MAILED: July 26, 2001
EAU CLAIRE — The
UW-Eau Claire Alumni Association will present awards to eight alumni and
friends of the university Aug. 4 at a special luncheon and ceremony in
conjunction with summer commencement.
Vorpahl, a 1985 UW-Eau Claire business administration graduate, will receive
the Outstanding Recent Alumnus Award, which acknowledges special achievements
and great promise of alumni who are recent graduates of the university.
Vorpahl is vice president of marketing in the grocery products division of
Hormel Foods Corp. in Austin, Minn., a position he has held since 1999.
1999, Vorpahl helped bring 108 new Hormel products to market. Those efforts
resulted in Hormel being named the 1999 New Products Company of the Year by
industry publication Prepared Foods. Vorpahl, who began his career with Hormel
in 1986 as a sales merchandiser, recently has led a group of employees in
implementing marketing projects that are international in scope.
truly exemplifies the type of person we look for in this award,” said John
Bachmeier, UW-Eau Claire director of alumni relations. “His dedication and
can-do attitude are almost contagious.”
Solomonson will receive the President’s Award, which recognizes unusual
professional or personal achievements or service to UW-Eau Claire. Solomonson,
who received her bachelor’s degree in journalism from UW-Eau Claire in 1984,
is managing editor of The Lutheran, the magazine of the Evangelical Lutheran
Church in America. Solomonson has been a part of the magazine’s staff since
1987, when she took the position of news editor. She also held posts as senior
news editor and senior editor before taking over the managing editor position
reporting for The Lutheran has taken her throughout the world, including
Liberia, Papua New Guinea, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Cambodia, the Philippines,
Thailand, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Germany. She also reported on
congregational, synod and churchwide ministries throughout the ELCA’s 65
has been active in her local church as a confirmation student mentor, learning
committee member, adult forum planner and presenter, and divorce recovery task
force member. She is also a speaker at national and synodical Women of the
has performed well and moved up quickly at The Lutheran, and her community
service work is also very impressive,” Bachmeier said.
Giordano, a member of the communication and journalism faculty at UW-Eau
Claire from 1989 until his death in April 2001, will be one of three Honorary
Alumnus Award recipients. The award is presented to non-alumni who have
demonstrated great love of and service to UW-Eau Claire. Giordano taught
courses in public relations and speech and was an active researcher in his
field. In May, the first Joseph Giordano Memorial Scholarship, awarded from a
fund established by Giordano’s students, colleagues and friends, was awarded
to a public relations student.
publications included the instructor’s manual and test bank for two editions
of J.A. DeVito’s “Essentials of Human Communication.” He worked with
communication and journalism colleague Judy Sims and student researchers on a
content analysis of local television news, which was presented at the 2000
National Conference on Undergraduate Research and published this year in the
Journal of the Wisconsin Communication Association. He and Sims also directed
a faculty-student collaborative research project on the 1992 presidential
campaign, which placed second in UW-Eau Claire’s 1993 Student Research Day.
In 1993 Giordano’s paper on employee relations and the management of
organizational change was selected as a “top three competitive paper” by
the Speech Communication Association.
Giordano was a very effective teacher whose service to UW-Eau Claire was
outstanding,” Bachmeier said. “We will miss him.”
Hoff, UW-Eau Claire professor emerita of foreign languages who retired in 1996
after 31 years at the university, also will receive the Honorary Alumnus
Award. During her tenure at UW-Eau Claire, Hoff guided 22 travel seminars to
Spain, Mexico, Peru and Central America, and she directed the university’s
summer graduate Spanish Institutes. She was known for her innovative methods
of teaching Spanish to beginning students, and in 1985 the Wisconsin
Association of Foreign Language Teachers named her the state’s Distinguished
Foreign Language Educator. The WAFLT dedicated its annual conference to Hoff
in 1995 and established a scholarship for Wisconsin educators in her name.
and her husband, Don, have been financial supporters of UW-Eau Claire since
1966. Their contributions have gone toward such areas as international
scholarships and international education opportunities. They provided the
initial gift to the Larry Schnack Fund for Excellence in 1997, and they also
created an annual award given to outstanding advisers of student
Hoff was more than an outstanding professor, she was a true ambassador for
UW-Eau Claire,” Bachmeier said.
