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Lifetime Achievement




  • 2013 Winners +

    Daniel D. Bennett, Ronald L. Burgess Jr, Clifford LeRoy Hare, and Sally Jones Hill
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  • 2012 Winners +

    Lloyd James Austin III, James E. Livingston, Kirby Isaac Bland, and N. Jan Davis
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  • 2011 Winners +

    Dr. Neil E. Christopher, Rear Adm. Thomas K.“TK” Mattingly, Gen. Forrest S. McCartney, and Mr. Wayne T. Smith
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    Past winners from 2001 through 2010. Read More
  • Requirements +

    Nominations will be open March 10–May 30. For more information about the award contact: Kate Asbury Larkin at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 334.844.1149

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March 8, 2014


The Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes recipients for outstanding achievements in their professional lives, personal integrity and stature, and service to the university. It was established in 2001 to honor extraordinary accomplishments by members of the Auburn family. Recipients of Lifetime Achievement Awards are selected by a committee of Auburn administrators, trustees, faculty and alumni.

This year's recipients included 1982 graduate Tim Cook, CEO of Apple Inc.; 1972 graduate Pat Sullivan, the 1971 Heisman Trophy winner and current head football coach at Samford University; 1966 graduate Larry Benefield, who is dean emeritus of the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering at Auburn University; and 1957 graduate John Brown, chair emeritus of Stryker Corp., one of the world's leading medical technology companies.

2014 LAA Winners

(pictured above) Larry Benefield, Pat Sullivan, John Brown and Tim Cook receive their medals representing Auburn University Alumni Association's 2014 Lifetime Achievement Award during a ceremony Saturday, March 8, 2014, at the Auburn Marriott Opelika Hotel and Conference Center at Grand National.

Press Release download here.

Photographs will be available for purchase Wednesday, March 12 at this link. Click Event Proofs in the left navigation bar and search the photo gallery with the word LAA2014.

2014 LAA Winners

Tim Cook Class of 1982

Auburn University Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering; Master of Science from Duke University in Business Administration (1988)

Tim Cook has become one of the most recognizable names in the business world over the past two years when he succeeded Steve Jobs in the role of CEO of Apple, Inc. Cook served as the chief operating officer of Apple from October 14, 2005 to August 24, 2011, and served as head of its Macintosh Division, where he played a key role in the continued development of strategic reseller and supplier relationships. He served as executive vice president of Worldwide Sales and Operations of Apple Computer Inc. from 2002 to 2005. He joined Apple in 1998 as senior vice president of worldwide operations. Prior to that, he served as vice president of corporate materials at Compaq Computer Corporation ('Compaq') from 1997 to 1998 and was responsible for procuring and managing its product inventory. Prior to his work at Compaq Computer Corporation, Cook served as chief operating officer of the reseller division of Intelligent Electronics. He also spent 12 years with IBM as Director of North American Fulfillment, where he led manufacturing and distribution functions for IBM's personal computer company in North and Latin America. Mr. Cook has been director of Apple Inc. since August 24, 2011. He has been an independent director of Nike Inc. since November 2005.

Cook remains involved with the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering at Auburn University. He is the founding chair of the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering’s Alumni Council, founded the ISE Endowed Fund for Excellence, founded the Tim Cook Leadership Scholarship, arranged for trials of Apple products for the ISE department to use and evaluate, established the Tim Cook Endowed Professorship, and was selected as the distinguished Auburn Engineer and Outstanding ISE Alumnus of 2000. Cook also took time to give the 2010 commencement address for all Auburn graduates. Cook remains a high profile figure within technology and business circuits across the globe. He continues to promote technical excellence, progressiveness in human welfare, and innovativeness in environmentally friendly manufacturing, while maintaining the core values set forth within the Auburn Creed.




