Each year, the WSU Alumni Association awards a variety of honors to alumni, students, staff, volunteers, and friends of the university. From recognizing outstanding Cougar pride to naming honorary alumni, the awards acknowledge many different forms of service to WSU.

The Alumni Achievement Award is the highest honor given to alumni by the WSUAA. About 500 Cougs have received the award since its inception in 1970.

Bryan Slinker (’80 DVM, ’82 PhD Vet. Sci.) was one of the 2022 recipients of the award for his leadership as a professor and dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine. Slinker, a first-generation student who eventually became a faculty member at WSU in 1992, oversaw the creation of the Paul G. Allen School for Global Animal Health and created the School of Molecular Biosciences. Slinker is also a director of the Washington State Animal Health Foundation.

Bryan Slinker closeup in crimson tone
Bryan Slinker


In 2017, Nicole “Coco” Umiker (’11 PhD Food Sci.) received the Alumni Achievement Award for her status as the only female graduate from WSU Food Science to build and create her own vineyards and winery from scratch. She led the revitalization of the Lewis-Clark Valley wine industry, and she consults for new growers in the area. Umiker also teaches microbiology and food microbiology at Lewis-Clark State College in Lewiston, Idaho.

Nicole Coco Umiker close-up in a crimson tone
Nicole “Coco” Umiker


Sarah English (’94 Comm., ’95 Elem. Ed., ’96 MEd) was recognized with the Cougar Pride Award in 2021. Described as an “uber Cougar,” she participated in the Cougar Athletic Department’s #Cougs30DayChallenge in 2020 by recording herself singing the “Fight Song” at different campus landmarks. She planned a route through campus and displayed a different birthday greeting at each landmark for the WSUAA’s Happy Birthday Crimson and Gray 5K in 2020. English also dresses up her cat, Madeline, in Coug gear for every football game. English served on the WSUAA Board from 2017 to 2020 and chaired the scholarship committee. She was also president of the Northwest Washington Cougs chapter.

Sarah English close-up with photo of WSU mascot Butch behind her
Sarah English


In 2017, WSU President Kirk Schulz and his wife, Noel, were named Honorary Alumni. Kirk was praised for his nationally recognized leadership and experience in higher education and commitment to fulfilling WSU’s mission as a land-grant university. Noel, a professor in the Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture and nationally recognized expert in power systems engineering, was honored for her efforts to recruit and retain women in engineering and mentoring female engineering faculty.

Noel Schulz and WSU President Kirk Schulz head profiles with crimson tone
Noel Schulz and WSU President Kirk Schulz


The WSUAA also coordinates the Top Ten Seniors and Regents’ Distinguished Alumnus awards.


Know a Coug worth recognizing? Submit a nomination at alumni.wsu.edu.


Learn more

Top Ten Seniors 2023

Hallmarks: Orrin Pilkey (’57 Geol.) – Recipient of Regents’ Distinguished Alumnus and WSUAA Alumni Achievement Award (Washington State Magazine, Summer 2023)