Command and General Staff College.

Privratsky has also found professional success as the vice president of the Pacific Group at Horizon Lines. He has served on the board of directors of the Armed Forces YMCA, the World Trade Center Alaska and Special Olympics.

Distinguished Faculty: Patrick McManus

This award recognizes faculty who have made an important impact on EWU alumni. Professor Emeritus Patrick McManus is this year’s award winner, as selected by popular vote.

It’s hard to believe, but McManus failed the second grade. His mother, a rural school teacher, took him with her into the classroom where she taught. She was accustomed to his going outside whenever he pleased, but as his second grade teacher, she was forced to fail him for “too many absences.” Since he lived at the school, McManus claims that failure as his major accomplishment in life.

But thankfully, this was his only educational setback. After receiving his undergraduate degree at WSU, he was hired to teach at Eastern Washington State College. Soon he was teaching, writing and freelancing at places like Sports Illustrated, TV Guide and Field & Stream and he realized that he could earn just as much money by making stuff up as by researching it. So he became a humor writer and was named associate editor for Fiedl & Stream, and then editor-at-large for Outdoor Life, writing for both for more than 40 years.

McManus, who retired from EWU in 1983, challenged students to reach beyond what they imagined they could do and always strive for more. He especially encouraged them to attend class so they wouldn’t fail like he did in second grade.

Organization of Excellence Award: The College Success Foundation

The College Success Foundation (CSF) was founded spring of 2000 by Bob Craves and Ann Ramsay-Jenkins to provide college scholarships and mentoring to low-income, high-potential students. Much of what happens at EWU is because of community partners and their support. CSF has been instrumental in Eastern’s success during the past decade. Since 2002, the College Success Foundation has awarded 548 scholarships worth nearly $10 million to EWU students.

College Success Foundation is recognized with this award because it has demonstrated outstanding dedication to supporting EWU in achieving its mission and enhanced the experience and education of Eastern students.




Lifetime Achievement Award: The highest honor bestowed by the Alumni Association recognizes our most accomplished alumni

Inspirational Young Alumnus Award: Recognizes up-and-coming leaders among EWU’s young alumni

Alumnus of Service Award: Recognizes alumnus who contributes significantly in the area of educational or community service

Exceptional Military Service Award: Recognizes alumnus who contributes significantly through their military service

Distinguished Faculty Award: Presented as the voice of our alumni community to the faculty member (current or past) who receives the most nominations

Submit nominations online




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