University News

Fall 2007 Alumni Achievement Awards

November 5, 2007

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MACOMB, IL -- Six Western Illinois University alumni have been selected to receive the WIU Alumni Achievement Award at the Saturday, Dec. 15 Commencement Exercises.

This year's recipients are Tim Pendell, senior director of community affairs for the Detroit Lions; Lloyd Simonson, retired research director of the Naval Institute for Dental and Biomedical Research; Denine Guy, Santa Cruz (CA) County Superior Court Judge; Roger Key, executive director of the Arlington Heights (IL) Park District; Teri Paul, West Prairie High School (Sciota, IL) physical education teacher and volleyball coach; and Brian O'Connell, president of Live Nation-Country Touring in Nashville, TN.

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. Pendell, Simsonson and Guy will be recognized at the 9:30 a.m. ceremony; while Key, Paul and O'Connell will be recognized at the 1 p.m. ceremony.

A Macomb native, Pendell is a 1970 communication arts and sciences graduate. He has been with the Detroit Lions organization for 22 years. Prior to working for the NFL, he was the sports information director at Ferris State College (1976-1983) and in 1983 moved to Detroit for a public relations position with the United States Football League Michigan Panthers (1983-84). During his tenure with the Lions, Pendell has spearheaded the Detroit Lions Charities, which, earlier this year, eclipsed the $4.3 million mark in donations to nonprofit organizations and charities throughout Michigan. He also worked to create the Detroit Lions Academy, which opened in 2001 as an alternative middle school in the Detroit Public School system for children who have had trouble succeeding in the traditional school setting. Pendell helped initiate the Lions' sponsorship of the Think Detroit PAL football program that enables 3,000 Detroit-area children to play football, and currently serves on the Think Detroit PAL and Communities in Schools of Detroit Board of Directors. In 2002, the Lions' community affairs department was voted best in all professional sports and Pendell received the "Most Proactive Staff Member" award from the World Sports Humanitarian Hall of Fame.

Simonson, a 1966 biology graduate, served as the research director for the Naval Institute for Dental and Biomedical Research at Great Lakes (IL) for 36 years. He also was a consultant for the Naval Postgraduate Dental School Research Department in Bethesda, MD. He served as a research consultant for the Chicago Medical School Oncology Department (1977-1980) and as an adjunct professor for the Northwestern University Dental School, Chicago, IL (1990-1997). Dr. Simonson received a master's degree in microbiology and his doctorate in microbiology and biochemistry from Illinois State University and an MBA from Roosevelt University. During his career he served as president of the Microbiology/Immunology Group of the International Association for Dental Research, president of the American Association for Dental Research (Chicago Section), and was the recipient of the Meritorious Civilian Service medal
in 1994.

Guy, a 1985 political science graduate, was appointed to a judgeship in the Santa Cruz Superior Court by California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in June 2006. She previously served as the Monterey County (CA) District Attorney for 12 years, the final six years in the consumer and environmental protection unit. Guy also served as a civil attorney for five years prior. She has served as a board member-at-large for the Monterey County Prosecutors Association and was the first woman and youngest attorney to serve as president of the Santa Cruz Trial Lawyers' Association. In 1997 she was presented the Employee of the Year Award for the County of Monterey for overall performance and law enforcement training efforts while assigned to the domestic violence unit. Guy received her doctor of jurisprudence from the Monterey College of Law in 1989 and is presently on their Board of Trustees. While at Western she was active and held offices in the Alpha Sigma Tau sorority, the Panhellenic Council and the Student Orientation Board.

Key, a 1970 recreation and park administration graduate, has been the executive director of the Arlington Heights Park District since 2002. Previously, he served in a variety of roles for the park district including director of recreation and facilities; superintendent of recreation; assistant superintendent of recreation; and recreation coordinator. Prior to joining the Arlington Heights Park District, Key was the recreation supervisor for the State of Illinois Department of Corrections Hanna City Boys School. He received his MBA in 1984 from the Keller Graduate School of Management in Chicago. A certified leisure professional, Key serves on the Northwest Special Recreation Association Board of Directors and is a member of the Arlington Heights Rotary Club, the Arlington Heights Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Woodfield Sports Council. He received the Illinois Park and Recreation Association's Meritorious Service Award in 1992, and the Fellow Award in 2003. During his tenure as executive director, the park district has been awarded the prestigious National Gold Medal for Excellence in Park and Recreation Management three times and he helped champion the district in earning the certification of "Distinguished Agency" through the Illinois Park and Recreation Agency.

Paul, a 1981 physical education and 2003 kinesiology graduate, has served as the Colchester (IL) School District (now consolidated as West Prairie School District) head volleyball coach and physical education teacher for 26 years. During this tenure as coach, her high school teams have won 74 percent (538-192-1) of their matches; enjoyed 19 consecutive winning seasons and 17 consecutive regional championships; won 10 sectional championships and appeared in seven state tournaments, making the Final Four four times with a second, third and two fourth place finishes. Her eighth grade teams have appeared in 12 state tournaments and have had seven Final Four appearances, winning four times. The seventh graders have six state appearances, five Final Fours and one championship. She has been cited by administrators and colleagues for having one of the best physical education programs in the region.

O'Connell, a member of the 1988 mass communications class, began his career in Chicago, putting together sponsorship packages for such artists as the Beach Boys, Moody Blues, Paula Abdul and The Judds. In 1993 he joined Cellar Door Productions in Florida as a marketing director and starting booking country acts at local clubs. Three years later he moved to Washington, D.C. and became the first country music talent buyer for that market. In 2001 he moved to Nashville to assume the role of president of Clear Channel Entertainment and president of Live Nation - Country Touring/Nashville. He received the Academy of Country Music Award in 2001 and 2004 as the Talent Buyer/Promoter of the Year and was also nominated in 1998, 2000 and 2003. In 2006, he was named Promoter of the Year by both Pollstar, the most prominent trade publication in the concert industry, and the International Event Buyers Association (IEBA). He is a member of the board of directors of the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music, and serves as a director of the IEBA. In the aftermath of Sept. 11, O'Connell promoted and produced The Country Freedom Concert in Nashville to raise funds for the Salvation Army's 9-11 relief efforts. He also works with the United Service Organization (USO) to take many of the acts he promotes on USO tour overseas.

Posted By: Darcie Shinberger (
Office of University Relations