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2013 Guests of Honor


Outstanding Young Alumnus Award

David Cesar '08

David Cesar ’08 is the president and founder of Blue Peak Tents, which has earned a reputation as one of the most highly respected tent rental and event services companies in the Chicago-Metropolitan area. Having started the business while still an undergraduate student at EIU, his emphasis on outstanding customer service while focusing on a higher-end market for his services has led to quick growth for the company. The company’s products were featured on an episode of The Real Housewives of New Jersey when the cast travelled to the Chicago area for an episode last season, as well. A member of Sigma Phi Epsilon while a student at Eastern, David resides in St. Charles.


Louis V. Hencken Alumni Service Award

R. Scott Smith '88, '93

Scott Smith ’88, ’93, who serves as Charleston’s city manager, is considered one of the strongest advocates of the recreation administration program and has provided countless hours of service to the department and the College of Education and Professional Studies (CEPS) over the years. He served on the department’s alumni board from 1990-1999 and has served on the CEPS alumni board since 2009. A frequent guest speaker for faculty members on campus, he is active in the Illinois Park and Recreation Association and has served as the university’s representative on the organization’s college and university relations committee. Scott also routinely mentors individual students and assists them with the development of their professional networks. He resides in Charleston with his wife, Paula ’95, ‘05, and their three daughters.


Distinguished Educator Award

Corey Duzan '03

Corey Duzan ’03, a technology and engineering education teacher at Neuqua Valley High School, was the recipient of the 2011 Illinois Drafting Educators Association Teacher of the Year and the 2009 Technology Education Association of Illinois (TEAI) New Teacher of the Year awards. His efforts also contributed to his school’s receipt of the 2005 Program of the Year award by the TEAI and he was instrumental in bringing Project Lead the Way to his district. The project is part of a national effort to promote science, technology, engineering and math education in classrooms and it has been successful in encouraging students at his school to pursue those fields of study for their college educations. Corey, who was also a member of Sigma Pi fraternity as an undergraduate, resides in Plainfield.


Distinguished Alumna/us Award

Barbara Baurer ’75, ‘76

Barbara Baurer ’75, ‘76, chief operating officer at COUNTRY Financial, has been in her role since 1999 while also serving as president of Holyoke Mutual and Middlesex Mutual insurance companies, which have alliances with COUNTRY. Since joining the company in 1977 shortly after graduating from EIU, she has held various positions including vice president and general manager of the property and casualty companies and vice president of information services. Barbara is also very active in her community, including serving as a past board chair for Advocate BroMenn Regional Medical System and the 2012 campaign chair for United Way of McLean County. She has also been named a 2004 Woman of Distinction by the YWCA of McLean County, a 2010 Woman Worth Watching by Profiles in Diversity Journal and one of the National Diversity Council’s Most Powerful and Influential Women in Illinois in 2010 and 2011. The 2006 recipient of the Outstanding Graduate Alumni award from EIU’s graduate school resides in El Paso, Ill.

Harry Frost ‘60

Harry Frost ’60, corporate director of corn quality-technology research for Cargill Corporation, is responsible for developing an approved-hybrid list for seed companies’ offerings. In 1998, however, the chemist created a groundbreaking process to develop an efficient non-destructive process to analyze corn kernels in 15 seconds, revolutionizing an industry which generates nearly $4 billion annually in Illinois alone. In addition to his widely-recognized professional accomplishments, he also has the distinction of having worked for the same company – and in the same building – for 53 years since his graduation from EIU. Not only did the company name the lab where he conducts his research in his honor, but the community named a little league baseball field in his honor, as well. Active in the Paris community where he resides with his wife, Gladys, he spent 26 years as president the local youth baseball league and was a founding member of the Edgar County Housing Authority, serving 13 of his 24 years on the board as president, to ensure that families in the community had affordable housing options.

Dr. Jonathan Gosse ‘74

Jonathan Gosse ’74, is the editor in chief for American Technical Publishers in Orland Park and is responsible for development of technical training products used in academic, industrial and corporate programs. The author of several books, his research activities have centered on the effectiveness of computer-based instruction. Having earned a doctorate in education from Washington State University, he has held faculty and administrative positions at Eastern Washington University and Rochester Institute of Technology, as well. An active alumnus, he has served more than a decade on the School of Technology Advisory Board, including six as chair, and been actively involved in reaccreditation efforts and fundraising for the program. Jonathan has previously been recognized for his efforts in support of the university by being named the Outstanding Foundation Member by the EIU Foundation and as a Distinguished Alumnus by the School of Technology. He and his wife, Jodi ’74, reside in Flossmoor.

Dennis Muchmore ‘68

A successful entrepreneur and government relations professional, Dennis Muchmore ’68 has served as the chief of staff to Michigan Governor Rick Snyder since 2010. In this role, he is involved in all areas of government while also managing the governor’s cabinet, internal staff and office budgetary affairs on a daily basis. Previously, he was an executive vice president of DHR International and a founding member of Muchmore Harrington Smalley & Associates. He has also served as executive director of the Michigan United Conservation Clubs, vice president of the Michigan Chamber of Commerce and administrative assistant to two Michigan Senate finance committee chairs. Dennis has served on various boards, as well, including GreenStone Farm Credit Services, Oakland University, Phoenix Composite Solutions, Physicians Health Plan of Mid-Michigan, the Delta Sigma Phi Foundation and as chair of the Natural Resources Trust Fund. In addition, he earned a master’s degree in public administration from Michigan State University and is a member of Pi Alpha Alpha. A past member of the EIU Foundation board of directors, he and his wife, Deborah, reside in Laingsburg, Michigan.

Col. Robert Sinkler (ret.) ‘83

Colonel Robert Sinkler ’83 retired from the US Army earlier this year after a distinguished 30-year career. Presently, he is The Nature Conservancy’s water infrastructure director for their North America freshwater program and a senior advisor at Dawson & Associates. In the Army, he served as the chief of Army environmental programs in the Pentagon where he managed a $1.5 billion annual worldwide environmental program encompassing 15.6 million acres on more than 150 military installations. He also commanded the Hurricane Protection Office in New Orleans where he led the task force which was responsible for designing and constructing the $14.4 billion hurricane storm surge system in the areas most severely impacted in 2005 by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. This initiative, completed prior to the 2011 hurricane season, was the largest civil works construction project in American history. From 2006 to 2009 Robert commanded the Rock Island district of the US Army Corps of Engineers and in 2003 he commanded the 5th Combat Engineer Battalion (The Fightin’ Fifth) supporting the 4th Infantry Division in Iraq. The first US Army Corps of Engineers officer commissioned from the EIU ROTC program, he resides in the Quad Cities with his wife, Brandie.