UW-Eau Claire Alumni

President's Award
2017 Recipients

President's Award: Recognizes outstanding professional and personal achievements and service to UW-Eau Claire.

Mitch Bleske
Mitch Bleske

Mitchell Bleske í97, bachelorís degree in finance and economics

Mitchell Bleske has had a successful career in banking and finance, including leadership positions for U.S. Bancorp, United Community Banks, Trustmark National Bank and Bremer Financial Corp.
Bleske, who earned an MBA from the University of St. Thomas following his graduating from UW-Eau Claire, is now executive vice president and chief financial officer with Bremer Financial Corp. Recognized by the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal as the 2017 CFO of the Year in banking and financial services, he has been described by colleagues as “a leader who is guided by both head and heart together.”
He also has been commended for his established track record of strategic leadership, and says he is most proud of his impact on employees.
“There is no better satisfaction than watching an individual or team learn, develop and succeed,” Bleske said. “While competence is a necessity, a well-functioning team is truly what separates the great from average.”
In addition to his professional successes, Bleske is proud of the progress he and his wife, Erin (a 1997 UW-Eau Claire accounting graduate), have made raising awareness and more than $75,000 to help fight Rett Syndrome since their daughter was diagnosed with the rare neurological disorder in 2008.
Bleske appreciates the education he received at UW-Eau Claire, citing Dr. Duane Oyen, professor emeritus of economics, for challenging him with a number of research projects and Dr. Paul Vanderheiden, professor emeritus of accounting and finance, for helping him “become enamored” with finance fundamentals.

RG Conlee

RG Conlee

RG Conlee í78, bachelorís degree in music education

RG Conlee says his life after graduating from UW-Eau Claire has been “a tale of two careers … so far.”
For the past 20 years, Conlee has worked in technology management and innovation, working as an IT contractor, application development manager and then in several operational roles until being named chief innovation officer for Xerox Business Services, a position he held from 2011 to 2017. He recently retired from his CIO role and has started a new consulting firm specializing in automation and analytics.
Before his success in the business and technology sector, Conlee spent two decades as a teacher and administrator in both public and private schools. He was a junior high and high school band director for 13 years before founding a nonprofit corporation and private school that grew to 215 students before he left and is still in operation today. While an educator, Conlee taught himself computer programming and started a computer music lab as well as a small computer business, which eventually led to the start of his second career.
Conlee, who met his wife, Wendy, when they were both music education students at UW-Eau Claire, has been an advocate and financial supporter of the arts at the university. He will deliver the “Charge to the Class” during commencement ceremonies Dec. 16.

View the list of past recipients of this award.