PRESS RELEASE - BOB JACOBS (Fall '90) RECEIVES HIGHEST UW-La CROSSE AWARD
La Crosse, Wisconsin (May 13, 2011) - Delta Sigma Phi Fraternity-Epsilon Iota Chapter, the fraternity of Engineered Leadership congratulates Bob Jacobs as the 2011 recipient of the Rada Distinguished Alumni Award.
The purpose of the Rada Distinguished Alumni Award, awarded by the UW - La Crosse Foundation, is to recognize living alumni who have graduated within the last 20 years from UW-La Crosse and have achieved distinction by making an outstanding contribution to their profession, demonstrating exceptional ethical qualities, or participating in humanitarian activities.
At a reception held to honor Jacobs (who pledged in Fall of 1990) for his achievement, Jacobs said, "Joining the fraternity was one of the best things that I did in college, as it helped prepare me for future leadership roles at the University, as well as my career as an attorney. I am grateful for the experience I had here at UW-L."
"Delta Sigma Phi's standing motto is "Better Men. Better Lives.", and while receiving the Rada Award is a great testament of that belief, we always knew that Bob would continue to make us proud as a Delta Sig Alum; he made us proud as an undergraduate," said alumni corporation board president Pat Stephens.
UW-L Foundation Director of Collegiate Giving Pat Stephens, '71, is WKBT-TV's October Everyday Hero.
Stephens was nominated because of his vision to promote good will, good feelings and good times for La Crosse and the surrounding communities through his leadership and involvement in many organizations and events. Stephen's involvement in community organizations and projects such as Rotary Lights which helps raise food items for eight area food pantries; Irishfest which celebrates the Irish culture through food, music, and Highland competitions; Onalaska Jaycees an organization dedicated to community service projects; a founding member and board member of the Freedom Honor Flight organization; and many more make him an exemplary citizen of the La Crosse community.
Stephen's ability to combine being a loving husband, a father of four, a co-worker, a board member and his positive influence on La Crosse and the surrounding communities has made him WKBT-TVs October Everyday Hero.
Just notified that brother A.J. Wagner was selected at the UW-L Maurice Graff Distinguished Alumni Award winner. This is the highest award the university gives out. A.J. was a finance major that graduated from UW-L in 1973 and went on to an outstanding career with Ford Motors including sitting as President of Ford Credit of North America. A.J. will be honored on Friday night, May 14th on campus at the Cleary Center. Sure hope we can have numerous brothers on hand to share this special evening with him. A.J. joins EI-DSP brother Steve Willett that was inducted previously.
Velek makes Hall of Fame, as a Viking backer
Delta Sig's Only Hall of Famer - John Velek, UW LaCrosse '79
As you are sitting on your couch this Winter watching NFL football on a Sunday afternoon, be on the lookout for Delta Sigma Phi's only known member in a Professional Sports Hall of Fame, John Velek, UW LaCrosse '79.
Now John won't be on the field playing, nor will he be coaching, refereeing, announcing, or even taking photos. John will be in the stands cheering on his team and psyching up the Vikings fans to be even louder than they have been before.
During the week, you can find Velek working as a consultant in investments and financial planning, but when Sunday comes, he turns into "Super V Man", one of the few fans to have been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame as Super Fans for their teams. He was inducted in 2000, and was presented with his plaque by Roger Staubach, former Dallas Cowboys star quarterback.
His love for the Vikings started when he was growing up just outside of Minneapolis. In fact, the Vikings' running backs coach lived five doors down from him and his family, and Velek would regularly go to his house and see the memorabilia that the coach had, like game day footballs.
He also was able to communicate with the players through the coach. He said, "I would give him letters, and he would take it to work and give it to the players, and would bring me back an 8 x 10 with an autograph." He still has all of these in his massive memorabilia collection.
However, these meetings with the coach and interactions with the players weren't what prompted him to become "Super V Man" on Sundays. That came a little later in life.
"I had been going to Vikings games for years, and it was before we had beat Green Bay in 1996. My buddy and I were walking into the game and I started laughing my butt off. He asked what I was laughing at, and I pointed at these people and I said 'look at them.' He said, 'you mean the ones with the face paint?' And I said, 'yeah.' After he asked what was wrong with that, I said 'that's not even a 5% effort. If you're going to do it, you need to do it.' He then said 'you're on. In 2 weeks, we've got a home game against Carolina, and I'll make you a deal. If you do a better job than those people, I'll pay for the beer and food all day long.'"
