Guests applaud award recipients at St. Thomas Day

Distinguished Alumnus/Alumna

The Distinguished Alumnus/Alumna Award honors an alumnus/alumna for leadership and service to St. Thomas, the community and in his or her field of endeavor. Since 1971, Alumni Relations has honored an individual each year for their extraordinary achievement.

Cardinal Blase Cupich in the Chapel of St. Thomas Aquinas

2019 Award Recipient

Cardinal Blase Cupich '71

Cardinal Blase Joseph Cupich '71 is an American prelate of the Catholic Church, a cardinal who serves as the ninth archbishop of the Archdiocese of Chicago. He is also a member of the Roman Curia’s Congregation for Bishops, which plays a role in advising on bishop appointments and episcopal matters.


First Awarded in 1971

Making their mark across disciplines and industries, these distinguished alumni all work to advance the common good.

A few of the more recent recipients are featured below.

In recognition of your extraordinary devotion to the church and its mission, and your love, compassion and tireless work for all of God’s children, the University of St. Thomas salutes you and confers upon you its Distinguished Alumnus Award.
Inscription on 2019 award plaque
Mary Brainerd, Distinguished Alumna 2018 Andy Cecere, president of U.S. Bank, speaks at a First Friday event November 4, 2016 in the Anderson Student Center's Woulfe Alumni Hall. Patrick Ryan  third-generation president and CEO of Ryan Companies US Inc.


Mary Brainerd '79 M.B.A.

For 15 years as president and CEO of HealthPartners, Brainerd led the largest consumer-governed, nonprofit health-care organization in the country. As a founder and former chair of the Itasca Project, she demonstrates her ability to guide others in seeking to advance the common good.

See video


Andrew Cecere '82

He was named chief executive officer of Minnesota-based U.S. Bancorp earlier this year. Cecere has been with U.S. Bancorp since 1985 and has held other leadership roles within the organization, including chief financial officer, chief operating officer, president and vice chairman.

See video


Patrick Ryan '75

He is the third-generation president and CEO of Ryan Companies US Inc., a billion-dollar real estate company with 12 offices around the United States, and his community and philanthropic work is significant.


See video