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Snow College Distinguished Alumni Award

An annual honor given to a graduate of Snow College who inspires excellence in others by serving as a role model and has demonstrated significant commitment, career contributions, and community impact. This article can be found in the annual Snow College Magazine.

2023 Distinguished Alumni

Rhett Long

Rhett Long

A code of courage has been the guiding principle in Rhett Long’s life. This has been evident throughout Rhett’s life as he fearlessly tried new and different paths—and succeeded!

Rhett’s journey began in Richfield, Utah, the oldest of three children. Rhett’s dad worked as an engineer and his job took the family all over the midwestern United States. When Rhett was 12 years old his father’s job took the family to Pinjarra, Western Australia. This was an experience that he loved. He still has six “mates” from his school days with whom he regularly keeps in contact.

When Rhett returned to Richfield High School at 16 years old, he learned he was ahead of his classmates. He was encouraged to take classes concurrently at the former Sevier Valley Area Vocational Center, fondly known as “The Tech,” now Snow College Richfield. Teacher Dennis Davis saw in Rhett an aptitude for engineering and architectural drafting and Rhett began designing commercial projects where his designs won awards. Rhett graduated from Richfield High School and Sevier Valley Tech in 1978 on the same day, only a few hours apart.

Reflecting on his time and the Tech, Rhett recalled, “Mel and Dennis made that such a rewarding experience, and I will tell you, I have used my associate degree more in my life than anything else.”

Throughout Rhett’s career of managing hundred-million-dollar expansions, rather than hiring an expensive architect for projects, he was able to use what he learned at the Tech to draw up the blueprints himself. Rhett’s friendship with Mel Hyatt and Dennis Davis never ended and he commented, “They were just dear friends throughout my life. They saw something in me and let me do it.” 

Rhett moved on to Southern Utah University with a full-ride golf scholarship. At SUU he switched from architecture to business administration which prepared him for a twenty-year career managing hotels, ski resorts, multi-million-dollar casinos, and thousands of employees.

In 1997 while serving as regional president of Park Place Entertainment, Rhett was put in charge of internet marketing for the company. He partnered with Gannett News, the largest newspaper publisher in the U.S., to advertise on their internet platform. This is where he earned the brightest star in his career growing the casino databases by 18 million people and generating over $1.8 billion in new revenue in a year and a half.

By this point, Rhett was falling out of love with the casino side of the business, running a casino was demanding work with late nights and incredibly long hours, and he was ready for a change.  Meanwhile, Gannet News asked Rhett to leave Park Place to come to work for them. Information technology was in its infancy and this opportunity intimidated Rhett more than anything he had done up to that point. But in 2001 he took the leap, leaving the gaming industry behind to become president of the internet companies,, 101 Things to Do, and Must Do Travel at Gannett News. Remembering this experience, Rhett advised, “Never be afraid that a job’s too big, or you can’t do it.” 

Toward the end of his career, Rhett took yet another leap becoming a newspaperman. He spent four years publishing the Spectrum Newspaper in Southern Utah and later the Provo Daily Herald.

Rhett has spent countless hours giving back to his communities. While living in Reno, he began volunteering on various boards, including the Downtown Reno Development Committee reclaiming the run-down Truckee River. As an avid golfer, he helped start the PGA Reno-Tahoe Open, which continues today, raising millions of dollars that go back to the community.

Rhett is supported by his five children and four grandchildren, with whom he loves spending time. He and his wife Suzie, a Speech and Language Technician, currently reside in North Ogden, Utah, where he enjoys being a supportive husband and father, golfing, and putting 100% of his efforts toward giving back.

When reflecting on his life, Rhett said, “I’ve always said, it’s been fun to be Rhett, it really has. I’ve always seemed to be in the right place at the right time, I’ve worked with the greatest people and the legends of Las Vegas. I’ve had such a great life, it’s been amazing.”

We are honored to recognize Rhett as the 2023 Snow College Distinguished Alumnus.

Gary and Janet Carlston

Gary and Janet Carlston

Throughout their lives, Gary and Janet Carlston have inspired others to dream, learn, do, and become more. Their professional careers culminated as leaders of Snow College nearly 45 years after they met on campus as students. 

Gary and Janet were involved as student leaders while attending Snow. Gary served as the Latter-day Saint Student Association President, and Janet was the Public Relations Student Body Officer. Despite demanding schedules, they found time to spend with each other. Their friendship evolved into courtship, and the happy, busy couple married in December 1969. 