John Brown Class of 1957

Auburn University Bachelor of Science, Chemical Engineering; J.D., Freed-Hardeman University (1999)

John Brown became chairman emeritus of Stryker Corp. in January 2010, after a 32-year career as president and chief executive of the medical equipment maker. He joined Stryker as chief executive after the founder's son, Lee, died in a plane crash in 1976. Brown transformed the company from a $17 million hospital bed producer into one of the world's leading medical technology companies with $8.7 billion in revenue in 2012. The company makes joint replacements, software and surgical cameras. Shares are up almost 20 percent on news of an acquisition in China and other growth prospects.

In 2011, he and his wife, Rosemary, pledged $10 million to Auburn University's College of Veterinary Medicine in memory of a college friend and longtime faculty member. Brown contributes to the community by promoting higher education to youth through Junior Achievement, an organization that teaches American youth about capitalism and free enterprise. He and his wife annually support more than a dozen Auburn students through the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering, COSAM and the College of Veterinary Medicine. An endowed eminent scholar chair in chemical engineering funded by Brown has expanded the department’s capabilities to advance teaching and research in biomedical engineering. Brown’s success can be documented as the main subject of author Jim Collins’ book, Great By Choice: Uncertainty Chaos and luck – Why Some Thrive Despite Them All. Brown and his wife, Rosemary Kopel Brown ’57 live in Portage, Mich.




Larry D. Benefield Class of 1966

Auburn University Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering and Master of Science in Environmental Engineering (1972); Ph.D. Virginia Polytechnic Institute (1975)

Larry D. Benefield is internationally recognized for his research in biological treatment processes; however, he is equally well-known for his commitment to furthering and enhancing engineering education. In 2012, Benefield retired after a distinguished career of more than three decades at Auburn University. He joined the institution as a faculty member and retired as dean of the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering. Benefield earned his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Auburn University and then spent four years as a civil engineering officer in the U.S. Air Force where he was awarded the Bronze Star for service in Vietnam.

Benefield joined Auburn University’s Samuel Ginn College of Engineering as an associate professor of civil engineering in 1979. In 1998, Benefield was named interim dean and was appointed dean in 2000. As dean, Benefield led the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering to significant advances, attracting the attention of peer institutions and moving Auburn engineering to the highest rankings in its history. Under his leadership, the college successfully completed a $154-million facility enhancement program and launched the nation’s first undergraduate degree in wireless engineering. He oversaw the opening of Auburn’s MRI center and played a pivotal role in the launch of the Auburn University Huntsville Research Center.

Benefield has an international reputation for his research and applications work in biological treatment processes and, in particular, biological nutrient removal. He has served as the principal author of three highly regarded texts in the environmental engineering field and has published 41 referred publications as well as 77 other publications and technical presentations. Benefield holds professional engineering licenses in Virginia, Alabama and Colorado. He is a member of the Board of Directors of Alabama’s Engineering Hall of Fame and a board member and vice chair of the National Center for Asphalt Technology. Benefield was inducted into the Alabama Engineering Hall of Fame in 2013. Benefield and his wife, Mary, reside in Auburn.




Pat Sullivan Class of 1972

Bachelor of Science in Business Administration

Pat Sullivan was a three-year starter at quarterback for the Tigers (1969-71) and in 1971, was named the Heisman Trophy winner, Auburn’s first and the first winner from a school coached by John Heisman, for whom the trophy is named. He was named an All-American and the SEC Player of the Year in both 1970 and 1971. Following his senior season, Sullivan was named the MVP of the 1972 Senior Bowl and he played in the College All-Star Classic, taking on the Super Bowl champion Dallas Cowboys. Sullivan played professional football for five seasons with the Atlanta Falcons, Washington Redskins and San Francisco 49ers. Sullivan is a member of six Halls of Fame: Senior Bowl, Gator Bowl., Sugar Bowl, Alabama Sports, National Football and National High School.

He has sustained a 27 year coaching career with stops at Auburn University, Texas Christian University and UAB respectively. Currently, Sullivan is the 35th head football coach at Samford University where he has revived a lingering program. Sullivan is an active member of the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center’s Community Leader’s Board and devotes time to the American Cancer Society to promote the dangers of tobacco use to high school and college athletes stemming from his personal experience with carcinoma. He and his wife, Jean, reside in Birmingham.