The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Alumni Association will present awards to five alumni and friends of the university Aug. 7 at a special luncheon and ceremony in conjunction with summer commencement.
To date, just 157 of UW-Eau Claire's more than 60,000 alumni have received Alumni Association awards since the awards program began in 1961, said John Bachmeier, UW-Eau Claire director of alumni relations. In addition, 48 friends of the university have received the Honorary Alumnus Award.
"UW-Eau Claire is proud to send its graduates into the region, state, nation and across the world, where they become engaged citizens doing great work and service," Bachmeier said. "Through these alumni awards, we have the opportunity to recognize a few of our outstanding alumni for their remarkable accomplishments and to inspire our newest graduates to achieve their greatest potential."
Dr. Rita Kisting Sparks, UW-Eau Claire professor emerita of nursing systems, will receive the Honorary Alumnus Award, presented to a nonalumnus who has demonstrated great love of and service to UW-Eau Claire. Kisting Sparks retired in 2002 after 35 years as a faculty member and administrator in the UW-Eau Claire School of Nursing.
During her career, she served in a variety of professional roles. In addition to teaching classes in medical surgical nursing, nursing research and transitions to advanced practice nursing, Kisting Sparks served as department chair, coordinator and assistant dean for nursing outreach, and interim associate dean and educational administrator of the School of Nursing. She also received a number of awards for leadership, service, teaching, and faculty creativity and scholarship during her time at UW-Eau Claire. Her research areas included problem solving, coping, chronic illness and mentoring/preceptoring. While at UW-Eau Claire, she wrote and received well over $200,000 in funding for various nursing research projects and programs.
Kisting Sparks earned her bachelor's degree from UW-Madison, her master's degree from the University of Colorado and her doctorate from the University of Minnesota. Before her teaching career she was a staff nurse at hospitals in Madison and California and a head nurse at a Madison hospital. She also worked as a temporary staff nurse in Minneapolis, Madison and Eau Claire hospitals during her teaching career to maintain her clinical expertise. She has held numerous offices and served on committees in professional nursing organizations at the local, state and national level and has been involved as a volunteer for projects throughout the Chippewa Valley.
Kisting Sparks received the 2002 Wisconsin Nurses Association Nursing Education Award and the 1997 Award for Outstanding Service to the WNA. At the time of her retirement, she established a service award for nursing faculty through the UW-Eau Claire Foundation.
Thomas Griffith 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. Griffith, a 1980 UW-Eau Claire journalism graduate, is president of TDG Communications Inc., a Deadwood, S.D., advertising, marketing and public relations firm with clients nationwide.
Griffith also is the author of five books and coauthor of several dozen editions of various travel guides for publishers including Random House, Macmillan USA and Globe/Pequot Press. In addition, his travel writing has appeared in numerous newspapers and magazines, including Midwest Living, Country Home, the Wisconsin State Journal, the Billings Gazette and The New York Times.
Following graduation from UW-Eau Claire, Griffith worked as a reporter, photographer, regional editor and managing editor of award-winning newspapers in Arizona, Montana and South Dakota before serving as director of communications for the Mount Rushmore Preservation Fund, a nationwide campaign that raised $25 million to preserve and improve the mountain memorial. The campaign resulted in $56 million in improvements at Mount Rushmore. During his five years with the campaign, Griffith testified before the U.S. Senate Banking Committee, staged news conferences nationwide and helped generate more than a billion media impressions about the memorial.
TDG Communications, which Griffith owns and operates with his wife, Nyla Griffith, provides philanthropic support to various programs in the Deadwood community. Griffith also has had volunteer leadership roles in many organizations, including the United Way, Optimists, Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, Deadwood Jam, Jammin' for Kids and Neighborhood Housing of the Black Hills. He is a past recipient of South Dakota's A.H. Pankow Award, which recognizes outstanding coverage of the state's tourism industry.
Susan (Patterson) Perry-Lindle also will receive the Distinguished Achievement Award. Perry-Lindle, a 1971 UW-Eau Claire social work graduate, is retired from a 26-year career in the U.S. Army - a career that spanned the globe and during which she helped expand military service opportunities for women who followed her. She was promoted to the rank of colonel in 1994, when there were only 25 female colonels in the Military Intelligence Corps.
