Black and Orange Awards Celebration
Celebrate Oregon State University’s finest at the 2021 Black and Orange Awards
FREE, Open to the public
Interactive receptions with the honorees following the main program.
Rick Spinrad, M.S. ’78, Ph.D. ’82
Renowned ocean and climate researcher and policy leader
From his days doing his own research as a graduate student at Oregon State to his present position running one of the nation’s most crucial scientific agencies, oceanographer Richard W. “Rick” Spinrad has dedicated his life to the pursuit of ocean and climate health. Nominated by President Joe Biden and swiftly confirmed by the U.S. Senate in June, he is administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. This caps 35 years of contributions to public interest research in academia and in various governmental roles. He is widely credited with helping to solidify OSU’s position as a powerhouse of publicly funded research.
Higher education trailblazer and changemaker for students
As one of the first Black administrators to reach high rank at OSU, Larry Roper was central to many early initiatives to make the university a welcoming place for all students. As he and others have observed, he worked to achieve diversity, equity and inclusion many years before it was an official thing on college campuses. Meanwhile, he also became an important mentor to a broad cross-section of students who sought careers in the field of student services and is widely published and recognized as a national leader in the field.
Ruth Beyer, ’77
Dan W. Poling Service Award
Dedicated volunteer leader, generous supporter, legislative advocate
For more than 20 years, Ruth Beyer has worked on the front lines and as a leader to help Oregon State University’s transition from good to great. She turned her attention to her alma mater after breaking the glass ceiling of the aerospace and defense industry at Precision Castparts Corp., bringing her enthusiasm and a knack for disciplined, strategic thinking to bear on the university’s behalf. She has been a valued OSU Foundation trustee and a leader on the Student Affairs Leadership Council, the Athletics Advisory Board and the $1.1 billion Campaign For OSU. Her creative insights were crucial to developing OSU programs such as The Beaver Caucus and the Women’s Giving Circle.
Martin Chaves Lifetime Achievement Award
Proud supporters of OSU Athletics and the success of student-athletes
As third-generation Beavers and with their eldest daughter as an OSU alum, the Beaver spirit is the tie that binds the Stirek family. Amid the challenges of the pandemic, the Stireks stepped up to help establish a permanent source of support for students facing unexpected challenges: The Dean of Students’ Emergency Fund. Additionally, John chaired the OSU Foundation Board of Trustees and serves on the College of Business Dean’s Circle of Excellence and Development Committee, and the Athletics Leadership Advisory Committee. The Stireks have helped secure funding for the completion of Reser Stadium and its elevation to a national best-in-class football facility, with year-round programs and facilities for all students, faculty and staff.
Román Hernández, ’92
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Alumni Legacy Award
Volunteer and mentor among Latinx students, alumni and the broader community
A nationally recognized labor and employment attorney, Román Hernández is a managing partner in Troutman Pepper’s Portland office. While rising to the top ranks of his profession and earning countless industry accolades, he continued to make time to exercise his profound sense of social responsibility in a state where less than 2% of legal professionals self-identified as Hispanic or Latino. He co-founded the Oregon Hispanic Bar Association and is a past president of the Hispanic National Bar Association, representing the interests of 100,000 Hispanic legal professionals nationwide. Meanwhile, he channeled time and energy into supporting diversity, equity, inclusion and social justice work at OSU, in 2020 providing critical leadership to the OSU Alumni Association’s effort to revive the OSU Chicano/a Latino/a Alumni Network, now thriving as Vamos OSU.
Jean and C.H. "Scram" Graham Leadership Award
Committed OSUAA volunteer and leader
During his undergraduate days, third-generation Oregon Stater Wade Westhoff was a long-snapper on the football team and was known as a “glue” player who help ¬maintain tight bonds among his teammates. He has played much the same role as a Beaver volunteer leader, served in multiple roles on the Alumni Association Board of Directors, including two years as chair, during which time he was instrumental in completing negotiations for the integration of the OSU Alumni Association and the OSU Foundation, as well as heading the 2018 search committee for a new OSUAA Executive Director. A life member of the OSUAA and an active volunteer, he spurred social and career engagement among alumni and friends in the Bay Area and — after he and his family relocated to Bend — he has continued that work in the fledgling OSU Cascades community in Central Oregon.
Don and Shirley Wirth Young Alumni Award
Legislative advocate and inclusive community influencer
Milikaleakona Hopoi, known as “Tonga,” is committed to empowering women of color, and she sets an example as a leader who remains true to her cultural upbringings. Chief of Staff for the Senate Majority Caucus Leader in the Hawai’i State Legislature, she has shared her positive outlook and organizing skill in many roles. She became the first Tongan to work in the White House as a policy intern for First Lady Michelle Obama in 2014, was appointed as special advisor to the Under Secretary of Science and Energy within the Department of Energy and served on the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans. The only Pacific Islander elected president of the Associated Students of Oregon State University, Hopoi’s administration was essential in passing the bonds needed to fund construction of the Student Experience Center at OSU.