2005 Alumni Awards

Please note that the following profile information is current as of April 2005.

Distinguished Alumni Award

Ronald L. Ream
B.S. ’64, Chemistry
Executive Director of Corporate Development, Wrigley Yorkville

As executive director of corporate development at Wrigley Yorkville in Illinois, Ron Ream’s guidance and ingenuity have helped the company remain at the forefront of the confectionary industry and his work there may now help save lives. Among his well-known creations are Hubba Bubba, Big League Chew, and Bubble Tape, which Ream not only developed in Wrigley laboratories, but also marketed to net the company more than $1 billion in total sales throughout his 40-year career. The author of more than 70 patents, Ream most recently worked with the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research to develop Stay Alert Caffeine Supplement Chewing Gum, which has been provided to aid American troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. The technology also will be further applied in the pharmaceutical industry to improve the administration and absorption of medication.

F.R. Geigle Award

Darrell “Doc” Newell
Professor Emeritus, NIU College of Engineering and Engineering Technology

Fondly known as “Doc,” Darrell Newell came to NIU as a part-time professor in the Department of Industry and Technology and went on to build a life-long relationship with the university. After receiving full-time status, he chaired the electrical engineering department from 1986 through his retirement in 1990, in addition to serving as the college’s interim associate dean. A recipient of the NIU Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, Newell’s students regarded him as an outstanding educator who balanced theory with practical, hands-on experience. Since his retirement, he has remained involved with the college’s progress as a consultant and professor emeritus, and also is establishing an endowed scholarship fund for NIU engineering students.

Outstanding Alumni Award

Tracy Y. Williamson
B.S. ’99, Marketing
Label Director, Tyscot Records
President and Producer, Early Growth Productions

For Tracy Williamson, 2005 is already shaping into a year to remember. A premier up-and-coming professional in the music industry, Williamson walked the red carpet at the 2005 Grammy Awards in support of a nominated gospel recording that she produced. The 27-year-old also graced the pages of Ebony magazine’s April issue as one of its “30 Leaders of the Future.” In addition, another one of her productions received two nominations at the 2005 Stellar Awards. Williamson operates Early Growth Productions, a music services company she founded at the age of 12, and also serves as label director for Tyscot Records in Indianapolis, where she has written and produced for such music award nominees as The Rance Allen Group, Chicago Mass Choir, and DeAndre Patterson, in addition to producing two Gospel Kids’ projects.

College of Business

Jeffrey S. Aronin
B.S. ’89, Marketing
Founder and President, Ovation Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Jeff Aronin is president of Ovation Pharmaceuticals in Deerfield, Illinois, one of the nation’s fastest growing pharmaceutical companies that he founded in 2001. The company, which has doubled every year in size and revenue, develops and markets drugs for specialized patient groups, such as Nembutal and Membaral used to treat epilepsy. In honor of his commitment to making such treatments available, Aronin received the American Porphyria Foundation 2004-2005 Partner of the Year Award and was named the 2004 Corporate Citizen of the Year by the Chicago Chapter of the Epilepsy Foundation. He also was included on Crain’s Chicago Business’ list of Top 40 Business Leaders Under 40.

James M. Rose
B.S. ’83, Management
Chairman & CEO, Mosaic Sales Solutions

Jim Rose is described as visionary whose abilities to develop and implement winning strategies captured the attention of Mosaic Sales Solutions, which tapped him to run its operations as chairman and chief executive officer. The Dallas-based company employs 10,000 people and provides a variety of marketing resources and solutions to such clients as Microsoft, Disney, and Best Buy. Previously, Rose served as CEO for several organizations, including London-based QXL Ricardo PLC, where he still serves as chairman, and led the process of taking the company public on both the London Stock Exchange and the NASDAQ.

College of Education

Anthony L. Kambich
B.S. ’59, Physical Education

Carolyn A. Kambich
B.S. ’60, Elementary Education
Founders, Deerfield Montessori Schools

“What can we do to help?” is Tony and Carolyn Kambich’s trademark saying, as they have spent the past 45 years putting their NIU education to its best use on all levels. In 1966, they founded the Deerfield Montessori School, a private, nonsectarian school accredited by the American Montessori Society, which Carolyn oversees as its executive director with Tony serving as president of the board of directors. The school, which serves infants through sixth-grade children, has grown to four locations throughout the northern Chicago suburbs and enrolls children from more than 350 families. Through their service with Rotary International, Tony and Carolyn have assisted with the development of Montessori schools in Uganda as well as Slovenia, the homeland of Tony’s father. Back at NIU, the Kambichs are helping the College of Education develop a Montessori resource library, in addition to supporting a campaign to provide educational and economic development opportunities in Mwala, Kenya. They also provide financial support for technology needs, student scholarships, and faculty development within the college.

