UC Santa Barbara resumed its annual alumni awards this year on Oct. 7 at Lagoon Plaza, honoring four alumni: Walt Disney Animation Studios producer Yvett Merino, real estate investor and philanthropist Diane Dodds and artistic entrepreneur couple Bruce Heavin and Lynda Weinman.

The university has conducted this award ceremony since 1960, according to an article from The Current, to recognize university alumni with “significant professional or personal accomplishments,” who “demonstrate exceptional integrity and character.” 

Nominees are chosen by a large panel including UCSB alumni, the Alumni Board of Directors, previous award recipients, the UCSB Foundation, university deans and department heads, and UCSB administrators. 

Merino, who graduated in 1994 with a degree in sociology, was given the Distinguished Alumni Award for her work as an academy award-winning producer in “Encanto.” Merino — the first Latina recipient of an Oscar for an Animated Feature — also served as the production manager for the Oscar-winning movie “Big Hero 6” and the Oscar-nominated film “Moana.” 

Dodds — who passed away on March 22 — graduated in 1968 with a degree in English and received the Graver Alumni Service Award posthumously. Dodds continued to remain involved with the university and Isla Vista community following her graduation through philanthropic donations for the Alumni Day of Service, the Alumni Scholarship Fund, the Mosher Alumni House and the Isla Vista Foot Patrol, according to The Current article.

While studying at UCSB, Dodds enjoyed “the beach, cruising through Isla Vista, and spending hours in downtown Santa Barbara,” while also being the president of her dorm wing.  

In 1995, Weinman and Heavin together created lynda.com — one of the world’s first websites dedicated to providing education and skills — which later grew into LinkedIn Learning in 2015.

Following an early retirement, Weinman decided to become a full time artist while Heavin continues to create illustrations for Adobe, MSNBC and E! Entertainment Television.

A version of this article appeared on p. of the Oct. 13, 2022 print edition of the Daily Nexus.


Atmika Iyer
Atmika Iyer (she/her/hers) is the Daily Nexus editor in chief for the 2022-23 school year. Previously, Iyer was the County News and co-Lead News Editor for the 2021-22 school year. She's a lover of loud music, loud laughs and loud prints.