Hirsch, professor emeritus of English at UW-Eau Claire who retired in May
after 34 years at the university, also will receive the Honorary Alumnus
Award. Hirsch taught composition, film, American literature survey and
individual author courses; English core courses; and courses on Wisconsin
1991 Hirsch received the Chisholm Award, the top award of the Wisconsin
Council of Teachers of English. He also was instrumental in acquiring the
manuscripts of Alden Carter, a regional young-adult fiction and nonfiction
writer, for the UW-Eau Claire special collections department of the McIntyre
Library. The manuscripts, which consist of drafts and rewrites of many of
Carter’s books, have been a resource to faculty and students interested in
the creative writing process.
addition to his service to the university, Hirsch, the father of two grown
children, has taken an active interest in making the sport of soccer safer. In
1998, he and Ken De Meuse, professor of management and marketing, co-founded a
company called OnGoal to make and market safe headgear and foam pads to wrap
around metal goal posts.
Hirsch was a dedicated professor for 34 years,” Bachmeier said. “He’s also
a true friend of the community. He’s been very active with the soccer program
in Eau Claire.”
Kurth will be one of two recipients of 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. Kurth, who
will retire in August with emeritus status, has been associate dean of UW-Eau
Claire’s School of Education since 1992.
had a 33-year career at the university. Before becoming associate dean, he
served as a professor of physical education, director of men’s athletics from
1975-92 and chair of the department of physical education and athletics from
1985-92. In his early years at UW-Eau Claire he coached both football and
basketball. Kurth received his undergraduate degree from UW-Eau Claire.
was elected chair of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics
District 14 for three consecutive terms. He was inducted into the NAIA District
14 Hall of Fame in 1992.
Kurth as been a critical member of UW-Eau Claire for a long time,” Bachmeier
said. “His dedication to the university and the community has been truly
Chumas, a financial adviser with Merrill Lynch in Eau Claire and a 1960
economics graduate of UW-Eau Claire, also will receive the Alumni Distinguished
addition to his more than 40 years as an investment counselor in Eau Claire,
Chumas has been an active supporter of and/or participant in numerous community
organizations and causes, including Triniteam, Special Olympics, Boy Scouts,
Sacred Heart Hospital, Luther Hospital, Chippewa Valley Museum, YMCA, Little
League and Babe Ruth baseball, and the UW-Eau Claire Foundation.
Chumas has excelled as a businessman and has also excelled as a member of the
Eau Claire community,” Bachmeier said. “From Little League Baseball to the
(Luther) hospital development council, he has done some really terrific things
for Eau Claire.”
and Kathryn Ver Hagen will be the first recipients of the new Lifetime
Excellence Award. The award is presented to UW-Eau Claire alumni who have
demonstrated longtime and successful commitment to their career and community,
who have made a positive impact through dedication to service and whose lives
are a testimony to UW-Eau Claire’s motto, “Excellence.”
Ver Hagen, a former teacher, graduated from UW-Eau Claire in 1960 with a degree
in elementary education. Jan attended UW-Eau Claire for two years before
completing his mechanical engineering degree at UW-Madison and going on to a
career with United Dominion Industries in North Carolina, the international
division of Trane Co. in La Crosse and Emerson Electric Co. in St. Louis.
Ver Hagens, who live in St. Louis, have been longtime donors to the UW-Eau
Claire Foundation. Last November the couple made a gift of more than $1 million
in stock, one of the Foundation’s largest gifts ever. The planned gift
ultimately will fund the Jan K. and Kathryn Fults Ver Hagen Chair of Education.
The couple also fund UW-Eau Claire scholarships in memory of their son, David
Matthew, and Kathryn’s mother, Eleanor Eddis Fults, as well as two Wisconsin
Academic Excellence Scholarships.
Ver Hagens are truly generous people,” Bachmeier said. “Their support of
special needs in Wisconsin as well as other states has always been very
Janice B. Wisner
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Updated: July 26, 2001