UW-Green Bay hosts its third annual Alumni Days on Oct. 16 and 17 with a bigger and better array of activities to coincide with the University’s 50th Anniversary celebration. Among the events on Friday’s opening evening is a resurrection of the BlueWhale Coffeehouse — at one time a premiere Midwest destination for blues performers — with a Shorewood Clubhouse concert by alumni favorite Claudia Schmidt. On Saturday, Phoenix Fest — a “mini-Bayfest” — will offer live music, food, beverages, and many attractions for the entire family including Segway tours of campus, carnival games, zip line, stunt jump, a chili bar, corn tent and beer garden. Green Bay Athletics teams will host Phoenix Phrenzy in a “midnight mania” type of atmosphere with player intros, dunk contest, a scrimmage and special appearance by the Chicago Boyz Acrobatic Team (featured on “America’s Got Talent”). Throw in Alumni Awards Night, a mainstage Theatre production, a Music concert with alumni choral participation, home soccer and volleyball, the return of the John Maino Golf Classic at Shorewood, Big Mouth, Pat McCurdy, vintage memorabilia displays and a 5K fun run, and it’s an action-packed weekend. See the news release, or the full schedule.
Citing exceptional faculty and staff — many who went out of their way to help them through difficulty, pulled them aside for a bit of encouragement, or asked them questions that would lead to new paths — five UW-Green Bay alumni humbly and graciously accepted Distinguished (Bob Pyle, Constance Downs, Craig Dickman) and Outstanding Recent (JoAnn Miller, Crystal Osman) Alumni Awards Thursday evening, May 1.
The event, held on the stage of the Weidner Center for the Performing Arts, showcased UW-Green Bay’s most honored alumni as industry leaders, dynamic motivators and committed citizens.
JoAnn Miller ’01, Wisconsin’s 2013 State Teacher of the Year, expressed her appreciation for those professors who were “caring, questioning and driving.” She credited Prof. Emeritus Robert Wenger with consistent support, and the question during her undergraduate experience, “Have you ever thought about becoming a teacher?” The Kohl Teaching Fellow is a biology teacher at Oconto Falls High School, teaching college prep biology, Advanced Placement biology and is an adviser to the school’s STEM club. She is credited with using unique and wide-ranging strategies to help each student to exceed their expected potential.
When Crystal Osman ’08 was asked to select a faculty or staff member who influenced her the most, she sent the alumni office a list of 13, eventually singling-out Prof. John Katers, who presented her with her award. At UWGB, she quickly became active in student government and sustainability issues. She was a force behind the U-Pass (subsidized bus rider program) and continues with a number of volunteer causes related to sustainability and preservation. Although trying out a number of majors, it was Prof. Laurel Phoenix’s class, Environment and Society that moved her to questioning herself, “How can I make a difference?” and “How can I help change our outcome.” The program director for the nonprofit business improvement districts, Downtown Green Bay, Inc. and Old Main Street, Inc., is still working toward those answers. Crystal also recognized her partner and UWGB alumnus, Andy Rosendahl ’07, her initial reason, she said, for attending UWGB.
Craig Dickman ’82, founder, CEO and Chief Innovative Officer at Breakthrough Fuel recalled a “Business and It’s Environment” class with Prof. Michael Troyer and “Decision Making” with Prof. John Harris as just two of the formidable classes that made a lasting impression. Prof.’s Dan Spielmann, David Littig, Martin Greenburg, Jarrell Yarborough, all provided valuable lessons to the business executive that is now a partner to some of American industry’s leading brands — helping them to analyze fuel costs using advanced metrics and software and advising on ways to reduce shipping costs and cut expenses and admissions. Dickman thanked his wife, Karen Thomson-Dickman, who helped him through a difficult accounting class in his early years, and has partnered with him through 31 years of marriage.
Constance Downs ’96, said she came to UW-Green Bay in the most circuitous way, entering UW-Green Bay as an Adult Degree student, finding her path, in part, through Prof. Michael Kraft’s influence. She joined the EPA in 1999 and is the associate director of the agency’s Toxics Release Inventory Program Division — a position that brings her into contact with researchers including UWGB faculty members, and with a philosophy — in effect that public information, opinion and pressure, is the best form of regulation — that she recalls discussing in Kraft’s classes. “I have no regrets,” she said. “I loved every minute of it.”
