UW-Eau Claire Alumni

Lifetime Excellence Award
2015 Recipients

The Lifetime Excellence Awards are presented to alumni who have demonstrated long-time and successful commitment to their careers and communities. These individuals have made a positive and dramatic impact through enthusiastic dedication to service and living their lives as a testimony to UW-Eau Claire's motto, "Excellence." 

Brian GoldbeckBrian Goldbeck í73, bachelorís degree in political science; í79, bachelorís degree in education 

In 1972, UW-Eau Claire’s political science department selected Brian Goldbeck to attend a summer seminar at the United Nations in New York. The opportunity shifted his interests from U.S. state and local politics to international relations, and it would set the course for his life’s work.

His career has been one of international public service, most recently as the deputy chief of mission, or deputy ambassador, at the U.S. Embassy in Manila. Goldbeck is a minister counselor — the equivalent of a two-star general — in the U.S. State Department’s Senior Foreign Service. From the mid-1980s until his 2012 Manila appointment, Goldbeck served in numerous state department overseas assignments, including posts in South Korea, Yemen, Ethiopia and Mongolia, and multiple assignments in China. His service has required of him a wide range of expertise in the areas of diplomacy, trade and economic development.

In addition to his degrees from UW-Eau Claire, Goldbeck earned a master’s degree from the University of Southern California. Prior to joining the U.S. State Department, Goldbeck was a teacher and the social studies department chairman at an international school in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. He also served for four years on active duty in the U.S. Army and 24 years in the Army Reserve.

John and Carolyn SonnentagJohn Sonnentag í66, bachelorís degrees in business administration and history, and Carolyn Sonnentag í67, bachelorís degree in medical technology  

John and Carolyn Sonnentag have worked in tandem since the early 1970s, building and managing the success of. Founded in 1946, Sonnentag Concrete and Gravel employed four seasonal workers at one location in 1971. Under the John and Carolyn’s leadership, the business was transformed into County Materials Corp., a manufacturer and distributor of concrete and related construction products that today has more than 50 locations and, at times, more than 2,000 employees throughout the United States.

John and Carolyn also have founded the Sonnentag Foundation, which supports programs and projects that serve the broader community in locations where County Materials has major facilities, as well as programs that pair children with mentors, help women who experience domestic violence and sexual assault, as well as social and recreational programs for children and adults with disabilities and respite for their caregivers.

In 2014, the UW-Eau Claire Foundation received a commitment of approximately $10 million in money and land from the Sonnentags and County Materials Corp. for the development of an event and recreation complex on Menomonie Street in Eau Claire. The gift was intended to help make possible the development of an events facility where UW-Eau Claire and community organizations can hold larger-scale events than can be accommodated by the university's existing facilities. Recently, the project partners presented the preliminary site plan for what will be called the John H. and Carolyn Sonnentag Event and Recreation Complex.

View the list of past recipients of this award.