Colorado State University and the CSU Alumni Association annually recognize outstanding alumni who have excelled in their professions and made significant contributions to their industries, communities, and the University. These remarkable Rams will receive their Distinguished Alumni Awards on Oct. 12, during Homecoming and Family Weekend.
William E. Morgan Alumni Achievement Award
The highest honor given by the Alumni Association, for individuals who have excelled at the national or international level.
Jim Benemann (B.S., ’78)
Jim Benemann has worked in TV news since his first job as a reporter in Davenport, Iowa, right out of CSU. He first went on the air in Denver in 1981, reporting for Channel 9 KUSA. He became a co-anchor for CBS4 KCNC-TV in 1989.
In 1997, Benemann replaced longtime KUSA anchor Ed Sardella before moving back to CBS4 in 2002, becoming primetime news co-anchor in 2008. When he retired in 2022, he had been on the air in Denver for 36 of his 42 broadcasting years.
Benemann’s career has included major assignments, including walking through French villages with World War II veterans for the 40th anniversary of D-Day, reporting from Vietnamese jungles in the aftermath of the war, and covering the Columbine High School shooting in 1999. He received eight Emmy awards for his work and has volunteered to emcee hundreds of events for organizations including CSU.
Charles A. Lory Public Service Award
Alumni who have demonstrated exceptional and sustained leadership and significant contributions of time and talent to the University.
Mike Liggett (B.S., ’73)
Mike Liggett has been a trial attorney in Colorado for 46 years, represented clients statewide, and argued two cases before the Colorado Supreme Court. He graduated from Fort Collins High School and attended CSU as a first-generation student, where he met and later married Ann Stephenson (B.A., ’74). He earned his law degree from the Seattle University School of Law.
During the past 25 years, Liggett has served on the boards of several organizations including the Board of Education for the Poudre School District, the Poudre River Library District, the Health District of Northern Larimer County, and currently, the Poudre River Library Trust.
Liggett retired in August 2018 to care for Ann before she died in December of that year. He now works part time facilitating court-mandated mediations and, on several occasions, he has also served as a special prosecutor for the 8th Judicial District in Northern Colorado.
Jim and Nadine Henry Award
Alumni who exemplify extraordinary service to the University and its academic, athletics, and alumni programs.
Neyla (B.A., ’79) and Mark Driscoll (B.S., ’76; M.S., ’88)
Neyla Allen and Mark Driscoll met in high school in La Junta, Colorado. Mark was recruited to play football for CSU and Neyla joined him a year later. He was a record-setting quarterback for the Rams from 1972 to 1975 and the couple married in 1975. Driscoll was a Rams assistant football coach for four seasons before accepting a position with First National Bank in 1979.
Neyla Driscoll served as a piano accompanist, music assistant, and choreographer for the Poudre School District for more than 15 years and performed with several local dance groups. In the early 1990s, she became a faculty member at Canyon Concert Ballet and worked with the Centennial Children’s Chorus as a drama coach and choreographer.
Mark Driscoll served as director of CSU Athletics from 2003 to 2006, before returning to FNBO as Colorado market president. He also served as a Rams football color commentator on radio broadcasts for the Colorado State Sports Network between 2015 and 2021. Driscoll retired in January 2020.
Distinguished Graduate of the Last Decade Award
GOLD Award for outstanding accomplishments made by a graduate from the past 10 years.
Nigel Daniels (B.A., ’14)
When Nigel Daniels was a child, his mother enrolled him in Denver Kids Inc., a nonprofit that equips students to graduate from high school and pursue postsecondary education. Daniels now serves as a board member for the organization.
His mother died of a heart attack when he was a senior in high school. With support of his community, Daniels received the Daniels Fund Scholarship, which enabled him to attend CSU as a first-generation student. He was elected president of ASCSU in 2013.
After graduation, Daniels worked in Washington, D.C., as a special assistant to U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet and in Colorado on Bennet’s 2016 re-election campaign. He then served for nearly seven years as a special aide and senior adviser to Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock.
In 2022, Daniels received his Juris Doctorate from the University of Denver’s Sturm College of Law. He currently works as a law clerk and policy adviser with Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, where one of his clients is CSU.