Outstanding Alumni Award
While UW Fox Valley is proud of all our alumni, the UW-Fox Valley Foundation has created a special award to honor outstanding alumni who reflect the ideals of UW-Fox Valley and whose achievements and contributions within their field of work or in their community have made a significant difference.
Nominate an Outstanding Alumnus
Dr. Charles Russell Clayton
Charles Russell Clayton attended the University of Wisconsin – Fox Valley from 2008 to 2009. He graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree from Texas A&M University in 1975 and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from the University of Chicago in 1998.
After 30 years in the oil and gas industry as an accomplished executive, Russ retired to pursue a medical education. At age 52, he returned to college and medical school to gather the necessary classes to become a practicing physician. With over 90 hours of prerequisites and seven years later, Russ entered the University of Sint Eustatius School of Medicine in the Dutch Antilles and graduated in 2013. His passion to practice as a family physician in a small underserved community was realized when Aspirus Family Medicine Residency Program in Wausau, Wisconsin accepted his residency. Russ’s interest in medicine is about service and caring for people, with an emphasis in elder care.
Russ has been married to his wife, Carol, for 42 years. They have two children and four granddaughters. Throughout their married life, his family has been extremely supportive while he traveled for 20 years visiting and working in 42 different countries, residing in Europe, Africa, and Central Asia. He had a stellar career in growing, transforming, restructuring and turning around global businesses with Allis-Chalmers, Dresser-Rand and Emhart Teknologies.
Russ believes in helping others – in all areas of his life. He believes in following one’s dream with a razor-sharp focus and relentless determination to overcome any barriers or obstacles. He continues to search out opportunities where he can serve others as long as he can.
Jeff Schneider has always looked to family first. As a high school senior he helped his older twin brothers with morning chores on their farm so they could attend classes at Fox Valley Technical College and the University of Wisconsin-Fox Valley in agriculture. When he graduated from Kaukauna High School, he planned on attending UW-Fox Valley to continue to help his brothers before transferring to UW-Madison to complete his education in engineering.
He attended UW-Fox Valley from September 1981 to May of 1983, but he ran into personal challenges during his second year when he injured his hand in a farming accident and missed the final month of the fall semester. During the spring semester he carried an 18 credit load and worked with his professors from his fall classes to complete the missing assignments and take his finals for the classes he had not completed that fall. With the support and encouragement from his instructors at UW-Fox Valley he successfully completed his classes and transferred to Madison in the fall of 1983.
After graduation from Madison in December 1985, Jeff joined his father, Cyril Schneider, and his uncle, Bob Bowe, in the family business, Stockbridge Manufacturing, for seven years as an engineer.
In 1992, Jeff and his father decided to venture out on their own. They started up a new company, Stockbridge Engineering, with three machines in a 2400 square foot facility. The first years were a lot of hours as a start-up. The family pulled together and Jeff’s twin brothers and younger sister joined the business in various leadership roles within a few years.
Jeff and the family business have been successful in a very competitive business. They employ nearly 40 people in the Stockbridge area and the company needed to add additions totaling 40,000 square feet. Just as Jeff experienced the support of the UW-Fox Valley community, he and his family support many local organizations in the Stockbridge area, such as several programs in the Stockbridge School District and the volunteer fire department.
In 1969, Beth Stachowiak Davis’s mother, Connie, moved with her children from Kansas to Appleton to be closer to family. As a single mother, Connie led by example, teaching her children the importance of love of family, a strong faith in God, and a good education.
Beth took these lessons to heart, and after graduation from Appleton East High School, she felt that the University of Wisconsin-Fox Valley was the best choice for her to begin her college path. Beth attended UW-Fox Valley from 1974-1975. With the positive experience and individual attention provided by the faculty and staff, she felt ready to transfer to UW-Madison, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology in 1977.
Beth’s career in the financial services industry has spanned some thirty-five years, culminating with her current position at Community First Credit Union as Vice President of Business Development. In addition to being a successful business woman, she is the proud wife of her husband John for over thirty-five years and a strong role model in the lives of her three children.
