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Weekly Update

Monday, October 05, 2009  
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Many alumni are living the essence of our mission statement

A message from Dr. Robert L. Head, President 

Dear students, faculty and staff:

The measurement of what we accomplish as an institution of higher learning is best taken through the lives lived by our graduates; those who experienced the learning environment guided by our faculty and the services and programs led by our staff.

Over 350 alumni from classes dating back as far as 1938 were on campus this past weekend to renew friendships and celebrate their pride in Rockford College. There is little wonder why Homecoming and Reunion week is a favorite tradition of many. For me, it is a great opportunity to meet alumni and to learn more about their accomplishments and desires for their alma mater.

One such graduate is Mark Pedowitz, Class of 1974. Mark earned a bachelor of arts in history, returned to campus for his 35th class reunion and was recognized with the Alumni Award of Distinction for 2009. He currently resides in California and serves as senior advisor to the office of the co-chairman of Disney/ABC Television Group. Previously, he served as president, ABC Studios, during which time, many new shows were created, including “Lost,” “Desperate Housewives,” “Grey's Anatomy,” “Ugly Betty,” “Scrubs,” “Criminal Minds,” “Brothers & Sisters,” “According to Jim,” “Ghost Whisperer,”  “Private Practice,” “Flash Forward,” and “Cougar Town.”

Mr. Pedowitz has clearly had a remarkable career and I asked him about his journey. He was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY and speaks fondly of leaving a rent-controlled apartment and finding himself on the campus of Rockford College. It was here that he found “a beautiful campus with a unique sense of community. Students came from many places including Brooklyn, Arlington and Pasadena. There were clearly differences to appreciate and I made deep friendships that I continue today.”  Mark credits history professor Mark Ross for helping him understand “how to think outside of the box; something that has helped my work orientation to this day.”

From history major to television executive, Mark is but one of many Rockford College graduates who, as stated within our mission statement, have led fulfilling lives, careers, and participate in a modern and changing global society.

On a personal note, I want to take this moment to thank you for your prayers, cards and flowers following the death of my father-in-law. James Cooper, Jr., was an extraordinary individual who was career military, served a tour of duty in the Korean War and two tours in Vietnam. Beyond his devotion to our country, he was staunchly committed to family, youth mentorship and his church. Sheryl and I have appreciated your expressions of concern. 

Have a great week!

Robert L. Head, Ph.D.


Homecoming/reunion wrap-up
Cloudy skies and cooler temperatures didn’t dampen the spirits of Homecoming revelers this past weekend. Dozens took part in the Powder Puff football game, karaoke in the Lion’s Den and tailgating competition Saturday before the game with Lakeland College.

As you saw from Dr. Head’s message, the weekend also marked the annual Alumni Reunion, bringing more than 350 alums back to campus including two grads from the Class of 1938. During an all-alumni celebration dinner Friday night, nine people received awards for their achievements in life and their support of the college. They include:

Talcott Cross
Shirley Voss Henley Philon ’50 – A leader of RC alumnae for nearly 60 years. Former alumni association board member; 1992 recipient of RC Award of Distinction. Continuing class scribe and alumni office volunteer.

Karl C. Williams Award
Don Patrick ’72 – Former alumnus-in-residence. Class president for reunions and correspondences. Host of Wisconsin and Atlanta gatherings. Member of alumni association board, finishing his tenure as president in 2007.

Awards of Distinction
Robert Gough `74 – Founder of the City of Rockford Pipe Band and director of its school of highland music. Active Rotarian, and long-time board member of Illinois Growth Enterprises, a sheltered workshop for individuals with disabilities.

Mark Pedowitz `74 – Former president of ABC Studios. Serves as senior advisor to the office of the co-chair of Disney-Media Networks. Advises on emerging business, labor relations and media issues.

Jane Okrasinski `74 – Long-time advocate for the rights of children, Native Americans and prisoners. Currently serves as executive director of the Georgia Association of Counsel for Children, helping children and families with issues of child abuse.

Ellen Skerrett `71 – Historian of Chicago and its neighborhoods. Skerrett's work focuses on the history of Chicago's Irish, the Catholic Church and its influence in the city, and the Hull-House Settlement, particularly its head, Jane Addams.

Alumna of the Year Award
Robin Kenney `09 – Volunteer director of the Alan Hutchcroft Alternative Spring Break, during which alumni and students conduct service projects in Mississippi. Instrumental in establishing project blogs and fundraising initiatives.

Young Alumni Award

Randy Baker `03 – Local restaurateur (Five Forks Market and Noonan’s at Aldeen). Supports local charities through a unique program. Serves MBA program as classroom speaker and as a volunteer for MBA advisory board activities. 

Mary Ashby Cheek Award
Deborah Breiter – Professor of Chemistry and faculty representative for the alumni association. Nationally recognized and published for research in science. As first-year advisor, has been instrumental to student retention at RC.

