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Three Alumni Recognized with Awards

District Court Judge Donald O’Brien to Receive Creighton’s Law School Alumni Merit Award

Judge Donald O’Brien, a senior federal district court judge in the Northern District of Iowa, will receive the annual alumni merit award for the law school at Creighton University’s School of Law hooding ceremony on May 13.

Criteria for the award include being a degreed alumnus/alumna of Creighton University, having provided distinguished service to the University and/or to his/her own community together with a way of life that clearly exemplifies the University Credo and having a personal quality that marks him/her as cultured and of high moral principles guided by the Jesuit ideals of being men and women for others.

O’Brien is a 1948 graduate of Creighton’s School of Law. He attended Trinity College in Sioux City for his undergraduate degree from 1942 to 1945, but left to serve in the US Army Air Corps during World War II before returning to school.

Following law school, O’Brien practiced law at a private firm in Sioux City, Iowa where he worked as assistant city attorney, county attorney and municipal court judge. He was later appointed US Attorney for the Northern District of Iowa by President Kennedy and in 1978, President Carter named him to the US district court bench. He became chief judge for Iowa’s Northern District in 1985 and took senior status in 1992.

O’Brien is known as a compassionate, patient man who treats everyone fairly. Staying true to Creighton’s Credo and Jesuit mission, he ruled that the Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution requires basic mental health care for Iowa prison inmates and forbids confining mentally stable inmates with mentally ill prisoners who are unable to control their behavior.

Diane Duren is Awarded With Creighton University’s College of Business Alumni Merit Award

Diane Duren, vice president and general manager-chemicals in the marketing and sales department at Union pacific Railroad in Omaha, will receive the Creighton University College of Business Alumni Merit Award during the business school’s investiture ceremony on May 12.

Criteria for the award include being a degreed alumnus/alumna of Creighton University, having provided distinguished service to the University and/or to his/her own community together with a way of life that clearly exemplifies the University Credo and having a personal quality that marks him/her as cultured and of high moral principles guided by the Jesuit ideals of being men and women for others.

Duren received her Bachelor’s degree in accounting from Creighton’s College of Business in 1981. Prior to joining Union Pacific, Duren worked as a certified public accountant at Deloitte, Haskins and Sells in Omaha. She joined Union Pacific in 1985 and has held multiple positions within the marketing and sales departments.

Duren is very active in the Omaha community. She currently serves as chair of the Heartland Chapter of the American Red Cross and has served on the boards of the YWCA, the National Grain Trade Council, the Farm Foundation, Transportation, Elevator, and Grain Merchants Association, the American Red Cross and the Arthritis Foundation.

In 2008, Duren caught the attention of Pink, a magazine for professional women, when she was named one of the top 15 women in business. In 2010, Profiles in Diversity Journal recognized her as one of the “Women Worth Watching in 2011.”

Lincoln Businessman to Receive Creighton Alumni Merit Award

Lincoln businessman Daniel Semrad has earned Creighton University Graduate School’s 2011 Alumni Merit Award. He will receive the honor at the school’s May 13 hooding ceremony.

Semrad, a Fremont native, has served as investment advisor, financial consultant and vice president of SMITH-HAYES Financial Services Corp. since 2009. Prior to that, he was an investment advisor for Kirkpatrick, Pettis, Smith, Polian and later for A.G. Edwards, Inc.

Semrad holds a Master of Arts degree (2009) and a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration (1971) from Creighton University.

He serves on Creighton’s alumni advisory boards of the College of Arts and Sciences and the Graduate School and the advisory board for the Ph.D./Ed.D. Task Force. He established “The Semrad Endowed Lecture Series in Non-Western Thought” at Creighton in 2002 and assisted in establishing the University’s Asian World Center in 2004.

Semrad also serves as board treasurer for Friends of the Ross Media Arts Center, advisory board member for Nebraska Appleseed Foundation and board member for Audubon Society Spring Creek Prairie.