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UW-Eau Claire to Honor Eight Alumni
During Dec. 15 Celebration

RELEASED: Nov. 27, 2007

EAU CLAIRE — The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Alumni Association will present awards to eight alumni and friends of the university Dec. 15.

"We will celebrate the talent, creativity and intelligence of these people who represent and honor this university so well," said John Bachmeier, director of alumni relations. "The university is proud to recognize them for their personal success and for their service to others."

Mark Fuhrmann
Mark Fuhrmann

Mark Fuhrmann will receive the Alumni Distinguished Achievement Award, an award that recognizes distinguished service to a community, state or nation that brings credit upon the recipient and the university.

Fuhrmann, who earned a bachelor's degree in urban geography in 1980, is the deputy general manager of Metro Transit in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area. Metro Transit is the nation's 11th largest transit system that includes buses. Fuhrmann previously was the chief of staff for the Hiawatha Light Rail Train system, a $715 million dollar project. He also is project director of the Northstar Commuter Rail project and the Central Corridor Light Rail project.

"The planning process for the Hiawatha Line, in which Mark played a major role, was exceptional," Dr. Brady Foust, professor of geography, stated in a letter to the Alumni Association's awards nominating committee. "The line has a ridership far above initial projections and has been a major catalyst for urban renewal and economic development along the Hiawatha corridor. Mark is combining his training at UW-Eau Claire and his experience with the transportation process to help plan for better lives."

Cathy Sultan
Cathy Sultan

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

Sultan, a peace activist and author, moved to Beirut in 1969 with her Christian Lebanese husband and two young children. Sultan and her family lived in war-torn Lebanon for eight years before they were forced to leave Beirut in 1983. She wrote about the realities of Middle Eastern politics in a 2005 memoir "A Beirut Heart: One Woman's War."

After leaving Lebanon, Sultan studied the Israeli-Palestinian situation. In 2002, she traveled to Jerusalem and the West Bank. In an effort to understand the human consequences of the conflict, she interviewed Palestinians and Israeli people and wrote the book "Israeli and Palestinian Voices: A Dialogue with Both Sides."

Sultan is an executive board member of the National Peace Foundation where she directs Middle East educational projects.

Patrick Dennis
Patrick Dennis

Patrick Dennis, a 1965 biology graduate, will receive the Lifetime Excellence Award, which is given to alumni who have demonstrated a long-time commitment to their careers and communities. Recipients make positive and dramatic contributions through their dedication to service and they live their lives as a testimony to the university's motto of "Excellence."

Dennis earned a Ph.D. in genetics in 1969 from the University of Minnesota. From 1970-71, he did his postdoctoral work in molecular biology at The State University of New York at Buffalo and Roswell Park Memorial Institute and from 1971-73 at the University of Texas at Dallas. From 1973-1975, he was a project associate for the Institute for Enzyme Research at UW-Madison.

While completing his postdoctoral studies, Dennis began a 40-year career that included establishing the connection between macromolecular composition and growth. He used biochemistry and molecular biology tools and technologies to formulate his observations within a rigorous mathematical framework.

In 1975, Dennis became an assistant professor in the department of microbiology, biochemistry and molecular biology at The University of British Columbia. A year later, he moved to the biochemistry and molecular biology department where he became a full professor. He retired in 2002, but ran his laboratory as an emeritus professor until the summer of 2006.

Dennis and his students pioneered the characterization of small guide RNAs in Archaea, a class of small RNA that plays a critical role in the maturation and assembly of ribosomes.

"Pat's findings have profoundly advanced the field of rRNA modification in organisms across the evolutionary spectrum," Ryland F. Young III, a Sadie Hatfield professor of agriculture at Texas A&M University, stated in a letter to the Alumni Association. "Pat has been able to make a significant mark in two areas of research. His work was unique and groundbreaking."

Currently, Dennis is a program director at the National Science Foundation and is managing programs in molecular and microbial genetics.

Meghan Marx, Scott Pingel and Capt. Shaun Westphal 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.

Meghan Marx
Meghan Marx

Marx, a 2000 UW-Eau Claire graduate, is the art director for "Good Morning America," ABC News. She was nominated in 2004 for an Emmy Award for outstanding individual achievement in a craft: graphic design and art direction for the ABC news special events show "War with Iraq: Turning Point."

While attending UW-Eau Claire, Marx was an intern at ABC News in New York City. After graduating, she was hired as a "Good Morning America" production assistant. She was named senior production assistant in 2002, junior art director in 2003 and art director in 2005.

Marx oversees a staff of 13 graphic artists who meet the daily graphic needs of "Good Morning America." She also handles larger projects, including the network's "9/11 Five-Year Anniversary" and special coverage of Hurricane Katrina.

