Three to receive President’s Medallions at CSU-Pueblo In the Swing Gala on May 19

Three to receive President’s Medallions at CSU-Pueblo In the Swing Gala on May 19

PUEBLO – Three individuals will earn President’s Medallions for Distinguished Service and Alumni Achievement as part of the 2012 President’s Gala on Saturday, May 19 in the Occhiato University Center (OUC) Ballroom at Colorado State University-Pueblo. Donors underwrite the evening’s expenses, guaranteeing that all proceeds directly benefit future generations of CSU-Pueblo students and programs.

This year’s In the Swing gala, co-chaired by alumnus Michael Salardino, will include a Sangre de Cristo Arts Center Swing Dance Performance by notable Pueblo couples choreographed by Stephen Wynne, artistic director of dance, Canon City High School’s award-winning show choir Encore, and a Pueblo Symphony ensemble featuring Al Eberhardt’s Changing Times Big Band.  The event will begin at 6 p.m. in the OUC Hearthwell Lounge with cocktails.

The Pueblo couples featured in the performance will include: Dee Rogers Brown and Larry Atencio, Sandy Stein and Willie Gay, Jenni and Brian Denton, Elizabeth Gallegos and Dalton Sprouse, Dan and Mary Lere, and Abel and Connie Tapia.
As part of the 2012 President’s Gala, two alumni and one donor will receive President’s Medallions, which recognize individuals who set high standards of ethics and values to serve as examples for CSU-Pueblo students and the campus community as a whole through their profession, exceptional service, and/or contributions to humanity or to their professions. Recipients support the University’s continual progress toward future goals and achievements and/or make significant contributions as an advocate of post secondary education.

Two individuals will receive President’s Medallions for Distinguished Alumni Achievement – Dr. Dorothy De Niro and CSU-Pueblo Head Football Coach John Wristen. A third, Anthony Capps Capozzolo will posthumously receive a President’s Medallion for Distinguished Service to the University.

Capozzolo was a loyal and generous supporter of the University. During his lifetime, he contributed nearly $500,000 in cash and more than $140,000 worth of in-kind gifts. A professional dancer and dance instructor by trade,  he was a strong advocate for the arts in education. He was responsible for funding many scholarships for deserving students; for establishing the Capps Capozzolo Award for Excellence, a financial prize for graduating students who display academic excellence by achieving a 3.5 grade point average or higher; and for creating the University of Southern Colorado Education Summit, a popular conference for K-12 educational leaders across the state of Colorado. Before his death on October 3, 2001, he named the University as the sole remainder beneficiary of his revocable trust, worth approximately $4 million. During the 10 years between Mr. Capozzolo’s death and the recent termination of the trust, the trust provided an annual income stream which was used to support arts and music programs at the University. The corpus of the trust will be used exclusively for the Anthony T. and Theresa H. Capps Capozzolo Center for the Creative and Performing Arts. Capozzolo’s additional contributions to the University include campus sculptures, art, real estate, and personal possessions. 

De Niro, RN, Ph.D., A67, received a bachelor’s degree in behavioral science from Southern Colorado State College, and both a master’s degree in psychiatric nursing and teaching and a doctoral degree in mental health nursing from University of Texas at Austin.
De Niro has been a licensed registered nurse since 1961. She has been a visiting assistant professor at CSU-Pueblo since 2008 focusing on psychiatric nursing and graduate nursing research. From 2005-2008, she was the Director of Nursing at El Pueblo Adolescent Treatment Facility; and from 1979-2000 she was the Nursing Services Administrator at Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo. In addition to her full-time positions, since 1994, she has served as a part-time clinical instructor at Beth-El College of Nursing and also has served on the faculty of Pueblo Community College, Trinidad State Junior College, and Pikes Peak Community College.

In 2006 she was inducted into the Colorado Nurses’ Association Hall of Fame; and in1990, she received the Nightingale Award for Excellence in Human Caring, which recognizes the professional achievements of nurses throughout Colorado and encourages young people currently beginning in the nursing profession to excel. She remains an integral part of the CSU-Pueblo Nursing Department and has been an active participant in the development of the Doctor of Nursing Practice curriculum. Her involvement and contributions to CSU-Pueblo will have an amazing impact on current and future students, the future of the nursing profession in our region, and a direct effect on economic development in our community.
 Nursing Department Chair Dr. Donna Wofford said, “She truly gives back to her alma mater and community through her many contributions to the Department of Nursing.  She is an invaluable member of the department.”

Wristen, A84, returned to his alma mater in 2007 to re-establish a football program in a 365-day timeframe that had been idle for 24 years. In four short years, he led the team to a Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Championship, going 11-0 in regular season; rising all the way to a national number-one ranking and the nation’s top seed in the 2011 NCAA Division II playoffs. Thanks to Wristen’s leadership, the resurgence of the football program has had an amazing impact on CSU-Pueblo and the Pueblo community. The visibility and enthusiasm surrounding the football program has contributed to an increase in campus pride among faculty, staff and current students; increased involvement and support from alumni; and increased support from the Pueblo community and the state of Colorado.

In 1990, Wristen began his career in Division I football as a graduate assistant at CU.  He was part of the winning team that took the Buffs to the 1990 National Championship. Prior to returning to CSU-Pueblo, Wristen served as the special teams and tight ends coach at UCLA. He
served his second of two stints at CU from 1999-2006.  He helped lead the Buffaloes to four Big 12 North Division Championships and the 2001 Big 12 Title.  During his tenure at CU, he coached tight ends, kickoff and punt teams, and also served as recruiting coordinator. 

From 1991-1999, Wristen served as the running back, kickoff return and punt team coach at Northwestern University.  While at Northwestern, the Wildcats won back-to-back Big 10 titles,  played in the Rose Bowl for the first time since 1949, and also received the 1997 NCAA Graduation Award for graduating 100 percent of its undergraduate student-athletes.

As a student-athlete at then-USC, Wristen was an honorable mention All-American quarterback; and in 1983, guided USC to its only NAIA national playoff appearance.  He graduated as USC’s all-time leader in passing yards and touchdown passes.

Colorado State University - Pueblo is a regional, comprehensive university emphasizing professional, career-oriented, and applied programs. Displaying excellence in teaching, celebrating diversity, and engaging in service and outreach, CSU-Pueblo is distinguished by access, opportunity, and the overall quality of services provided to its students.