Eight alumni are receiving awards from the UW-Eau Claire Alumni Association, recognizing their professional and personal successes as well as their contributions to their alma mater, their communities and their professions. The awards will be presented on May 23 at a luncheon and ceremony in conjunction with spring commencement.
Alumni Distinguished Achievement Award
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.
Shaun P. Merriman '85, bachelor's degree in business finance
For nearly 30 years, Mr. Merriman has enjoyed a successful career in commercial banking, a career that has spanned the United States through a variety of leadership roles.
He currently serves as president, CEO and organizing director of Gateway Bank of Southwest Florida in Sarasota, Florida. He joined the community bank as it was starting in 2006, helping to create one of the most successful de novo bank start-ups in Florida's history. Since reaching profitability after just 31 months, the bank has posted nearly $8 million in profits for shareholders, and total assets have reached over $238 million. Its success has been recognized in Florida and nationally. In 2011, the bank was awarded the Bauer Financial five-star rating for financial institutions on a national level.
Gary Berg, '79 bachelor's degree in English
Mr. Berg currently serves as the chief executive officer of G.L. Berg Entertainment, a company he established that specializes in contracting entertainment for college, corporate, fair, festival and theater events throughout the United States.
After graduating from UW-Eau Claire, he went to graduate school in Missouri, and after receiving a master's degree in higher education administration he worked as a college administrator for more than a decade.
He left academia to start G.L. Berg Entertainment, which has grown to be the largest
entertainment provider in the Midwest, annually contracting entertainment and speakers for more than 3,000 shows throughout the United States and the world. The company represents approximately 100 professional comedians, musicians and variety performers.
The President's Award recognizes outstanding professional and personal achievements and service to UW-Eau Claire.
Dr. Kevin Kjos '89, bachelor's degree in music; '91, master's degree in music
Dr. Kjos currently serves as director of Jazz Studies and professor of trumpet at Kutztown University of Pennsylvania, positions he's held for 17 years. As director of Jazz Studies, he has created the Jazz Masters Series, a clinician series that has featured some of the best performers in the world. He also created the Jazz Outreach series that invites high school and junior high jazz ensembles to the campus for a day of clinics by the university's jazz faculty and students.
He's the founder and director of the Minneapolis-based Cedar Avenue Big Band and the Sound Exploration Ensemble, a music group in which he performed and composed. He also is the author of "Teaching through Imitation, a Jazz Ensemble Guide" and "Reflections on the Teaching of William Adam."
Outstanding Recent Alumnus Award
The Outstanding Recent Alumnus Award acknowledges special achievements and great promise of alumni who are within 15 years of their graduation from UW-Eau Claire.
Tuan Nguyen '06, bachelor's degree in computer science; '11, master's degree in business administration
Mr. Nguyen currently is a manager of application development at Discovery Health Partners.
He began his career at Marshfield Clinic, later moving into the Biomedical Informatics Research Center in the Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation. He then worked as a systems programmer analyst senior at Northwestern University-Enterprise Data Warehouse in Chicago, and as senior development technical lead at Aon Corp.
In addition to being an IT professional, Mr. Nguyen —who came to UW-Eau Claire as an international student from Vietnam —also is a part-time blogger, sharing his experiences and advice on being an immigrant in the United States.
Lifetime Excellence Award
The Lifetime Excellence Awards are presented to alumni who have demonstrated long-time and successful commitment to their careers and communities. These individuals have made a positive and dramatic impact through enthusiastic dedication to service and living their lives as a testimony to UW-Eau Claire's motto, "Excellence."
Dennis Loney '69, bachelor's degree in speech
For 28 years, Mr. Loney worked for the Walt Disney Company and implemented many worksite wellness programs, including the largest worksite Employee Assistance Program. He says achieving Disney's Lifetime Achievement Award, Partners in Excellence, was the highlight of his career.
On a national level, he served as a trustee for the Employers' Managed Health Care Organization, as a member of the Washington Business Group on Health and a member of the National Medicare Educational Program.
For 20 years, he was vice president for the Florida Health Care Coalition, a coalition whose focus was to work with area medical providers to reduce medical costs, improve quality outcomes and eliminate waste.
John Skoug '75, bachelor's degree in accounting
Mr. Skoug currently serves as chairman and CEO of Marathon Cheese Corporation and Packaging Tape Inc., president of the Raymond and Marie Goldbach Foundation Inc., and Goldbach Investments Inc.
He began his career at Wipfli Regional CPAs in Wausau, advancing to senior manager during his 10 years with the company before joining Marathon Cheese Corporation/Goldbach companies in Marathon.
He holds or has held leadership positions with the Northcentral Technical College Foundation, United Way of Marathon County, Community Foundation of Northcentral Wisconsin, Performing Arts Foundation, Marathon Area Swim Association, Junior Achievement-Northcentral District, Wausau Hospital Inc., M &I Bank-Wausau, and the Green Bay Packers.
Tom Flesch '74, bachelor's degree in business administration and economics
Jeannie Flesch '73, bachelor's degree in business education
Mr. Flesch is the president and CEO of Gordon Flesch Co. Inc., the nation's largest independent office equipment dealership. His father, Gordon, started the company in Madison back in the late 1950s. The family-owned business has transitioned from an equipment reseller to an integrated business technology solutions provider throughout the Great Lakes region.
Tom and Jeannie Flesch, who met on campus in the early 1970s, have been longtime supporters of their alma mater. Examples of their support include endowing and supporting scholarships, supporting the Blugold Marching Band, and providing a major gift to help fund a new gateway to the campus. In addition to their financial contributions to the university, Tom and Jeannie both have served many years as members of the UW-Eau Claire Foundation board of directors.