MILWAUKEE — Marquette University will honor 48 accomplished alumni and friends during Alumni National Awards Weekend, April 27-29, for their personal achievements and support of the university.
Short profiles of the honorees, including Alumnus of the Year Dr. Henry K.H. Kwan, Arts ’71, are available on the Alumni National Awards website. The site allows individuals to send a congratulatory message or make a gift in honor of an award recipient. Event registration information for any of the 10 college-specific events during the weekend is also available online.
All-University Award Recipients
Alumnus of the Year Award: Dr. Henry K.H. Kwan
Notable for his contributions to developing such medications as Claritin, Claritin D-24, Intron A and Nasonex, pharmaceutical executive-turned-scientific consultant Kwan modestly deflects accolades and insists that he is merely Marquette’s luckiest alumnus.
At 17, Kwan was finishing his second-to-last year of high school in his native Hong Kong when his father decided the local political and economic climates were becoming uncomfortably risky. He insisted that Kwan pick an American college and apply to go that very fall.
“I went to a bookstore and got a Barron’s college guide,” Kwan recalls. “It took just five minutes to go through because, for most schools, the application deadline was already up. Except at two universities; one was Marquette.”
Arriving on campus as one of just a handful of international students, Kwan says his anxiety dissipated when he met Rev. John Naus, S.J., resident chaplain at Schroeder Hall. “He waited outside the cafeteria on the first day to greet all the new students,” Kwan says. “His energy, his open heart, his demeanor and friendly disposition — I felt comfortable almost immediately. Not only did I survive the first week, I enjoyed it.”
Kwan’s degree is in chemistry, but his favorite classes were philosophy courses like metaphysics. During his junior year, he joined Marquette’s men’s tennis team, and still watches them play when he can, often at the annual Milwaukee Tennis Classic. When he received a Professional Achievement Award from the Klingler College of Arts and Sciences in 2011, he was delighted to reconnect at the awards ceremony with his doubles partner, Dennis Abere, as well as with Father Naus.
Kwan’s fondness for Marquette has kept him connected. He supported renovations to the Todd Wehr Chemistry Building, is active in alumni activities and student send-off events in the New York/New Jersey area, and has contributed to Father Naus’ eponymous scholarship fund.
“My Marquette experience taught me to always contribute, share and be willing to give back,” Kwan says. “It was meant to be. I am the luckiest alum ever.”
Professional Achievement Award: Dr. Ricardo R. Fernández
In 2016 Fernández retired after 26 years as president of The City University of New York’s Herbert H. Lehman College. Though he took the reins during a challenging time for the college’s Bronx neighborhood, his leadership significantly transformed the school into a centerpiece of the community.
The many milestones Lehman College achieved under Fernández included new degree programs in business, nursing, social work and public health, as well as expanded online offerings and on-site continuing education. He oversaw significant expansion of the school’s information technology and multimedia facilities, as well as the completion of Science Hall, a campus centerpiece for research and STEM career preparation. In 2002 he partnered with city government to establish on campus the High School of American Studies, ranked by U.S. News & World Report in 2015 as the top high school in New York state and No. 11 nationwide.
As a student at a bilingual Jesuit prep school in his native Puerto Rico, Fernández knew he wanted to attend college in the United States. A teacher steered him toward the Midwest, and he admits that the Milwaukee Braves being a “hot ticket” in Major League Baseball at the time was the main reason he applied to only one school: Marquette. Although he entered college with the intention of becoming a physician, he changed course and graduated with a bachelor’s in philosophy, and went on to earn a master’s in Spanish literature.
Service to the Community Award: Barbara Eannelli Klein
With her four children in high school and college, Klein wanted to revisit one of her first loves: the Spanish language. Her decision to brush up her skills led her to Journey House Center for Family Learning and Youth Athletics, where her leadership has expanded opportunities and helped increase the quality of life for more than 7,000 children and families.
During lunch one day with her husband, Dennis Klein, then-Marquette president Rev. Robert Wild, S.J., and Charles Ries, Marquette’s senior director of development design and innovation, Klein mentioned that she had re-enrolled at Marquette to study Spanish. She told them of her desire to volunteer on Milwaukee’s south side, largely populated with native Spanish speakers. Soon afterward, Ries connected her with Journey House.
Klein started as a GED tutor for English language learners, part of the organization’s adult education program. Journey House also focuses on youth development, workforce preparation and family engagement to empower families to move out of poverty. CEO Michele Bria eventually invited Klein to join the organization’s board, on which she has served for 15 years, including two years as board president (2009–10) and two years as board chair (2011–12).