While it ended up costing Velek more to put the costume together than it did for his buddy to pay for the beer and food for the game, he has continued wearing the outfit to all games that he has attended since, as he said it has made his experience at games so much more enjoyable.
His dedication not only has caught the attention of the fans around him at games, but it has also caught the team's attention. He has been asked by the team to assist at charity events, the unveiling of new uniforms, and a number of commercials. They take care of him as well. "It's really neat what they do for me. They will give me VIP tickets to the draft party where I can take my family into the private room with the players and their families. They will provide me passes for mini camp so I can watch the players right after the draft as they tune up for training camp. I go down to training camp where they give me on field passes and lunch with the coaches. During the season, I can attend a practice or two on a Thursday before a home game, which no one in the NFL gets to do. I've also been an honorary captain a couple of times, where I am on the 50 with the players before the game. It's just incredible."
Not only has he had all of these opportunities, but he is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. Visa partnered with the NFL and the Hall of Fame to have a wing called the Visa Hall of Fans that features 5 fans from every team in the league. Velek sent in his application, was chosen to be the January 17, 2000 inductee for the Vikings, and went to the Hall of Fame for the induction ceremony.
"I got an overnight letter in the mail saying that I made it, and saying that they wanted me to fly to Canton, Ohio. They took one fan from every team who also got to bring one guest, and flew us all to Canton for a long weekend. ESPN was filming us the whole time. They had an induction ceremony where Roger Staubach presented us with our plaques. It was a ball!"
As he continues his love for football and the Vikings, he has an everyday reminder of his love for the game - his HUGE memorabilia collection. It includes every Viking football card ever made from 1961 to 2007 which are categorized by year and alphabetically, a 3 foot wooden Vikings head, a rare 1968 Vikings team plaque that is 2 ft. x 3 ft., autographed photos, game jerseys, game jackets, and autographed footballs. He joked, "My wife asks me how I can keep this stuff organized, but I can't pick my socks up off the floor."
Velek did say that although he takes some ribbing from family and friends, they support him tremendously in his love of the Vikings. That includes his wife and daughters, who have been extremely supportive.
So, as the Vikings continue to work towards winning a Super Bowl, Brother John Velek will be there cheering them on knowing that his painted face is in the Hall of Fame alongside some of the team's all time greats. What a fun and exciting story for a lifelong fan of the game.
2005 Commencement speaker - John Lochner
Thank you Chancellor Hastad, Provost Hitch, and Dean Colclough for your kind invitation to speak to the College of Business Administration's graduating class of 2005. What a beautiful evening in the greatest city I know - La Crosse, Wisconsin. Congratulations to all of you. There is no finer institution than La Crosse and to have accomplished what you have accomplished is truly something that we need to celebrate tonight. For your parents, guests, my friends, classmates, and fraternity brothers who have attended this commencement, thank you also for your lifelong friendship.
Before I begin my short presentation, and I do mean short, I want to take a rather special moment for all of us to remember John W. Metzger. I must start out by apologizing first, as I know that we are all here to celebrate our current success and the fabulous future ahead of us, but for a moment I'd like you to indulge me in thinking of thoughts in the past. You see, John was one of my very best friends, a Delta Sigma Pi fraternity brother and fellow graduate of La Crosse. John died shortly after graduation from a disease called depression. John taught me many things, but none more important than to appreciate the beauty of life. In his memory, I will leave you with this sober thought that all of you, as you meet the challenges of the future, must be aware that if, in the future, it ever becomes dark or unbearable, that this is not normal. Life is a beautiful experience and to live it to the fullest, you must be positive in order to be successful in this world.
Now, let's change the tone here and begin to enjoy the final moments of your graduation process. As I promised you, this speech will be short and my only desire is to leave you with a couple thoughts that I believe will be important to all of us. I can sum these thoughts into several words, one being passion. Whatever you do from now on, do it with passion. As a business leader, I realized early on that passionate people drive change and drive success. Education, knowledge, appearance are fine, but whatever you do, do it with passion. Love what you do and what you do you will be successful in.
Secondly - goals. Many of you have a regular course of your actions; you set up goals for yourself to achieve. As you grow and develop, these goals become more important to your life. You will be challenged many times in the future and, in order to make sure that you are heading in the right direction and have a place to go, you must set goals. These goals have to be stretched goals, have to push you, and you must continually adjust and develop new goals and you meet the ones you've set earlier.
