Knox celebrated the 171st anniversary of its founding with the presentation of Alumni Achievement Awards at the 2008 Founders Day Convocation on Thursday, February 14, in the Muelder Room, Seymour Library.
At the celebration, three alumni were awarded 2008 Alumni Achievement Awards-Dick Cheney '43, Alan Anderson '56, and Keith Belzer '85. Ander Monson '97 was the fourth recipient of the Young Alumni Achievement Award.
2008 Alumni Achievement Award Recipients
Dick Cheney '43
(listen to presentation -- 9:01, 4.53 MB)
2008 Alumni Achievement Award recipient for his achievements in public relations and psychotherapy. Award presented by Frank McAndrew, Cornelia H. Dudley Professor of Psychology.
Richard E. Cheney graduated from Knox College in 1943. He holds a master of arts in English from Columbia University and is a professionally licensed psychoanalyst.
Mr. Cheney was a pioneering business executive and public relations entrepreneur. He worked at Hill and Knowlton, Inc., a major international public relations firm, for more than 30 years, serving as senior vice chairman from 1980 to 1987 and as chairman from 1987 until his retirement in 1991. He was one of the first public-relations executives to make business takeovers the center of his business, working with Walt Disney Productions, The Continental Group, Getty Oil Company, and BF Goodrich Company, among many others. Mr. Cheney was the first to apply the term “Saturday Night Special” to sudden, short-fuse, takeover cash offers.
Mr. Cheney led the way in environmental public relations, working with Richard Merrill when thalidomide was found to be toxic and with B. F. Goodrich when polyvinyl chloride was implicated in angina sarcoma deaths of employees. These unique public relations activities took place prior to environmental inspections and safety recommendations set forth by the government in the 1970’s and 80’s.
In addition to his work in the corporate world, Mr. Cheney taught financial public relations at New York University and the New School of Social Research in New York City. He also lectured on financial relations topics to various boards and associations and participated in seminars held by Harvard Business School, The Sorbonne, Fortune magazine, and the American Bar Association.
He was also responsible for investor relations at Mobil, where he developed a training course on oil industry operations and economics for beginning security analysts. This was the first such course ever provided for the investment community.
After retiring in 1991, Cheney embarked on a second career as a psychoanalyst, opening a private practice in New York City. In the words of Ned Landon ’43, “to me, perhaps the most important reason for honoring Dick Cheney has been his approach to retirement and so-called ‘senior citizenship.’ Rather than rest on his laurels ... Dick Cheney has turned a longtime personal interest in the working of the human mind into a personal pursuit of training and knowledge that helps others to better understand themselves ... proving again the kind of vigor, thoughtfulness, and integrity he had shown, early on, as a bright young man on the Knox College campus.”
Mr. Cheney received the American Jewish Committee National Distinguished Achievement Award in 1986 and was profiled in the New York Times in May 2003.
Alan Anderson '56
(listen to presentation -- 9:09, 8.37 MB)
2008 Alumni Achievement Award recipient for his achievements in civil rights. Award presented by Konrad Hamilton, associate professor of history.
Alan Anderson graduated from Knox College in 1956 and went on to earn a Ph.D. in social ethics from the University of Chicago.
A professor, author, and civil rights activist, Alan is a leader in the movement to oppose the American color line. Early in the summer of 1962, he answered a call to travel to Albany, Georgia, where he joined 45 other people on the steps of city hall. They prayed for civil rights and were thrown in jail for disturbing the peace. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. joined them at one point and commented that "it's always a mistake to imprison committed men because they have more time to plan the revolution." While pursuing graduate work at the University of Chicago, Alan was one of the leaders of Chicago's civil rights movement. He served as the central figure in organizing King's 1965 visit to segregated neighborhoods, which resulted in a march of 25,000 people against the segregated school system.
Alan offered the first courses on racial justice at Chicago and at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He is founder of the Social Ethics Seminar, in which his students investigate various aspects of race relations in the community. Alan feels that their research on housing and community development shows that a color barrier still exists in today’s society. Alan and his students have found that 90 percent of the black, foreign-born and Hispanic populations live on the other side of the tracks, literally. He is quoted in a College Heights Herald story as saying, "Me and my students can do very little, but we can provide statistics for others to change things .... My goal is less to change things myself, but to encourage development of a city watchdog to keep an eye on the city."
Alan was co-author with his good friend, George W. Pickering, of Confronting the Color Line: The Broken Promise of the Civil Rights Movement in Chicago, which was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, won a Choice Award for academic book of the year, and the 1986 Myers Award from the Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Human Rights in the United States. He is the author of numerous other writings and papers and has served on the board of several organizations including the American Academy of Religion, the Journal of Religious Ethics, and the Society of Christian Ethics. Alan is currently a professor of philosophy and religion at Western Kentucky University where he is known to throw out a piece of candy each time a student gets a question correct.
