Alumni Awards

Alumni Awards

The Cardinal Stritch University Alumni Association has presented awards to honor alumni and friends of the University since 1987. Through our annual Alumni Awards celebration, we honor our most notable alumni for their professional and personal achievements which have made a significant impact in their field, and whose life and character have earned the respect and admiration of their peers and professional colleagues. The awards program also acknowledges the volunteer/civic contributions made to the community by our alumni. The awards program seeks to recognize individuals who, through their leadership and vision, exemplify the Franciscan values and the mission of the University.

Our Franciscan Values: 
   Creating a caring community
   Showing compassion
   Reverencing all of creation
   Making Peace

Announcing the 2019 Alumni Award recipients...

Four individuals who have distinguished themselves for exceptional professional accomplishments and significant community service will receive Alumni Awards from Cardinal Stritch University at an event Friday, June 7. Additional details and registration can be found here.

The 2019 Alumni Award recipients are:

  • Rita (Gresback) Shor, '69 - Mother Bartholomew, OSF, Lifetime Achievement Award
  • Eugene Manzanet, ’14, ’16 - Distinguished Alumni Award for Professional Achievement
  • Jeffrey Zimpel, ’09 – Graduate of the Last Decade Award
  • Dr. Kathleen Cepelka - Spirit of St. Francis Service Award: University Supporter

Learn more about each honoree below.

The Stritch Alumni Association has presented awards to honor alumni and friends of the University since 1987. Through the annual Alumni Awards celebration, the University’s most notable alumni are recognized for their professional and personal achievements that have made a significant impact in their field, and whose life and character have earned the respect and admiration of their peers and professional colleagues.

The awards program also acknowledges the volunteer/civic contributions made to the community by our alumni. The awards program seeks to recognize individuals who, through their leadership and vision, exemplify the Franciscan values and the mission of the University.

See a list of previous award winners.
 

Mother Bartholomew, OSF, Lifetime Achievement Award

Rita Shor (B.A. Chemistry, '69) spent more than three decades as a product development and business growth practitioner at 3M, where she focused on occupational health, automotive adhesive and medical-surgical applications. Her team’s work with the infection prevention platform for medical-surgical products was published in the Harvard Business Review, originally in 1999 and again in 2002 and 2006. The work with the Lead User Research methodology also resulted in a Harvard Business Case that is widely used at business schools internationally.

She also served as project manager for the BioBusiness Alliance of Minnesota’s 20-year strategic planning project.

Currently, Rita shares her expertise with worldwide business leaders through The Conference Board, a non-profit business and research association that provides the world’s leading organizations the practical knowledge needed to improve performance and, more importantly from a Stritch standpoint, better serve society. She is program direcotr for The Conference Board’s Product and Service Development and Corporate Brand Strategy and Management Councils and co-directs the Innovation and Applied Innovation Councils. She is also a senior fellow within the Economics and Business Practice.

Additionally, she is a board member for Honoring Women Worldwide, an organization that leverages women’s untapped leadership capabilities and builds community across cultures and creating a unique global education.

She is a member of Stritch’s Franciscan Heritage Society, and established the Rita M. (Gresback) Shor, '69 and Steven M. Shor Annual Expendable Scholarship for students with financial need.

Distinguished Alumni Award for Professional Achievement

Eugene Manzanet (B.A. Business Administration, '14; MBA, '16) is a passionate servant leader dedicated to providing opportunities for disenfranchised segments of the community and enhancing the quality of life in Milwaukee.

Following eight years of service in the United States Marine Corp Reserve, Eugene transitioned to the banking industry. During his 20+ year career, he has dedicated his time and energy to serving the Milwaukee area as a resource of information for financial education and community and economic development. Throughout his career he has provided direct support to community social services organizations with financial resources to increase homeownership, enhance small businesses growth, and support economic development through catalytic projects in southeastern Wisconsin.

Eugene serves on numerous non-profit boards and advisory councils, including the Local Initiative Support Corporation (LISC), treasurer of the Zilber Neighborhood Initiative for Clarke Square, Employ Milwaukee, Menomonee Valley Partners. In 2014 he was appointed by Mayor Tom Barrett to serve on the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District. For more than 10 years, served as the Chairman of the Board of Directors for Journey House Center for Family and Youth Athletics.

His work at Journey House has included significant involvement with the Felix Mantilla Little League Education and Cultural Exchange through which a team of local scholar-athletes traveled to Puerto Rico to play baseball and participate in a number of educational activities.

