Alumni Association Awards presented at Appreciation Dinner
The University of Wisconsin-Superior Foundation held its annual Appreciation Dinner to honor those who give their time, talents and treasures to the university on Thursday, Sept. 21, in the Yellowjacket Unoin. During the event, the UW-Superior Alumni Association presented its 2017 Alumni Association Awards.
The Distinguished Alumni Award is presented to alumni whose successes serve as an inspiration for current and prospective students. This year’s recipient is Dennis White, class of 1969. Having distinguished himself as an outstanding educator and administrator in northern Wisconsin for more than 30 years, White was instrumental in establishing educational practices at the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe School as a teacher and then administrator. In 2009, White was invited by the Smithsonian Institution to participate in their Artist Leadership Program and the Smithsonian American Indian’s Indigenous Contemporary Arts Program on the National Mall in Washington D.C. In 2016, the Wisconsin Indian Education Association recognized White as the Wisconsin Indian Educator of the Year for his lifetime achievements in education and leadership.
The Alumni Association established the James Rainaldo Mentor Award to recognize faculty or staff members who have touched the lives of current and former students in a unique and significant way. One of this year’s recipients is Cherie Bridges. She began her career at UW-Superior in 1995 as the International Student Advisor, and served as the director of the Office of International Programs for the years prior to her retirement in 2015. Bridges also coordinated the Study Abroad and National Student Exchange programs on campus, giving hundreds of students the opportunity to experience and immerse themselves in cultures other than their own. With her encouragement, the World Student Association created the annual Cultural Night event in 1996, which showcases food and cultures from around the world and is still a highlight of the year on campus.
The James Rainaldo Mentor Award was awarded this year to Alvin Beal, known to most as Chip. Beal was an associate professor in the Human Behavior, Justice and Diversity Department at UW-Superior for 23 years and taught many First Nations Studies courses, including: Survey of First Nations, Myths and Legends, First Nations History I and II and Wisconsin First Nations History. Beal was the American Indian Student Services Coordinator in what was then known as the American Indian Studies Center and is now the First Nations Center. He later served as the Diversity Coordinator for Campus Life and the Director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs. Having created the Multicultural Affairs programing at UW-Superior, Beal touched the lives of countless students on our campus. He was able to use his personal experiences to connect with not only American Indian students, but all students of color. Through his First Nations classes, he opened the eyes and hearts of hundreds more.
The Edward and Betty Kossak Service Award was created to honor those who have made significant contributions in time, energy, leadership and support to further the goals of UW-Superior. This year’s recipient is Kathleen Berchild, class of 1964. Berchild and her husband, John, class of 1965, resided in southern California for 40 years before returning to Superior in 2010. In the late 1990s, she was instrumental in the establishment of the Southern California Alumni Chapter, which is still one of UW-Superior’s most involved chapters. Berchild served as a member of the UW-Superior Foundation Board of Directors from 1999 to 2005, and was chair of the Governance Committee. She and her fellow board members worked diligently on bringing University Advancement up to date and on Campaign Superior: Higher Expectations. Berchild was a key organizer of the 100th Anniversary Lambda Sigma Lambda reunion in 2014, and played a significant role in creating the Lambda Sigma Lambda Scholarship. This scholarship has awarded more than $12,500 during the last 12 years to UW-Superior students.
The Alumni Association established the Young Alumni Achievement Award to honor successful and inspirational alumni who have graduated within the past 15 years and are under 40 years of age. This year’s recipient is 2007 graduate, Walter Raschick IV, or as he is professionally known in some circles, Walt Dizzo. From 2008 to 2012 Raschick was the volunteer coordinator at Superior’s Center Against Sexual and Domestic Abuse. In 2012 he was hired as the director of the non-profit, Duluth Homegrown Music Festival. The area’s largest music festival, Homegrown spans eight days and features 200 musical acts performing in venues throughout Duluth and Superior. Raschick is the co-owner of the Duluth-based video production company, Lakefront Films and is also a freelance writer, editor and photographer. He is currently a Music Director for Wisconsin Public Radio/KUWS, which he began in 2004. Raschick hosts a popular weekly show, oversees the music programming and advises students and volunteers at the station.
The Honorary Alumni Award is presented to a person who is not an alumnus or alumna of the UW-Superior, but whose success serves as an inspiration for current and prospective students. This year’s recipient is Richard Pinney, who attended UW-Superior from 1965 to 1968. A chance meeting with the then-unknown Greg Brown led to a music collaboration that lasted several years and led to the live album, “Hacklebarney”. Pinney went on to have a successful solo career as a singer-songwriter. His 1977 album “Devil Take My Shiny Coins” was on several critics’ lists of that year’s best. His songs have been recorded by Michael Johnson, Mimi Farina and Jim Post and are widely performed by others today. Pinney worked in Los Angeles for eight years, where he was on the staff of TriStar Pictures, Chameleon Records and the 1984 Olympic Games. Today, Pinney is a web developer for nonprofits and progressive political causes. He works with the “Shakespeare-as-healing” group, Feast of Crispian, which helps combat veterans work through issues such as PTSD.