Keith Belzer '85
(listen to presentation -- 12:52, 11.7 MB)
2008 Alumni Achievement Award recipient for his service in the legal field. Award presented by Robin Metz, director of Knox's Program in Creative Writing.
Keith Belzer graduated from Knox in 1985 with a bachelor's degree in theatre and worked as an actor, director, and playwright in Chicago while completing his law degree at Loyola University.
As a nationally recognized trial attorney, Wisconsin State Public Defender, and international legal-affairs consultant, Keith has received extensive acclaim for numerous high-profile cases in national print and broadcast media. Widely recognized as a champion of impoverished and underprivileged clients, he is a frequent legal-affairs commentator on broadcasts such as Good Morning America, The O'Reilly Factor, and Geraldo at Large.
With his innovative defense of Scott Lawson against a Wisconsin county governmental unit, Keith achieved the largest monetary award for a disabled individual in U.S. history. Keith collaborated with Knox College theatre professor Craig Choma to construct in the courtroom a life-size replica of a jail cell, to show the conditions under which a mentally-ill inmate had been held. The inmate, who was awarded a precedent-setting $5-million judgment, argued that his mental condition had deteriorated during the two months that he had been held in solitary confinement.
Further, the 2005 retrial and exoneration of Evan Zimmerman, a man falsely convicted and sentenced to life in prison for a homicide, was the subject of a feature length documentary, Facing Life, the Retrial of Evan Zimmerman, which can be seen on the Arts and Entertainment Network and the Biography Channel. The director of the Wisconsin Innocence Project, Keith A. Findley, later wrote that "Belzer’s performance at [the Zimmerman] trial was masterful, serving as a tremendous model from which students and Innocence Project faculty learned a great deal."
Using his prior theater experience, Keith has spent the last 10 years teaching trial skills to lawyers from all over the United States and Puerto Rico, as well as Israel and the People's Republic of China. In 2005, 2006, and 2007, Keith's peers named him one of the top criminal defense lawyers in the State of Wisconsin as published in the Milwaukee Magazine. In 2006, he received one of 12 statewide Leaders in the Law awards from the Wisconsin Law Journal.
In addition to his legal work, Keith remains actively involved in the arts and humanities, regularly performing throughout the Midwest as a member of the National Storytelling Association.
2008 Young Alumni Achievement Award Winner
Ander Monson '97
(listen to presentation -- 9:06, 8.33 MB)
2008 Knox College Young Alumni Achievement Award recipient for his achievements as a writer. Award presented by Megan Scott '96, editor of Knox Magazine and director of advancement communications.
Ander Monson graduated from Knox College in 1997. His Knox experience exemplifies a liberal arts education-Ander entered Knox planning to major in physics or computer science and emerged four years later with a degree in English writing. He went on to earn an M.A. in English from Iowa State University and an M.F.A. in creative writing from the University of Alabama. While at Knox, Ander sang in the Knox College Choir, edited Knox’s award-winning literary magazine, Catch, and was a finalist for the Nick Adams Short Story Contest.
Ander returned to his home state of Michigan to teach at Grand Valley State University, where he is an assistant professor in the department of writing and teaches poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. Ander is an editor for New Michigan Press and the online literary magazine DIAGRAM. He is the author of three books: the novel Other Electricities, finalist for the New York Public Library Young Lions Award and winner of the 2007 John C. Zacharis award from Ploughshares; the poetry collection Vacationland; and the essay collection Neck Deep and Other Predicaments, winner of the 2006 Graywolf Nonfiction Prize. In his review of Other Electricities, Robert Olen Butler said that "Monson is tuned in to our crackling, chaotic, juiced-up times like no other young writer I know. Other Electricities is necessary reading." A starred review in Publishers Weekly for Neck Deep and Other Predicaments stated, "Monson offers a parade of quirky, at times avant-garde methods for exploring his obsessions with everything from Frisbee golf to car washes to the lost art of sending telegrams .... Wonderfully recondite and cunningly executed, Monson's work will make a brilliant discovery for open-minded fans of narrative nonfiction."
Ander's poems, essays, and stories have appeared in numerous magazines and journals, including American Short Fiction, Ploughshares, Prairie Schooner, and Kenyon Review, among others. In 2005, he returned to the Knox campus to serve as judge for the Davenport Awards in Fiction and Poetry. Ander is a winner of the Great Lakes Colleges Association New Writers award for Neck Deep and Other Predicaments and will tour many of the Great Lakes colleges in 2008-2009.
Professor Robin Metz, who supported Ander's nomination for the Young Alumni Achievement Award, says of Ander, "As an undergraduate creative writer at Knox, Ander consistently displayed rare and outstanding qualities of curiosity, stylistic verve, bold artistic experimentation, and striking intelligence-in short, all of the characteristics of a truly original mind and indomitable spirit. That his nationally-acclaimed and award-winning books have their roots in creative endeavors that Ander began and explored at Knox is a source of button-busting pride for everyone in the Knox creative writing program and throughout the larger Knox community."