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2012 Alumni Achievement Awards


Carol Brown

Director, Alumni Programs

2 East South Street

Galesburg, IL 61401-4999


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Recipients of t he 2012 Alumni Achievement Awards

Knox celebrated the 175th anniversary of its founding with the presentation of Alumni Achievement Awards at the 2012 Founders Day Convocation on Friday, February 17, in Kresge Hall, Ford Center for the Fine Arts.

Receiving 2012 awards were Mary Lu Hudson Aft '60 of Cincinnati, Ohio, a successful volunteer event organizer and fund raiser; Lynn Wright '63 of North Potomac, Maryland, who designed control systems for NASA lunar missions and the Space Shuttle; and James Solomon '74 of St. Louis, Missouri, curator of the herbarium at the Missouri Botanical Garden. Also receiving an award this year was Peter Leibig '73, of Denver, Colorado, president and CEO of Clinica Family Health Services. Leibig was selected for the award in 2011 but was unable to attend last year's ceremony.

Receiving the 2012 Young Alumni Achievement Award was Norman Golar '02, of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, assistant professor of English and chair of the English department at Stillman College.

In celebration of Knox's 175th anniversary this year, the 2012 Founders Day Convocation also recognized prior recipients of Alumni Achievement Awards. Twenty-one prior winners returned for the ceremony and met with students and faculty. Read about a few of their experiences returning to campus.

View the Alumni Achievement Award presentation on Livestream.

2012 Recipients

Mary Lu Hudson Aft '60Mary Lu Aft '60

Citation presented by Richard Aft '60, non-profit manager

Mary Lu Hudson Aft graduated from Knox College in 1960 with a degree in mathematics. She was reared in a volunteer-minded family in a town populated by less than 10,000 civic-minded residents. Since leaving Carroll, Iowa, to attend Knox, she has influenced the development of organizations and people in seven "home towns." In each city, most recently Cincinnati, Mary Lu has found ways to strengthen non-profit organizations and their services to people in need.

Mary Lu worked with the American National Red Cross as a volunteer trainer and training designer for more than 30 years. She recruits and retains volunteers by giving them the opportunity to do whatever they want to do. According to Mary Lu, "the best volunteers are people who have a sense that they're doing something good for the organization and satisfying their own needs." Since 1987, she has been involved with the Cincinnati Friends of the Public Library, serving as their book sale chair since 1989. Her library work has made available millions of used books and recordings to schools, hospitals, and prisons and raised more than $1 million each year for the library system. For these accomplishments, Mary Lu was named the 1999 "Woman of the Year" by The Cincinnati Enquirer.

Mary Lu served as a founding member of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center's Community Advisory Council. In addition, she has represented United Way International in Ireland, Hungary, Poland, Romania, and Indonesia, among other countries. Mary Lu is the co-author of two books on United Way International.

Mary Lu is also an active Knox volunteer. She hosted alumni gatherings in Atlanta, Memphis, and Cincinnati; has served as class agent; and as co-chair for the class of 1960 50th Year Reunion.

I am honored to present Mary Lu Aft with a 2012 Alumni Achievement Award for her achievements in non-profit and volunteer management.

Lynn Wright '63Lynn S. Wright '63

Citation presented by Emile John, former Shelby High School math teacher

Lynn Wright graduated from Knox in 1963 with a degree in mathematics. As a student at Shelby High School, he showed the potential of being an excellent math student. Through the efforts of Knox College professor, Dr. Willard Ross, whose mother was Lynn's first grade teacher in Shelby, Lynn received a math scholarship. This early interest in mathematics led Lynn to a career helping the United States achieve leadership in space exploration.

After graduating from Knox, Lynn and his wife Cynthia moved to Maryland where he began a 30-year IBM career, including 17 years with IBM's Federal Systems Division at Houston's Manned Spacecraft Center. Working as a programmer, flight controller, and manager, Lynn supported all 17 Apollo missions, as well as the first seven Space Shuttle missions. For Apollo 5, the first earth orbiting Apollo mission supported on a new generation of computers, Lynn developed the Earth Orbit Trajectory Supervisor which provided control of spacecraft events and activities. For Apollo 8, the first Apollo mission to circle the moon, Lynn developed the Cislunar Trajectory Determination Processor. He and his team received seven awards from NASA and IBM for their accomplishments.

In 1982, Lynn shifted gears to manage the development of the Air Forces' Global Positioning System (GPS), including the development of a GPS Mission Control Center in Colorado. In 1994, he was named vice president of engineering and technology for Lockheed Martin's Mission Systems Company, a position from which he retired in 2001.

Lynn is working with his hometown of Shelby, Ohio, to develop a technology incubator. In addition, he continues to promote the space program and careers in technology by presenting to students in Ohio and Maryland. Lynn concludes each session by encouraging students to take an interest in math and science so that they, too, might experience the thrill of space exploration.

