The University of Idaho awards honorary degrees to individuals deserving of honor by virtue of scholarly distinction, noteworthy public service or significant contributions to Idaho.
Although preference is given to those who are Idaho residents or U of I graduates, the university also honors persons who have made significant contributions to national and international scholarship or public service that advance the principles of academic excellence and public education upon which the university was founded.
Spring 2018 Honorees
Honorary Doctor of Engineering
Tom Mueller, propulsion chief technology officer at SpaceX, has 30 years of propulsion development experience and is one of the world's foremost rocket engine designers. As one of SpaceX’s founding members, he is responsible for building and managing the company’s propulsion development group, which develops propulsion systems and engines for the Falcon launch vehicles and the Dragon spacecraft.
At SpaceX, Mueller led development of the Merlin rocket engine, the highest-performing U.S.-made hydrocarbon engine. In February 2018, 27 of these remarkable engines powered the Falcon Heavy rocket off the launch pad and put the mannequin “Starman” into orbit around the sun in a Tesla Roadster. Mueller is currently involved in development of new propulsion systems, including the next generation Raptor engine that will eventually enable humans to be a multi-planet species.
In 2017, Mueller was inducted into the Academy of Engineers at the University of Idaho. Other achievements include receiving an honorary doctorate from Loyola Marymount University and the TRW Chairman's Award, TRW’s most prestigious award for technical achievement. He holds several U.S. patents in propulsion technology. Mueller received his Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering from U of I in 1985 and went on to earn a Master of Science in mechanical engineering from Loyola Marymount University in 1992.
Honorary Doctor of Education
Shawn Swanby, president and CEO of Ednetics, believes in the transformative effect that technology can provide schools and universities. He is a leader in applied technology and has become an advocate and positive influence in the industry.
Swanby studied in the University of Idaho’s College of Engineering from 1992-97. As a student, Swanby worked for both Hewlett-Packard and Apple and began consulting on the side. In 1997, he left the university to incorporate his consulting practice, Ednetics.
In the early days of Ednetics, an outside observer might have thought the focus of the company was playing video games and hacky sack. In reality, Swanby had embraced a cultural shift – geeks had become cultural drivers and agents of change. With a focus on people, teams and corporate culture, Swanby recruited many of his closest friends and together they built Ednetics into a thriving company.
Today, Ednetics has offices in Idaho, Washington, Oregon and Arizona. From engineers to interns, the whole team is solving, building and refining. Ednetics has been recognized as both one of the best places to work and most innovative companies in Idaho. Swanby has also been involved in multiple business ventures, including internet and software companies as well as a real estate development group. He serves as chief technology officer for Fatbeam, a fiber-optic provider recently ranked 190 on the Inc. 500’s fastest-growing companies list.
In 2017, the College of Education, Health and Human Sciences awarded Swanby an honorary bachelor’s degree.
Swanby lives in Coeur d’Alene with his wife, Sarah, and two children. He enjoys cycling, skiing, the outdoors and is still tearing things apart to see how they work.
Honorary Doctor of Science
Peter Griffiths is a University of Idaho professor emeritus. He holds a doctorate from Oxford University and joined the faculty at the University of Idaho as a professor and chair of the Department of Chemistry in the College of Science in 1989. He served as chair from 1989-97 and again in 2002. He served as interim associate vice president for research from 2000-01 and retired in 2008.
Griffiths is an internationally renowned figure in the field of analytical chemistry. In his career, he has produced over 300 highly cited research articles, 55 book chapters and edited 11 books. He also served as the major professor to 52 doctoral students. He wrote the text, “Fourier Transform Infrared Spectrometry,” now in its second edition, and one of the seminal texts in the field of vibrational spectroscopy. Even in retirement, Griffiths continues to publish peer-reviewed articles and his work remains highly read and cited. He has been a driving force in his field for four decades.
He has received honors from countries across the globe, including the United States, Great Britain, Germany, Austria and New Zealand. Among the many distinguished honors Griffiths has received during his career are the designation of distinguished professor from Ohio University in 1978, the Fritz Pregl Medal of Austrian Society for Analytical Chemistry in 1995 and the U of I Award for Excellence in Research or Creative Activity in 1995. He is also a recipient of the Bomem Michelson Award in Molecular Spectroscopy, the Gerald S. Birth Award for Outstanding Work in Near-Infrared Spectroscopy, the Alexander von Humboldt Senior Research Fellowship and he was named an Erskine Fellow by the University of Canterbury in New Zealand in 2008.