Thanks everyone…students, faculty, staff, and alumni, for making Homecoming a success!

Psych students engaged in community
Prof. Elaine Sharpe’s Adolescent Development class has been engaged in three community-based learning projects:
  • One group of students is working with HUGS, the Winnebago County Health Department program for teen mothers. The students are working on developing a fund raising project for HUGS and also writing workshops to be presented to the middle school primary prevention program groups.
  • Another group is working with the Rock Valley College Upward Bound Program, tutoring high school seniors hoping to pursue college.
  • A third group is partnering with the seventh and eighth graders at  St. James Middle School. The Rockford College students will accompany the middle schoolers on a trip to Springfield on October 29 to lobby for various social issues. One such issue is the advocacy of seat belts for school buses.

RC rededicates Dewild Hall of Fame
As part of the 2009 Rockford College alumni weekend, the Regents held a very special ceremony at halftime of Saturday’s Homecoming football game, hosting a rededication ceremony of the Chuck DeWild Athletic Hall of Fame.

“The DeWild Hall of Fame was founded to recognize the outstanding achievements of Rockford College student-athletes,” said Kristyn King, Rockford College interim athletics director.  “This rededication ceremony will allow us to bridge the gap between our past and present, as we continue to grow into the future.”

The Hall of Fame was created in 1976 to honor former Rockford College athletes and those who have made significant contributions to the Regents athletic program.  In 1980, 11 charter members were inducted.  Currently, there are 48 members in the DeWild Hall of Fame. 

The Hall of Fame, located on the east balcony of the Seaver Center, is named in honor of 1991 inductee Chuck DeWild, Rockford’s legendary basketball coach and athletic director.  DeWild held several leadership positions within Rockford’s athletic department, including athletic director, basketball, golf, soccer, and track coach, as well as physical education department chair, for a total of 43 years.

Many members of the DeWild Hall of Fame were on hand for both for the hall’s rededication and to participate in the college’s alumni weekend schedule of events.

More news from athletics
Over the past couple of weeks, our athletic teams have begun fulfilling their ACE requirements for the 2009-10 academic year. The football team assisted the Golden Apple office with unloading their truck.  On Saturday, the team split into two groups to perform yard work for two families in Roscoe.  The softball team also got into the action when they invited about 30 developmentally challenged adults from four group homes in Rockford to campus for kickball and a barbeque.

Where’s Robert?

Each week, we let you know what noteworthy activities Dr. Head is attending. Here’s what’s on the docket for this week:

  • Oct 5     State Street Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District Meeting
  • Oct 8     Illinois College Economic Forum with Mayor Morrissey, Monmouth, Ill.

RC’s Black Student Union hosts charity concert for Rescue Mission
The Black Student Union at Rockford College holds a fall kickoff charity concert to benefit the Rockford Rescue Mission October 11, 5 p.m. in the college’s Maddox Theatre. Admission to the event is a can of food which will be donated to the mission. Among the performers are Chris Mathien, Judah the Lyrical Reverend, a local gospel choir, Chris Wyte (aka Whiteboy), a Rockford performing artist who was signed with Kanye West in 2003, and Chicago native and violinist Lee England Jr. Rockford College President Robert L. Head will also be speaking as well as a spokesperson for the mission.

Monetary donations will be accepted as well. For more information, contact Danial Petrie at

Rotaract helping Beyer Elementary kids
The college’s Rotaract chapter has been collecting monetary donations and supplies to bring an after-school mentoring and academic success program called After School Camp to Rockford’s Beyer Elementary School. Your donation will help lower the cost of the program. Make a monetary donation toward the cost of food and transportation for the children.

You can also:

Volunteer your time at fundraisers throughout the community. For example, you might take donations to a booth at a local supermarket. Or, volunteer as a counselor at Beyer Elementary Oct. 21, Nov. 4, Nov. 18, Dec. 2, and/or Dec. 16. As a counselor you would get a chance to get close to a child as a mentor. You would also facilitate academic activities, as well as critical thinking and team building games, serve/eat pizza, and better the future of your community. Contact Meghan McLaughlin through campus e-mail or call 815-623-8611.

RC student to receive award for volunteer efforts at middle school
As we first reported some time ago, RC student Nick Blitch recently won an award given out by the Illinois State Board of Education for all of the volunteer work he does at Harlem Middle School. 

The award is part of the “Those Who Excel” program run by the State Board of Education. The program annually recognizes and honors people who have made outstanding contributions to public and nonpublic elementary and secondary education.  A selection committee comprised of representatives of statewide education organizations is convened in early summer to evaluate and score the nominations.  Nominees and their administrators are notified by mail in late summer about their application results. Three types of awards are given: Award of Excellence, Award of Meritorious Service, and Award of Special Recognition. 

