This news release describes past events and should be used for historical purposes only. Please note date of release.
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Schofield Hall 218
Eau Claire, WI 54702-4004
UW-Eau Claire Alumni Association
To Present Four Awards Dec. 18
phone (715) 836-4741
fax (715) 836-2900

MAILED: Dec. 13, 1999

EAU CLAIRE — The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Alumni Association will honor five alumni or friends of the university with four different awards at a special luncheon in conjunction with commencement ceremonies Saturday, Dec. 18.
James Derouin, a 1966 UW-Eau Claire economics graduate, will receive the Alumni Distinguished Service Award. First awarded in 1961, the award is the highest award presented to UW-Eau Claire alumni. The honor recognizes personal and professional achievement and distinguished service to the community, state or nation.
Derouin is a partner in the Phoenix, Ariz., law firm Steptoe & Johnson. He has practiced environmental law for more than 30 years and has represented numerous national clients on a broad range of sophisticated environmental issues, including environmental liability, groundwater and surface water quality, hazardous waste disposal, mining and complex permitting matters. Derouin also was named in the 1999 book "The Best Lawyers in America, 1999-2000," which was compiled by Woodward/White Inc.
"I am honored to be selected as a recipient of this award, particularly when I think of all the distinguished graduates which this school has provided," Derouin said, a past president of the UW-Eau Claire Alumni Association board of directors. "UW-Eau Claire has always stood for 'excellence,' and I have found that wherever I have gone around the world, the preparation I received here met that standard."
"James Derouin exceeds the many criteria that UW-Eau Claire uses when identifying alumni to single out for this very special honor," said Suzie Slota, director of Alumni Relations. "He has made important contributions in the field of environmental law and has helped lead the way for environmental protection in Arizona. He achieved distinction in his field while making a difference in the wellbeing of others. We are proud to publicly recognize all that he has accomplished personally and professionally."
Tim Coburn, a 1971 management graduate who also completed an accounting degree in 1974, will receive the President's Award, which is given in recognition of unusual professional or personal achievements or service to UW-Eau Claire.
Currently the president of the Alumni Association's board of directors, Coburn has been a member of the board since 1993. A long-time supporter of UW-Eau Claire athletics, Coburn has made significant financial contributions to the women's basketball program. He also financially supports the Wisconsin Academic Excellence Scholarship program and has served the university in numerous other ways.
Coburn has worked as an auditor for the Wisconsin Department of Revenue for 25 years.
"I decided the day I walked out of Zorn Arena with my diploma that it was time to start giving time and money to the university," Coburn said of his commitment to UW-Eau Claire. "I looked at it as something that I owed the university because of the education it provided me."
"Tim Coburn's love of and dedication to this university is very inspiring, and his contributions — of time, ideas and financial support — are greatly appreciated," Slota said. "We are pleased to recognize him for his numerous contributions and unwavering support of UW-Eau Claire."
Gayle Woodis, a 1984 marketing graduate, will receive the Outstanding Recent Alumna Award, an award that acknowledges special achievements and great promise of alumni who are within 15 years of their graduation from UW-Eau Claire.
Woodis, a vice president for UnitedHealth Group, was in charge of opening the company's new customer service center in Eau Claire this year. The center is expected to employ more than 300 people.
A Minneapolis-based company that is the second largest health care organization in the world, UnitedHealth is a diversified health and well-being company that is ranked 84th in the Fortune 500. The company serves more than 14 million people with their health plans and related services.
"I started with UnitedHealth as a temporary employee," Woodis said. "At the time there were about 300 employees. Today the company has more than 29,000 employees with locations in all 50 states and several countries."
"UW-Eau Claire is proud that its alumna Gayle Woodis' success has allowed her to lead a project that has brought jobs and other opportunities to the Chippewa Valley," Slota said. "This company is an important addition to the region, and it has provided many opportunities for students to intern and learn there."
Don and Pat Cheney will be recognized Dec. 18 with the Honorary Blugold Award, which is presented to non-alumni who have demonstrated great love and service to UW-Eau Claire. The Cheneys have made significant contributions to UW-Eau Claire, and their gifts have helped fund the research of several faculty members.
"Don and Pat Cheney are outstanding examples of the type of people who quietly give but do so at a level that is amazing," Slota said. "We want them to know that their interest and contributions are truly valued by the university."
The Cheneys said they believe strongly that UW-Eau Claire is a valuable part of the Chippewa Valley community. "We feel the university is a great asset to the community," Don Cheney said. "We enjoy the theater, music, all the things they have here. When our son was in high school, (UW-Eau Claire) even let him play in the orchestra."
"The happiness we've had in raising our family here (in Eau Claire) is in part due to all the cultural events at the university," Pat Cheney said.
"We are excited to be honoring these five outstanding individuals for the levels of excellence they have achieved," Slota said.
The luncheon honoring award recipients is slated for 11:30 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 18, in the Dulany Inn in Davies Center at UW-Eau Claire. Tickets are $8 and must be purchased in advance. For additional information or to purchase tickets, call the Alumni Association at (715) 836-3266.

UWEC [Administrative Offices] [News Bureau]

Janice B. Wisner
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Schofield 218
(715) 836-4741

Updated: Dec. 13, 1999