Nine Creighton University alumni received their school/college annual Alumni Merit awards at the University's annual Alumni Homecoming Weekend September 19-22. Awardees provide distinguished service to the University and show personal qualities that mark him/ her as cultured and of high moral principles guided by the Jesuit ideal of being men and women for others.
Those being honored include:
James, BS'83, MD'87 and Regina "Molly" McComb Conahan, BA'83, received the 2013 College of Arts and Sciences Alumni Merit Award. View the video about the Conahans.
Conahan is a board-certified ophthalmologist specializing in refractive surgery and eye micro-surgery. He graduated with his bachelor's degree in biology in 1983 and from the School of Medicine in 1987. Molly, his wife, graduated with a bachelor of arts degree in 1983.
Together the Conahan family created a non-profit organization, "The Mission of Healing Eyes," in order to bring free medical and surgical eye care to the blinded poor in Ixtapa, Mexico. Since 1997, they and a small group of volunteers have provided more than 1,000 cataract and other surgeries. They have also distributed 10,000 pairs of glasses and seen and treated more than 5,000 patients in their small clinic in Ixtapa.
Molly works beside Jim in his Denver practice and organizes volunteers and supplies for the organization.
Richard A. Witt, BSBA'74, received the 2013 College of Business Alumni Merit Award. View the video about Witt.
Witt, a Milwaukee native, transferred to Creighton and graduated summa cum laude in 1974. At graduation, he received the University's highest student honor, the Spirit of Creighton Award. Witt is the executive vice president and chief investment officer of Mutual of Omaha and United of Omaha and former president and registered principal of Mutual of Omaha Investor Services, Inc.
He serves on the Executive Advisory Council for the College of Business, teaches MBA classes and guides undergraduate students through internships. Most recently he authored a textbook chapter on managing insurance company investment portfolios. Through Witt's guidance and direction, the Mutual of Omaha's internship program is now considered the best learning opportunity for investment analysts in Omaha.
Witt also serves or has served on the boards and committees of the Omaha Archdiocese, Skutt Catholic High School, St. Stephen the Martyr Parish, Heartland Family Services and New Cassel Retirement Center.
Judy A. Weill, JD'79, received the 2013 School of Law Alumni Merit Award. View the video about Weill.
Since graduating in 1979, Weill has worked in a variety of areas, including tax law and working pro bono for abused and neglected children and battered women.
She worked with Big Sisters for 45 years, serving as International President; then as a Board member when it merged with Big Brothers. She also served on the President's Council of New York's Sanctuary for Families, and on the advisory committee for its Legal Center for Battered Women.
After moving to Colorado, Weill and her husband, Richard, became part of Colorado's "I Have a Dream Foundation." Through the foundation, the family helps 45 at-risk students. They have generously promised to pay for college or trade school if the students stay in school and continually develop their abilities.
At the School of Law, Weill served as chair of the Law Alumni Advisory Board and is working to establish the school's Law Domestic Violence Project.
Joseph D. "Joe" Lynch, MD'66, received the 2013 School of Medicine Alumni Merit Award. View the video about Lynch.
Lynch graduated from the Creighton University School of Medicine in 1966, completed his fellowship in cardiovascular disease and joined the faculty of the school in 1972. In a long and distinguished professional career, Lynch has been honored numerous times for his outstanding contributions as a physician, scholar and teacher.
At the School of Medicine, he has received the Volunteerism Award, Distinguished Service Award, Dedicated Teachers Award and the Golden Apple Award. He has made numerous scholarly presentations locally, regionally and nationally and has published extensively as well as served on numerous committees.
Lynch will say his greatest joy lies with Creighton's Institute for Latin American Concern (ILAC). He has been the medical director for more than 25 years and made countless trips to the Dominican Republic with students, faculty members and family to offer aid to the poor living in rural villages.
Francis J. "Frank" Ayers, DDS'69, received the 2013 School of Dentistry Alumni Merit Award. View the video about Ayers.
Since joining Creighton's faculty in 1972, Ayers has served as a part-time clinical instructor, an associate dean of student affairs, director of admissions, director of the Dental Auxiliary Utilization Program and the dental director of the ILAC program as well as interim chair of Pediatric and Orthodontic Dentistry.
During Ayers tenure, the applications to Creighton's School of Dentistry grew by 188 percent from 1989 to 1994.
The University also awarded Ayers the Distinguished Faculty Service Award and students created an annual award, The Frank J. Ayers Spirit of Compassion Award, in his honor. An alumnus also created the Dr. Frank J. Ayers Endowed Scholarship Fund to help others attend the School of Dentistry.
Dorothy Ostrowski, Ed.D, BA'78, MA'81, MS'97, received the 2013 Graduate School Alumni Merit Award. View the video about Ostrowski.
Ostrowski received her bachelor's and two master's degrees from Creighton University. She began teaching at Daniel J. Gross Catholic High School in Bellevue, Nebraska in 1981, first as a classroom teacher in the English department. She progressed through a variety of administrative positions, becoming principal in 2000. In 2012, following a national search, she was named president.
She has been recognized for various leadership roles throughout her career. The Bellevue Rotary Club presented her with its Outstanding Teacher Award for her ability to motivate students and teachers and for the values she represents. The Archdiocese of Omaha also recognized her as the Administrator of the Year in 2009. .
Maureen "Dede" Meyer Johnson, BSN'74, received the 2013 College of Nursing Alumni Merit Award. View the video about Johnson.
Throughout her nursing career, Johnson held various positions at St. Joseph Center for Mental Health until it closed. She advanced there from staff to head nurse, to the director of nursing and the staff development coordinator. She also spent time as the hospital recruiter and the Director of Quality Compliance and Risk Management.
She is very involved in parish, school and community activities. She has been a board member, minister of music and a nurse volunteer at St. Margaret Mary?s Church and Grade School and a long-time supporter of Duchesne Academy. She has also served on the boards of the Junior League of Omaha, the Child Saving Institute and the YWCA.
Her Creighton commitment includes having worked in the Alumni Relations office, serving on the National Alumni Board and the Nursing Alumni Advisory Board, and she is a devoted Jaybacker.
Sr. Rovina M. Turyazayo, PharmD'96, received the 2013 School of Pharmacy and Health Professions Alumni Merit Award. View the video about Turyzazayo.
Turyazayo graduated from the School of Pharmacy and Health Professions in 1996 intending to return home to Uganda to practice. She created the first ever Drug Information Office in Kampala, the capital city. She is a pharmacist for Joint Medical Store, volunteers to train pharmacy candidates and interns at Mulago National Teaching Hospital and created a program for the "Continuing Education of Pharmacists" at the Uganda Pharmaceutical Society Office.
In 2000, Turyazayo started an independent community pharmacy known as Virika Pharmaceuticals Store (VPS) in her rural hometown Fort Portal. She currently is the supervising pharmacist and manager of VPS.
The Ugandan government recognized Sr. Rovina's service in the rural district of Kabarole by awarding her a Certificate of Women Achievers at the 2012 International Women?s Day celebration.