University News

2019 Alumni Achievement Awards

November 22, 2019


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MACOMB, IL -- Five Western Illinois University alumni have been selected to receive the WIU Alumni Achievement Award at the Saturday, Dec. 14 Commencement exercises.

This year's Alumni Achievement recipients are Emmerson Buie, Jr., special agent in charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation Chicago Field Office; Kim R. Ekena, retired vice president of marketing for the American River Transportation Company, a subsidiary of Archer Daniels Midland; Phillip C. Giles, vice president of sales and marketing for QBE North America's Accident and Health division; Carol E. Scott, retired professor of fashion design/merchandising and director of faculty and instructional development at the College of DuPage; and Christopher L. Washington, executive vice president/CEO of Urbana University (a branch campus of Franklin University).

Ekena and Giles will be recognized at the 9:30 a.m. ceremony, while Buie, Scott and Washington will be recognized at the 1 p.m. ceremony.

Western's Alumni Achievement Award is given in recognition of outstanding contributions in one or more of the following: exceptional accomplishment in one's chosen field of endeavor; exceptional service in community affairs at the local, state or national levels; or exceptional service in support of the advancement and continued excellence of WIU.

Buie, a 1987 operations management graduate, currently serves as the special agent in charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Chicago Field Office in July 2019. Previously, he was the special agent in charge of the FBI's El Paso, TX Field Office. He joined the Bureau in 1992, and was assigned to the Colorado Springs Resident Agency of the Denver Field Office, where he investigated criminal matters. Buie was promoted to supervisory special agent in 1999, and was assigned to the Weapons of Mass Destruction Operations Unit in the Counterterrorism Division at FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C. He was later promoted to senior supervisory resident agent at the Fairview Heights, IL Resident Agency, and in 2006, Buie transferred to London as the assistant legal attaché and the acting deputy legal attaché. While overseas, he was the primary point of contact for coordinating the FBI's participation in several international counterterrorism and anti-organized crime agencies. He has also served as assistant special agent in charge of criminal matters for the FBI's Springfield Field Office, and in 2014, Buie served as the Cyber Division's senior liaison to the National Cybersecurity, Communication and Integration Center at the Department of Homeland Security. Prior to joining the FBI, Buie served four years in the U.S. Army as an Infantry Officer and Desert Storm Veteran. He was awarded the Bronze Star, Combat Infantry Badge and multiple commendations for his military service.

Ekena, a 1980 finance graduate, is retired vice president for American River Transportation Company (ARTCO), a subsidiary of Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) in Decatur, IL, where he was responsible for the marketing and trading of the company's barge freight and stevedoring, as well as for developing and growing its supply chain. Under his direction, ARTCO has been at its fiscal peak. His leadership resulted in continued growth in ARTCO's supply chain, including vessels, stevedoring, barging, terminaling, containers, and trucking. Previously, Ekena served as vice president at ADM/Growmark Grain, where he oversaw 38 river terminals that delivered grain and by-products to their four export elevators in the New Orleans area. He was also involved with the development and growth of the company's river terminals, including the acquisitions of Garnac, LDC, Countrymark, PV, and Benson Quinn. Since 1990, Ekena has been a member of the National Grain and Feed Association's Trade Rules and Waterborne Commerce Committees and during that time served two years as chairperson for the Waterborne Commerce Committee. He attended the Harvard Business Executive program in 2011. In 2012, he was selected as the WIU Executive in Residence. He was elected as the WIU Executive in Residence during 2012 and was designated by ADM as a Campus Champion to serve as their ADM-WIU liaison in recruiting, advocating for the relationship and supporting fundraising initiatives. He is a charter member of the Advisory Board for the Supply Chain Management program. He has been instrumental in ADM's significant financial support of more than $350,000 for WIU's Supply Chain Management program and in hiring WIU interns and graduates, in addition to his personal support.

