2008 Alumni Achievement Award

Bernie Dan

Bernie Dan '83, president and board chair

Ron Sandeen is the perfect public servant. He was a tireless band teacher at Minneapolis junior and senior high schools for 35 years - his bands won numerous city, state and national awards. Ron also founded and for 20 years directed a widely-acclaimed Twin Cities summer music program, the majority of whose participants were from Catholic schools that didn't offer music. He's also been a Scoutmaster; lector; Eucharistic minister and catechism teacher at his parish; a nursing home volunteer; SJU phonathon volunteer; and, for decades, class agent for Saint John's Class of 1957. (Recognized more than once by the SJU Alumni Office staff for writing the best class letters, Ron always has news about classmates and tales about that elusive, wily walleye he's going to land one of these days.) The father of two Johnnie alumni and a Bennie alumna, Ron and his wife, Barb, are seen at numerous SJU athletic contests, home and away.

Art Froehle

Art Froehle '63, educator

Art Froehle may have retired from the classroom, but the former teacher is still an educator.  His 33 year-career as an English teacher, mostly in urban Twin Cities schools, ended officially in 1998.  It wasn't long after, however, that Froehle found two part-time labors of love - one serving immigrants and others through the Minneapolis Franklin Public Library literacy programs, and another helping low-income fathers earn high school diplomas and learn parenting and other life skills.  His second venture has expanded into a partnership with the Minneapolis Public Schools program in adult basic education so Froehle serves not just young fathers, but any adult in Minneapolis who needs help with a G.E.D.

Greg Scherer

Greg Scherer '68, business partner and volunteer

Greg Scherer put in plenty of hours as senior partner and vice president of marketing and personnel with the family business, Scherer Bros. Lumber in the Twin Cities.  Scherer also found ample time to volunteer and is doing a lot more of that since retiring in 2001.  Scherer has been an active youth rugby coach, soccer referee, lector, American Legion Honor Guard member and frequent public speaker on social justice issues. He has also served as a trustee of Holy Name Church in Medina, where he has taught religious education for 34 consecutive years; the YMCA; Hammer Residences; and currently, the College of St. Scholastica.  In 1989, Scherer made a volunteer trip to Guatemala through Common Hope and has since returned 28 times as a team leader and volunteer; he's been on the Common Hope board of directors since 1993.  

Roger Scherer

Roger Scherer '58, business and civic leader

Roger Scherer continues to make his mark in the Twin Cities.  A former state legislator (1966-72) and past chair of the Minneapolis Chamber of Commerce (1990), Roger has served numerous terms  on the Metropolitan Council during the last 30 years.  He was appointed most recently in 2007 by Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, the third governor to ask Scherer to serve.  He's had other volunteer posts with the Minneapolis Chamber and was on the City of Plymouth planning commission.  In addition, Scherer has been active with his parish and served on the Saint John's University Board of Regents 1988-97. 

Scherer's professional career was with the family business, Scherer Bros. Lumber in the Twin Cities, where he was president and CEO 1978-95.  He currently chairs the company's board.   

Matt Stergios

Matt Stergios '78, teacher and coach

Matt Stergios has an outstanding record as a history teacher at Loyola Sacred Heart High School, his alma mater in Missoula, MT. His advanced placement students consistently score high marks in national testing.  In the past 25 years, 15 of his students have participated in the William Randolph Hearst Senate Youth program in Washington, DC.  Stergios was voted "Missoula's Favorite High School Teacher" in a readers' poll in the city newspaper in 2003.

His coaching success, however, might be worthy of the Guinness Book of Records.  Ever since 1984, in his third year as coach, Stergios' speech and debate team has won the Montana state championship.  His 25 consecutive titles is the longest streak for speech and debate programs in U.S. history and is among the five longest championship runs among all high school sports and activities in the country.

John Thavis

John Thavis '73, journalist and Rome bureau chief

While living in Italy in the late 1970s, John Thavis landed a spot as a news reporter in Rome.  He joined the Catholic News Service there in 1983 and was named bureau chief in 1996.  Thavis has written extensively on religious affairs in Europe and the Middle East, covered the international travels of two popes, published a Rome guide book and contributed to John Paul II: A Light for the World.

Last year the Catholic Press Association (CPA) awarded Thavis the 2007 St. Francis de Sales Award, considered the highest honor given by the Catholic press.  He won the award "for his in-depth knowledge of the workings of the Vatican and his ability to share that with fellow journalists and Catholic press readers." According to the CPA, Thavis "shows the same level of care, depth, balance and precision in informing readers about the everyday pastoral work of the popes as he does covering major events such as the release of an encyclical, canonizations and controversies."

Rob Fairbank '88

Rob Fairbank '88, political consultant

Rob Fairbank is a founding partner of Politically Direct, a Denver, CO-based political consulting firm. While serving in the Colorado House of Representatives from 1998-04, Fairbank was majority caucus chairman and the vice chairman of the finance committee.  He is the former political director of the Colorado Republican Party, and has been involved in local and statewide campaigns across the country.  Fairbank has done campaign training in the Middle East, North Africa, the Balkans, southeast Asia and the former Soviet Union on behalf of the International Republican Institute (IRI), a non-partisan organization that advances democracy worldwide.  Rob is a past president of the SJU Denver Alumni Chapter.

Dr. Russel Reiter '58

 Russel Reiter '58, professor and research scientist

Dr. Russel Reiter's research at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio on the anti-oxidant hormone melatonin and the aging process has made him one of the world's most highly-cited scientists.  His research indicates that melatonin has the potential to be significant in protecting against diseases related to aging.  At UTHSC, he teaches medical neuroscience and dental microscopic anatomy courses and lectures in the history of anatomy and in the introduction to research.  In addition, Dr. Reiter serves as editor-in-chief of the Journal of Pineal Research and on the editorial board of seven other journals.

 

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