The Eastern Illinois University Alumni Association is pleased to announce the 2005 recipients of its annual alumni awards. In conjunction with this weekend's Homecoming activities, these alumni will be honored on Saturday, Oct. 15, during a dinner held in recognition of their accomplishments.
“We are quite proud of these individuals and how they have represented their alma mater in their respective professions,” said Steve Rich, executive director of the Alumni Association. “While it was through their own hard work and determination that these individuals were able to excel, we would certainly like to commend the outstanding faculty and staff on our campus who contributed to the development and education of these alumni.”
Established in 1973, the Distinguished Alumni Award is the most prestigious award which is bestowed by the Alumni Association. This award is presented to individuals who have distinguished themselves in either academic or literary fields, business, public service and/or service to the university and who, through their accomplishments and service, have brought prestige to their alma mater.
Past recipients have included an Illinois governor, Oscar-nominated actors, an NFL head coach, a nuclear physicist, CEOs, educators at all levels and many others.
This year's six Distinguished Alumni Award recipients are as follows:
Rita Bleser, St. Louis, Mo.
A 1977 chemistry graduate, Rita Bleser is the vice president of technology for Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals, a division of Tyco Healthcare, located in St. Louis. In her current position, she is responsible for the development of new pharmaceutical ingredients and products, and for providing process support for units engaged in manufacturing and operation of a pilot plant with an annual budget in excess of $50 million.
Having earned a master’s of business administration degree from St. Louis University and a law degree from Washington University, she previously spent nine years as assistant general counsel at Mallinckrodt. Bleser worked for Lever Brothers upon graduating from Eastern, and also served as an associate at a St. Louis law firm. She has been active in her community and is to be profiled in an upcoming book, “Successful Women in Chemistry: Corporate America’s Contribution to Science.” She and her husband Steve, also an Eastern graduate, have three children.
Robert Glover, Chicago, Ill.
A 1982 political science graduate, Robert Glover currently serves as a vice president of Cardinal Health with responsibility for managing the strategic relationship and direction for national hospital groups and healthcare networks, including $1.7 billion in annual revenue. His customer-facing duties take him more than 100,000 miles every year.
A member of Eastern’s College of Sciences Advisory Board, Glover has been actively involved on campus since serving two terms as student body president while an undergraduate, and later receiving the Outstanding Senior Award. In 2000, he created the Robert Glover Student Government Scholarship to provide financial support to student leaders at Eastern. He is actively involved in the community, as well, and has served in a variety of leadership roles for numerous organizations.
Mark Grier, Far Hills, N. J.
A 1974 and 1975 graduate of Eastern with both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in economics, Mark Grier was elected vice chairman of Prudential Financial in August 2002. He served as a director of Prudential Financial from December 1999 to January 2001, executive vice president from December 2000 to August 2002, and as vice president of Prudential Financial from January to December 2000. He was elected chief financial officer of Prudential Insurance in May 1995. Since May 1995, he has variously served as executive vice president, corporate governance; executive vice president, financial management; and vice chairman, financial management, the position he holds at this time. Prior to joining Prudential, Grier was an executive with Chase Manhattan Corporation.
Barbara Hill, Charleston, Ill.
Barbara Hill’s nearly 40-year career in education culminated with her service as vice president for academic affairs and acting president at her alma mater. She earned three degrees at Eastern, including her bachelor’s degree in home economics in 1958, a master’s degree in guidance and counseling in 1963 and a specialist’s degree in educational administration in 1970, before later obtaining her doctorate. After initially accepting a teaching position in a public school, she later joined the faculty at Eastern and rose through the ranks to serve as dean of both the School of Home Economics and the College of Applied Sciences.
Hill was extremely active in the community, including serving on the EIU Foundation board of directors, the Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Foundation board and the Supreme Court of Illinois planning and oversight committee.
Unfortunately, Hill passed away earlier this year; she will be represented by her husband Bill and daughters Sarah and Elizabeth during Homecoming weekend.
Craig Titley, Marina Del Rey, Calif.
