Chief executives of Fortune 100 companies, a Super Bowl champion, United States Senator, National Book Award winner and leading researcher in eye diseases are among those included in a list of the 150 most influential people in Valparaiso University’s history that was unveiled on Oct. 9. The complete list of Valpo’s most influential people, released in conjunction with this weekend’s Homecoming and Reunion celebration, can be viewed online at http://www.valpo.edu/alumni/alumniassociation/top150.php.
Among those on the list are alumni, faculty, staff and friends of the University who exemplify Valpo’s mission of scholarship, freedom and faith while demonstrating outstanding achievement throughout their professional careers said Michael Rickman, president of the Valparaiso University Alumni Association. “They are individuals who enhance the prestige of the University by virtue of their character, integrity and outstanding personal or professional accomplishments in their respective fields,” Rickman said. “In total, the 150 most influential Valpo people represent the University’s diverse and outstanding constituency of alumni, professors and administrators, and recognizes how Valpo is a global university.”
Those on the list include alumni G. Allen Andreas, chairman and chief executive officer of Archer Daniels Midland; Donald V. Fites, former CEO of Caterpillar Inc.; Fuzzy Thurston, starting offensive guard for the Green Bay Packers’ 1967 and 1968 Super Bowl teams; and Paul Sieving, director of the National Eye Institute.
A number of current faculty and staff members also made the list, including National Book Award-winning author Walt Wangerin Jr., Jochum university professor; noted theologian Dr. Gilbert Meilaender, Duesenberg professor of Christianity and ethics and a former member of the President’s Council on Bioethics; and the father-son duo of Bryce and Homer Drew, assistant head coach and head coach respectively of the men’s basketball team, who achieved national recognition in 1998 when they led the Crusaders to the Sweet Sixteen.
The list recognizes 15 people in 10 different categories, including business, education, engineering/science, government/law/military/politics, health care, media/literature, philanthropy, sports, theatre/art/music and theology/religion.
Nearly 500 people were nominated for the list as part of Valpo’s celebration of its 150th anniversary, and more than 38,000 votes were cast from January through July of this year.
Valpo people from the institution’s founding in 1859 through the present day are included on the list.
Each person on the list epitomizes the integrity and values that Valpo has taught throughout the past 150 years, said Rickman, who cited 1883 law graduate and United States Senator George Norris as one such example. Sen. Norris served the state of Nebraska from 1913 to 1943, sponsoring the Tennessee Valley Authority Act of 1933 and leading Senate approval of the Rural Electrification Act that brought electrical service to underserved and rural areas across the country.
Sen. Norris was one of eight senators featured in President John F. Kennedy’s book “Profiles in Courage,” and Rickman cited as typical of Valpo graduates, professors and administrators the senator’s statement: “I would rather lie in the silent grave, remembered by both friends and enemies as one who remained true to his faith and who never faltered in what he believed to be his duty, than to still live, old and aged, lacking the confidence of both factions.”
Those selected for the list or their families will be honored at regional alumni gatherings to be held during the remainder of the 2009-2010 academic year.
Rickman thanked members of the Alumni Association’s 150th anniversary committee, chaired by Paul Jud of O’Fallen, Mo., that worked diligently with support from Lisa Miller, associate director of alumni relations, on the most influential list and other 150th anniversary activities that have taken place since 2007.
“This was a two-year labor of love and appreciation for our history and our Valpo people,” Rickman said.