Honorary Doctor of Administrative Service
Kirby A. (Noland) Dyess of Beaverton, Oregon, received her Bachelor of Science in physics from the University of Idaho's College of Science in 1968. She went on to do post-graduate work in management at Stanford University in California and in biochemistry at Portland State University in Oregon.
While working at Clyde's IGA in Moscow to pay for college, Dyess met and later married Carl F. Dyess, an economics major at the U of I. They moved to Portland, Oregon, to start their careers after graduation.
Kirby Dyess was one of the first women to earn a degree in physics from U of I. In 2012, she was the first woman to win a Lifetime Achievement Award from TechArnerica Oregon, formerly the American Engineering Association (AEA). In 2010, she was inducted into the College of Science Academy of Distinguished Alumni. She was inducted into the U of I Alumni Association Hall of Fame in 2007.
was born and raised with three younger brothers in Kellogg, Idaho. After two years at Linfield College in Oregon, she transferred to the University of Idaho to finish her degree. After graduation, she joined a medical company and published research on diabetes and metabolism.
She joined international technology company and computer chip maker Intel, in 1979. In 2003, she retired as corporate vice president of Intel after 23 years of service. Her most recent assignment at Intel was as director of operations for Intel Capital, where she managed a global portfolio of 400 technology companies and completed 50 acquisitions.
Dyess leads her own investment company, Austin Capital Management LLC, named after her grandson, Austin. She has provided seed money to 14 startup technology companies, including one spinoff from U of I.
Dyess and her husband are strong supporters of higher education and are regular contributors to Linfield College and all four research universities in Oregon, and have an endowment to support doctoral scholars. In 2008, they established the Dyess Faculty Fellowship to support outstanding faculty at U of I. The threeyear fellowship supports faculty members in the College of Science, particularly those who are involved with promoting undergraduate research efforts.
Honorary Doctor of Natural Resources
Brent N. Holben received his Bachelor of Science in agronomy from the University of ldaho College of Natural Resources in 1972, and a Master of Science in watershed science from Colorado State University in 1976.
A native of Genesee, Holben has worked at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center for over 39 years, performing research in ground-based and satellite remote sensing of land cover and aerosols. Additionally, he has developed innovative methods for in-orbit calibration of satellite visible and nearinfrared (IR) sensors.
He is the project leader for the global AERO NET sun-sky radiometer network that provides spectral aerosol optical depth and microphysical and radiometric properties for NASA's satellite cal/val program, as well as validation for a variety of U.S. and foreign satellite systems and aerosol model programs. In the process of developing the network and characterizing the great variety of aerosol types and processes, Holben and his team have led or participated in numerous airborne, ground-based and satellite field campaigns that emphasize research and validation. These measurement campaigns have led to numerous collaborations in Brazil, South Africa, West Africa, U.S., Canada, Europe, United Arab Emirates, India, Korea, Japan and Southeast Asia.
Under Holben's 23-year guidance, AERO NET has become a global standard for aerosol research and validation of satellite, airborne RS and model datasets and in situ comparisons and model assimilation. Through AERO NET, Holben initiated NASA's first fully open public domain research database that is accessible in near real time.
Holben has received several awards, most notably the William Nordberg Memorial Award for Earth Science in 2005, Goddard's highest award for contributions to environmental science. He was elected fellow of the American Geophysical Union in 2016. He received the American Geophysical Union Atmospheres Kaufman Award for Unselfish Collaboration in 2015. In 2012, he became one of only 25 people to receive a medal from the Institute of Science and Technology of Vietnam. He has also received numerous Goddard Performance Awards. Holben was awarded NASA's Exceptional Service Medal in 1996 and the Medal for Exceptional Achievement in 2001.
Holben has published 385 peer-reviewed papers, with a total of 32,216 citations. He is included in the 2016 Thompson Reuters Highly Cited Researcher list, in the field of geosciences.
Honorary Doctor of Agricultural Science
Bill E. Newbry received his Bachelor of Arts in business administration and marketing from Eastern Washington University in Cheney, Washington, in 1982. He has served as president and CEO of Pacific Northwest Farmers' Cooperative (PNW) since 1996.
