Read about the rest of this year's superstar alumni
The stories of Rick Anderson, winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award, Kim and Victor Cruz, winners of the Larry “Go Vikings!” Taylor Alumni Service Award, Eric Dinerstein, Distinguished Alumnus of Huxley College of the Environment and the WWU Legacy Family of the Year appear on the previous pages. Here are the rest of this year’s alumni award winners.
Young Alumni of the Year
Kelsey Heikoop (’97, Industrial Technology) and Paul Van Metre (’96, Industrial Technology), co-founders of Pro CNC Inc., a widely respected manufacturing company based in Bellingham. Heikoop and Van Metre met while building racecars for Western’s Vehicle Research Institute Formula SAE team. Soon after graduation, they founded Pro CNC with Heikoop’s older brother, Darcy Hughes. The company has been on a tear ever since: For five years, the Puget Sound Business Journal included Pro CNC in its annual list of the region’s fastest-growing companies, and it was included twice in the INC 5000 list of America’s fastest-growing private companies. The company builds metal and plastic components for the medical, aerospace and defense industries. They’re also strong supporters of Western, providing internships, materials, expertise and thousands of dollars in machining services to the VRI.
College of Sciences and Technology
Bill Kindler (’65, Chemistry), retired Senior Vice President of Specialty Pulp for the Rayonier Corporation. Before retiring in 2001, Kindler’s 30- year career in the paper products industry included research and development, production management and engineering. Now, he and his wife Trudy (’64, Secondary Vocational Home Economics), have funded the Eddy Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship, which provides a faculty-supervised research experience for a Chemistry student. Bill Kindler, a member of the CST Leadership Board is also an avid wooden boat builder, fly fisher and backpacker.
College of Business and Economics
Dennis Organ (’73, Business Administration, Political Science), managing director of The Dennis Organ Group. Organ has worked with a number of respected Northwest food companies, including 13 years at Starbucks Coffee Co., where he served in a series of senior-level manufacturing roles. Now, he’s active with his consulting company, providing management advice and executive coaching to businesses working to improve their operations. Organ is former chair of CBE’s Manufacturing and Operations Management Advisory Board and is a member of the CBE Dean’s Board of Visitors. He’s a frequent speaker in WWU’s business classrooms and a mentor for Manufacturing
and Supply Chain Management students.
College of Fine and Performing Arts
John Paul Olbrantz (’72, Art History), the Maribeth Collins Director of the Hallie Ford Museum of Art and Associate Professor of Art History at Willamette University. A former member of the Washington State Arts Commission, Olbrantz has worked in leadership roles at the Whatcom County Museum of History and Art, the Bellevue Art Museum and the San Jose Museum of Art. Most recently, he worked with Sarah Clark-Langager, director of the Western Gallery, on the exhibition, “Critical Messages,” exploring artists’ responses to environmental challenges, a show now traveling throughout the Northwest. Now at Willamette University in Salem, Ore., Olbrantz has brought prestigious works from the Metropolitan Museum of Art to the campus museum.
College of Humanities and Social Sciences
Karen Freeman (’78, German), vice president of finance for commercial aviation services for Boeing Commercial Airplanes. Freeman has served as the official liaison between The Boeing Co. and WWU, facilitating scholarships, sponsorships, internships and donations of materials. She also serves on the WWU Foundation Board of Directors and the Western in Seattle committee. “My degree is very different from what I do,” Freeman says. “I think learning how to learn is more important than what you study. If you can learn, you can do anything.”
Fairhaven College of Interdisciplinary Studies
Carol V. Davis (’75, Interdisciplinary Concentration) a distinguished poet and associate professor of English at Santa Monica College in California. Davis got her start in Russian literature in an independent study course at Fairhaven. Her “Into the Arms of Pushkin: Poems of St. Petersburg” won the 2007 T.S. Eliot Prize for Poetry. She was also a Fulbright scholar in Russia from 1996 to 1997 and in 2005. She was the first American to teach at Jewish University in St. Petersburg and wrote “It’s Time to Talk About …,” a bilingual edition published there. Her work has been published in magazines in the U.S., Ireland and Israel and her poems have been read on NPR and NTV Moscow.
Woodring College of Education
Patricia Wasley (’73, English; ’75, Certificate; ’82, M.A., English) professor and former dean of the University of Washington College of Education. Wasley has been a leader in the areas of school renewal, teacher education and other school issues. Her recent report, “Small Schools: Great Strides” examines the relationship between school size and student achievement. Wasley is also developing a national project for strengthening beginning teachers in urban settings. She serves on the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards and the Washington state Professional Educator Standards Board.