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Six UW-Eau Claire graduates to receive Alumni Association awards

May 10, 2013
Zach Halmstad
Andrew Burish
David Wicker
George Stroebel
Monte Johnson


Paul Stiller

EAU CLAIRE — Six graduates of the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire will receive awards from the UW-Eau Claire Alumni Association May 18 at a luncheon and ceremony in conjunction with spring commencement.

Zach Halmstad, who graduated from UW-Eau Claire in 2004 with a degree in music and theatre arts, will receive the Outstanding Recent Alumnus Award, which acknowledges special achievements and great promise of alumni who are within 15 years of their graduation from UW-Eau Claire.

Halmstad is the co-founder of JAMF Software, a company that produces the only Mac and iOS management software developed exclusively for the Apple platform. The clientele JAMF serves is evenly divided between educational institutions and commercial businesses, including Fortune 100 and Fortune 500 companies. Halmstad began developing the software while working as a student in UW-Eau Claire's Learning and Technology Services, providing support to the university's Mac users.

Although JAMF has offices in New York, Cupertino, Calif., Amsterdam and Hong Kong, its primary offices are located in Eau Claire and Minneapolis. Of the 170 people working for the company, more than 90 of them are employed at the Eau Claire location, and more than 35 percent of those employees are UW-Eau Claire graduates. JAMF also has supported an internship program through UW-Eau Claire for the past three years and has hired at least 15 people from the program in fields ranging from computer science to English.

Halmstad continues to give back to the city of Eau Claire and the university. He contributed to the acquisition of one of the nation's largest jazz collections housed in McIntyre Library's special collections and archives department.The collection is named the John L. Buchholz Jazz Library after the UW-Eau Claire professor emeritus of English and longtime jazz musician and supporter of jazz studies.

JAMF also pledged $500,000 to support the construction of a new community arts center at the confluence of the Chippewa and Eau Claire rivers in downtown Eau Claire. The community arts center is the centerpiece of the public-private partnership known as the Confluence Project, a project that also includes plans to construct a commercial/retail complex and university student housing at the downtown site. The $500,000 pledge would help fund the construction of, and give JAMF Software naming rights associated with, the community arts center's 250-seat black box theater.

Andrew Burish, a 1981 marketing graduate of UW-Eau Claire, will receive the Lifetime Excellence Award, which is presented to alumni who have demonstrated longtime and successful commitment to their careers and communities. Recipients have made positive and dramatic impacts through dedication to service and have lived their lives as a testimony to UW-Eau Claire's motto, "Excellence."

Burish was the first person in his family to attend college and is now one of the nation's top financial advisers. After receiving his marketing degree from UW-Eau Claire, Burish went on to earn an MBA with an emphasis in finance and marketing from UW-Whitewater and accepted a job offer from UBS, a private wealth management company formerly known as the Union Bank of Switzerland, in 1982. Within 12 years at UBS, Burish was recognized as one of the top advisers in the firm.

In 1990 Burish invested his own savings to build and grow his own team, The Burish Group. Today, he controls approximately $2.8 billion in individual investors' assets and brings in upwards of $15 million a year for UBS and his team. He has one of the largest teams for individual investors in the country, with 39 full-time employees and clients all over the world. For seven years in a row, Burish ranked among the top 50 out of approximately 250,000 financial advisers in the U.S., according to Barron's, the oldest and most prestigious finance journal for investors worldwide, and he has been consistently ranked No. 1 in Wisconsin by Barron's for the last five years. This year he was named to the inaugural FT 400 list of top financial advisers published by the Financial Times of London.

Burish and his wife, Anna, also are involved in numerous philanthropic activities. They give generously to the United Way and to their alma maters. He is on the donor base and investment committees for the UW-Eau Claire Foundation. In July, he will become chairman of UW-Whitewater's Foundation, where he previously served as chair of the investment committee and as treasurer.

David Wicker, who received a bachelor of business administration degree in management information systems from UW-Eau Claire in 1980, will receive the President's Award, which recognizes outstanding professional and personal achievements and service to UW-Eau Claire.

Wicker is the CEO of Savigent Software Inc., a manufacturing operations management software company headquartered in Minnetonka, Minn. The company provides flexible software and solutions for workflow automation, manufacturing intelligence and systems integration for clients in a variety of industries, including automotive, semiconductor, industrial, specialty chemical, consumer packaged goods, and aerospace and defense.

Wicker also has served as president and chief executive officer of Orion Consulting Inc., a company he founded in 1983, which became a leading information technology consulting firm with more than 200 employees serving Fortune 500 companies as well as smaller, up-and-coming businesses. Orion Consulting was honored as one of the "50 Fastest Growing Companies" in the Twin Cities from 1997-99 and received the Quality of Life Award from the Greater Minneapolis Chamber of Commerce in 1998 for its highly regarded and effective corporate culture and organization. Wicker sold the company to SSi International in 2000.

In 1998 Wicker was recognized as a "40 Under 40" Twin Cities business leader by the Twin Cities Business Journal and continues to be an active community leader. He currently serves on the board of directors of PCI, an international nonprofit organization headquartered in San Diego whose mission is to prevent disease, improve community health and promote sustainable development worldwide.