This year's program has six nomination categories
1.  classroom teacher
2.  school administrator/principal
3.  student support personnel (certificated)
4.  educational service personnel (noncertificated)
5.  school board member/community volunteer
     (which Blitch won)

6.  team

This is the same program that awards the Illinois Teacher of the Year. Blitch is receiving the highest award level, the Award of Excellence, at a special banquet  Saturday, October 24.  Last year, only 43 people received this particular award in the state of Illinois.

Get to Know Me with Prof. Bill Gahan
Name: Bill Gahan

Job title: Assistant Professor (English)

Family: Spouse: Michele; Kids: Cristina (7), Rafa (3), Joaquín (1)

Professional/educational background:
University of California, Santa Barbara, Ph.D., English
Loyola Marymount University (Los Angeles), M.A., English Lit.
Seattle University, Secondary Teaching Certification
University of Washington, B.A., English

Interesting fact about me: I grew up in Madrid, Spain, until my early twenties.

The favorite thing about my job is…

I love having the opportunity to work closely with intellectually curious people.

Besides my interest in Shakespeare and English and Spanish literature, I love spending time with my family, reading, writing, history, soccer, fishing, scuba, flamenco, darts, good food, travel, and visiting my friends and family in Seattle and Spain.

Suggest ways on how to change the world
Do you have an idea of how we can make the world a better place? Share your thoughts on the college’s list of “1,000 Ways to Change the World.” You can add your idea at the college’s Facebook page on the notes tab; on our Web site; by submitting ideas at boxes placed around campus; or by e-mailing Cassie Swanson, Marketing/Special Events, at When complete, we’ll make an effort to implement a select number of them.  

Forum Series adds another talk on October 13

Students will have another opportunity to fulfill their Forum requirements this semester. Joshua Hall, assistant professor of economics at Beloit College, will present the talk “The Dilemma of School Finance Reform, October 13, 6 p.m. in the Fisher Chapel. His articles have appeared in such publications as the Journal of Social, Political, and Economic Studies, the Journal of Economics and Politics, and The Independent Review.

Psych club in the midst of coat drive
The college’s Psych Society is holding its annual coat drive through October 28, and the community is invited to participate by donating new or gently used items, especially large men’s coats, hats, scarves and thick socks. All donated items will be given to the Jubilee Center at Shelter Care Ministries. Collection sites are stationed at the Colman Library, Burpee Center main door and mail desk and the Starr Science building. For more information, contact Jenny Giger at

Global Community Hour next week 
Join the Kobe-Regent’s Center for its next virtual trip to a foreign country. Next time, you’ll visit Mongolia with your host, Temuujiin Shaariibuu. It all happens October 13, 11 a.m. – 12 p.m. and October 14 from 12 – 1 p.m. The event will be held in the faculty lounge.

Congratulations, Heather Snider
Heather Snider, coordinator of institutional research, is the proud mother of a beautiful baby boy! Mom, dad (TJ) and Baby Luke Carlton Snider are all doing well.  Luke was born on Thursday, October 1 at 10:22 p.m.  He weighed in at 6 lbs. 9 oz. and was 19 ¾” long.  Congratulations to Heather, TJ and Luke!

Artists’ Ensemble sets audition for young actor
Artists’ Ensemble, based at Rockford College, is looking for a young male actor to play the role of 10-year-old Jason in Might of Gone Fishing. The story is about Jason, a young boy who desperately wants to go fishing with his father. Instead, his parents divorce. Time passes but not his desire to reconnect with his father. Jason is haunted by his own child voice crying out for that lost fishing trip.
Might have Gone Fishing begins rehearsals February 8. It opens March 12 and closes March 28. Rehearsals are weekday evenings and weekend afternoons. Auditions will be held from 1 p.m. – 3 p.m. Sunday, October 18 in the Cheek Theatre. For more information or to schedule an audition appointment, e-mail Richard Raether at or call 815-540-4717.

Student among those involved in cleaning up the westside

RC student Jeni Swanson was among many volunteers who helped clean up a neighborhood on Rockford’s westside a couple weeks ago. Organized by Rep. Chuck Jefferson, the group partnered with the Kishwaukee Area Weed and Seed program as well as others for the day-long event. Thanks for your efforts, Jeni!

Jazz dance workshop this weekend
You’re invited to participate in (or just observe) a jazz workshop with Randy Duncan this Saturday, October 10, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. in the Clark Arts Dance Studio. Duncan is an award-winning choreographer. Interested students should e-mail Margaret or Noel Rennerfeldt at

RC in the news
Did you happen to catch…
  • Coverage of the alumni reunion in the Rockford Register Star and on Channels 13 and 17. 
  • Bern Sunstedt, director of alumni and development, interviewed by WXRX about his voice-overs for motion comics.

The Weekly will provide links to stories when they are posted on the Web.

Community Search
Calendar of Events

Student Music Recital

EDP: Seminar #6 - Conflict Management and Resolution

NICNE Customer Service Workshop

FORUM: Sports Management Symposium

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