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News & Events - Archived News
Dec. 18, 2004

Brent L. Willi Receives UW-Eau Claire Alumni Achievement Award

Brent L. WilliThe University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Alumni Association will
present awards to 10 alumni and friends of the university Dec. 18 at a special luncheon and ceremony in conjunction with winter commencement.

John Bachmeier, UW-Eau Claire director of alumni relations, lauds the December award recipients as "a diverse group of creative, caring and cultured individuals who give of themselves to the community and to UW-Eau Claire. These are extremely successful individuals and the university is proud to recognize them for their service and dedication."

Dr. Ralph and Peggy Hudson will receive the Honorary Alumnus Award, presented to non-alumni who have demonstrated great love of and service to UW-Eau Claire.

Ralph and Peggy Hudson moved to Eau Claire in 1958 so Dr. Hudson could start his surgical medical practice. During his years as a practicing physician Dr. Hudson worked as a lecturer and a resource for faculty and students in UW-Eau Claire's clinical program for nursing students. In 1989, he established a scholarship for pre-med students and recruited several other doctors to do the same.

Ralph and Peggy Hudson also established the UW-Eau Claire Foundation choral fund that supports choral activity and scholarship.

Following the death of his office manager's son by a drunk driver, Dr. Hudson established the UW-Eau Claire Alcohol Task Force. He also is a member of the board of the National Commission Against Drunk Driving and has been honored nationally for his work. The Hudsons provide an annual scholarship to UW-Eau Claire students in the helping professions with career plans involving counseling or recovery efforts for people with problems with alcohol, substance abuse or eating disorders.

Sharon Marie Weber, M.D., 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.

Weber graduated summa cum laude from UW-Eau Claire in 1988 with a bachelor's degree in biology. She also received the outstanding senior award. She earned membership in Phi Kappa Phi and was awarded the PKP research award for her work in the laboratory of Dr. Johng Lim at UW-Eau Claire.

She went to medical school at the University of Wisconsin, graduating in 1993. She then completed a five-year residency in general surgery at the University of Wisconsin. She supplemented that training with a one-year research fellowship in tumor immunotherapy at UW Hospital. For the next two years Weber continued her studies at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, receiving advanced training as a surgical oncology fellow and subsequently as a hepatobiliary fellow, specializing in liver, bile duct and pancreas cancers.

Weber joined the faculty of the UW Medical School in 2001 as an assistant professor, specializing in surgery of the liver and biliary tract. She was recently one of two recipients of a James Ewing Oncology Fellowship for Basic Research. She received research funding support from the Society for Surgical Oncology, the UW Clinical Research Center, the American Cancer Society and the UW Department of Surgery.

She earned membership in Alpha Omega Alpha in medical school. Upon her graduation from medical school she received the Phillips award for outstanding achievement; Outstanding Resident in Medical Student Education as a general surgery resident; and the Michael Burt Award for Clinical Excellence for her work at Memorial Sloan-Kettering. Recently she was named Outstanding Clinical Instructor by the graduating chief residents in general surgery.

Dr. George Arndt, Juli Ann Buehler and Dr. Jorge Won each will receive the President's Award, which recognizes outstanding professional or personal achievements or service to UW-Eau Claire.

Arndt graduated from UW-Eau Claire in 1980 with a bachelor's degree in biology and a chemistry minor. Arndt, who said he was well prepared to succeed following UW-Eau Claire, said he appreciates his experiences in the biology and chemistry departments, especially Dr. Melvin Gleiter teaching physiologic chemistry and Dr. Owen Marshall teaching embryology.

After graduating from UW-Eau Claire, Arndt attended the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine, graduating in 1984. He completed an internship at Emory University Hospital System in Atlanta in 1985 and went on to a residency at Emory University Hospital System and an anesthesiology fellowship at Emory University in 1988. Currently he is a full professor at the UW School of Medicine.

A leader in clinical innovation in the research and development of new tools for patient care, he has developed several products and devices improving the field of anesthesia. Three of these products have received patents.

Buehler, who earned a bachelor's degree in journalism in 1983, is the news director at WLUK-TV, Green Bay , where she previously was the executive producer. She has held the two top news positions at the station for 17 years. Between the positions she was the 11 p.m. and weekend news producer at WTNH-TV in H art ford/New Haven, Conn.

Under her direction, WLUK has won numerous awards. The station received three Wisconsin Associated Press Best Newscast awards. Best Newscast awards also were won from the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association and the Northwest Broadcast News Association.

According to Henry Lippold, professor emeritus of journalism, Buehler is a "professional's professional" and is dedicated to UW-Eau Claire.

"She is fully involved every day in supervising a large news staff, yet finds time for her growing family and volunteer work," wrote Lippold in a letter to the awards committee. "Over the years she has hired a goodly number of Blugolds. She is a consummate supporter of the UW-Eau Claire. She is in truth, a Blugold of the first water."