George Stroebel, Monte Johnson and Paul Stiller will receive the Alumni Distinguished Achievement Award, which recognizes distinguished service to the community, state or nation in a manner that brings credit upon the recipient and the university.

Stroebel graduated from UW-Eau Claire in 1974 with a bachelor of business administration degree in finance. He received a law degree from the University of Minnesota Law School in 1979 and served as a partner in the Minneapolis office of Ernst & Young, working with domestic and multinational clients primarily in manufacturing, financial services and computer technology.

In 1994 Stroebel began an odyssey of service with a number of companies in various industries, culminating in service as chief operating officer of the broker-dealer Fahnestock & Co. (now Oppenheimer & Co.) in New York City.

Stroebel began working with the UW-Eau Claire Foundation in 2004, serving as chair of the investment and real estate committees and as a member of the executive committee. He has played an integral role in both the acquisition of The Priory (formerly St. Bede Monastery) by Blugold Real Estate LLC (a subsidiary of the UW-Eau Claire Foundation) and in Blugold Real Estate's involvement as a partner in the development of the Confluence Project in downtown Eau Claire.

The Priory now is the site of UW-Eau Claire's Children's Nature Academy (formerly the Children's Center), and a UW-Eau Claire task force is identifying additional best uses by the university and external partners for the 80,000-square-foot facility on 112 mostly wooded acres three miles south of the UW-Eau Claire main campus. The Confluence Project is a public-private partnership that seeks to build a community arts center and a commercial/retail complex and university student housing at the confluence of the Chippewa and Eau Claire rivers in downtown Eau Claire.

Stroebel also serves as a supervisor on both the Polk County and Town of Garfield boards.

Johnson, originally from La Crosse, graduated from UW-Eau Claire in 1980 with a bachelor of business administration degree in accounting and is currently the vice president and chief financial officer at Cymbet Corp., a high-tech company that develops and manufactures eco-friendly rechargeable batteries for microelectronic applications.

As a student at UW-Eau Claire, Johnson was a member of the Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity, was president of the freshman honorary Phi Eta Sigma and was involved in chartering the Society of Participating Honor Students in 1977, which recognizes sophomore students for academic excellence, as well as for outstanding campus and community involvement during their freshman year. Johnson also earned an MBA from the Carlson School of Business at the University of Minnesota in 1997.

Before joining Cymbet Corp. Johnson previously held senior management positions at other technology companies, including Dascom Systems Group LLC, Ciprico Inc., General Electric and Honeywell.

For almost 25 years Johnson has worked with youth in Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, parks and recreation programs, church youth groups and after-school programs, as well as basketball, football and baseball programs. He has served and held positions on numerous boards, including those of the Roseville Youth Basketball Association, Minnesota Special Olympics, St. Paul Winter Carnival, St. Paul Jaycees, Roseville Central Park Foundation and the Roseville High School Boys Basketball Booster Club, for which he currently serves as president.

Stiller, a 1986 UW-Eau Claire graduate in communication and theatre arts, is a professional musician, album producer, pianist, vocalist and arranger with production credits on more than 50 albums and more than 25 years of experience in the music industry. He also is a music educator with 20 years' experience as a college professor, adjudicator and clinician at Berklee College of Music in Boston. He has served as a guest speaker in the vocal jazz field, making appearances throughout the U.S. and Japan.

As a student at UW-Eau Claire, Stiller was a member of The Singing Statesmen and helped form the a cappella group The Innocent Men. As a sophomore, Stiller was asked to join a rhythm and blues band called J.D. and the Back-Alley Madmen as a singer and keyboardist. The group played throughout Eau Claire and the Midwest and opened for artists such as Greg Kihn, Dwight Yoakam and the late Stevie Ray Vaughan at Zorn Arena.

Stiller attended Berklee College of Music after graduating from UW-Eau Claire and earned his professional music diploma in 1992. In his second semester at Berklee, he helped form the a cappella group Vox One, of which he is still a member. Vox One has toured across the U.S. and Japan and has won numerous Contemporary A cappella Recording Awards, including Album of the Year, Artist of the Year, Best Jazz Arrangement and Best Original Song. Three of the five albums Vox One released received Album of the Year awards and were produced by Stiller. The group has opened for many famous musical greats, including Ray Charles and Chicago.

Stiller has worked as an album producer, arranger and studio musician since the early 1990s, producing albums, writing vocal arrangements and performing in several commercials, including ads for State Farm Insurance, TCBY Yogurt and Sharp. He was in a rhythm ensemble called Rhythm Slam that performed in ads for Dr. Pepper, Pontiac and International Trucks. He also worked for the Boston Pops Orchestra, transcribing music from groups such as Take 6, Cyndi Lauper and Shawn Colvin, allowing them to perform along with the orchestra.

In January 2012 Stiller was awarded the Berklee Distinguished Faculty Award, which is awarded based on nominations from students, faculty and administrators at the college.



Excellence. Our Measure. Our Motto. Our Goal.