Distinguished Alumni Awards 2016

During each April's Alumni Month celebrations, the University and the Alumni Association present the Distinguished Alumni Awards to alumni and friends of the University for outstanding contributions to the campus and community.

  • Distinguished Service Awards are given in recognition of professional achievements and community service.
  • Honorary Alumnus Awards are given to friends of the University who have demonstrated a close affinity to the campus and who have rendered exceptional support and leadership to the University or Association.
  • The Rising Star Award is given to a graduate who has received his or her first Sacramento State degree since 2005 and has made outstanding contributions professionally, to the community or to Sacramento State.

This year's Distinguished Alumni Award honorees are:

Christine Ault ’92 (Communication Studies)
Michael Ault ’92 (Communication Studies)

Christine Ault and Michael Ault

There is a movement afoot throughout Sacramento that's been in the works for more than 20 years.

Some call it a revitalization, others, a renaissance. For Michael and Christine Ault, both ’92 (Communication Studies), it's the couple's vocation—a combined effort to reshape the economic development, identity and reputation of the capital city.
Michael is executive director of the Downtown Sacramento Partnership, a nonprofit that has been transforming the downtown district since 1995. Christine is an independent communications consultant and advisor for the economic development group Valley Vision where she has led numerous job growth and marketing initiatives.

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Tim Murphy ’91 (Government)

Tim Murphy

In 1976, the presidential campaign between candidates Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford filled the airwaves.

Live debates shaped the opinions of viewers across the country including a young Tim Murphy ’91 (Government), who sat captivated in the living room of his East Sacramento home.

"Having grown up here and always being exposed to politics and government, I developed an interest around age nine or 10," Murphy says. "I remember that presidential election and how my opinions then kind of framed what I turned out to be politically."

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Craig Perez ’77 (Physical Education)
Ann Perez ’78 (Physical Education), MA ’92 (Education)

Ann Perez and Craig Perez

Craig and Ann Perez are a true Sac State pairing.

The two worked together during college and were married at the Fremont Presbyterian Church across the street from the University. The campus even catered the wedding.

"We were both head resident advisers at the time and housed all the families' guests in the first floor of Sutter Hall," says Craig ’77 (Physical Education).

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Deborah Ross-Swain ’73, MS ’75 (Speech Pathology and Audiology)

Deborah Ross-Swain

Ask Deborah Ross-Swain ’73, MS ’75 (Speech Pathology and Audiology) to sum up her 30-year career as founder of The Swain Center for Listening, Communicating and Learning and she'll tell you that she gives families hope.

And for thousands of children and adults with communication, learning or processing disorders, Swain is a beacon of light in a dark and confusing world.

"Families come to us and they are frightened," Swain says. "They don't know what is wrong with their child and are navigating unknown territory. So when they come in, we give them hope through training, therapy, resources and parent groups. They come in upset and leave so grateful and relieved to know there is something for them."

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Justin Knighten ’08 (Communication Studies-Public Relations)

Justin Knighten

There are many words to describe Justin Knighten’s ’08 (Communication Studies-Public Relations) role in the Sacramento community: engaged, connected, but perhaps most of all, busy.

“My family instilled a sense of service and this idea to be involved and active on all fronts,” Knighten says. “Whether it was school, community or family.”

Among the organizations where Knighten plays an important part are the Harvey Milk Foundation and Best Buddies International. He was a key contributor in launching the Foundation and promotes its domestic and global initiatives as public affairs and media director. He raises awareness for Best Buddies, providing support for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, through Team Maria Shriver.

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Susan McGinty Professor Emerita, Sacramento State Department of Physical Therapy

Susan McGinty

Don't tell Susan McGinty she can't do something or it's not possible.

The emerita physical therapy professor faced an uphill climb when she set out to take Sac State's physical therapy program to the doctoral degree-granting level.

New standards established by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education required the department to increase faculty staffing levels, adjust curriculum to add a research component and jump through a series of approval hoops that included seeking permission from the state legislature. But McGinty was determined to see it through.

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