Giles, a 1984 recreation, park and tourism administration graduate, has served as the vice president of sales and marketing for QBE North America's Accident and Health division. QBE is a 130-year-old, $14 billion integrated specialist insurer, operating in every key insurance market. He is responsible for formulating, implementing and managing all business development and strategic marketing initiatives. He has more than 30 years of alternative risk experience. Prior to joining QBE in 2014, Giles spent 11 years as head of marketing for Artex Risk Solutions, the international Captive and Alternative Risk Transfer division of Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. He was named the 2019 Reinsurance Professional of the Year-Cayman Captive Insurance Market by Captive International Magazine, was presented with the Captive Professional of the Year recognition at the U.S. Captive Awards in 2017, has been named to Captive Review's Power 50 listing of most influential individuals in the worldwide captive insurance industry and was also recognized as a Global Top 10 Employee for QBE in 2016. Giles is a regular content contributor to a number of different industry publications, and holds the Certified Employee Benefit Specialist (CEBS) professional designation from the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He actively serves on several legislative task forces within the industry and various professional associations and serves as a mentor to young professionals.

Scott, a 1970 health, physical education and recreation graduate, served as professor of fashion design/merchandising and director of faculty and instructional development at the College of DuPage from 1998-2007. Previously, she was a professor and department chair for the fashion merchandising/design department at the college for 11 years, as well as an adjunct instructor from 1981-86. Scott has also worked as a corporate trainer for J & J Communications in Naperville, IL. She began her career as a freelance fashion designer and physical education instructor following her graduation from Western. Scott also has served as assistant athletic director and department chair at Wheaton-Warrenville High School and as a PE instructor at Wheaton Central High School. Currently, she is a national lecturer for Knitwear Design and does freelance knitwear design for Interlacements Yarn, Misti, Alpaca Yarns, Storey Publishing (One Skein Wonders books), Knitters Edge.com, and AHA Moments Knits.com. Scott is an avid supporter of her alma mater, having attended well over 100 University events and served on the Alumni Council for 10 years, and as president of the council from 2015-17. She was a WIU Leatherneck Club board member, has served on the WIU Strategic Planning Committee, spanning several years, and supports several areas of the University with her time and financially, including Alumni Programs, Athletics, Student Services, the arts, Kinesiology and scholarships. In her community, Scott serves on the Village of Glen Ellyn Recreation Commission Board, Ed Posh Scholarship Foundation Board, Junior Women's Club of Glen Ellyn, Chicago chapter of Fashion Group International, the Haute Couture Club of Chicago, Glenbard West Boosters Club and is a fine arts committee member at First Methodist Church. Scott is a recipient of the National Council for Staff, Program and Organizational Development's (NCSPOD) Outstanding Faculty Development Program award; is a board member of the Chicago Area Faculty Development Network and of NCSPOD. She received her master's degree from National Lewis University.


Washington, a 1987 communication graduate and 1990 master's graduate in college student personnel, has served as executive vice president/CEO of Urbana University (a branch campus of Franklin University) in Columbus, OH since 2017. A 20-year employee of Franklin University, Washington first served as a member of the MBA faculty, and advanced to associate dean and program chair of the program in 2002, to Chief Academic Officer in 2005 and provost in 2007. During his tenure, three colleges were formed, IACBE accreditation was obtained, the number of bachelor's degrees doubled, master's programs tripled and four doctoral programs were introduced. He is the recipient of The Bailey Award from Franklin University, which recognizes faculty members who have the most influence on their students, eLearning Magazine's Learning Champion Award, the Ohio Magazine's Outstanding Educator Award, and Business First Forty Under 40. Washington also served as an evaluator for the Higher Learning Commission, is a faculty adviser with the American Council on Education Leadership Programs and is on the Fulbright Specialist roster. He serves on a variety of local, state and national boards, including as national chair of Global Ties US, vice chair of the Mountain East Conference, and on the International Visitors Council of Columbus, among others. At Western, Washington has presented to numerous classes. He earned his Ph.D. from The Ohio State University.

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