Utah Law holds inaugural Golden Gavel Society event and celebrates with annual Alumni Awards

Apr 23, 2024 | Alumni

by Lindsay Wilcox

The College of Law celebrated alumni with more than 75 years of experience, students just embarking on their careers, and everyone in between at its April 12 events. Learn more about the ways we’re spotlighting the Utah Law family.

Introducing the Golden Gavel Society

Group of older men and women standing together outside with a tall tree behind themThe College of Law has a new way to recognize alumni: the Golden Gavel Society, which honors those who graduated from law school 50+ years ago. More than 70 people attended the inaugural event at the University Guest House, including 103-year-old George Fadel, who graduated in 1948, and first keynote speaker Ardeth Houde, who graduated in 1957.

The only woman in her graduating class, Houde grew up in Tooele, Utah, and moved to Rochester, New York, where she practiced law until 2020, when the COVID-19 virus made it dangerous for her to work with the public. Houde recalled in her speech that the attitude around women lawyers has significantly changed in her more than 60 years of practice.

“When I passed the bar in Rochester, I was the first woman to do so in quite a while. The local newspaper printed a small article about that entitled ‘Engineer’s Wife Passes Bar,'” she said. “My husband was an engineer with General Dynamics in Rochester at the time,” she recalled.

After remarks from Professor Jim Holbrook (’74) and a musical number from three quartet members from the class of ’67 (plus Dean Elizabeth Kronk Warner filling in as tenor), Golden Gavel Society members shared their memories of law school at the microphone and gathered for a group photo.

See this Flickr slideshow for more photos from the Golden Gavel Society.

Celebrating at the annual Alumni Awards

Holbrook and Roger Thompson (’67) were also recognized at the Alumni Awards that evening at the College of Law building. Both received Alumni of the Year awards, presented by Dean Kronk Warner in the moot courtroom.

Other award-winners included:

  • Honorary Alumni of the Year: Judge Paul Michael Warner
  • Spirit of Quinney Award: Kelley Michael Gale (’79)
  • Young Alumni of the Year: Gabriela Mena (’17) and Laura Leon Rubiano (’16)

Student Bar Association President Carter Moore also presented awards to the following students, who will be graduating in May:

  • Outstanding Colleague: Anthony Tenney (’24)
  • Outstanding Student Leader: McKaela Dangerfield (’24)
  • Outstanding Social Justice Champion: Cait McKee (’24)
  • Outstanding 3L Mentor: Drake Walker (’24)
  • Outstanding Student Scholar: Grace Sponaugle (’24)
  • Outstanding MLS Colleague: Ryne Vogel (’24)

Judge Dianna Gibson, left, Stephanie Warner, Tonia Hashimoto, and Engels Tejeda stand together on the terrace at the Utah Law buildingFinally, Bree Spaulding Marrero (’24) received the LGBTQ+ and Allied Lawyers of Utah (LALU) Student Award, presented by LALU board member Eli McCann, and Dr. Caisa Royer presented Pro Bono Initiative awards, recognizing Andy Miller (’24) as a student and Dan Crook (’20) as an alum volunteer. Ana Hacon (’23) and Spencer Williams (’25) also received Golden Rule Pro Bono awards.

After the awards ceremony, attendees joined in a champagne toast to the class of 2024 and enjoyed various foods throughout the building, along with a photo booth, law-themed Jeopardy game, and karaoke.

More than 300 guests celebrated with us, and we are grateful for the alums, law firms, and other businesses who supported the event and continue to support the College of Law.

Check out this Flickr slideshow to see more photos of the Alumni Awards. You can also watch a video of the evening, featuring student winners, below!