After graduating from Eastern in 1989 with degrees in English and management, Craig Titley attended the Peter Stark Motion Picture Producing Program, a two-year graduate program at the University of Southern California. The Mattoon native also held the distinct honor of being the youngest student admitted to the program at that time.
After receiving his master’s of fine arts degree, he worked at Nickelodeon Movies as a creative executive before launching into a full-time screenwriting career. His screenplay credits include “Scooby Doo,” “Cheaper by the Dozen” and its forthcoming sequel. He has also written movies for Harry Potter director Chris Columbus and Academy Award-winning director Barry Levinson.
As a producer, Titley created Fox-TV’s controversial ratings smash, “Conspiracy Theory: Did We Land on the Moon?” and has several feature film projects in development, including “Humbuggin’ at New Line Cinema,” written by Luke Ryan (see Outstanding Young Alumnus Award, below).
A 1994 recipient of the EIU Alumni Association’s Outstanding Young Alumnus Award, Titley is the first alumnus to be recognized with both that and the Distinguished Alumnus Award.
Bill Weir, St. Charles, Ill.
Upon graduating from Eastern in 1969 with a degree in management, Bill Weir received a commission as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps and served with the 1 st Marine Division in Vietnam. After more than 34 years of service to his country, he currently holds the rank of brigadier general and is the deputy commanding general of the 15,000-man 35 th Infantry Division of the U.S. Army National Guard.
Since receiving his Juris Doctor from John Marshall Law School in 1977, he has been a highly successful litigator, and was named judge of the 16 th Judicial Circuit in Kane County, Ill., in 2003. In addition to his active involvement in community service activities, he has been a featured speaker for the Illinois State Bar Association and Harvard Law School. His military career is profiled in “Fox Valley Veterans: A Tribute to Hometown Heroism.” He and his wife Marilyn (Fowler), EIU '70, have one son Brad, who is a physician serving in the U.S. Army Medical Corps.
Other 2005 award recipients are:
Distinguished Educator Award -- Cathy Ruwe Anderson, Mt. Zion, Ill.
Cathy Ruwe Anderson, who graduated from Eastern in 1974 with bachelor’s degrees in special education and elementary education, and in 1983 with a master’s degree in elementary education, received the prestigious Clarissa Hug Teacher of the Year Award from the Illinois Council of Exceptional Children in 2004. The award recognizes outstanding teachers of learners with exceptional learning needs. While earning certificates in learning disabilities, educable handicapped, emotionally disturbed and early childhood, Anderson has used the knowledge she has gained to support and be an advocate for her students.
She also received an award at the National Council for Exceptional Children conference in New Orleans and from the Secretary of Education in 2004. She is a resource teacher for students with learning disabilities at Mount Zion High School.
Alumni Service Award -- Therese Supple Kincade, Charleston, Ill.
Therese Supple Kincade has been an active member of the EIU community for many years. The 1980 speech communication graduate currently serves as the president of the Tarble Arts Center Advisory Board, a position she has held for the last six years; previously she served as vice president of that group since its inception in 1990. Kincade has played a major role in assisting the Tarble achieve accreditation from the American Association of Museums, and has also been active in programming.
Kincade has also been actively involved with Celebration: A Festival of the Arts, and with Eastern’s departments of music, communication studies and theatre arts. She and her husband Bob, a 1972 Eastern graduate, own What’s Cookin,’ a popular Charleston restaurant.
Outstanding Young Alumnus Award -- Luke Ryan, Valley Village, Calif.
After graduating in 2001 with a journalism degree, Luke Ryan moved to Hollywood and accepted a position with New Line Cinema as a script reader/story analyst. Based on the quality of his recommendations, in 2002 he was promoted to story editor. In this position, he was responsible for oversight of a staff, and also began work as a creative executive for the company, overseeing the development and productions of scripts purchased by New Line.
Ryan was credited as executive producer of the 2004 comedy hit, “Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle,” and he has since been elevated to director of development at the studio. He currently has more than 30 films that he is overseeing in various stages of development for New Line, and is also teaching at UCLA.