Values - many of you right now have refined most of your values. Let me assure you that, as you make decisions in the future, your value system, which has been honed by your parents, your school system, your fellow classmates and friends, will be an important foundation for you to make decisions in the future. Often times life will present many options for you, some good, some bad. With a strong value system, those decisions become easy and clear. Without a strong value system, the basis of making those decisions becomes confused. As I lead the employees in my company, which was over a 50-year-old company when I became its President, I had four value principles that drove all of my decisions and all of my interactions with my employees and my customers - honesty, integrity, sincerity, and service, or what I used to call HISS. This simple value system, developed and honed with the help of my parents, friends, and associates, served me through many difficult decisions and, without which, I am certain my life would have been much different. Although your values might be different, make sure that your values are those that you can live by and be proud to encourage others to follow.
I want to leave you with a last word of "change". Change is something you will face immediately as you leave here tonight. Change is constant and change must be something you learn to embrace. The very best employees I have ever worked with have been able to handle change and not only handle it, but handle it with passion, look forward to it, embrace it, and realize that that is the way that we grow in our careers and our lives. My daughter, when she first heard that I was going to be speaking, e-mailed me the top 10 changes that occurred in 2005. I'd like to spend a few minutes to mention a few to stress how things change and things that you will be doing tomorrow will not have even been known about, thought about, or developed today. Just listen to a few items on this list. The title of this, and many of you have probably seen this on your e-mails:
How Do You Know You're Living in 2005
Accidentally, you enter a password on the microwave.
You haven't played real solitaire with real cards in years.
You have a list of 15 phone numbers to reach your family of 3.
This does happen - you e-mail the person who works at the desk next to you.
You've sat at the same desk for 4 years and worked for 3 different companies.
You pull up in your own driveway and use your cell phone to see if anyone is home to help you carry the groceries in the house.
You leave the house and suddenly think, "I've left my cell phone", which you remember that you didn't have 20 years ago and now it's a cause for panic and you turn around and go and get it immediately.
Almost every commercial on television has a website at the bottom of the screen.
You get up in the morning and go online before you even have a cup of coffee.
The world is changing, and will continue to change, and those who will be most successful are those who can accept change and adapt to it.
So, in summary, I'd just like to leave you with the positive message of the importance of your University, your parents, your friends... these are the people that are here standing by you tonight that will be standing by you in the future. Remember to be passionate at whatever you do and to develop goals, hone the values that you've learned early in life, and embrace change, and you can be successful, I promise you. Thank you very much!
2004 Commencement speaker - A. J. Wagner
Thank you, Chancellor Hastad, for that kind introduction. And thank you to the College of Business Administration for inviting me here today.
It feels so right to be here...on my old turf...taking part in the annual spring ritual of graduation. I love the pomp, the circumstance, and all that it represents-optimism, scholarship, dedication, application, sacrifice, hard work, hope, and faith.
More than 240 strong, you are now prepared to represent this school in the world of business, and within your communities. You're receiving an incredibly valuable life tool-a business degree from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. And as you graduate, you join legions of alumni and alumnae who distinguish themselves each day--not only as accomplished professionals, but as La Crosse graduates.
You should be pleased, and those who helped you get here should also be pleased-and probably, I might add, a bit relieved!
This campus certainly has been a proving ground for many talented people. And I'm quite honored-and more than a bit humbled-to be here today, and to be standing with each of you at this crossroads in your life.
I can't help but reflect on a similar day, now more than 30 years ago, when I sat in my cap and gown as part of the 1973 graduating class. Like you, I was full of pride, promise, anticipation and anxiety.
Yes, anxiety. I was fully aware of the changes and challenges that were ahead of me...and felt the weight of the world that my actions from that day forward would determine the course of my future. And to be honest, I was probably also thinking about how I planned to celebrate my graduation later that night!
My point is, I was in such a fog of competing emotions that I honestly do not remember a single word that was said.
So if you are a bit distracted by the monumental shift that is about to occur in your life, I understand. In fact, if you remember me at all you'll be among the rare few who can recall their commencement speaker!
Nonetheless, it's my job tonight to offer you some advice. So I'd like to share some thoughts on the life you are about to begin. My hope is that as a speaker, I finish my job before you finish your job as a listener.
First: Remember that this is the land of opportunity, and everyone has an equal chance. We should be proud to live in a country where success is not determined so much by who we are or where we are from, but in how we leverage our talents in the world.
That may sound a bit idealistic to you-but trust me, I've lived this philosophy every day of my life. I came here as a refugee from Hungary in 1956, at the age of 6. My family had no money, no home, no relatives or friends here, and none of us spoke a bit of English. We struggled for years until we got on our feet-and my eventual acceptance at this university was considered no less than a miracle for us all.
