University of San Diego to Honor Actor Jim Parsons and Other Outstanding Alumni

Actor Jim Parsons and 11 others will receive alumni awards from the University of San Diego on April 25.

Parsons, star of CBS’s “The Big Bang Theory” and a four-time Emmy winner and Golden Globe winner, will receive the Author E. Hughes Award for Outstanding Career Achievement. The actor earned his master of fine arts degree from the Old Globe/University of San Diego graduate theatre program in 2001. His latest film, “Home,” a Dreamworks animated comedy, opens March 27. This summer, he will return to Broadway in the original comedy “An Act of God.”

Local honorees include Karen P. Hewitt, a former U.S. Attorney in San Diego from 2007 to 2010 whose office achieved a record number of convictions in areas such as national security and financial crime, and prominent builder Matthew J. “Matt” Reno, the founder and CEO of Reno Contracting. Reno was elected to the University of San Diego Board of Trustees. Lee C. Sorensen, a successful entrepreneur who now partners with business to prevent mass atrocities throughout Africa through the One Earth Future Foundation based in Colorado, will also be honored.

“All over the world, our graduates are using the changemaking talents and skills they acquired at USD to entertain and bring joy to audiences, to work for a safer, healthier and more peaceful world and expand economic growth and progress,” said University of San Diego President Mary E. Lyons. “They represent the very best of the spirit of excellence and service we strive to instill in all our graduates and we are very proud to honor them.”

Other honorees for career achievement include Barbara A. Driscoll, a lung health researcher at the University of Southern California and Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles; Emiliano Gallego, the general manager of Pagasa Pasta; Janine Mason, executive director of The Fieldstone Foundation, and Sandra L. Solem, associate director for patient care services and nurse executive at the VA San Diego Healthcare system.

Henry J. “Hank” Acquarelli, who taught and coached in the Poway Unified School District for more than 30 years, will receive the Bishop Charles Francis Buddy Award for contributions to humanitarian causes. Stephen and Victoria Nasman, who led the alumni chapter in Orange County for a decade, will receive the Mother Rosalie Clifton Hill Award for exemplary service to the university.

Former Torero quarterback Josh Johnson, who has played in the NFL for seven years, will be inducted into the Chet and Marguerite Pagni Family Athletic Hall of Fame.

The 20th Annual Alumni Honors celebration on April 25 will recognize 12 outstanding University of San Diego alumni for career achievement, contributions to humanitarian causes, extraordinary athletic success and exemplary service to USD. The event begins at 6 p.m. with the awards ceremony in the University of San Diego Shiley Theatre followed by a cocktail reception. Tickets are $75 per person and can be purchased at or by calling (619) 260-2756.

About the University of San Diego

The University of San Diego sets the standard for an engaged, contemporary Catholic university where innovative Changemakers confront humanity’s urgent challenges. With more than 8,000 students from 75 countries and 44 states, USD is the youngest independent institution on the U.S. News & World Report list of top 100 universities in the United States. USD’s eight academic divisions include the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Business, the Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering, the School of Law, the School of Leadership and Education Sciences, the Hahn School of Nursing and Health Science, the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies, and the Division of Professional and Continuing Education. USD recently concluded our successful $317M Leading Change: The Campaign for USD, which represented the most ambitious fundraising effort in the history of the university. In September 2016, USD introduced Envisioning 2024, a strategic plan that capitalizes on the university’s recent progress and aligns new strategic goals with current strengths to help shape a vision for the future as the university looks ahead to its 75th anniversary in the year 2024.


Denise Ward
(619) 260-4659