UMR to award honorary professional degrees

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On May 3, 2007

The University of Missouri-Rolla will award nine honorary professional degrees during its spring commencement Saturday, May 12.         

Commencement begins at 11 a.m. in UMR’s Gale Bullman Multi-Purpose Building. About 600 bachelor’s degrees will be awarded in addition to the honorary degrees. A special commencement ceremony for graduate students (master’s degrees and doctorate degrees) will be held at 3 p.m. Saturday, May 12, in Leach Theatre of Castleman Hall.         

Preceding graduation, on Friday, May 11, the campus will hold its 2007 Spring Graduation Jubilee from 4:30-6:30 p.m. at the Havener Center on campus.         

The professional degree recipients are: 

John Behr         

John Behr earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from UMR in 1981 and a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from UMR in 1982. He began his career as a research engineer for Caterpillar and then moved on to Cummins Engine. In 1997, Behr went to work for Hussmann Corp., the world’s leading manufacturer of commercial refrigeration equipment. He eventually became vice president of engineering–retail sales for Hussmann and directed new product development programs in the United States, Europe and Asia. In 2007, he joined Schnuck Markets Inc. in St. Louis, where he is the director of facilities and maintenance. Behr is a member of the UMR Order of the Golden Shillelagh and the UMR Academy of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineers.

Jonas Bereisa Jr.                 

Jon Bereisa is director of General Motors’ Automotive Competitive Fuel Cell Program and is responsible for the development of hydrogen-powered fuel cell technology. Bereisa earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from UMR in 1967 and a master’s degree in electrical engineering from UMR in 1970. At GM, he has held numerous executive positions in new technology development throughout his career. He helped to develop microcomputers for emissions and fuel economy and has also worked on transmission controls, entertainment and comfort systems, and early navigation systems for GM cars and trucks. Before moving on to hydrogen-powered fuel cell technology, Bereisa helped GM with the 1997 production of an electric vehicle. Prior to joining GM in 1974, he worked for Collins Radio and Aerojet General Corp., where he was involved in the development of missile, aircraft and space-borne guidance computers and systems. 

David W. Gardner        

David Gardner received a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from UMR in 1984. Gardner then completed a master’s degree at the University of Colorado. In 1993, after working for a small research company in Colorado Springs, Gardner founded Silicon Mountain Design (SMD). During the next five years, SMD supplied high-performance imaging systems to customers like Daimler Benz and the U.S. Department of Defense. SMD was sold to Dalsa Inc. in 1999, but Gardner stayed on as president of Dalsa’s U.S. operations for the next two years. Gardner formed Summit Imaging in 2001. In 2003, Summit Imaging was acquired by Photon Dynamics Inc., the world’s leading supplier of liquid crystal flat-panel inspection systems. In 2005, Gardner formed a new company called Salvador Imaging, which continues to develop new imaging technology for a variety of applications, including night vision and aerial surveillance. Profits from Salvador Imaging are donated to various charities through a foundation. 

James R. Lucas         

Jim Lucas is a recognized authority on leadership and organizational development. He is the president and chief executive officer of Luman Consultants International, an organization he founded in 1983. The business offers consulting services to individuals, teams and organizations. In addition, Lucas is a sought-after public speaker and the author of 13 books, including The Passionate Organization: Igniting the Fire of Employee Commitment and Fatal Illusions: Shredding a Dozen Unrealities that Can Keep Your Organization from Success. Prior to founding Luman Consultants, Lucas worked in leadership positions at EMCI, Black and Veatch Consulting Engineers and Hallmark Cards. He earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering management from UMR in 1972. 

Dale J. Orrick         

Dale Orrick earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from UMR (then the Missouri School of Mines and Metallurgy) in 1956. He joined Granite City Steel Co. in Illinois and worked as a power engineer through 1968. Orrick moved on to Monsanto Co. in 1969 and was put in charge of the design and construction of crystal silicon wafers and light-emitting diodes in the United States, Belgium, England, Malaysia and Indonesia. At Monsanto, Orrick later managed the development of new technology for the separation of industrial gases in oil refineries and chemical plans. He also managed Monsanto’s synthetic turf business. In 1993, he became president and chief executive officer of Balsam Corp. in St. Louis. Balsam is the largest conglomerate corporation for sports surfaces in the nation. Orrick retired in 1994. He lives in Chesterfield, Mo. 

Helene Hardy Pierce         

Helene Hardy Pierce joined GAF Materials Corp. (GAFMC) in 2000 after 17 years with Tamko Roofing Products. As director of contractor services for GAFMC, Pierce is responsible for contractor services, field services, guarantee services and architectural information services. She received a bachelor’s degree in engineering management from UMR in 1983. She is active in the American Society for Testing and Materials. She also volunteers with Rebuilding Together, an organization that repairs and rebuilds homes for those in need. Among others, the organization helps those who have been displaced by hurricanes and injured military veterans who require housing modifications. 

Joseph Safron         

Dr. Joe Safron earned a bachelor’s degree in life sciences from UMR in 1979. After receiving his veterinary medicine degree at the University of Missouri-Columbia in 1983, Safron practiced general veterinary medicine for two years in Missouri. In 1988, he completed a residency in laboratory animal medicine in Columbia. He joined Baxter Healthcare Corp. in 1991. Safron is currently a senior research director for the technology resources division at Baxter Healthcare, which is a diversified global biotechnology, medical device and specialty pharmaceutical company. 

Kevin Skibiski         

Kevin Skibiski is vice president and chief operating officer for OS Engineering in Brookline, Mo. He earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from UMR in 1975 and a master’s degree in civil engineering from UMR in 1976. Skibiski is a professional engineer in 34 states and a professional land surveyor in two states. He received the Missouri Society of Professional Engineers Private Practice Distinguished Service Award in 2006. Skibiski has written for several trade journals and has also published a book about a log house he restored. He is active in the MSM-UMR Alumni Association and the UMR Academy of Civil Engineers. 

Robert M. Williams Jr.         

Rob Williams is president and chief executive officer of Williams Patent Crusher and Pulverizer Co. in St. Louis. He earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from UMR in 1974 and a master’s of business administration degree from Washington University in 1978. Williams has spent his entire career at Williams Patent Crusher
, a family-owned company with a 135-year history. He became vice president of operations in 1987 and was elevated to president and CEO in 1996. Williams Patent Crusher manufactures heavy industrial equipment and systems for clients all over the world. Rob Williams holds 26 U.S. patents. He is a member of the UMR Order of the Golden Shillelagh.

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On May 3, 2007. Posted in People