As newlyweds, they rented a small apartment in Ephraim. They cherish the relationships they developed with professors, classmates, and peers while at Snow. Janet and her Snow College roommates still get together once a year for a week-long reunion where they reminisce and reconnect. Gary enjoyed every one of his teachers and remarked that he never had a “bad professor” while at Snow.

Gary and Janet both chose education as their profession. After graduating from Snow, Janet finished her Elementary Education degree at Utah State University and then spent time at home raising their four children before she began her 22-year career as a first-grade teacher.

Gary spent his entire career in both public and higher education. After graduating from Snow College with his Associate degree and from Utah State University with a Bachelor's and Master’s in Education, he completed his Doctorate at Brigham Young University in Educational Administration.

Gary and Janet both had distinguished careers and received numerous accolades for their professional accomplishments. After retiring, the Carlstons served a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in New Zealand and traveled to the South Pacific to work with the church schools. They have both spent countless hours volunteering for their church and in their communities.

The Carlstons answered another call in January 2014 when they were asked to leave their retirement to return to Snow College to serve as the top leaders while the search committee filled a vacant presidency. In an unprecedented move, the “interim” title was removed without a full search by the review team. Together, the Carlstons led Snow College until they chose to retire (for a second time!) in 2019. Years after their retirement, the Carlstons are still held in the highest regard by employees, stakeholders, and community members.

The Carlstons will quickly point out, that it was a collective team effort of administrators, faculty, staff, and trustees that contributed to the college’s successes during their tenure. Under their administration, the college reached the goal of being “one institution with two campuses,” The Graham Science Center and Bergesen Athletic Center were built in Ephraim as well as ten classrooms in the Sevier Valley Center and a fitness center on the Richfield Campus.

The Carlstons consistently prioritized people over projects in their approach. Through their quiet, kind, and consistent approach, they built relationships and solidified institutional reputation.

They both believe that family is their greatest accomplishment. Here, as in all their life ventures, Gary and Janet have been a team. Family time is an enjoyment and priority to the Carlstons, this is evident in the strong bonds they share with their children, grandchildren, and siblings.  

The phrase “Spirit of Snow” became a defining theme of their presidency. The Carlstons talk about the caring, accepting, and supporting spirit of the college, a place where people and relationships matter, and a history that is filled with sacrifice and service from visionary founders. They said, “We were introduced to that special Snow feeling when we were students, and when we returned years later to lead -- the ‘Spirit of Snow’ completely wrapped around us. We felt it in so many ways.”

The Carlstons reflect, “These two kids from Fairview and Ferron were changed because of the people at Snow College.” Years later, they changed the people at Snow College and left a legacy as leaders of their alma mater. 

Gary was the first Snow College alumnus and Sanpete County native to serve as its president. That Badger blood runs deep and is still evident in the “Snow Room” filled with Snow College memorabilia in their Cache Valley home and in the emotion they both share as they talk about their Snow College. They say, “We love this college. It has maintained a solid hold on our hearts since we began as students.”

We too love the Carlstons and are honored to recognize them as 2023 Distinguished Alumni.

Past Recipients

Brent Thorne
Neal Cox
Daniel Maynes
Sampei "Sam" Nakao
Jack Anderson
John "Jeb" Branin
Boyd Beck, Ph.D.
Maria O'Mara


Randy Kay Cox

Ted and Vickie Olson


Justin Osmond

Charles Pugh


Theressa Alder

Dr. Daniel M. Witt


James Tatton, M.D.

