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Educator, Founder, Officer, Writer

2007 Alumni Achievement Award Winners

Three alumni were awarded 2007 Alumni Achievement Awards at the Founders Day celebration on February 15, 2007 -- Fremont "Gene" Binder '56, Margery Rosen Kraus '67, and General David P. Fridovich '74. Monica Berlin '95 received the Young Alumni Achievement Award.

Knox Magazine asked each award recipient a series of questions regarding his or her life and achievements.

Gene Binder '56Dr. Fremont "Gene" Binder '56
Fremont "Gene" Binder has spent the last 30-plus years working in Texas private and public higher education institutions, most recently with the Texas Higher Education Board. He is most well-known for his work establishing the College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP), a program that helps students from migrant and seasonal farm worker families receive a college degree. Originally established in 1971, CAMP has grown from a one university migrant experimental program to 47 university and college campuses, accepting 2,400 freshman migrant students each year, with an annual federal budget exceeding $17,000,000. In addition to his work with CAMP, Binder has served as special assistant for exemplary education programs to Texas Governor Mark White and received the U.S. Bronze Star for Meritorious Achievement against Hostile Forces in the Republic of South Vietnam.

Knox Magazine: Please describe your Knox experience.
Gene Binder: I remember a terrific faculty who were always engaging and compassionate, and a freshman class then as they are now-bright, beautiful, and good Americans.

KM: How has that experience affected your life?
GB: I left Knox wanting to do something to make this country a little better, and I did.

KM: What do you believe is your most notable achievement?
GB: In 1971, I received an unsolicited $500,000 postsecondary educational award from the then U.S. Department of Economic Opportunity to design a College Assistant Migrant Program (CAMP). The award was based on my prior doctoral research and successful educational work with Hispanic, African, and Native American students from migrant and seasonal farm worker families at Washington State University. At this period of time in U.S. education history, there was no record of a migrant or farm worker child ever graduating from college. I selected St. Edwards University, Austin, Texas, from a list of 51 college and university applicants to host the program. The first 100 CAMP freshman students enrolled at St. Edwards University in fall of 1972. By 1978, the CAMP experiment was hugely successful, and the program was expanded to eight additional university campuses, officially recognized by the U.S. Congress, and moved with line item budget authority to the U.S. Department of Education.

Today, CAMP has grown from a one university migrant experimental program to 47 university and college campuses, accepting 2,400 freshman migrant students each year, with an annual federal budget exceeding $17,000,000. In the 34 years since its inception, CAMP has opened the doors to thousands of migrant children who have become community leaders that represent a professional spectrum, including bilingual educational specialists, accountants, doctors, nurses, lawyers, legislators, teachers, psychologists, social workers, and professional business partners and operators.

KM: What will you do to celebrate your Alumni Achievement Award?
GB: I plan to celebrate this distinguished award with my lovely wife, six children, and 17 grandchildren at our family reunion.

KM: What words of advice would you offer to current Knox students?
GB: I would ask them to reject the shrill partisan appeals of the past few years from advocates of all political stripes and professorial persuasions by using their wonderful Knox College education to develop and maintain mutual respect and good relations with counterparts on the other side of critical issues.


Margery KrausMargery Rosen Kraus '67
Margery Rosen Kraus is founder, president, and CEO of APCO Worldwide, one of the largest privately owned communications, public affairs, and business consulting firms in the world. Kraus founded APCO in 1984 and has transformed it from a company with one small Washington, D.C. office to a multinational firm with offices in major cities throughout the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. For her achievements, Kraus has been named the 2006 "Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year" (Ernst & Young/Greater D.C. Chapter), PR Professional of the Year (PR Week, 2005), and one of 25 "Top Women Business Builders" (Fast Company, 2005), among others.

Knox Magazine: Please describe your Knox experience.
Margery Kraus: Although I was at Knox only two years, I have always considered it a key to my education. I found Knox to be the perfect balance between a great learning environment and a friendly campus. . . . I found that the nature and size of the classes pushed me academically and forced me to work hard to do my best, which was an important life lesson. . . . I was impressed by the professors and liked the fact that I could get to know them informally, which made me more interested in my work. I was a Tri Delta, and some of my best friends were my sorority sisters. Since I came to Knox after only three years of high school, finding a group of friends that I could get to know and on whom I could rely was also a very important part of the experience.

KM: How has that experience affected your life?
MK: When you are from a town of 3,000 people more than 1,000 miles away, arriving at Knox was a very big deal. I think the values of the school and the sense of community it builds made a big impact on my life. It taught me self reliance, a sense of personal responsibility, and challenged my thinking. I became interested in political science and politics for the first time, which became the basis of my career. I now run a very large communication and public affairs firm, but my interest began at Knox.