Kathleen L. Kiernan
Ed.D. ’03, Adult Continuing Education
Senior Executive Vice President for International Law Enforcement, MZM, Inc.

Kathleen Kiernan was the most senior woman in the history of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, rising through the ranks from special agent to the assistant director of intelligence. Assigned to the interagency task force on the first World Trade Center bombing, Kiernan has led the intelligence efforts throughout the events and aftermaths of terrorist activity on domestic soil. A 29-year federal law enforcement veteran, today Kiernan is the senior executive vice president for international law enforcement with MZM, Inc., a national security firm in Washington, D.C. In addition to leading a nationwide Intelligence Community project, Kiernan is guiding a multi-disciplinary team bridging the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security. In 2002, Court TV recognized Kiernan as a Criminal Justice Superstar and Ladies Home Journal named her one of its Ten Women in America Who are Making a Difference.

College of Engineering and Engineering Technology

Kenneth D. Hartman
B.S. ’76, Electrical Engineering Technology;
M.S. ’90, Electrical Engineering
Chief Technical Officer, Connor-Winfield Corp

In addition to enjoying a successful career at The Connor-Winfield Corporation in Aurora, Illinois, as its chief technical officer, Ken Hartman finds time to remain active with his alma mater. In his position overseeing all aspects of technological innovation and advancement at the company, as well as directing its research and development groups, Hartman plays a pivotal role in the hiring of NIU graduates at Connor-Winfield. He also enhances the NIU engineering program by serving on its Alumni Society Board of Directors, as well as on the Industrial Advisory Board for the Department of Electrical Engineering.

College of Health and Human Services

Lora L. McDonald McGuire
B.S. ’74, Nursing
Professor of Nursing, Joliet Junior College

Lora McDonald McGuire is a nationally renowned expert in the field of pain management, having improved the quality of life for countless people by educating medical professionals through lectures, journals and textbooks, and numerous magazine articles. When she’s not in the classroom teaching future nurses at Joliet Junior College or consulting with medical professionals on pain management, McGuire volunteers within her community, including the Will-Grundy Medical Clinic, Zonta International, and Take Back the Night domestic violence awareness event. In 2003, McGuire was the first woman to receive the Silver Cross Sehring Medal of Excellence from Silver Cross Hospital-the highest recognition for a health professional. She also is a 2001 ATHENA award recipient from the Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

College of Law

Michael J. Vitale
J.D. ’79
Attorney, Law Offices of Michael Vitale

An advocate for the underdog, attorney Michael Vitale believes all his clients deserve a fair chance, regardless of their ability to afford his services. In addition to operating his solo practice in Berwyn, Illinois, where he focuses on bankruptcy, juvenile, and criminal law, Vitale has devoted nearly 20 years providing pro bono services through Chicago Legal Clinic, which honored his dedication with its 2003 Pro Bono Award. He also serves as a court-appointed mediator for custody and visitation cases in DuPage County, as well as a bar attorney for the Cook County Juvenile Court, where he represents people who do not qualify for a public defender but are unable to afford customary legal fees.

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Peter M. Butterfield
B.A. ’76, Psychology
President and CEO, Kia Motors America

Peter Butterfield has been a driving force in the automotive industry for more than 25 years and today heads one of the fastest-growing car companies in the U.S.-Kia Motors America-which he leads as its president and chief executive officer. Since joining the Korean-based business in 2001, sales under Butterfield’s direction have accelerated and Kia now ranks 14th among the 40-odd-brands sold in the nation. Also under his leadership, Kia has continued to rake in various accolades and recognition for its growth and product development. Such honors include several Strategic Vision Awards, MotorWeek’s Driver’s Choice Award for Best Midsize SUV in 2003, and earning the five-star side-impact crash test safety rating by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

College of Visual and Performing Arts

Anthony P. Padilla
B.M. ’88, Music-Piano Performance
Association Professor of Music and Chair, Keyboard Department
Conservatory of Music, Lawrence University

Recognized internationally as a pianist of remarkable sensitivity, refined interpretation, and dazzling technique, Anthony Padilla made his debut with the Seattle Symphony at the age of 16. After studying with the legendary pianist Jorge Bolet, Padilla transferred to NIU specifically to study with the late Donald Walker, whom he considers as one of the most extraordinary and charismatic teachers he has known. Padilla continues to astound audiences as a guest artist with orchestras and at concert series throughout the world. When not on tour, Padilla can be found in the classrooms at the Lawrence University Conservatory of Music in Appleton, Wisconsin, where he serves as an associate professor of music and chair of the Keyboard Department. Padilla is a recipient of the prestigious Beethoven Fellowship and won the top prize in the esteemed Concert Artists Guild International Competition. In addition, he has garnered highest honors from the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts, the Society of American Musicians, and the Music Teachers National Association, among many others.