University of Utah electrical and computer engineering alum Robert J. Grow, who was president and chief operating officer of Geneva Steel, received the U’s Distinguished Alumni Award during the Founders Day event Feb. 26 at the Little America Hotel. Grow is also the founding chair of Envision Utah, a nonprofit that works with residents, elected officials, developers, conservationists, business leaders, and other interested parties to support Utah communities.

The award, given to alumni who have “excelled professionally, served the local and national communities, and supported the university,” is handed out annually by the U’s Alumni Association.

Grow earned a bachelor’s in electrical and computer engineering from the U in 1973 and a law degree from Brigham Young University in 1976. Out of college, he joined his first law firm, specializing in real estate, land use planning and business law. Beginning in 2003, he opened and managed the Salt Lake City office of the California-based firm, O’Melveny & Myers.

In 1987, Grow helped lead the acquisition team that purchased the Geneva Steel Works mill from USX Corp. As president and COO of Geneva, he then led the company’s $420 million plant-wide modernization plan and directed all facets of its operation until 1997. He also was elected as the chair of the American Iron and Steel Institute.

Grow has been honored with the Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1993 from the U’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, the Utah Entrepreneur of the Year in 1994, the Gary Memorial Medal from the American Iron and Steel Institute in 1997, and the Silver Hope Award by the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Utah.

He has served on the Utah State Economic Development Board, the Utah State Advisory Council on Science and Technology, the Salt Lake Convention & Visitor’s Bureau board, and chaired the Governor’s Conference on Economic Development. From 1999 to 2002, he also was president of the California Sacramento Mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

During his tenure at the U, Grow worked as a programmer and teaching assistant at the U’s Computer Center, was elected as an ASUU representative for the College of Engineering, and led the creation of a college-based engineering student employment center. He was also appointed as the College of Engineering student representative to the University Faculty Senate and served on a dean search committee for the college.

Grow said his education at the U, and especially with the faculty of the College of Engineering, prepared him well for multiple career and service opportunities that he never imagined when he was a student. “I have always been very proud to be an alumnus of the electrical engineering department and the engineering college,” he added.

This year’s other honorees of the U’s Distinguished Alumni Award include Lana Dalton, programs manager for the Criminal Justice Advisory Council of Salt Lake County; Lily Eskelsen García, president of the National Education Association; and Raymond Price, director of the Center for Global Surgery at the U who also directs the graduate surgical education at Intermountain Medical Center. The Honorary Alumna Award was given to Gail Miller, owner of Larry H. Miller Group of Companies and chair of the Larry H. Miller Management Corporation Board of Directors.