Bob Pyle ’83, now the President and CEO of Pioneer Metal Finishing, said he never forgot what Computer Science Prof. Bill Shay did for him. Pyle recalls taking a Computer Science class, because “computers were the future.” He didn’t realize how difficult “Pascal” programing language could be. Shay committed to helping Pyle achieve an acceptable level of success. “That’s what I remember from my time, people here are unique and very special.” Pyle says he carries that lesson with him, making sure he takes the time when people are struggling, to lend a helping hand. Pyle also recognized instructor Bob Srenaski, who not only impacted him in a marketing research class at UWGB, but gave him is first job out of college and, at 24-years of age, his first exposure to boardrooms and business strategies. Pyle looks to Srenaski for advice as he leads a company of more than 1,400 employees in 14 locations throughout the Midwest and Mexico. Pyle also acknowledged his wife Jean (Wichlacz) ‘84, who he met in that difficult computer class and has remained at his side throughout his career; and his lifelong Phoenix golf team teammates.
“I could have never have dreamt this big,” Pyle said.
For complete biographies on each award winner see the full press release.
UW-Green Bay honors outstanding graduates at the annual Alumni Awards and Recognition Dinner, this year set for Thursday evening, May 1. The event starts with a 5 p.m. reception and social, with dinner at 6 p.m. and awards presentations to follow. The cost is $35 per person. All are welcome. (If you’d like to join us, email Kari Moody in Alumni Relations at MoodyK@uwgb.edu or, better yet, register online by this Friday, April 25).
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Honoree from Business, Environmental master’s, Biology, Environmental Planning and Policy — This year’s honorees are Craig Dickman, Class of 1982, Constance Downs ’96, and Bob Pyle, ’83, each receiving the Distinguished Alumni Award; and JoAnn Miller ’01 and Crystal Osman ’08, recipients of the Outstanding Recent Alumni Award. Read more information on the award recipients.
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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The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay will recognize distinguished graduates of the institution at the 2013 Alumni Association Awards Night on Saturday evening, May 4.
This year’s honorees are Dr. Jerry Blackwell, Class of 1978; Kate Meeuwsen ’76; recent alumnus Danny Schulz ’05; and Julie Van Straten ’91.
The annual program spotlights UW-Green Bay alumni who have made special contributions to the University and to their communities. The ceremony takes place in the Grand Foyer of the Weidner Center for the Performing Arts on the campus at 2420 Nicolet Drive, Green Bay.
The event is open to the public. It begins with a 5 p.m. social and includes dinner at 6 p.m. followed by the program. The cost is $35 per person. For more information, contact the UW-Green Bay Alumni Office at (920) 465-2074 or email@example.com, or register online at www.uwgbalumniawards.eventbrite.com.
Three individuals will receive Distinguished Alumni Awards. They are:Dr. Gerald (Jerry) Blackwell, Class of 1978, president and executive director of the Wellmont CVA Heart Institute in Kingsport, Tenn. — A standout guard for the Phoenix NCAA Division II teams of the 1970s, Blackwell went on to achieve prominence as a cardiology researcher and practitioner. He served on the faculty of the University of Alabama Birmingham and continues to find success in clinical practice as a leader in the advancement of MRI and new diagnostic imaging technologies. One of the first formally MRI-trained cardiologists in the United States, he has earned teaching awards throughout his career for promoting more widespread use of cutting-edge tomographic imaging techniques (CT scans). He received his UW-Green Bay bachelor’s in Population Dynamics. He went on to earn his medical degree from Marshall University, where he was named the outstanding clinical student, and served his medical residency at Ohio State, where he received a cardiology fellowship and was named Chief Resident of Internal Medicine. He continues to keep in touch and support UW-Green Bay and Phoenix Athletics. Kate Meeuwsen, Class of 1976, civic leader, retired educator and member of the UW-Green Bay Foundation Board and Council of Trustees — Meeuwsen has a far-ranging and distinguished record of advocacy on behalf of educational initiatives at her alma mater and communitywide. She and her family have been important supporters of Phoenix Athletics, the Weidner Center, development of the Kress Events Center, and academic enhancements. With her