Beth is a highly respected mentor and role model in our community who has given her time, talent and treasure to impact the lives of others. She currently serves as the President and Development Chair of the Women’s Fund of the Fox Valley; past co-chair of Go Red for Women, a fundraiser for the American Heart Association; Senior Ambassador and Cultivate Business Series Chair for the Fox Cities Chamber of Commerce; Business Mentor for Reality Check, a financial fluency program at the Appleton School District; Junior Achievement Fox Cities Business Challenge Team Leader; and Instructor and Advisory Committee Member for the Appleton Career Academy. Beth is a co-founder of Women for H.E.A.L.T.H. giving circle within the Women’s Fund of the Fox Valley. She has earned both the Athena Businesswoman of the Year and the Exceptional Mentor of the Year awards.
Beth is an invaluable member of the Fox Valley community who believes that our youth—both boys and girls—are our future, and that strong, intact, stable families are essential to the health and well-being of our community. It is important to Beth that all people, but especially women and girls, have a positive self-image and have mentors to help them navigate through life’s challenges.
Stephen T. O'Hearn
Described as “an outstanding student, an outstanding individual,” O’Hearn attended UWFox from 1978 to 1980 and was awarded the campus’ “Outstanding Business Student Award.” He went on to receive his B.B.A. from the University of Notre Dame in 1982 and immediately afterward joined the Milwaukee office of the prestigious accounting firm of PricewaterhouseCoopers. He has crafted a distinguished career with that firm and eventually represented the business in locations throughout the world.
Martin Jack Rosenblum, Ph.D.
Rosenblum has been described as a musician, scholar, educator and poet. With over a dozen CDs of original songs and over 20 books of poetry, scholarship and criticism to his credit, Rosenblum is an established, internationally recognized singer, songwriter, poet, scholar, educator and musician. After attending UWFox from 1964 to 1966, he continued his studies and earned a B.S. in English with distinction from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1969. He went on to receive an M.A. in English in 1971 and a Ph.D. in English in 1980, both from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Following his discharge from active duty in the U.S. Navy, Sonnleitner attended UWFox from 1962-1965. After transferring to and graduating from UW-Madison in 1967 with a B.S. in Business Administration/Accounting, he subsequently earned his CPA in 1970.
Dr. Ekokobe Fonkem
Fonkem moved with his family from Cameroon, Africa, in 1999 to settle in the Fox Cities and attended UWFox from 1999-2000. While he was at UWFox he was the recipient of the Douglas and Carla Salmon Foundation Scholarship and the American Chemical Society Scholar Award. After completing his studies at UWFox he transferred to UW-Madison where he received his B.S. in Biochemistry in 2002. In 2007, he received his Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine from the Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine. Fonkem completed his medical internship and neurology training at the Ohio State University Medical Center in 2011.
Cheryl L. Stinski
Cheryl Stinski received her Associate of Arts and Science Degree from UWFox in 1991 and graduated from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh in 1994 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Human Services. She has logged more than a 1000 hours in mediation and conflict resolution training. Since her certification in mediation, she has been committed to helping people effectively resolve conflict for over 20 years and has earned the reputation of a highly skilled mediator, facilitator, consultant, trainer and coach.
Dr. Douglas J. Walrath
While serving in the U.S. Army during the Persian Gulf War, Walrath decided on a career to help others through teaching. After the war, he attended the University of Wisconsin-Fox Valley from 1992-1993. He went on to earn a B.S. in Technology Education from the University of Wisconsin-Stout in 1996. Walrath completed his M.S. in Industrial Technology and Education from the College of Engineering at Utah State University and received his Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from Utah State University. Prior to receiving his Ph.D., Walrath authored or co-authored eight publications on teaching methodology.
Dr. Charles Merbs
Charles Merbs attended UWFox from 1954-1955. He received his B.S. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1958 and his M.S. in Anthropology from UW-Madison in 1963. His doctoral major at UW-Madison was anthropology with a minor in medical genetics. He received his Ph.D. in 1969. He taught at the University of Chicago from 1964-1973 before moving to Arizona State University as chair of its department of anthropology, a position he held for six years. Retiring in 2004 he currently is Professor Emeritus at ASU.
Terry Dawson attended UWFox from 1966 to 1968. During his time on campus he was active in student government and in the successful effort to bring Dr. Martin Luther King to the campus. He received his B.A. in English from UW-Madison in 1972 and his M.A. in Library Science from UW-Madison in 1975. Since 1996 he has served as Director of the Appleton Public Library. An active and long-time member of the Wisconsin Library Association, he served on and chaired a variety of committees and was elected President of the WLA in 2004.
