Jim Frey to receive Saint John's highest alumni honor

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September 11, 2013

Jim Frey '78

Jeff Korsmo '80

Jim Frey, a 1978 graduate of Saint John's University, will receive the Fr. Walter Reger Distinguished Alumnus Award at the SJU Alumni Association Homecoming Banquet, Friday, Sept. 27 in Collegeville.

The award is the highest honor presented by the Alumni Association and recognizes an alumnus each year for his outstanding volunteer service to the SJU community. Frey is the 45th alumnus to receive the award.

Jeff Korsmo, a 1980 graduate of SJU, will receive the Bob Basten Excellence in Leadership Award at the Homecoming football game against Concordia College on Saturday, Sept. 28. Korsmo is the fifth alumnus to receive the award.

The award, given in honor of the late Bob Basten, SJU Class of 1982, honors a former Johnnie football player who has been an outstanding leader as an alumnus. Basten, who signed as a free agent with the Minnesota Vikings, was a business executive and founder of the Playing to Win for Life Foundation for ALS Research.

Saint John's will also present nine Alumni Achievement Awards at various reunion celebrations on Sept. 28. Recipients for 2013 include:

John Lindstrom (SJU class of 1963)
Al Woodward (SJU class of 1963)
Joseph Cronin (SJU class of 1968)
Larry Hergott (SJU class of 1968)
Kim Culp (SJU class of 1973)
Kevin DeVaan (posthumous; SJU class of 1978)
Stuart Harvey (SJU class of 1983)
Patrick Lynch (SJU Class of 1988)
Lino Rulli (SJU Class of 1993; School of Theology 1995)

The SJU Alumni Association Board of Directors selected Frey as this year's recipient in recognition of his 35 years of service to the community.

Frey, president and CEO of the Frey Foundation of Minnesota, served on the SJU Board of Regents (now known as the Board of Trustees) from 2001-10. He was chair of the board from 2007-10.

"I wouldn't be where I am today unless I had been a student at Saint John's," Frey said when he accepted the position of chair of the board.

Frey led the board through many challenges - defining and strengthening SJU's relationships with both the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's Abbey; guiding SJU through enrollment and fundraising challenges associated with the economic downturn in 2008; and leading the first presidential search in almost two decades after the passing of SJU President Br. Dietrich Reinhart '71, OSB, in December 2008. He also saw the university through the completion of the capital campaign, One Generation to the Next.

Frey has been a generous supporter of Saint John's, particularly of The Saint John's Bible and the FirstGen initiative to enable first-generation college students to attend SJU.

He has served on many boards with a focus on education, homelessness and philanthropy. Frey is currently vice chair of Heading Home Minnesota and is a board member of the National Catholic Reporter. 

The Fr. Walter Reger Award is named after the long-time secretary of the Saint John's Alumni Association. Known as "Mr. Saint John's," Reger, OSB, was a dean, history professor, prefect, member of the university orchestra and purveyor of Johnnie Bread. He befriended hundreds of SJU students and kept up personal correspondence with them after they graduated. Reger died in 1971, and the Alumni Association Board of Directors launched the award program later that year (the award's first recipient was Fred Hughes '31).

Korsmo played football at SJU for four years. He was an offensive lineman on the 1976 team, which won the NCAA Division III national championship, and was a starter at left tackle as a senior, when the Johnnies earned a four-way share of the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championship.

Since his time at SJU, Korsmo has been a leader in health care. He currently serves as CEO of Via Christi Health in Wichita, Kan. Korsmo just launched a strategic vision that focuses on improving care, reducing costs and satisfying patients.

Prior to joining Via Christi, Korsmo worked at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., for 28 years. He served in various roles at Mayo, including two terms as chief administrative officer, executive director of the Mayo Clinic Health Policy Center and member of the Mayo Clinic Board of Trustees.