So as you go forward from today, know that it doesn't matter whether you came from a family that is poor, or a family that is privileged. In fact, in the long run, as long as you earned your degree, it doesn't necessarily matter how well you did!
As I said, everyone has an equal chance. If you are graduating with honors, congratulations-that's quite an accomplishment, and chances are your hard work and determination will lead to continued success. But not necessarily, don't take it for granted. If you barely graduated, relax. You have a fresh start to look forward to, beginning today.
You see, as you go from here it is not the past that determines your future, it's what you decide to do with the promise that is your future.
The slate has been wiped clean. Work hard from this point on, and leverage the life skills your past has given you. Drive for results. Commit yourselves to excellence. Build up your interpersonal skills and seek balance in your life-a balance between work and play, between family and friends, between the spiritual and physical, between the personal and the communal.
If you can do these things, you will be a better professional, and a better and happier person.
Next, be true to your school. That doesn't necessarily mean that you should spend the rest of your life cloaked in the school colors. By this I mean you should maintain a genuine connection to this place, throughout your life.
No matter where your career takes you, I urge you to stay in touch with your classmates, with other alumni, and with this institution.
I've remained active with the University and with my fraternity, Delta Sigma Phi. I have done so because I believe that supporting this university and its business program strengthens our network and ultimately our ability as professionals to have a profound impact on the quality of our world.
Also-and I mean this-be proud of where you are from, and take a back seat to no one. This great university was recently recognized as the number three public university offering bachelors and masters degrees in the Midwest by U.S. News and World Report. Kiplinger's places us at number 19 in the country! Still, as you leave here today you may be worried that your degree does not say "Harvard" or "Yale".
When I was a recent graduate, new to the working world, I admit that I was a bit intimidated by those with Ivy League educations. It didn't take me long to recognize that none of it mattered. My degree prepared me just as well for the world of work as theirs-and I have to say, I now have a number of Ivy Leaguers working for me! Trust me, you will be able to compete-and compete well-in the working world because of the education you have received here.
That leads me to my next point: Always appreciate the importance of your role as business men and women in the world. Calvin Coolidge was right when he said, "The business of America is business." The business world is exciting, challenging, gratifying, frustrating and fun. It will consume your days, nights and many of your weekends! I already have devoted 31 years of my life to Ford, and while it's a demanding life, I still enjoy what I do.
I continue to hold on to the idealistic notion that business people serve an important function in our society. Businesses are the source of economic growth. And, it is the responsibility of good, dedicated and smart business men and women to fuel that growth.
We have other responsibilities, as well-such as the responsibility to live and work by a code of ethics that is beyond reproach. In this, there can be no compromise, no cutting back.
The reputation of corporate America has suffered over the past few years, and deservedly so. The scandals that have plagued corporations have cast a pall of suspicion over us all and created a great mistrust. As much as anything you have learned here, there are great lessons to be learned in what has been happening around you. And the ramifications have been devastating and far flung.
Nevertheless, I continue to believe that the great majority of business people are ethnical and good - that they serve their businesses, their customers and their communities with integrity and honor.
We all have a great task ahead of us-the business veterans as well as the recent business graduates, just starting out: we must rebuild the public's trust in corporate America. This will not happen overnight, obviously. Rebuilding public trust is something that can start with each one of you, and it is something to which you must commit yourself. You must be unwavering in your commitment, because even a brief lapse will do irreparable damage. If you remember only one thing from my talk here today: Your personal reputation can be your greatest ally--but if you damage it, it will be your greatest liability. That's not our only challenge as business professionals. Markets and the businesses that serve them constantly change and evolve. We are required to work harder...smarter...more flexibly. To shift our priorities and our perspectives. Being up to the challenge-moving comfortably in a changing world where answers aren't always black and white and yesterday's rules don't apply-is the biggest challenge we all face in business.
Which brings me to my next point: To succeed, you must embrace this constant challenge and change. As a wise man once said, "When you're through changing, you're through."
I am reminded of a story about an American General who was observing British Army maneuvers in the days prior to World War II. He noted that the mobile artillery pieces were served by seven soldiers, one of whom did nothing but stand at attention while the other six prepared and fired the gun. What, he asked, was the role of the seventh man? Apparently, in the days before the use of motorized vehicles, it was the job of one man to hold the horses so that they wouldn't run off as the gun was fired. The horses were gone, but the original structure remained.
This story shows us why every business needs to constantly evaluate its horses-and the people who hold them.
