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Fr. James Lavin made Lavinburgers with students for many years in Ireland Hall

Monsignor James Lavin Award

Serving fellow alumni.

The Monsignor James Lavin Award award honors an alumnus or alumna of St. Thomas for outstanding contributions and service to the University of St. Thomas Alumni Association, its programs and services. Since 1994, Alumni Relations has honored an individual each year for their extraordinary contributions.

Vice president for University Relations Doug Hennes conducts an interview with trustee Jim Gearen July 17, 2013 at Gearen's Zeller Realty office in downtown Minneapolis. Taken for St. Thomas magazine.

2019 Monsignor James Lavin Award Recipient

Doug Hennes '77

For 41 years as an alumnus and 27 years as a staff member, Doug combined his passion for St. Thomas, his love of writing, and his innate desire to connect with and help people.

First Awarded in 1994

Recipients of the Monsignor James Lavin Award are noted for the energy and enthusiasm that they add to the St. Thomas network. This award honors an alumnus or alumna of St. Thomas for outstanding contributions and service to the University of St. Thomas Alumni Association, its programs and services.
In recognition of Doug’s extraordinary participation in the life of the University of St. Thomas alumni family, we salute him and confer upon him the Monsignor James Lavin Award.
Inscription on 2019 Award Plaque
Mark Zesbaugh, an Accounting alum and member of the Board of Trustees, poses for a portrait at his Eagan bar, Union 32 Craft House, on February 23, 2018. Zesbaugh is the recipient of the 2018 St. Thomas Day Monsignor James Lavin Award. St. Thomas alum Jean Gray, recipient of the 2017 St. Thomas Day Lavin Award, poses for a photo at his Lake Minnetonka home on December 13, 2016. Gray is also a member of the Catholic Studies Advisory Board. Alum Chip Connelly laughs as he is honored at half time of a football game against Bethel University October 24, 2015 at O'Shaughnessy Stadium.

2018

Mark Zesbaugh '86

For 15 years, Zesbaugh served on the St. Thomas Board of Trustees, doing indispensable work to advance the university and being a model of alumni and trustee involvement. He has contributed greatly to the increase in scholarship aid for students and to the development and success of Tommie Give Day. He also was given the Distinguished Alumnus Award in 2015. Zesbaugh graduated from St. Thomas with a degree in accounting, launching him into a fast-climbing career that saw him named CEO of Allianz Life at 37. Zesbaugh is currently president of Twin Cities-based Entrepreneurial 180, LLC.

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2017

R. Jean Gray '51

Gray’s enthusiastic leadership of Old Guard and reunion activities is longstanding and well-known. He has been involved with Alumni Association activities locally and internationally, and participated in numerous alumni travel experiences to Europe, Africa, South America and the Caribbean. In addition, he has served as a member of the Catholic Studies board of governors and The Saint Paul Seminary Board of Trustees and is a member of the President’s Council and the Finn Heritage Society.
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2016

Evans “Chip” Connelly ’84

A longtime member of the President’s Council and the Finn Heritage Society, Connelly has made an indelible mark on St. Thomas through his 20-plus years of volunteerism at the university.
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