Delta Air Lines, Olympic Gold Medalist Rowdy Gaines to be Honored at 29th Annual International Quality of Life Awards

Graham Brooks | Communications Editor

AUBURN, Ala. – The College of Human Sciences at Auburn University will honor Delta Air Lines, Inc. and Ambrose “Rowdy” Gaines IV, a three-time Olympic gold medalist and Auburn alumnus, at the 29th annual International Quality of Life Awards, or IQLA, on Dec. 5 at the Charleston Gaillard Center in Charleston, South Carolina.

The college launched IQLA in 1994, in conjunction with the United Nations International Year of the Family. Now in its 29th consecutive year, IQLA has honored people and partnerships who have made significant and lasting contributions to individual, family and community well-being locally and around the world. The honorees demonstrate a true concern for the human condition through their work to enhance quality of life for all.

“Delta Air Lines is a household name and an airline that has stood the test of time. With its southern roots and community-minded leadership, Delta is changing lives around the globe through education and multiple nonprofit organizations,” said Susan Hubbard, dean of the College of Human Sciences. “And how do we accurately describe Rowdy Gaines’ contribution to Auburn University and the world of sports? His tremendous success and humble spirit have proven to be a powerful combination in making the world a better place.”

Past IQLA laureates include Emmy award-winning entertainer, author and philanthropist Kathie Lee Gifford, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Rep. John Lewis, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Norman Ernest Borlaug and PBS NewsHour journalist and anchor Judy Woodruff.

Delta Air Lines, one of the world’s oldest airlines in operation, is being recognized as the 2022 IQLA laureate for the company’s worldwide community engagement through millions of dollars donated annually and 800,000 volunteer hours from its employees.

Through education alone, Delta now spans to 32 Junior Achievement chapters across four continents, serves as the official airline of the National Flight Academy sponsoring more than 1,600 students and sponsors 28 YMCA chapters on three continents. In addition, Delta’s widespread community engagement includes helping communities recover from disasters, building homes with Habitat for Humanity and fighting childhood illnesses and injuries with the Children’s Miracle Network.

The company’s philanthropic footprint aligns well with the College of Human Sciences’ mission statement to improve quality of lives and change the world.

The IQLA Lifetime Achievement Award is reserved for outstanding individuals who have achieved success in their chosen professions and brought honor to Auburn University and/or the State of Alabama. Past recipients include Apple CEO Tim Cook, former professional athletes Bo Jackson, Charles Barkley, Tim and Kim Hudson and Nancy Lopez, Congressman Spencer Bachus and musical artists Emmylou Harris and Lionel Richie.

Gaines, who broke a total of 14 world records during his career, has brought great pride to the Auburn Family as a world-class athlete and one of the greatest swimmers of all-time. In addition to being a five-time NCAA champion, a member of both the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame and the International Swimming Hall of Fame, Gaines is often referred to as “Swimming’s Greatest Ambassador.”

He has worked with many charitable organizations that include Swim Across America, Rowdy’s Kidz, the USA Swimming Foundation and serves as vice president of partnerships and development with the Pools and Hot Tubs Alliance. The primary focus of his community engagement, often involving free swimming clinics, is to teach children to swim and understand that anything is possible with commitment and determination.

Since his retirement from competitive swimming, Gaines has worked with CBS, TNT, NBC and ESPN as a swimming analyst. At the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Summer Games, Gaines called his eighth Olympic telecast for NBC.

The IQLA gala, a black-tie event always on the first Monday in December, is attended by guests from across the country, as well as select Auburn students as part of the IQLA Study Tour. The gala will begin with a reception at 6:30 p.m., followed by dinner and the ceremony.

For more information and to reserve your spot at the 2022 International Quality of Life Awards, visit