Willamette University

A Few Things you Should Know About your Excellent Peers

In the last issue of The Scene, we put out a call for alumni award nominations; you responded, and several weeks ago the winners — as chosen by the Willamette University Alumni Association Board of Directors — were honored at locations around the country with a special events for family, friends and even coworkers.

Here’s a brief introduction to this year’s phenomenal four.

Dorr Dearborn

Dorr Dearborn ’61

Distinguished Alumni Citation

Dearborn has led a prolific career in medicine, beginning with a chemistry major at Willamette and a PhD in biochemistry.

Some of Dearborn’s most cited work came about in the fall of 1994, when he recognized a pattern of pulmonary hemorrhage in Cleveland infants and traced the problem to a type of toxigenic mold. The infants, he saw, had been living in water-damaged homes and were continually exposed to what people now call “black toxic mold,” which contains a toxin whose compounds are the same as some chemical warfare agents.

Dale Mortensen

Dale Mortensen ’61

Distinguished Alumni Citation

Mortensen, an economics major, became Willamette’s first Nobel laureate when he shared the 2010 Nobel Prize in Economics for his “analysis of markets with search frictions.”

Mortensen and two partners studied wages and unemployment (two relevant topics in the U.S. today). “Search friction,” as it’s called, describes the interplay between businesses and potential employees; according to Professor Per Krusell, a member of the prize committee, Mortensen’s work amounted to “the first full theory of unemployment and how it evolves over time.”


Scott Tomlins

Scott Tomlins ’01

Young Alumni Leadership Award

Tomlins’ PhD thesis in molecular and cellular pathology was a historic leap forward for the understanding of prostate cancer. His discoveries netted multiple awards, including the Horace H. Rackham Distinguished Dissertation Award from the University of Michigan, the American Association for Cancer Research Team Science Award, and the Harold M. Weintraub Graduate Student Award (an international award given for outstanding graduate achievement in the biological sciences).

At 31, Tomlins has already coauthored more than 60 manuscripts on the molecular genetics of prostate, breast and bladder cancers.


Peter Kremer

Peter Kremer ’62

Lestle J. Sparks Medallion

After graduating with honors, Kremer picked up an MBA from Stanford and navigated a successful career in real estate investment and development, which largely took place throughout California and saw him rise to positions of vice president and CEO of several companies. He and his wife, Bonnie, also a member of Willamette’s class of 1962, have kept up a consistent focus on philanthropy through the years, giving both time and resources to many organizations, including their alma maters.

Peter serves on Willamette’s Board of Trustees (1979–present) and helped start the Peter & Bonnie Kremer Scholarship (est. 1983) and the Peter C. and Bonnie S. Kremer Chair of Economics, an endowed faculty position currently held by Professor Jerry Gray. In 2009, the Kremers’ capstone gift to the Campaign for Willamette was the one that pushed the university past its goal of $125 million ahead of schedule.

Learn more about the awards, our present and past winners, and how to make a nomination at willamette.edu/alumni/recognition.