Frank Weaver


Eddie Cox

Bart Nelson


Yvonne Whitmore

Gordon Christensen *


Verla Sorensen

Mitchell Palmer


Lee R. and Joy Barton

Kay and Becky Barton

Lisa and Karl Anderson


Mark and LeAnn Stoddard

Leonard and Laura Blackham


Richard Ray Olson

Norma Stubbs Olson

Cary Peterson

Ranee Peterson


Douglas P. Peterson *

Izola Blackham *

Perry Blackham *


Gene Bertelson *

Betty Wing Bertelson

Roland Christensen

Roland Roger Johnson

LaRue Tucker Johnson *


Ronald R. Giles

Larry G. Nielson

Stephen Paul Taylor


Dr. Byron Gassman

Renee Jones Gassman *

Glen P. Peel

Gordon Lee Peterson

Kent Thompson *


Leonard M. Blackham

Dr. Bert Gividen

Val Greaves Gividen

Jerry D. Pulsipher


Robert Anderson

Heber Horrace Hall *

Jerry J. Ohrn

Glenda Rigby Staker *

Robert Warnick

Carol Warnick


Jay F. Gardner *

Dee C. Hansen

Ruth Pickett Ross *

Royal C. Whitlock *


Eunice Alder *

Reed Braithwaite *

James E. Hansen *

Gary Myrup

Morris Sorenson *


Hoyt Anderson *

Doug Barton

Floyd Breinholt *

Boyd Grant

Calvert Therald Larsen

Mary Peacock

Arthur Willardsen *


Wilber Braithwaite *

Byrl Brown Dorland *

Dr. Afton Hansen

Charles (Chuck) Hyer

Arthur Nielsen *

Dr. Wanda Robertson *

Maurine Scott*


Phillip C. Anderson *

Therald N. Jensen *


Clair R. Acord *

Royal N. Allred *

Miles A. Anderson *

David M. Archer

Gerald M. Armstrong

Royal A. Bagely *

Donald k. Barton *

Max H. Blain *

Royden C. Braithwaite *

Harden W. Brienholt *

Perry Christensen

Edward L. Christensen *

Kent Christensen *

Lavaun Cox *

Wilbur W. Cox *

Helen Bailey Dyreng *

Gerald L. Ericksen *

Mcloyd Ericksen *

Dewey J. Fillis*

Duane A. Frandsen *

Kay L. Frischknecht *

Glen K. Goodwin *

Robert M. Graham

Mark J. Howard

Ferral D. Huntsman

Elaine Allred Jarrett

Arlo Jensen

Doris Nielson Larsen *

Glen S. Larson *

Nolan F. Mangelson

Sammy N. Newton *

Richard R. Olsen

Rulon P. Peterson *

Zella C. Poulson *

Ellis T. Rasmussen *

Roy Reid *

Darell H. Stewart *

Grant N. Stubbs

Lee R. Thompson *

Peter Thompson *

Twain C. Tippetts *

Michael Watson

Kay Keeler Willardson

Gene R. Yardley

Recognitions Prior to 1987

Jack C. Alder *

Glen A. Allred *

Ruel A. Allred

Wallace E. Allred

Blaine E. Anderson *

Curtis J. Armstrong *

Melba K. Armstrong *

Milton G. Armstrong *

Glen Kenneth Bailey

Zella Anderson Bassett

Woodrow W. Beck *

Hugh V. Bird *

Reed W. Brinton

Calvin Reed Brown *

Royal Lee Brown *

Gary L. Carlston

Michael R. Carlston

Shirley Anderson Cazier *

Douglas Fred Christensen

James Boyd Christensen *

Mac Christensen

Morlin E. Cox *

Lavon Day

Esther Coombs Durfey *

Paul P. Dyreng

Alma S. Edwards *

Kent Evans *

Lillian Win Fjeldsted *

Clair E. Frischknecht *

John K. Frischknecht

John Boyd Grant

Don Rue Hickman *

Bliss Harmer

Arlea Hope Howell *

Berdean H. Jarman

Joseph A. Jenkins

Larue Paulsen Jennings *

Lawrell Jensen *

Moroni L. Jensen *

Harold E. Johnson *

Arlyn R. Madsen *

Joan Stevens Mcallister

Dorothy Jensen Mclaughlin *

Elwin N. Mikkelson *

Alta Gassman Moffitt *

Gwen Tuttle Monroe *

Francis N. Mortenson *

Roger H. Nelson

Keith C. Nielsen

LaRue M. Nielson *

John Anthon Olsen

Eva Olsen Peterson *

Merritt L. Poulson *

Darol B. Rasmussen *

Thora Jensen Rasmussen *

Jewell Rasmussen *

Victor J. Rasmussen *

Elder Rex C. Reeve *

Howard T. Reid *

Clair E. Rosenberg *

Maurine Thomson Scott *

George Sterling Spencer

Lamar H. Stewart *

Dorothy Jensen Stoddard *

Glen R. Stubbs

Lagrande H. Terry *

Ralph D. Thomson *

Lyman S. Willardson *

Ethelyn Taylor *

LaVerl Christensen *

Ralph Blackham *

Marjorie Madsen Riley *

George Staples *