It is my honor to present a 2012 Alumni Achievement Award to Lynn Wright for his achievements in space program technology.

James Solomon '74James Solomon '74

Citation presented by Stuart Allison, professor of biology

James Solomon graduated from Knox in 1974 with a degree in biology. He went on to earn a Ph.D. in biology from Washington University, St. Louis, in 1981. An interest in collecting things: rocks, fossils, shells, fruits, nests, insects ultimately led him to a career managing one of the world's largest collections of dried plant specimens.

Jim joined the staff of the Missouri Botanical Garden in 1981 and spent his first seven years on staff in Bolivia, conducting botanical inventories at selected sites throughout the country. He returned to St. Louis in 1989 to assume duties as curator of the Herbarium-the second largest herbarium collection in the United States and one of the five largest in the world. Trained as a taxonomic botanist, Jim is responsible for managing the activities connected with the storage, care, and use of the Garden's 6.3 million specimens.

Jim has traveled widely in tropical America and Asia, including Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Republic of Georgia, and Tajikistan. He has published numerous major papers on plant taxonomy and systematics, and is internationally known for his work encouraging support for herbaria and basic botanical field research at a time when funding has become difficult to obtain. Jim works hard to encourage botanists in other countries, especially in developing countries, to pursue such basic research as it is vital in our attempts to understand biodiversity of the world and the role that biodiversity plays in global ecosystems.

Jim has welcomed several groups of Knox students and a recent group of St. Louis area alumni to the Missouri Botanical Garden and makes time for a behind the scenes tour of the herbarium and research library. After more than 30 years in botany, his passion for collections is still evident. Jim says, "I still get a kick out of working with plants and the people who study them."

I am honored to present James Solomon with a 2012 Alumni Achievement Award in recognition of his achievements in botany.

Peter Leibig '73

Peter Leibig '73

Citation presented by John Spittell, professor of business and management

Peter Leibig graduated from Knox College with a degree in English literature in 1973. He joined the staff at Clinica Family Health Services in 1987 as executive director and is now president and CEO.

Clinica Family Health Services is a system of federally funded Community Health Centers serving underserved residents of the Denver-Boulder metropolitan area. Under Pete's direction, Clinica has grown from one site providing 3,000 medical visits per year with seven employees in 1987, to four sites providing nearly 40,000 medical visits per year with 300 staff and net assets of more than $31 million in 2010. Pete has spent more than 30 years in health care planning and administration, working as a rural health systems planner in Illinois and Colorado, as the administrator of a low-birthweight prevention project with the Colorado Department of Public Health, and as a member of many boards and councils that strive to improve health care delivery including chairing the Colorado Community Health Network.

In 2003, he received the Community Healthcare Improvement Award from the UCLA Anderson School of Management. According to the school's website, "His clinic went from losing over $50,000 per month to become a self-sustaining organization living up to its mission to increase the number of underserved individuals while maintaining the quality of care." In 2005, he was named the Daily Camera Pacesetter for innovations in medicine and science.

Pete believes his liberal arts education has served him well as the CEO of a non-profit. He states that "thinking well, writing well, and being open to risk taking and the differing opinions and world views of others are all skills Knox helped me develop."

It is my honor to present a 2011 Alumni Achievement Award to Peter Leibig for his achievements in health care administration.

Norman Golar '02Norman Golar '02

Citation presented by Lori Schroeder, associate dean of the College, professor of English

Norman Golar graduated from Knox in 2002 with a degree in creative writing. As a sophomore, he was chosen for the selective Ronald E. McNair Program, which encourages first-generation college students and members of underrepresented groups to pursue careers in higher education. Working closely with Knox faculty members, Norman completed two McNair research projects analyzing the poetry of three contemporary African-American writers. He presented his work at conferences all over the country. In his junior year he was named College Marshal, and in his senior year he was honored as a 2001 Student Laureate by the Lincoln Academy of Illinois.

Norman went on to earn a master's degree in creative writing and a doctorate in composition, rhetoric, and English studies, both from the University of Alabama. While at the university, he taught both traditional composition and introductory creative writing courses. His research areas include narrative theory/narratology, composition pedagogy, computers and writing, and rhetorical criticism. In 2010, he accepted the position of assistant professor of English and chair of the English department at Stillman College in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

His poetry has been published in numerous poetry journals, including Touchstone, Temenos, and Poetry Southeast, and he was chosen as a Southern Regional Education Board Doctoral Scholar, a national program that provides support and encouragement for minorities pursuing Ph.D.s and seeking faculty positions.

When asked what factors made him want to be a part of Stillman, Norman said that "ultimately, I wanted to return to an environment quite similar to that of Knox College . . . I recall so vividly the close connection we students developed with faculty and other students during our matriculation at the institution and after we graduated from the institution."

It is my honor to present a 2012 Young Alumni Achievement Award to Norman Golar for his achievements in higher education and writing.

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