husband, Mike, she was a May 2006 recipient of the University’s highest community honor, the Chancellor’s Award. Her community involvement includes leadership of the Adolescent Parenting Coalition, Inc., and formation of the nature-based 4K program at the Green Bay Wildlife Sanctuary. Meeuwsen has also held leadership positions with the local chapter of P.E.O. International and fundraising efforts for Green Bay Notre Dame, and she has been a performer and board member with the Dudley Birder Chorale. She received her UW-Green Bay bachelor’s in Communication and the Arts (music). Julie Van Straten, Class of 1991, attorney, civic leader and general counsel for UnitedHealthOne — Over 20 years with UnitedHealthcare, Van Straten has risen to an executive position with significant responsibility in corporate and regulatory matters, risk management and business development support. She serves on the board of directors of Golden Rule Insurance Company, UnitedHealthcare Life Insurance Company and All Savers Insurance Company. In the community, she has been honored for her service as current president of the Women’s Fund of Greater Green Bay, as a member of the Chamber’s board of directors, and as a past board member for organizations including the Greater Green Bay Community Foundation, United Way of Brown County, and the American Foundation of Counseling Services. Van Straten was the 2010 recipient of the Green Bay Area Chamber of Commerce’s Athena Award, given to those who have demonstrated excellence in their business or professions, have generously assisted in the advancement of women, and have devoted time and energy to serving their community. She received her UW-Green Bay bachelor’s in English, and went on to receive her law degree from Marquette University Law School.
One alumnus will receive the Outstanding Recent Alumni Award. He is:Danny Schulz of Sheboygan, a 2005 graduate in Accounting and Business Administration, who is employed at Kohler Co. as an accounting project leader in payroll, sales and use tax. He has remained active with his alma mater including service as treasurer of the Alumni Association. He was last year named one of the Top Ten Young Professionals in Sheboygan County by the Coastal Connections organization. An active member of the University’s Alumni Association, he and his wife, Casie Rindfleisch-Schulz ’06, have also been leaders in promoting philanthropic involvement among young alumni, establishing their own scholarship funds for current UW-Green Bay students.
The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay Alumni Association is inviting campus and community to the annual alumni awards evening on Saturday, May 4. Just announced are this year’s recipients of the prestigious Distinguished Alumni Award:
• Dr. Jerry Blackwell, Class of 1978, president and executive director of the Wellmont CVA Heart Institute in Kingsport, Tenn. — A standout guard for the Phoenix NCAA Division II teams of the 1970s, Blackwell went on to achieve prominence as a cardiology researcher and practitioner who served on the faculty of the University of Alabama Birmingham and continues to find success in clinical practice as a leader in the advancement of MRI and new diagnostic imaging technologies. He received his UW-Green Bay bachelor’s in Population Dynamics.
• Kate Meeuwsen, Class of 1976, civic leader, retired educator and member of the UW-Green Bay Foundation Board and Council of Trustees — Meeuwsen has a far-ranging and distinguished record of advocacy on behalf of educational initiatives at her alma mater and communitywide. She and her family have been important supporters of Phoenix Athletics, the Weidner Center, development of the Kress Events Center, and academic enhancements. Her community involvement includes leadership of the Adolescent Parenting Coalition, Inc., and formation of the nature-based 4K program at the Green Bay Wildlife Sanctuary. She received her UW-Green Bay bachelor’s in Communication-Action (music).
• Julie Van Straten, Class of 1991, attorney, civic leader and general counsel for UnitedHealthOne — Over 20 years with UnitedHealthcare, Van Straten has risen to an executive position with significant responsibility in corporate and regulatory matters, risk management and business development support. In the community, she has been honored (2010 Chamber of Commerce Athena Award) for her service as current president of the Women’s Fund of Greater Green Bay, as a member of the Chamber’s board of directors, and as a past board member for organizations including the Greater Green Bay Community Foundation, United Way of Brown County, and the American Foundation of Counseling Services. She received her UW-Green Bay bachelor’s in English.