Commissioned as a second lieutenant, Perry-Lindle completed Army basic training in the Women's Army Corps (which would be dissolved in 1976) immediately following her graduation from UW-Eau Claire. She then completed assignments at Army commands in Richmond, Va., Fort Huachuca, Az., and Heidelberg, Germany, and became the first female Army officer assigned to a combat brigade of an infantry division in Europe. Upon returning from Europe she served at an Army command in Ft. Monroe, Va., and a joint (multi-service) command in Norfolk, Va. Perry-Lindle's career also included a term at NATO's Headquarters LANDSOUTHEAST in Izmir, Turkey, and three assignments with the Department of the Army staff at the Pentagon. At the time of her retirement, she was the executive officer for the deputy chief of staff for intelligence at the Pentagon.
During Perry-Lindle's military career, "she was paving the way for women to assume greater positions of responsibility than ever before," wrote her colleague, retired Lt. Col. Amelia Nutt Armstrong, in a letter of recommendation to the UW-Eau Claire Alumni Association. Armstrong also wrote, "Colonel Perry was the epitome of any Army officer, and she set the standard for many women."
Perry-Lindle, who now lives in Edgewood, Ky., received numerous military awards and decorations during her years of service. In her retirement, she serves on the advisory team for the Kappa Beta Chapter of the Delta Zeta sorority at Northern Kentucky University.
Carol Van Dam will receive the President's Award, which recognizes outstanding professional or personal achievements or service to UW-Eau Claire. Van Dam is a 1981 broadcast journalism graduate of UW-Eau Claire. Since 1999, she has been a news anchor and reporter for National Public Radio in Washington, D.C. From 1996 to 1999, she covered a variety of topics as a freelance reporter for NPR's "All Things Considered" and "Morning Edition."
Before joining NPR she served as congressional and White House correspondent for United Press International Radio Network, where her duties included Air Force One overseas assignments covering then President Bill Clinton as well as coverage of presidential elections and conventions, House and Senate campaigns, and other governmental agencies, including the State Department, Department of Defense and Supreme Court. Van Dam also worked as an anchor, reporter and producer for Voice of America-Europe in the mid-1980s. At VOA she reported on the aftermath of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.
Van Dam began her career with a print journalism position at the Hartford (Wis.) Times Press. Her broadcast career started at WKAU in Appleton, followed by positions with WOKY, WMIL and WCGV in Milwaukee
Van Dam is a member of Sigma Delta Chi (Society of Professional Journalists), the Radio-TV Correspondents Association, American Women in Radio and Television, the Wire Service Guild and the American Federation of Radio & Television Artists. She also is active in her community of North Potomac, Md., as president-elect of the West Montgomery County Citizens Association, an environmental and zoning watchdog group, and as a school and church volunteer and board member of Families Together, which helps families raising children with disabilities.
Charles Grossklaus also will receive the President's Award. Grossklaus, a 1969 business administration graduate of UW-Eau Claire, has been a business leader and active volunteer in the Chippewa Valley for more than 30 years. He is the president of Eau Claire-based credit union RCU, a post he has held since 1984.
Grossklaus, who began his career with RCU in 1971 after two years of service in Vietnam with the U.S. Army, has helped the credit union grow from five employees and
$5 million in assets in 1971 to 420 employees and $615 million in assets in 2004. Grossklaus now is playing a leading role in the revitalization of downtown Eau Claire's riverfront area with the construction of a $10 million facility that will be RCU's new corporate headquarters.
Under Grossklaus' leadership, RCU has received many recognitions in the area business community, including the Leader-Telegram's 2002-03 and 2003-04 Readers' Choice Awards for Best Business for Banking/Financial Services (Grossklaus also received the contest's award for Best Business Person/Leader), the Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce 2002 Community Development Award and the Eau Claire Area Economic Development Corp. 2001 Paragon Award.
Grossklaus serves on the research council of the Filene Research Institute and is on the board of directors of the PULSE EFT Association. He is the former board chairman for the National Association of State Credit Union Supervisors and the Wisconsin Credit Union League. He also volunteers in the community with the UW-Eau Claire Foundation, the Chippewa Valley Technical College Foundation, the Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce, the Children's Museum of Eau Claire, Momentum Chippewa Valley, the United Way and Downtown Eau Claire Inc.
- UW-Eau Claire News Bureau