Scott Pingel
Scott Pingel

Pingel is the principal bassist of the San Francisco Symphony and the former principal bassist of the Charleston Symphony Orchestra. He has performed with the Metropolitan Opera, Metamorphosen Chamber Orchestra, St. Lawrence String Quartet, New World Symphony and served as guest principal of the National Arts Center Orchestra in Canada. He has participated in the Billingham, Tanglewood, Spoleto, Verbier and Salzburg festivals.

A 1996 graduate, Pingel studied jazz and classical studies. While in school, he studied with James Clute of the Minnesota Orchestra. He later continued his studies with Peter Lloyd, principal bassist of the Minnesota Orchestra, while performing as a freelance musician and a member of the Latin/jazz/funk band, Urban World. In 1997, he moved to New York City to study with Timothy Cobb, principal bassist of the Metropolitan Opera, on a fellowship from the Manhattan School of Music. He earned a master's degree in orchestral performance in 1999.

Capt. Shaun Westphal
Capt. Shaun Westphal

Westphal, a 1997 nursing graduate, is the Critical Care Air Transport Team Program nurse coordinator and a critical care nurse in the medical intensive care unit assigned to the 759th Surgical Operation Squadron at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas.

While at UW-Eau Claire, Westphal enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps. He served as an infantry rifleman and as a recruiting service volunteer, receiving an honorable discharge in 1999.

Westphal began his nursing career as a clinical nurse at Elmbrook Memorial Hospital in Brookfield. He transferred to the intensive care unit and worked shifts as a critical care transport nurse for the Medi-Care Ambulance Service. In 2000, he transferred to Froedtert Memorial Lutheran Hospital in Milwaukee, where he worked until he received his direct commissioning as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force.

Westphal worked as a critical care nurse in the intensive care unit of the 88th Medical Group at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio. In 2002, he was promoted to first lieutenant and deployed to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany. He was promoted to captain in 2004. In 2005, he began working in the emergency department of the 959th Surgical Operations Squadron at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas.

In September 2005, Westphal was deployed to the 379th Expeditionary Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron in Iraq. He flew 23 missions, providing care and transport for critically injured servicemen. Following his deployment, he was named CCATT Program nurse coordinator.

In February, Westphal was selected to be a member of the Air Force Expeditionary Medics Team of the Year. He was one of two officers selected to receive the honor.

Robert Webb and Randall Wilber will receive the President's Award, which recognizes outstanding professional or personal achievements or service to UW-Eau Claire.

Robert Webb
Robert Webb

Webb is the Paul Tudor Jones II research professor of finance at the McIntire School of Commerce at the University of Virginia and a visiting professor of finance at the Darden Graduate School of Business.

After graduating from UW-Eau Claire in 1974, he earned an MBA and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. He has worked as a fixed income securities trader in the investments department of the World Bank, as a financial futures and options trader on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, and as a senior financial economist at the Executive Office of the President, Office of Management and Budget during President Reagan's first term and the Commodity Future Trading Commission.

Webb previously served as an assistant professor of finance and business economics in the graduate school of business at the University of Southern California. He also was an instructor in finance at Loyola University Chicago and an instructor in economics at the University of Chicago.

Webb has written two books, "Trading Catalysts" and "Macroeconomic Information and Financial Trading." His research has been published in various academic journals, and he is the editor of the "Journal of Futures Markets."

Randall Wilber
Randall Wilber

Wilber is a senior sport physiologist at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado, where he oversees the operation of the athlete performance laboratory. He has worked with Olympic athletes from several sports, including Lance Armstrong, seven-time winner of the Tour de France, three-time Olympian; Alison Dunlap, 2001 world cross-country mountain bike champion, two-time Olympian; Apolo Ohno, 2006 Olympic gold medalist in short track speed skating, two-time Olympian; and Johnny Spillane, 2003 world champion in Nordic combined skiing, two-time Olympian.

While a student at UW-Eau Claire, Wilber was a graduate assistant cross-country and track coach. In 1979, he earned a master's degree in teaching. Wilber taught history and coached cross-country and track at Titusville High School in Florida for several years before earning a master's and Ph.D. in exercise physiology from Florida State University.

Wilber was a research assistant to the U.S. Olympic Committee from 1993-94 before being named senior sport physiologist. In his position, he is responsible for the physiological evaluation of U.S. Olympic and National Team athletes, management of the U.S. Olympic Committee athlete performance laboratory, applied research, and professional and lay publication work.

"Randy represents the university's motto in a unique manner, especially on a worldwide stage," Mary Meiser, professor emerita of English, stated in a letter to the Alumni Association. "His authentic interest in others serves him well in every corner of every continent and his work has taken him to most of them. Randy brings warmth, humor and intelligence to all that he does."

-30-

KH

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