Lisle, IL ~ Benedictine University celebrated the people – past and present – who contribute to the University with their time, talent and treasure at the annual Founders' Day Celebration on Friday, February 28 on the second floor of the Krasa Student Center.
Among those who spoke at the event was Illinois Benedictine College (now Benedictine University) alumnus Ray Konopka, C89, the founder of Raize Software, which specializes in producing high-quality, innovative tools that help computer software developers create better software.
Konopka, who was a double major in Mathematics and Computer Science at Benedictine, was presented with the Distinguished Alumni Award by the College of Science in 2012, in part for his work with Walt Disney Company.
"I set my career in these walls," Konopka said. "I have the faculty here to thank for that. That's been critical for me. Not only did I start my career here, but I continued to develop it in all the courses I took. The mentoring concept I experienced here I have continued in my company."
Ralph Meeker, Ph.D., professor of Computer Science at Benedictine and former interim chair of the College of Science, was named the recipient of the Kevin Doyle Faculty Award for Leadership in Mission and Catholic Identity.
"Ralph truly lives the Benedictine Hallmarks," said presenter Alicia Cordoba Tait, D.M.A., Assistant to the President for Mission Integration. "He has served the University well in many capacities. He has continued to nourish the University community through his work as an advocate and mentor."
Beginning in 2003, Doyle, Meeker, Philosophy Professor Martin Tracey, Ph.D., Abbot Hugh Anderson, O.S.B., and Fr. David Turner, O.S.B., conducted a review of how Benedictine University complied with the expectations for Catholic universities in the Apostolic Constitution Ex Corde Ecclesiae. The work was later incorporated into the framework of the University's Center for Mission and Identity.
In March 2012, Doyle was awarded the University's inaugural Kevin Doyle Faculty Award for Leadership in Mission and Catholic Identity. Fr. Turner was the recipient in 2013. The award recognizes a faculty member who has most worked to advance the Catholic mission and Benedictine heritage.
The University also recognized eight faculty and staff who exhibit excellence in the Benedictine values. Hospitality was chosen for this year. Each recipient was thanked on behalf of the University for demonstrating "respect and love for the other person," and serving as models for all staff and faculty members, said Executive Vice President Charlie Gregory who along with University President William J. Carroll, handed out the awards.
Those recognized for their welcoming spirit were Cathy Gaddis (Fine Arts), Jennifer Golminas (Student Success Center), Phil Hardy, Ph.D., (Political Science), Courtney Hatcher (Graduate Business Administration), Joan Henehan (Student Engagement and Leadership Development), Debbie Kirk (Business and Finance Services), Hazel Williams (Student Life) and Ellen Ziliak, Ph.D., (Mathematics).
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Donald Taylor, Ph.D., was honored for his 22 years of service to the University. Taylor has accepted a position as the eighth president of Cabrini College in suburban Philadelphia, Pa.
Benedictine University is an independent Roman Catholic institution located in Lisle, Illinois just 25 miles west of Chicago, and has branch campuses in Springfield, Illinois and Mesa, Arizona. Founded in 1887, Benedictine provides 55 undergraduate majors and 17 graduate and four doctoral programs. Benedictine University is ranked No. 1 among the country's fastest-growing campuses between 2000-2010 in The Chronicle of Higher Education's list of private nonprofit research institutions, and Forbes magazine named Benedictine among "America's Top Colleges" for the third consecutive year in 2013. Benedictine University's Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) program is listed by Crain's Chicago Business as the fifth largest in the Chicago area in 2013.