I don't have to tell you that the business world has entered a tumultuous and dangerous era. Geopolitical tensions, a turbulent economy, the war in Iraq and the ongoing war against terrorism have taken a toll on most all industries and sectors. So, too, have shifting market and consumer demands. Manufacturers, especially domestic automakers like Ford, have been hit hard. Industry-wide overcapacity, intense competition and customer expectation have transformed our industry.
This is why we have had to rethink and remake the very way we work.
Like many organizations today, Ford and Ford Credit both are rightsizing our operations-cutting out the fat, and becoming more lean, flexible and responsive to our consumer markets. We know it's the only way we will survive.
Our future is all about change, and our ability to adapt to it. We aren't alone in this challenge. Nearly every business-from the Fortune Five Hundred to the corner store-is learning to adapt in a new and shifting economy.
This is the business world you are about to enter. And your ability to succeed will no doubt be determined by your ability to adapt to change.
My next point tonight is the importance of human resources-and I'm not talking about benefits, policies, recruiting and retention. I'm talking instead about genuine human assets-the assets that are the foundation of every successful business. I'm talking about you and me.
Your professors, no doubt, have taught you all the things that successful businesses have in common: missions, strategies and solid and sustained execution of the fundamentals.
But ultimately, what best defines a business is its people. The principles of organization and management are universal-and they revolve around utilizing the talents of many people to achieve a common objective.
The diverse background each of you will bring to your jobs-your culture, economic situation, upbringing and education-even your unique viewpoints-have the power to shape a lot of what will happen inside the organizations you ultimately will join.
The best organizations bring out the very best in each person and end up with a result that is far greater than the sum of its individual contributions.
That's your job-to make an important and individual contribution to that sum over the course of a lifetime.
Which leads me to my final point: Give something back. After you have given all you believe you can give to your business, dig deeper and give to your community.
Just as you will become a member of an organization in which you do work, you also are a member of a larger society. It is your responsibility to involve yourself in the world around you. Remember your responsibilities as a citizen. By that I mean remember who you are...the heritage you are part of...what you believe in...and what you stand for.
Awareness about the issues of the day is essential. Action on those issues can help shape an outcome. And, when you can, get involved at the concept stage when you can help frame the questions as well as the answers.
Then, I challenge you to use that energy to hold your company accountable as a good corporate citizen. In earlier days, "corporate citizen" might have been considered an oxymoron. But today, most all leading companies have aggressive corporate citizenship programs-leveraging their resources, influence and the work of employee volunteers to do good in the world.
If your company has an active corporate citizenship program, get involved. If it doesn't, start one. As the old saying goes, "We make a living by what we get. But we make a life by what we give."
Glorify your life each day by giving, living and working with passion and enthusiasm.
Many of you will leave here tonight for new jobs in new cities. Some of you are already employed, and hope to use your degree as a springboard to new responsibilities and opportunities within your firms. A few of you may be considering more school, and perhaps a career in academia.
I'm willing to bet, however, that many of you are still wondering what will come next.
It's true that job markets are tight. And you're entering the market during a time when many companies are cutting back. But in this uncertain economy, there always will be room for the best, the brightest, the most persistent, the most dedicated and the most passionate. These are the people who have the power, talent, knowledge and insight to reinvent how businesses will operate in the 21st century-and there always will be room for them at the table.
As you leave here today, know that you haven't taken the last test of your lives. In fact, your biggest tests lie ahead. They'll be open book tests, and sometimes you won't even have the book. You'll have to dig each day to find answers, to find new ways of achieving your business outcomes. If you're courageous, you'll take risks. Sometimes you'll fail. But more often, you'll find the right answer-or perhaps you'll invent one that no one else has considered.
No matter how far you go, no matter what success you achieve, these tests will continue so long as you decide, each and every day, to make the best possible contribution to your company and your society.
Your education and learning cannot be finished, because the world is moving too fast and knowledge is changing too quickly.
This is certainly true for me. The business world has changed a great deal since I began work at Ford 31 years ago. E-commerce alone has transformed the game in my business. The hours continue to be long, and the work is hard. But it also is immeasurably gratifying...and it keeps me on my game.
Our founder Henry Ford once said: "Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at 20 or 80. Anyone who keeps learning stays young." At this point in my career, I'm banking on the chance that he was right!
Congratulations to you all and best wishes for your success, now and in the future.
Share your achievements here
Delta Sigma Phi has long been proud of its motto "Engineered Leadership." Our alumni have met success at ever turn of the road. Here's your chance to share your accomplishments. Send us a few paragraphs (or more if you wish!) telling us what you have been up to.