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College of Business Alumni Association Honors Excellence, Loyalty

Avy Stein.Avy Stein, co-chairman and co-CEO of Willis Stein & Partners, says he's learned a lot in almost three decades in the business world. His work focuses on maximizing the long-term value of an entity, which not only benefits his company but is also critical to a business and its employees. Stein says it's a mistake to forget about the people in a business, citing an example of a publishing company whose employees turned the firm's future from bleak to promising by understanding their industry, their skills, and the need for change.

Stein believes in looking at the big picture, which gives him the chance to "skate to where the puck is going to be" rather than where the puck is now, a observation made by hockey great Wayne Gretsky when Gretsky was asked to describe why he was such a phenomenal talent on the ice. The challenges inherent in understanding the trends that will impact a business -- being ahead of the puck -- is one reason Stein finds his area of work "a great deal of fun."

Switching gears, Stein '77 told the more than 400 graduates and friends of the College of Business attending the 45th annual Spring Luncheon in Chicago that assembling sufficient financial resources is an on-going challenge for institutions of higher education and the College is no exception. Co-chair of the College's Investing in Excellence, Stein took the opportunity to challenge those in attendance to support the campaign by participating in the Annual Fund.

Avijit Ghosh, Mary Kay Haben, Avy Stein, and Al Wohlers.The Spring Luncheon also honored two other alumni whose generosity and loyalty to the College are exceptional. Al Wohlers '39 received the 2005 Distinguished Alumnus Award and Mary Kay Haben was named as the recipient of the Appreciation Award. Wohlers, along with his wife Jane '41, funded the reconstruction of Commerce West, which was renamed Wohlers Hall in their honor in 2000. He is also a member of the Investing in Excellence steering committee and has been honored by the College and campus in previous years.

Haben, a senior VP at Kraft Foods Inc., also has an long list of service to the College and campus. She has previously served as convocation speaker and on the Dean's Business Council. Currently she is a member of the Investing in Excellence steering committee. Sporting Illini orange and blue, Haben lead the luncheon guests on a rousing chorus (or two) of  I - L - L, I - N - I!

Teaching awards were also given out to two faculty and a teaching assistant:

  • Kentaro Koga, excellence in undergraduate teaching
  • Joseph Broschak, excellence in graduate teaching
  • Drew Reffett, excellence in teaching by a teaching assistant

Mary Porter, executive assistant dean for external and alumni affairs, was surprised during the luncheon when she was awarded the CBAA Board Appreciation Award.Steve Van Arsdell and Denise Maple.

The Spring Luncheon is sponsored by the College of Business Alumni Association. Denise Maple '90 and Stephen Van Arsdell '72, '73 served as co-chairs.



--Ginny Hudak-David
April 2005