Journey House provides room and board for young men and women who turn 18 and are homeless after funding streams are eliminated. Through Eugene’s vision and advocacy, Journey House is committed to helping families on Milwaukee's south side move from poverty to prosperity through education, workforce readiness and family engagement.

Graduate of the Last Decade Award

Jeff Zimpel (B.F.A., '09) has been described as a philosopher, visionary and social justice advocate who uses art as a medium to stimulate creative thinking and activate social change.

The Green Bay native is a co-founder of Create Space MKE, an urban art collective with a social practice focus. It is a long-term, large-scale art project. Create Space MKE holds observation as its guiding principle and brings together people with diverse points of view to answer the question "What does Milwaukee look like?" The conversations and art are centered on Space, Race, Entertainment, Transportation, Work, Gender, Education and Leadership.

Jeff taught graphic art and design, art history, and visual journalism at Shorewood High School from 2011-2017. While there, he introduced AP Art History and led a summer tour of European historic art sites for his students. He was partnered with Stone Creek Coffee in a project for a project in which his students designed labels for Stone Creek’s Shorewood Blend coffee.
 

Spirit of St. Francis Service Award: University Supporter

A tireless servant leader and staunch advocate for Catholic education who brings dedication and interest to every project in which she participates, Dr. Kathleen Cepelka has been instrumental in forging a partnership between the Archdiocese of Milwaukee's elementary and secondary schools and Cardinal Stritch University. The Sustaining the Mission program, which provides religious education of archdiocesan school teachers, is offered through Stritch’s Saint Clare Center for Catholic Life.

Instrumental in the creation of the Seton Catholic Schools network, she has been supportive of Seton collaborating with Stritch on its Teacher Residency Program. Dr. Cepelka also serves on Stritch’s College of Arts and Sciences Advisory Council and has been a proponent of the University’s concurrent enrollment initiative. More than 400 Milwaukee-area Catholic high school students are taking Stritch courses at their high schools and earning college credit.

She is a compassionate and wise leader, whose work is guided by her faith. She understands the important role Catholic schools play in society and in the Church and has demonstrated how valuable collaboration is to creating communities in which young people can achieve and thrive. Dr. Cepelka has made it her personal and professional mission to ensure that Catholic education remains accessible and affordable while maintaining a standard of excellence.

The West Allis native is celebrating her 50th year as an educator and has dedicated her career to educating young people as a teacher, principal, president, associate dean and superintendent.
 

Announcing the 2019 Athletics Hall of Fame inductees...

Additionally three individuals will be inducted into the Stritch Athletics Hall of Fame. Those honorees include:

Mick Collins, '07, men's soccer
Denny Fox, former Athletic Director and Men's Basketball Coach
Vanessa Sowinski, '03, '17, women's basketball, softball, women's volleyball

Learn more about the honorees below. For more information about the Stritch Athletics Hall of Fame, visit this link

Featured Events

Mick Collins was a four-year starter and three-year captain of the men’s soccer team.

Collins was a key contributor to the success of the program during his tenure at Stritch. He was honored as a four-time All- Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC) First Team honoree and earned NAIA All-American Honorable Mention.

Collins was also a role model in the classroom; he was honored as a two-time NAIA Academic All-American and a three-time Stritch Scholar-Athlete Award recipient. 
Former athletic director and coach Denny fox played an integral role in the Department of Athletics at Cardinal Stritch University upon his arrival on campus in 1990. During his 16 years as athletic director, Fox was responsible for adding four sport programs, expanded the weight room and initiated the Stritch Athletics Hall of Fame.

Not only was Fox a successful athletic director, he was also an exceptional coach having coached both the men’s basketball and baseball teams in his tenure at Stritch.
 
As a coach, Fox compiled an overall record of 403-189 (12 seasons with 20+ wins) and had nine conference championships, six national tournament appearances, had 56 All-Conference players and eight All-Americans.
Vanessa Sowinski is considered the true interpretation of student-athlete on and off the court. She was a three-sport athlete during her time at Stritch, competing in women’s basketball, softball and volleyball. She aided the women’s basketball team to three NAIA National Championship appearances, including a trip to the Sweet 16 and four Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC) titles. She ended her basketball career with 961 total points, 402 field goals made, and 504 rebounds.

Off the court, Sowinski received NAIA Scholar-Athlete honors all four years. After graduation, she went on to obtain not only her masters but also her doctorate degrees from Cardinal Stritch University.