Award-winning alumni: Snapshots, remarks from 2013 awards night

It was a spectacular spring evening both inside and outside the Weidner Center, Saturday, May 4 when four University of Wisconsin-Green Bay alumni were honored at the 2013 Alumni Awards.

In his brief remarks Chancellor Tom Harden refreshed the alumni on the “Spectacular 2012” and all the University’s many accomplishments. Assistant Chancellor for University Advancement Bev Carmichael shared the new 360° of Learning brand. But it was the honorees, and their personal, heartfelt testimonies that made for a spectacular evening.

Young Alumni Award Winner Danny Schulz, ’05, an accounting project leader at Kohler Company, and his wife Casie, are the youngest alumni to establish scholarship funds (three of them, in fact). During his acceptance speech, Danny shared his hesitation about moving to UW-Green Bay from a small central Wisconsin town and high school:

“Moving my stuff to campus, dad and I got lost. Who puts a university close to University Avenue but not actually on University Avenue?” he joked. In time, he found his way around. He knew he found “home,” he said, on September 11, 2011, as he and his peers became closer in the tragic aftermath of the terrorist attacks that day. “That evening we had a dorm cookout when all we talked about were the events and the reactions of everyone there. The community that I discovered that evening is what made me realize that this new place in my life, this UWGB, was now a part of my family. Ever since, I’ve been passionate about this place.”

Distinguished Award Winner Dr. Gerald (Jerry) Blackwell, ‘78, a prominent cardiology researcher and practitioner said he drew inspiration, maturity and discipline from faculty members such as (retired) Prof. Chuck Ihrke, Assistant Men’s Basketball Coach Chuck Aslakson and Head Coach Dave Buss. Typical of his teachers, Blackwell remarked, “Dr. Ihrke made me, and I’m sure every other student of his, feel as though I were the only one receiving this special attention.”

Julie Van Straten, Class of 1991, attorney, civic leader and general counsel for UnitedHealthOne, said she would respectfully change the 360° of Learning brand to “360° of impact” as she has been witness to the dramatic impact UW-Green Bay has had on the community, the region and beyond.

Kate Meeuwsen, ‘76, civic leader, retired educator and member of the UW-Green Bay Foundation Board and Council of Trustees spoke passionately about her experience. “This University looked beyond the traditional teaching methods and encouraged students to break new pathways. I had incredible support from music faculty to explore my newly forming world. I was a member of the first University jazz vocal group. I was exposed to the finest of traditional and current music in my many performance groups. I was encouraged to take a non-traditional path in selecting my music for my junior recital. I was given the gift of a global perspective in required classes outside of my beloved music classes… Years later, I retired satisfied that I fulfilled my desire to teach the love of music to the non-music student. I employed the same zeal in my classroom that my professors employed with me. This University has provided so many gifts to my family. Far too many for me to list, but I can honestly say that no one in this room treasures this school more than I do. I have loved every minute I have spent on this campus.”

The awards program also included presentation of awards to top graduate students. Erin Giese and Adam von Haden, both Environmental Science and Policy graduates, were presented the Alumni Association’s Outstanding Thesis awards by Provost Julia Wallace. Giese’s research led to conservation efforts in the forests of Northern Wisconsin. Von Haden’s research, in part, led to a prestigious full-ride scholarship as he pursues his Ph.D. Read about it here.

Read more about each of the Alumni Award award winners here.

Pictured in the top photo, above, are Alumni Award Winners past and present who were on hand for the 2013 celebration. From left to right: Julie Van Straten, Danny Schulz, Jody Weyers, Rick Chernick, Kate Meeuwsen, Jim Wochinske, Patrica Finder-Stone, Dr. Jerry Blackwell, Diane Ford, Steve Taylor and Paula Fleurant.

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