KM: What do you believe is your most notable achievement?
MK: Creating a global business with almost 500 people from scratch is a very big achievement in my life, and I suppose one might think that is the most notable achievement; however, what has been important to me is that I have been able to build a company, the majority of which is owned by its employees, that is considered a great place to work . . . which makes me feel even better about the accomplishment. Yet, I have to admit that what really makes my life fulfilled is that I have accomplished my dream while raising three great children (with the help of my husband of 40 years), who have provided me six grandchildren, which is the best dividend of all.

KM: What will you do to celebrate your Alumni Achievement Award?
MK: I guess I will go to the Gizmo and think about life.

KM: What words of advice would you offer to current Knox students?
MK: Be a sponge and take away as much as you can from each experience. Don't be overly worried about finding the "right" job when you graduate. There is no such thing. Just do the best at what you undertake and learn from it. Don't be afraid to take risks because that is how you learn what you really like and what you don't. Most of all, find your passion. Life is all about passion.


General David FridovichMajor General David P. Fridovich '74
Army Major General since April 2006, David P. Fridovich has served as commander at every level in the Army -- platoon, company, battalion, Special Forces Group, Special Operations Task Force, and Theater Special Operations Command. He has commanded counterterrorism forces throughout the world, including assignments in Korea, Hawaii, Bosnia, The Philippines, and the United States. In September 1995, his troops participated in operations in Haiti, successfully restoring the country's electoral process and popularly-elected president. He has also commanded Special Forces units in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina in 2000 and was instrumental in leading counterterrorist forces in The Philippines. In addition to his command positions, Fridovich has served in a variety of operational staff positions, including assistant professor of military sciences at Norwich University.

Knox Magazine: Please describe your Knox experience.
General Fridovich: I went to Knox to be independent and get out on my own. I believe I was just one of two or so students from Florida, so distance was a factor. I always had a dream to play some level of college football, and Knox would help fulfill that dream. In spite of all these reasons, I somehow knew a small college would take me in, and I would be able to finish in spite of myself. So, along the way I met some men and women who would become friends and mentors educating me for life.

KM: How has that experience affected your life?
GF: This will seem trite, but I have used the outcomes of the "Knox Experience" almost everyday of my U.S. Army life. Somehow the value of a classic liberal arts education works-and works exceedingly well-when you have to deal with a multitude of complex issues, emerging ideas, and the broadest base of individuals the world has to offer. Coaches Harley Knosher and Al Reilly (along with the rest of the football team) kept me wanting to come back for yet another season, and Doctor Bob Seibert saw something in me I didn't know existed, a student/scholar.
My coaches kept me at Knox, and Bob Seibert developed me intellectually at Knox, finally taking a chance by getting me into our beloved Tulane University for a master's degree. I'm convinced this wouldn't have happened any place else.

KM: What do you believe is your most notable achievement?
GF: In 2001, we deployed to the Southern Philippines to assist the government of the Philippines with an on-going struggle. In the course of deploying other forces there, I (with the help of my staff) developed a model, now known as the Basilan model (named for the island we applied it to). The Basilan model is becoming recognized as a leading method to indirectly affect the conditions that permit terrorism and terrorists to develop. The model itself uses existing military structures within the region and adds the synergy of civil action projects with information campaigns, directing all efforts to make the population and government closer and more reliant on one another. Four years after the majority of all forces left Basilan Island, it remains terrorist-free and the populace's lives have returned to a degree of normalcy they haven't had in 20+ years.

KM: What will you do to celebrate your Alumni Achievement Award?
GF: Make sure I visit Harley Knosher and Bob Seibert while in town to thank them both for their belief in me.

KM: What words of advice would you offer to current Knox students?
GF: Realize as you go through your own Knox experience the applicable of value of what you are learning. Be ready to apply and share it with those around you in your next spheres of influence, because, right now, you may not fully realize the value of the gift you've been given. Therefore, it's only fitting to think you have a serious responsibility to accomplish something worthwhile with it.


Monica Berlin '95Monica Berlin '95
Monica Berlin is currently assistant professor of English at Knox College, where she received the 2003 Philip Green Wright-Lombard College Prize for Distinguished Teaching, considered to be one of the highest honors that the Knox faculty confers upon its members. In addition to her teaching, Berlin is also an accomplished writer. She was a finalist for the 2005 Illinois Arts Council Grant in Poetry and nominated for a 2004 and 2003 Pushcart Prize. Her poetry has appeared in numerous publications around the country, including Manthology: Poems on the Male Experience and The Missouri Review. Berlin served as the faculty advisor for three of the national award-winning editions of Catch, Knox's literary magazine.

