Joan L. Larsen, ‘90

The Alumni Achievement Award, which recognizes the significant professional accomplishments of UNI graduates, was presented in 2021 to Joan L. Larsen, ‘90.

Larsen graduated from UNI with highest honors and bachelor’s degrees in political science and Spanish. She would go on to attend Northwestern University School of Law, graduating first in her class in 1993. Larsen clerked for Judge David Sentelle in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circ, and then for Justice Antonin Scalia on the United States Supreme Court. After her clerkship, Larsen returned to the Washington, D.C. office of Sidley Austin LLP, where she had worked as a law student.

In 1998, Larsen left Sidley to join the faculty of the University of Michigan Law School teaching constitutional law and criminal procedure until 2015. She served as deputy assistant attorney general in the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel from 2002 to 2003. In 2015, Larsen was appointed by Michigan Governor Rick Snyder for an opening on the Michigan Supreme Court. In 2017, she was on President Trump’s list of potential Supreme Court justices. President Trump nominated Larsen to serve as United States circuit judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in 2017.

As a prominent academic, Larsen has written extensively on constitutional structure, civil rights and other areas of law. She and her husband, Adam Pritchard, have two children and live in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Robert and Carol Deppe, '53

The President’s Philanthropy Awards recognize the philanthropic efforts of alumni, young alumni, faculty, staff, corporations and foundations. The Purple and Gold Award, which recognizes the extraordinary, long-time support of an individual or couple who have had a significant and inspiring impact on UNI, was presented in 2021 to Robert and Carol Deppe, '53.

Robert Deppe graduated from UNI in 1953 with a social science teaching degree. Carol also graduated in 1953 with a degree in music. The Deppes settled in central Iowa where they owned and operated several farms. Robert founded the Fernald Grain Company in 2001 and served as president and CEO.

The Deppes are the parents of five children, one of whom is a UNI graduate.

They have been active and loyal philanthropists over the past three decades, making annual gifts to the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences Dean’s Fund for Excellence and the School of Music Development Fund. In addition, they established the Robert D. Deppe/Donald F. Howard Scholarship and the Carol Froning Deppe Fund for Music Excellence. Each of these funds will be enhanced through a generous legacy gift.

Patricia, '86 and O. Jay Tomson

In 2022, the Purple and Gold Award was presented to Patricia, '86 and O. Jay Tomson.

The Tomsons have been active community members throughout their lifetimes, lending their time, talents and treasure to many organizations and colleges. Both St. Olaf alums, Pat returned to school and received a M.A. in counseling from UNI in 1986. O. Jay currently serves as chairman of the board of First Citizens Financial Corp. and is the former chair of the board and president of First Citizens Bank. Pat is the executive director of First Citizens Charitable Foundation and a retired family therapist.

In their 40-year giving history with UNI, the Tomsons have supported Panther Scholarship Club, the Annual Fund, the Provost’s Fund for Excellence, the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences Dean’s Fund, the College of Education Dean’s Fund, Midwest Piano Competition and Women in Bipartisan Politics Scholarship Fund.

They established the Tomson Scholars program with the UNI Center for Violence Prevention in 2016 and later made a transformational gift of $2.5 million to the center. It was renamed the Patricia A. Tomson Center for Violence Prevention in the fall of 2021 in recognition of this gift and Pat’s lifelong dedication to the field of personal violence, having spent decades advocating for children and other survivors of abuse.