It was her father who encouraged her to attend Marquette and study business. “It prepared me for life,” Klein says, “and for sitting on the boards of the organizations that I do, because I understand the financial statement and what you have to do to be successful.”
Service to Marquette Award: James M. Meier
As senior director of marketing finance for MillerCoors, Meier knows a thing or two about return on investment. In recent years, he’s invested time, talent and treasure in his alma mater, and already, his investment is paying off in ways that make a tangible difference to Marquette.
The stature of Marquette men’s basketball was a big draw for Meier when he was looking at colleges, and he’s since been a loyal team supporter. In 2003, after the team made the Final Four for the first time since its 1977 national championship win, Meier decided to go all in for season tickets. At that same time, he says, “I was at a point in my life where I wanted to start making a more prolonged difference, something that would endure over time. And as my parents raised me, they definitely instilled by example the priority of charitable involvement.”
His inquiry about tickets led to conversations with the athletics development department, and in 2005 the James M. Meier Scholarship for Men’s Basketball was established. It was the 14th endowed athletics scholarship for Marquette athletes from an individual or organization outside of the university; today, there are nearly 80.
Meier also volunteered as co-chair of the 2014 and 2016 committees for the annual Blue & Gold Fund Dinner Auction, which raises funds for student-athlete scholarships.
Meier credits his time at Marquette with helping establish a strong foundation for his career success. As he has advanced in business, he says he has increasingly valued “certain capabilities that tie back to the broader education experience — things like teamwork, collaboration, empathy and respect for different points of view and disciplines. You might tuck these aside for a while, but eventually, you realize you need them.”
Spirit of Marquette Award: Elizabeth Villarreal Lang, and Nelson C. Lang
With a reputation as Milwaukee’s best source of authentic Mexican food products, El Rey is more than a thriving chain of specialty grocery stores. It’s also an immigrant success story and a family business through and through. Just ask Elizabeth Lang and her husband, Nelson Lang, who now run El Rey with Liz’s siblings and cousins.
Liz’s father, Ernesto Villarreal, and his brother, Heriberto, came to Milwaukee from Mexico in the 1960s and opened the first Super Mercado El Rey in 1978, offering customers high-quality but hard-to-find products for Mexican and Latin-influenced recipes.
Then and now, El Rey’s owners have committed to making a difference: El Rey provides more than 400 jobs, supports local schools, churches and events, and contributes resources to advance Milwaukee’s Hispanic community.
In 2016 the Langs created the El Rey Endowed Scholarship Fund at Marquette, where they met as undergraduates.
“Our hope for this scholarship is to give students from Milwaukee’s South Side the opportunity to attend Marquette,” Nelson says. “Marquette and Milwaukee’s South Side are both dear to us, and we look forward to the day that connections form between the two on this scholarship’s behalf.”
For the Langs, living out the Marquette mission is intentional. “We try to lead by example,” Liz says, “with a strong faith in God, helping those in need and our constant desire to learn and grow.”
Friend of the University Award: Majerus Family Foundation
Rick Majerus made his name as a tenacious NCAA basketball coach and devoted mentor to his players. But family and friends say Majerus’ life was defined much more “by the company he kept rather than the accolades he earned on the court.” His legacy lives on through the Majerus Family Foundation, supporting causes dear to Majerus that also reflect the values of his parents, Raymond and Alyce Majerus.
It was from Raymond — who rose to become secretary of the United Automobile Workers before his death in 1987 and who led a long, successful strike against a major Wisconsin manufacturer in the 1950s — that Majerus learned to live by a saying attributed to the Jewish sage Hillel: “If I am for myself alone, what good am I?”
Passionate about athletics his entire life, Majerus began assisting men’s basketball coach Al McGuire as a student at Marquette, as well as coaching at the Milwaukee-area Catholic schools he had attended. He was hired as Marquette’s assistant coach in 1971 and served as head coach from 1983–1986, before going on to successful coaching runs with Ball State, The University of Utah and Saint Louis University.
In April 2015, the Majerus Family Foundation announced a gift of $1 million to create the Rick Majerus Endowed Scholarship, providing tuition support to first-generation college students in the Klingler College of Arts and Sciences who demonstrate financial need. It is the college’s largest-ever endowed scholarship gift.
College Award Recipients
Each college will honor outstanding alumni at events throughout the weekend. The names of the alumni who be honored are below. Visit the Marquette University National Alumni Awards website for additional information on each award winner.
Helen Way Klingler College of Arts and Sciences
Distinguished Alumnus of the Year Award – Tim Kochis, Arts ’68, San Francisco, Calif.
Professional Achievement Award – Jay D. Doherty, Arts ’75, Chicago, Ill.