Knox Magazine: Please describe your Knox experience.
Monica Berlin: Clearly, my Knox experience is on-going. Sometimes my student years at Knox mingle with my professional life here now, and I find it difficult to distinguish between what was and what is. I'll be at a reading, or walking across campus, and find myself overwhelmed by the triggers of memory contained here. It's a lovely way to experience my life in Galesburg, really-that symmetry or simultaneity wherein Knox is always new to me and yet always familiar. I work hard to maintain the sense of wonder I had as a student, and often I find more wonder now than I ever did then. I guess I'm more willing now to let the world take hold; I'm less skeptical, less judgmental. In so many ways, I believe that we are all still students, especially those of us who make art. And for that reason, I'm encouraged to never stop being a student of this place, in so much as I believe there's much to be learned from everyone here and about my craft. Knox instilled in me this way of thinking and continues to reiterate it nearly every day.

My undergraduate experience was a time wherein I met some of the most important people in my life-my dearest friends, my future husband, my future colleagues-and where I learned what it meant to be in a community of artists for the first time. It was a time wherein I felt it was safe to make mistakes, safe to try things for which I didn't know the outcome, safe to experiment with new forms of writing and to read books I wouldn't always understand. Working under some of the most extraordinary faculty, and along side brilliant peers, I made my way, often stumbling. Although I struggled academically for much of my time here-I lacked focus, discipline, confidence-I was always intrigued by my studies, even as I was afraid of or overwhelmed by them. At Knox, I found professors and classmates to be supportive and nurturing, even when I couldn't grasp the complexities of what they were teaching me. Only much later was I able to realize what Knox had been offering me all along, what this place had afforded me.

KM: How has that experience affected your life?
MB: The ways in which Knox's faculty, and students alike, helped guide me toward the ways in which I might best learn, might best achieve success, inform much of how I interact in the classroom today. I've never forgotten their patience, the generosity extended to me. That experience humbles me, daily. It reminds me to work harder to not lose students, to not let them lose themselves beyond what is necessary. It reminds me not to take anything for granted, this place or any given kind of talent or knowledge. It reminds me to be generous to others, to their ideas and to their faults. And it reminds me that we can always be surprised, can always surprise. If someone had told me 15 years ago that I would someday be a college professor-having department meetings in the room where Doug Wilson taught the first class I ever took, teaching workshops in the Common Room where I heard some of the greatest contemporary authors read-I wouldn't have believed then that I was capable of such a thing. What sticks around most from my experience as a student at Knox, what remains present, is the ways in which this place worked to make me capable of things I believed to be impossible.

KM: What do you believe is your most notable achievement?
MB: Oh, I don't think I've been doing anything long enough to have a notable achievement. I'm proud of my publications and hope there will be more of them in the future. In 2003, I was awarded a teaching prize, an honor bestowed by the faculty, and that felt like a gesture of incredible confidence and support. Then there's this job; I am humbled by it, really. I teach at Knox College, a place that encourages intellectual and creative space for its students, for its faculty and staff. I read and write for a living, show others this world of stories and poems for a living. I get to spend my days talking about poetry, about fiction. Sometimes, if I'm having a good day, I might make a poem that I feel particularly good about, but those times don't compare to the days when a literary magazine arrives in the mail with a student's story, or when a former student's first book comes out, or when I hear that something I once told a student became the foundation for the toast he gave on his wedding day.

KM: What will you do to celebrate your Young Alumni Achievement Award?
MB: I'll eat dinner with my family, give our son a bath, tell him a new bedtime story, and then pack my bag to come to campus. I'll park my car on Cherry Street and walk towards Old Main, like I have done nearly every day of the last 15 years of my life. I'll walk up those bowing, beautiful stairs-so weighted by history and place, by secrets-towards my office that overlooks the center of campus: Alumni Hall, Seymour Library, the Union, the arch of trees, the lovely flower beds. I'll look out the window, remind myself how lucky I am to be here, in this room, surrounded by words and books, and at Knox, where some time ago I heard the sound of other people's voices, really, for the first time. And then, I'll take hold of the assigned text, my students' poems and essays, and walk downstairs to teach a workshop in the Common Room, in the space that manifests all of my feelings about my work here, about what it is that we do at Knox every day, and about this place-it's magic.

KM: What words of advice would you offer to current Knox students?
MB: Take care. To write, to read, and to live wholly in the world that language makes possible. Our first step to being successful students of the world involves being good people, by which I mean that our job is to take care. We must be responsible for the things that matter by using language that matters. And to make matter that matters, we need to risk. There, we'll learn more, become stronger, more sensitive, more alive and aware-but we'll also be more found out, more exposed, more human. Such vulnerability, in essence, helps us accept our responsibility to others and to ourselves. In taking care of the subject of the poem, I'm known to say, we will take care of the larger issues at stake in the poem and in the world. I think it's good advice, this being a good person stuff, this need for care.