Dr. Jorge Won is an optometrist with his own practice in Queens, N.Y. Won, of Chinese ancestry, was born and raised in Peru. He often describes himself as a Chinese-Peruvian-American, and he is trilingual, speaking fluent English, Cantonese and Spanish.

The recipient of a scholarship from the Institute of International Education, Won came to UW-Eau Claire in 1971 to study biology, graduating in 1976. He went on to work as a researcher in a New York hospital and later decided to attend optometry school.

Won believes strongly in giving back to the community through volunteer service. Since 1999 he has been involved with Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity. The mission of VOSH, a nonprofit organization established in 1971, is to provide eye care worldwide to people who can't afford or obtain such care. He has since founded a New York chapter of VOSH that has made numerous trips to Latin America, including Peru, the Dominican Republic and Mexico.

VOSH-New York 's last humanitarian mission to Mexico included 48 volunteers, including six optometrists, an ophthalmologist and six optometry students. About 1,850 patients were examined in four days. Many were fitted with used eyeglasses, those with eye infections were treated and 49 patients received cataract removal surgery, all free.

Stuart Knoll, Lisa Stark and Brent L. Willi will receive the Alumni Distinguished Achievement Award, which recognizes distinguished service to the community, state or nation that brings credit upon the recipient and the university.

Retired Col. Stuart Knoll, who received his bachelor's degree in geography in 1975 from UW-Eau Claire, served 28 years in the Marine Corps. During his service he served in four combat zones, was the commander of the Marine Corps transport helicopter detachment that took part in the rescue of U.S. Army prisoner of war Jessica Lynch and was a presidential helicopter pilot flying Marine One for Presidents George Bush Sr. and Bill Clinton. He spent all but three years of his career as a pilot and has flown 30 different military aircraft.

He was commissioned a second lieutenant in 1976. He went to the Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Fla., for flight training. In 1982 Knoll was deployed to Beirut, Lebanon, and took part in combatant evacuation operations as p art of the multi-national peacekeeping force. In 1990 he was assigned to the presidential helicopter squadron. He was deployed to the Mediterranean in 1996 and part icipated in Operation Joint Endeavor in Bosnia. In 1998 he was transferred to the National War College in Washington, D.C., where he received his master's degree in international studies. After graduation he was transferred to duty at the Pentagon. In 2002 he was deployed to Kuwait as commander of Landing Force (West). During Operation Iraqi Freedom he flew 47 combat sorties, including the rescue of Lynch.

Lisa Stark is a 1979 UW-Eau Claire graduate, earning a bachelor's degree in art. She earned a law degree from UW Law School in Madison. In 1982 she was hired by the Eau Claire firm of Misfeldt, Stark, Richie, Wickstrom and Wachs, and was made a p art ner in 1985. In August 2000, was elected to a six-year term as an Eau Claire County Circuit Court judge.

Stark has been involved in the local truancy initiative, which succeeded in bringing the 30 percent-plus rate of truancy in area schools down to single digits. She implemented a local drug court in Eau Claire County that holds offenders accountable, while giving them options toward treatment and supervision. She helped bring to Eau Claire County the Restorative Justice Program, which is designed to discourage crime by addressing early criminal behavior in youth. Stark is the chair of an ad hoc committee appointed by the Eau Claire County Board to review and recommend changes to the juvenile justice system in Eau Claire County .

She also is an active community volunteer, serving on the YMCA and United Way board of directors in Eau Claire .

Willi, president and chief executive officer of Strategy 1 Consulting Inc., graduated in 1974 with a degree in business data processing, the predecessor to management information systems. He has 25-plus years of industry and consulting experience in the areas of management information systems, process improvement, business strategy and organizational alignment.

Willi gives back to UW-Eau Claire by serving on the College of Business MIS advisory board. He has hired more than 20 graduates from UW-Eau Claire.

Casey Sylla will receive the Lifetime Excellence Award, which is presented to alumni who have demonstrated longtime and successful commitment to their careers and communities.

Sylla earned a bachelor's degree in education in 1966. While at UW-Eau Claire he was on the Blugold men's basketball team and was a member of Sigma Tau Gamma fraternity.

Following graduation he taught in southeastern Wisconsin before earning a master's degree in economics from the University of Missouri in 1969. Sylla returned to Wisconsin and joined The Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co. in Milwaukee as an investment analyst. He held a number of positions and eventually was named senior vice president of the securities department and executive officer of the company.

Sylla left Northwestern in 1995 to join the Allstate Corp. in Northbrook, Ill., as its chief investment officer. For 10 years Sylla was the chief financial officer and then was named to his current position, chairman and president of Allstate Financial. He is a member of the firm's senior management team.

- UW-Eau Claire News Bureau