Originally from Twin Falls, Newbry graduated from Twin Falls High School in 1970. A U.S. Army veteran, he served as an air traffic controller for the U.S. Army from 1972-75 and for the Federal Aviation Administration in Spokane from 1975-81.
Newbry began his cooperative career at Genesee Union Warehouse Company in 1984, where he was central in the mergers and growth of PNW. He was promoted to merchandising manager in 1989, where he served until receiving the post as president and CEO in 1996. In 2017, he was inducted into the Idaho Cooperative Hall of Fame.
PNW is a 1,400-member agricultural cooperative formed from numerous cooperative mergers, the last being Pacific Northwest Farmers Cooperative and Cooperative Agriculture Producers in 2017. PNW's growing area spans over 70 facilities and encompasses grain movement from river barge terminals and shuttle train transportation facilities in North Idaho and Eastern Washington. In addition to grains, PNW is also a major exporter of pulses to over 40 countries in the world and supplies numerous canners and hummus manufacturers in the U.S.
Through PNW; Newbry supports alumni and students of the University of Idaho through employment opportunities and internships. In 2012, he was honored with an award from the Bonners Ferry, Idaho, FFA chapter in recognition of PNW' s support of FFA programs. He is a strong supporter of education and the community and has sat on numerous agricultural industry boards, the Genesee School Board and is a member of several national organizations.
He and his wife, Susan, a retired special education teacher, have a daughter, Meagan, who is a grade school teacher in Meridian, Idaho.
Honorary Doctor of Administrative Science
Silas C. Whitman has devoted his career to the stewardship of fisheries and aquatic systems in the Columbia River Basin and Idaho. An enrolled member of the Nez Perce Tribe who resides in Lapwai, Whitman integrated tribal cultural knowledge and values into regional fisheries management efforts. He has nearly 50 years of experience in the public and private sectors conducting policy management and technicaladministrative activities, including tribal treaty resource management. He served as tribal chairman for the Nez Perce Tribal Executive Committee from 2012 to 2015.
Whitman served as executive director for the National Congress of American Indians in Washington, D.C., from 1981-83 and in the private sector as executive vice president for tribal development in Kansas City, Missouri, and executive vice president for corporate development for transportation services in Ontario, California, from 1983-87. Silas C. Whitman has devoted his career to the stewardship of fisheries and aquatic systems in the Columbia River Basin and Idaho. An enrolled member of the Nez Perce Tribe who resides in Lapwai, Whitman integrated tribal cultural knowledge and values into regional fisheries management efforts. He has nearly 50 years of experience in the public and private sectors conducting policy management and technical administrative activities, including tribal treaty resource management. He served as tribal chairman for the Nez Perce Tribal Executive Committee from 2012 to 2015.
Whitman served as executive director for the National Congress of American Indians in Washington, D.C., from 1981-83 and in the private sector as executive vice president for tribal development in Kansas City, Missouri, and executive vice president for corporate development for transportation services in Ontario, California, from 1983-87.
Under Whitman's leadership, the Nez Perce fisheries program became independent from federal and state governments. It has since grown into a self-sustaining program and one of the largest tribal fisheries programs in the United States, with departments in harvest, production, research, resident fish, conservation enforcement and watershed/habitat.
He served as program manager for Nez Perce Fisheries Resource Management from 1987 to 2000. His application of indigenous knowledge and a holistic approach to fisheries management has resulted in the restoration of spring chinook, fall chinook and coho salmon populations in the region and Nez Perce treaty watersheds.
He has partnered with many University of Idaho faculty and students on research projects and has been a champion of education for tribal members. He is often an invited guest to share his wealth of knowledge with university students and fisheries professionals. His partnership with the University of Idaho included work on a National Science Foundation Alliance for Graduate Education in the Professorate grant, which created mentoring and support programs for Native American and Alaska Native students in graduate programs. His engagement helps students understand the value in traditional ways of knowing and then exploring scientific principles.
Whitman's understanding of traditional values was influenced and applied through his maternal grandparents, who instilled tribal cultural knowledge and language along with those customs and traditions, and an intimate familiarity of Nez Perce homelands and traditional natural resources utilized by the Nez Perce people.