Danny Schulz, a 2005 graduate in Accounting and Business Administration, will be presented the Outstanding Recent Alumni Award at alumni awards night on campus May 4. Schulz, employed at Kohler Co. as an accounting project leader in payroll, sales and use tax, has remained active with his alma mater including service as treasurer of the Alumni Association. (We’ll have more on each of the award winners and details on awards night registration in a future issue.)
There were deserving honorees all around at Alumni Awards Night but, as expected, perhaps the biggest smiles and most sustained applause were reserved for Mrs. Maria Hinton, Class of 1979, who at age 101 (she turns 102 in June) received the UW-Green Bay Distinguished Alumni Award. A great evening at the Weidner Center. See slideshow.
It was a wonderful night and warm atmosphere when UW-Green Bay alumni were recognized for their distinguished accomplishments at Alumni Awards Night Saturday, April 28, at the Weidner Center for the Performing Arts.
Distinguished Alumni honorees Maria Hinton ’79 and Dr. Mokenge Malafa ’82 were honored, along with Outstanding Recent Alumni Award recipients Jacqueline Frank ’00 and Dr. Laura Rammer ’01.
New master’s graduate Kari Hagnow was recognized for her Outstanding Master’s Thesis and William Gladdis ’00, Angela (Laux) Hoisington ’00 and Carrie (Schommer) ’88 with Distinguished Service Awards for their dedication while serving on the Alumni Association board. Music was provided by Kathyrn (Natzke) Brown ’95.
In addition, the audience was treated to a thank-you video directed at Rick Chernick ’74 and Jim Wochinske ’74. The pair was recognized for the Chernick-Wochinske Challenge that resulted in $142,362 in new contributions for student scholarships and programs. The two college classmates matched all new dollars given by alumni between October 1, 2011 and March 31, 2012 through the annual giving campaign.
Maria Hinton drew the largest ovation of the evening. The 101-year-old has worked tirelessly to preserve the Oneida language and is one of the world’s few remaining native speakers of Oneida. She and UW-Green Bay professor Cliff Abbott have spent years recording the language and creating an online, spoken-word Oneida dictionary. Mrs. Hinton helped found the Turtle School and is believed to be the only lifetime certified educator in the state of Wisconsin.
Dr. Mokenge Malafa, who has made his career fighting cancer as both a researcher and surgeon, made the trip from Florida to accept his award. Malafa said it is the warmth and the love he received in Green Bay that carries him everyday.
“My patients and their families rarely remark on my surgical skills, they comment on my caring spirit and attitude. That is the part of UW-Green Bay that I take with me to work every day.” He mentioned his “surrogate mom,” Marge Weidner, wife of Founding Chancellor Edward Weidner, in particular, for unofficially adopting him when he was a new freshman thousands of miles from his native Cameroon. His experience wasn’t uncommon, he said, with people from all over the world having a similarly wonderful experience at UW-Green Bay.
Outstanding Recent Alumni winners Jacqueline Frank and Dr. Laura Rammer thanked the University and faculty. Rammer said she had high expectations that her UW-Green Bay experience would lead to acceptance into the highly competitive dentistry program at Marquette University. That’s exactly what happened as she was one of fewer than 100 applicants to get accepted at Marquette from a pool of more than 1,000. She graduated from Marquette in 2007 and has a practice in Sheboygan, and was recently named one of Sheboygan’s Top 10 Young Professionals. She supports pro bono and outreach services to children and those in need through Mission of Mercy and Give Kids a Smile.
Frank moved up the ranks quickly to her current position as Executive Director of the National Railroad Museum, Green Bay. As an active consultant for other regional historical societies, she says there is nearly always a UW-Green Bay connection in whatever project, group or non-profit she works with, crediting the strong presence of faculty, students and alumni in the community.
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Photos by Eric Miller, Office of Marketing and University Communication
One last friendly reminder that the 2012 Alumni Association Awards Night will be held tomorrow (Saturday, April 28) at the Weidner Center. Social begins at 5 p.m. with dinner at 6 and the awards ceremony to follow. Distinguished Alumni Maria Hinton (age 101) and Dr. Mokenge Malafa will be honored, along with Outstanding Recent Alumni Award winners Jacqueline Frank and Dr. Laura Rammer. Don’t miss this chance to mingle with some phenomenal fellow Phoenix. Full details.