A Person for Others Award – Dr. Louis A. Faillace, Arts ’54, Med ’57, Houston, Texas
Young Alumna of the Year Award – Colleen Kujawa Boraca, Arts ’99, Geneva, Ill.
Association of Marquette University Women
Mary Neville Bielefeld Award – Mary Pat Klein Pfeil, Jour ’69, Brookfield, Wis.
College of Business Administration
Distinguished Alumnus of the Year Award – Robert B. Schilli, Bus Ad ’57, Town and Country, Mo.
Professional Achievement Award – Daniel J. Weinfurter, Bus Ad ’79, Grad ’85, Chicago
Entrepreneurial Award – Daniel A. Tranchita, Bus Ad ’87, Grad ’89, Hartland, Wis.
Young Alumna of the Year Award – Tammylynne S. Jonas, Grad ’06, Germantown, Wis.
William and Mary Diederich College of Communication
Communicator of the Year Award – Marilynn Kelly Gardner, Jour ’88, Chicago, Ill.
By-Line Award – Elizabeth A. Allen, Jour ’73, Erie, Pa.
Professional Achievement Award – Adam J. Stockhausen, Comm ’95, Brooklyn, N.Y.
Young Alumna of the Year Award – Heather Young Anichini, Comm ’99, Chicago
James T. Tiedge Memorial Award – Kelly J. Daley, Sp ’79, Shorewood, Wis.
School of Dentistry
Distinguished Alumnus in Dentistry Award – Daniel J. D’Angelo, D.D.S., Arts ’67, Dent ’71, Milwaukee
Outstanding Dental Service Award – Timothy J. Brown, D.D.S., Dent ’69, Neenah, Wis.
Young Alumnus of the Year Award – Barrett D. Straub, D.D.S., Dent ’04, Cedarburg, Wis.
College of Education
Distinguished Alumna of the Year Award – Joanne Geritz Quick, Grad ’62, Wauwatosa, Wis.
Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology Achievement Award – Dr. Lynn A. Catlin, Grad ’02, Grad ’06, Madison, Wis.
Educational Policy and Leadership Achievement Award – Dr. Jennifer C. Mendez, Grad ’86, Detroit
Young Alumna of the Year Award – Celina Dabrowski Pauly, Grad ’12, Milwaukee
Opus College of Engineering
Distinguished Alumnus of the Year Award – Richard L. Schmidt, Jr., Eng ’80, Brookfield, Wis.
Professional Achievement Award – Ronald J. Schutz, Eng ’78, Medina, Minn.
Entrepreneurial Award – Michael S. Butler, Eng ’95, Saint Charles, Ill.
Young Alumna of the Year Award – Dr. Kathryn Anne Weiss, Eng ’01, Pasadena, Calif.
College of Health Sciences
Professional Achievement Award – Ann M. Farese, Med Tech, ’74, Laurel, Md.
Service Award – Jean T. Baumgardner, H Sci ’09, Seattle
Young Alumna of the Year Award – Dr. Jocilyn Dellava Bergin, H Sci ’02, Grad ’04, Chantilly, Va.
Department of Intercollegiate Athletics
Lifetime Achievement Award – Kathleen M. Andrykowski, Bus Ad ’80, Port Washington, Wis.
M Club Hy Popuch Memorial Service Award – Thomas H. Ford, Jr. , Racine, Wis.
Robert L. and William P. McCahill Award – Robert (B.J.) Grill, Arts ’15, Milwaukee, and Tatyana N. Pashibin, H Sci ’16, Athens, Ohio
Alumna of the Year Award – Hon. Maxine A. White, Law ’85, Milwaukee
Lifetime Achievement Award – Thomas M. Olejniczak, Law ’74, De Pere, Wis.
Howard B. Eisenberg Service Award – Katherine McChrystal, Law ’10, Milwaukee
Charles W. Mentkowski Sports Law Alumnus of the Year Award – Susan K. Allen, Arts ’02, Law ’06, Waukesha, Wis.
College of Nursing
Distinguished Alumna of the Year Award – Patricia A. Lasky, R.N., Ph.D., Nurs ’63, Madison, Wis.
Service Award – Alice Freiberg Stecker, Nurs ’59, Grad ’64, Nebo, N.C.
Young Alumna of the Year Award – Jessica Spencer Castner, Nurs ’99, Grand Island, N.Y.
Friends of the College of Nursing Award – Mary K. Tardella and Stephen M. Tardella, River Forest, Ill.
Alumni Association Board of Directors
Pedro Arrupe Award – Sarah E. Hehemann, Nurs ’17, Lincolnshire, Ill.