A committee of past presidents from the Pomona College Alumni Board has selected four alumni to receive the 2022 Blaisdell Distinguished Alumni Award, which recognizes alumni for high achievement in professions or community service.
This year, the honorees are Mike Budenholzer ’92, Colleen Hartman ’77, Bret Price ’72 and John Roth ’62. These alumni have carried the spirit of the College into the world and embodied the inscription on the College Gates: “They only are loyal to the college who departing bear their added riches in trust for mankind.”
Mike Budenholzer ’92
Coach Mike Budenholzer is an NBA Champion and two-time NBA Coach of the Year. Since 2018, he has served as the head coach of the Milwaukee Bucks.
A native of Holbrook, Arizona, Budenholzer graduated from Pomona with a major in politics, philosophy and economics and as a four-year letterman in both basketball and golf.
After Pomona, Budenholzer played professionally in Denmark for the Vejle Basketball Klub, while getting his start in coaching, serving as the head coach for two different teams in the Vejle system.
Budenholzer spent his first two seasons in the NBA with the San Antonio Spurs as a video coordinator before becoming an assistant coach in 1996. As an assistant coach with the Spurs from 1996-2013, Budenholzer helped lead San Antonio to a league-best 908-438 (.675) record and NBA Championships in 1999, 2003, 2005 and 2007.
He then moved to the Atlanta Hawks where he served as head coach from 2013-18. He was named NBA Coach of the Year following the 2014-15 season after he led the Hawks to a franchise-high 60 wins and an appearance in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Budenholzer enters his fourth year as head coach of the Milwaukee Bucks having led the franchise through one of its most successful three-year stretches, including winning the 2021 NBA Championship—the Bucks’ second NBA title.
Colleen Hartman ’77
Colleen Hartman is an astrophysicist at the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine in Washington, DC.
As division director for NASA's planetary missions in the early 2000s, Hartman was instrumental in developing innovative approaches to powering space probes and their instruments destined for the solar system’s farthest reaches, including in-space and nuclear propulsion and power. She spearheaded the process for choosing the New Horizons flyby probe to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt. She also gained congressional and administration approval for an entirely new class of funded, competitively selected missions called “New Frontiers” to explore the planets, asteroids and comets in the solar system.
As science director at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Hartman oversaw the science efforts on the iconic Hubble Space Telescope and newly launched James Webb Space Telescope. As NASA Deputy Associate Administrator for science in the mid-2000s, Hartman helped energize international space science efforts during a time of diminishing budgets.
Hartman’s government career began as a presidential management intern, working on Capitol Hill, as a senior engineer at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, as a senior policy analyst at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and as deputy director for Technology at NASA.
After nearly forty years and two Presidential Rank awards for her government service, Hartman recently left NASA to lead activities in space science, physics, and aeronautics at the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine in Washington, DC.
Bret Price ’72
Bret Price is a contemporary sculptor of monumental steel. His work can be found in public and private collections throughout the world, notably the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the PepsiCo Collection in New York.
Price was born in Palo Alto, California. He graduated from Pomona and went on to receive his M.F.A. from the California Institute of the Arts in 1975. Soon afterward, he began teaching at Chapman University, eventually becoming the chair of the art department.
As a sculptor, Price works with large swaths of steel. He heats and bends them, making them appear flexible and supple when in fact they are as hard as rock.
“Since 1979, I have been building heating chambers around large pieces of steel, applying concentrated, intense heat, then manipulating the material to create a sense of softness,” says Price. “When the heat is removed, these illusions of flexibility are frozen, and on one level, the sculpture becomes a documentation of those forces used in the process.”
His intent for his sculptures is to communicate a sense of continuance as if each piece is a single frame taken from a film, appearing to be at rest before moving on. “This method of making art offers a number of creative options for me as a sculptor,” he says.
Price is a lecturer and guest artist at colleges and universities around the country and a past board member of the Mid South Sculpture Alliance.
He splits his time between studios in Orange County, California, and New Bremen, Ohio.
John Roth ’62
John Roth ’62 is the Edward J. Sexton Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at Claremont McKenna College (CMC).
Born in Grand Haven, Michigan, Roth graduated magna cum laude from Pomona, with honors in philosophy and membership in Phi Beta Kappa.
He joined the CMC faculty in 1966 after receiving his M.A. and Ph.D.in philosophy from Yale University. His academic career spanned four decades at CMC before his retirement in 2006.
Known for his work in Holocaust and genocide studies as well as in philosophy, ethics, American studies and religious studies, Roth lectured widely throughout the U.S. and around the world.
Roth has authored, coauthored or edited more than 50 books and published hundreds of articles and reviews. His most recent books include: The Failures of Ethics: Confronting the Holocaust, Genocide, and Other Mass Atrocities (Oxford University Press), Sources of Holocaust Insight: Learning and Teaching about the Genocide (Cascade/Wipf and Stock) and Advancing Holocaust Studies (Routledge).
In 2004, Roth was the Ina Levine Invitational Scholar at the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC. In 2012, the Holocaust Educational Foundation presented him with the Distinguished Achievement Award for Holocaust Studies and Research. In 1988, Roth was named U. S. National Professor of the Year by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. He holds honorary membership in the Claremont McKenna College Alumni Association, which also gave him its highest award, the George C. S. Benson Distinguished Achievement Award in 2004.
Presently, he is at work on a book titled Warning: The Holocaust and Endangered American Democracy.