2005 Alumni Achievement Awards
November 28, 2005
MACOMB, IL College administrators, a radio entrepreneur, a Pentagon official and a golf professional are among six Western Illinois University graduates selected to receive the WIU Alumni Achievement Award at Saturday, Dec. 17 Commencement Exercises.
This year's recipients are Lt. Commander Daniel Cheever, aide-de-camp for the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Washington, D.C.; Stephen McLaughlin, the associate vice chancellor for student services and dean of students at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside; Gayle Spencer, assistant dean of student life at Kansas State University; Abraham Thompson, Jr., president of Focus Radio, Inc. in South Bend, IN; David Viar, president of American River College in Sacramento, CA; and Roger Warren, the manager and head golf professional at Kiawah Golf Resort, Kiawah Island, SC and president of the Professional Golfers Association (PGA) of America.
Western's Alumni Achievement Award is given in recognition of outstanding contributions to any of the following: exceptional accomplishment in one's chosen field of endeavor; exceptional service in community affairs at the local, state or national levels; and exceptional service in support of the advancement and continued excellence of WIU.
Cheever, a 1986 marketing graduate, served as aide-de-camp for the 15th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Richard B. Myers from November 2002 to November 2004. He joined the U.S. Navy in 1988 and earned his wings of gold in 1990. He flies F/A-18 Hornets and served four years in Japan, three years at TOPGUN as an instructor, two years as a Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor and two years as a Department Head. He has been chosen for Operational Command in December 2006 following his current tour as VFA-147 Executive Officer. Cheever has deployed five times in support of Operation Southern Watch and Operation Enduring Freedom and has logged 3,400 flight hours and 709 carrier-arrested landings. Cheever has been awarded such honors as the Defense Mertiorious Service Medal, five Strike Flight medals for combat operations, two leadership awards, two tactical aviation awards, four Navy Commendation Medals and other various unit and campaign awards. He grew up in Downers Grove (IL), where his mother, Betty Cheever, served as mayor for many years and his father worked at Argonne National Laboratory.
McLaughlin, a 1970 psychology bachelors degree graduate and 1971 college student personnel masters degree graduate, was named associate vice chancellor for student services and dean of students at University of Wisconsin-Parkside in 1987. As the chief student affairs officer, McLaughlin supervises student health and counseling, the career center, multicultural student affairs, residence life, the university union and student activities. Previously McLaughlin was the director of student life and dean of students. He has also served as director of the Jack H. Overman Student Center at Pittsburg State University, as well as director of student life and associate vice president of student affairs at Pittsburg. McLaughlin has served as the chair of the UW-P United Way Campaign, as the adviser to the Parkside Student Government Association and as the Diversity Circle facilitator. He was named Administrator of the Year in 2003. McLaughlin is also a member of the First United Methodist Church in Racine (WI), serving on numerous committees; and is the facilitator for the Racine Coalition for Violence Against Women. McLaughlin was also a member of the WIU Alumni Council, serving as president from 2001 to 2003.
Spencer, a 1987 college student personnel masters degree graduate, was named assistant dean of student life at Kansas State University in May 2004, where she earned her Ph.D. She is also the coordinator of Student Activities and Services a position she has held since 1997 and is the primary student governing association adviser and serves as an adjunct faculty member in the leadership studies and program department. Spencer has also served as interim manager of programs at K-State and as assistant director of student activities at the University of Notre Dame, as well as a campus activities adviser at the University of Houston. She has served in numerous roles for professional committees including the immediate past chair, chair and treasurer for the National Association for Campus Activities (NACA) Board of Directors; the American College Personnel Association (ACPA); and Chi Omega Sorority. She has received such recognition as the NACA East Coast Higher Education Research Award; the ACPA Commission for Student Involvement Research Award; the K-State Mortar Board Outstanding University Staff Award; and the NACA Heart of America Region Outstanding Career Achievement Award.
Thompson, a 1974 psychology graduate, is the president of Focus Radio, Inc. in South Bend, IN. A radio entrepreneur, author, educator and motivational speaker, Thompson has also served as president and CEO of Partnership Radio, Inc. A Chicago native, he is considered one of radio industrys most successful broadcasters. A certified Radio Marketing Consultant, Thompsons career in broadcasting began as a retail salesman in 1975 at WVON Radio (Chicago). He became the local sales manager at WGCI Radio in Chicago in 1980, and one year later he was general sales manager. In 1985 after making WGCI one of the top billing stations in Chicago, he was named vice president/station manager. The following year Thompson and his wife, Launa, moved to Detroit to turn around troubled radio station WRIF. Thompson has served as a lobbyist for the broadcast industry and is a board member of the Illinois Broadcasters Association as well as numerous other boards such as Volunteers of America, Rainbow Push Coalition and Athletes Against Drugs. In addition he has led the marketing and radio promotions for several movies and international events, such as the Cancun Jazz Festival and Sinbads Soul Music Festival; Thompson also provides financial backing for various movie productions. Besides his career in broadcasting, Thompson is a motivational speaker and educator, as well as the author of My Thoughts, Your Journal, Our Book. Thompson also received the Spirit of Achievement Award in
March 2005 from Loretto Hospital in Chicago for his commitment to helping others, and for establishing the Launa Thompson Womens Health Pavilion at Loretto in memory of his wife who died in 2004.
Viar, a 1968 economics graduate and a 1964 Macomb High School graduate, is president of American River College in Sacramento, CA. American River is one of the largest community colleges in the nation with an enrollment of 33,000. Prior to that appointment, Viar was the CEO of the Community College League of California, an organization of the governing board members and chief executive officers of Californias 109 community colleges. Throughout his career, Viar has earned a reputation for building strong coalitions united in advocacy for education needs. He is a respected expert on governing boards and has written and spoken extensively on the role and functioning of education governing boards. Following receipt of his J.D. from Drake University School of Law, he started his career in Westerns law enforcement administration program working under a U.S. Justice Department grant. He also headed the Illinois Community College Trustees Association in Springfield and the national association of community college trustees in Washington, D.C. He has served as president of the National Council of State Community College Association Directors, Treasurer of the Campaign for College Opportunity, and is a member of the board of directors of the Northern California Regional Public Safety Training College.
Warren, a 1972 physical education graduate, was named president at Kiawah Island Golf Resort (SC) in 2005. He is also the 34th president of PGA of America, elected in November 2004. Prior to moving to Kiawah, he was the director of golf at Seven Bridges Country Club near Chicago and was the PGA vice president. Warren was also a high school teacher and basketball and golf coach for 18 years, mostly in the Dundee (IL) school system. In 1992 Warren was named Illinois PGA Merchandiser of the Year for public facilities and he was a five-time winner of the Illinois PGA Sections Bill Strausbaugh Award. Named the Illinois PGA Golf Professional of the Year in 1998, Warren is the past vice president of the Illinois Junior Golf Association and served on the Illinois PGA Foundation Board of Directors and the Hook-A-Kid On Golf Foundation Board of Directors.