Appleton resident Keller-Krikava earned her Associate of Arts and Science Degree at the UWFox in 1989. She continued her education at UW Oshkosh, earning a Bachelor of Arts Degree in International Relations with a business emphasis. She received her Master of Science Degree in Organizational Leadership and Quality from Marian University. As Director of Strategy & Business Planning at J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc. in Neenah, WI, the nation’s leader in regulatory publishing services, Keller-Krikava is responsible for corporate strategy and has multi-million-dollar profit and loss oversight of new market initiatives.
T. Scott Plutchak
After attending UWFox in 1974-1975, Plutchak earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Philosophy from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and a Master of Arts Degree in Library Science from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. Plutchak’s path to a distinguished career as a medical librarian began with a post-graduate fellowship as a Library Associate at the National Library of Medicine in Bethesda, MD. He stayed at the NLM as a technical information specialist for several years, before moving to the Health Sciences Center Library at St. Louis University (St. Louis, MO), where he served as its Director from 1990 to 1995.
John J. Schubert
John is a leader in the actuarial profession and a nationally known expert in the area of retiree health and welfare benefits. After receiving his Associate of Science Degree at UWFox in 1978, he majored in Actuarial Science and Risk & Insurance at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he received his Bachelor of Business Administration Degree in 1980.
He became an Associate of the Society of Actuaries in 1987, a Member of the American Academy of Actuaries in 1988, and a Fellow of the Conference of Consulting Actuaries in 1996. Serving as the Academy’s Vice President of the Health Practice Council, John is in charge of all public policy efforts of the entire actuarial profession.
A tireless volunteer, John has given thousands of hours to the profession and to the public in the area of health care public policy. He has been quoted in the New York Times and the Chicago Tribune, and has contributed to several books and has provided background information to CNN for stories in his field.
Known for being able to explain complex issues in easy to understand terms, John is sought out to make frequent presentations to national organizations and to consult with members of Congress and numerous other government agencies to discuss health care and public policy.
Anthony W. Czarnik
Dr. Czarnik attended the University of Wisconsin-Fox Valley in 1974-1975. He received his B.S. for the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1977, majoring in Biochemistry. He received his graduate training at the University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign, obtaining both a M.S. degree in 1980 in Biochemistry and Ph.D. in 1981 in Organic Chemistry.
The recipient of countless honors and awards spanning his career, he received both DuPont and Merck awards for new faculty and in 1986 was presented with an American Cyanamid award in recognition of excellence in the advancement of science and the art of chemical synthesis. He was named an Eli Lilly awardee in 1988, a Fellow of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation in 1989 and a Teacher-Scholar Fellow of the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation in 1990.
As an astute scholar and brilliant and creative researcher, Dr. Czarnik has amassed an impressive record of publications and patents and is highly sought out as a speaker at meetings and seminars. In 1998, he became the founding Editor of the American Chemical Society’s Journal of Combinatorial Chemistry.
Dr. Czarnik is a Visiting Professor of Chemistry at the University of Nebraska, Reno. In 2003, he founded Protia, LLC – an Intellectual Property holding company in Reno, Nevada for which he serves as manager. In 2007, Protia filed over 200 patent applications.
Roger Van Vreede
After earning his Associate Degree at UWFox in 1964, Roger attended University of Wisconsin-Madison where he earned his B.A. in Marketing in 1966.
When Roger and his brother assumed leadership of Van Vreede’s TV & Appliance, it was a small business with few employees. Over the years, Van Vreede’s has grown to be a very successful enterprise with multiple locations and over 125 employees. Roger retired in 2004 but retains partial ownership of the business and continues to serve as chairman of the board.
A dedicated community leader and volunteer, Roger served on the Board of Directors of the University of Wisconsin-Fox Valley Foundation from 1991-2004 and as chair of the Foundation Board from 1996-2000. He was an integral part of the success of e.a.t.s., the Foundation’s signature fundraiser, serving on the committee for eight years and as its chair for two years. A caring and generous individual, Roger keeps UWFox close to his heart by taking a leadership role in the Communication Arts Center Campaign and endowing a scholarship for a needy and deserving student enrolled at UWFox. His generous nature continues to keep him involved in numerous charitable causes throughout the community in which he lives.
Rogers has served on the Fox Cities Chamber of Commerce & Industry Board. He is a member of the Rotary Club of Appleton and is a recipient of the distinguished Paul Harris Award and is the President of the Board of Directors of the Gardens of the Fox Cities.