The 2010 Alumni Association Award Winners
Teresa Schissler-Boichot — Outstanding Young Alumni Award
As a student, Teresa Schissler-Boichot loved to venture to the shores of Lake Superior and watch the northern lights dancing across the sky. They were the backdrop to a college life from which she fashioned a stellar career.
A native of Lansing, Boichot graduated in 1998 with a bachelor's degree in civil engineering. She worked for six years at Caterpillar Inc. in Peoria, Illinois. She then went to Patten Industries, a Caterpillar dealer in heavy equipment and engines, in Elmhurst, Illinois. There, she led 125 employees as the product support manager for the engine division, which has $32 million in parts and service sales. She also started up a Six Sigma Department the following year as Patten's Six Sigma Master Black Belt.
In 2007, she joined National Management Resources, a firm in LaGrange, Georgia, that supplied landscaping, custodial, and maintenance services to colleges and universities. As executive vice president of operations, she oversaw 650 employees working with twenty institutions in ten states.
She is now an independent senior sales director for Mary Kay Cosmetics, a company that has $2.7 billion in wholesale sales worldwide, and she has her own consulting firm in LaGrange, Boichot Consulting LLC.
Boichot says Michigan Tech prepared her well for the real world. "I didn't realize how well until I left," she says. "I went to another school for a master's degree and I appreciated Michigan Tech even more."
She has been closely involved in the Society of Women Engineers. As a student, she was president of the campus chapter; as a professional, she has participated in national conventions, conducting a presentation on how women can market themselves.
Underscoring this leadership—and her overall career success—is an ethic of hard work and determination. "I try to do my best in everything. Set high goals. Reach them. Set more high goals."
She learned that at Michigan Tech, where she had to study very hard. "Looking back, I wouldn't want it any other way," she says, "because then you can be proud of your degree." Joanie Clay photo
Robert Freimuth — Outstanding Service Award
Robert Freimuth has traveled far in a distinguished career in the automotive industry, where he has had wide-ranging responsibilities. "The common thread has been working with others to get things done," he says. "It's a people business."
Freimuth brings that standard to Michigan Tech, where he has coordinated GM's relations with the University; supported Career Fairs; fostered research; hired hundreds of students; and championed campus leadership and honors programs. He also has helped Michigan Tech establish signature programs, including the YES! Expo in Detroit, the Enterprise Program, FutureCar, and Partners for the Advancement of Collaborative Engineering Education, an industry-university initiative.
He served on the Alumni Association Board of Directors from 1986 to 1992 and is a charter member of the Corporate Advisory Board for Institutional Diversity. He is also a member of the McNair Society, which recognizes those who include Michigan Tech in their estate plans, and the Presidents Club, which recognizes those who provide annual support to the University.
"My input has always been welcome," he says about his service. "It makes you want to do more."
A native of Calumet, Freimuth joined General Motors after graduating in 1977 with a BS in Business Administration. He has spent his entire career with GM, most recently as manager of GM's Global Manufacturing System for Future Programs.
His career was made possible in part by an education that gave him an "excellent background" in business, marketing, economics, and labor law. Freimuth rounds out those assets with "an appreciation for other points of view."
He draws on that strength to practice his "passion" for good leadership, or, as he says, "helping organizations be effective." To share that passion, he teaches an MBA-level leadership class, passing on the lessons he has learned both in his career at GM and in his service to his alma mater. The two most fundamental qualities of a good leader, he tells his students, are "integrity and listening to people." Robert Freimuth photo
Richard Henes — Distinguished Alumni Award
Richard Henes, who earned a BS in Mechanical Engineering in 1948, is recognized for his generosity, loyalty to his alma mater, and vibrant leadership.
Henes fashioned considerable success from diligence and opportunity. In 1958, after working as an engineer and lawyer, he established what was to become the Henes Manufacturing Company in Arizona. Its products ranged from electronic instruments to pickup truck beds. "We had success," he recalls, but he really prospered in real estate in the then-burgeoning Phoenix area. His guideline: "Buy, hold, and sell when the time is right."
His timing was excellent, so excellent that it allowed him to become a philanthropist, a role he says is the only "sensible alternative" to the accumulation of wealth. Accordingly, Richard and Elizabeth Henes became stewards of Michigan Tech. Over the course of ten years, the couple established the Henes Endowed Scholarship; the Henes Chair in the Department of Mechanical Engineering–Engineering Mechanics; and the Henes Endowed Professorship in the Department of Mathematical Sciences. As well, they have provided annual support for the University and have included the Seaman Mineral Museum in their estate plans.
Their stewardship is based on an appreciation for a Tech education (It gave him training and incentive); an especially helpful professor, R. Rex Seeber ("He was brilliant, kind, and straightforward"); hard work ("I was pretty much driven"); and his vision of educating an "enlightened generation" (which, he hopes, will maintain America's place in the world).
Richard and Elizabeth Henes are members of Tech's Hubbell Society for their lifetime giving and the McNair Society for their estate gift commitments. Richard Henes is also a Golden M member of the Alumni Association; a member of the ME-EM Academy, which recognizes excellence and leadership; and a member of Tech's Generations of Discovery Capital Campaign Committee. Photo provided by Richard Henes
William Predebon — Honorary Alumni Award
William Predebon, professor and chair in the Department of Mechanical Engineering–Engineering Mechanics, has been a devoted and dependable leader on campus for more than thirty years.
He earned his bachelor's degree from the University of Notre Dame in 1965 and his master's and doctorate from Iowa State University in 1968 and 1970, respectively. He joined ME-EM in 1976. He has been chair of the department since 1997 and has transformed the program.
Under his watch, ME-EM has made great strides in conducting interdisciplinary research, growing the doctoral program, and expanding research funding. "Our competition is now global, no longer just national," he says. "Our educational and research programs must adapt. More than ever, research opportunities are pervasive and essential."
He also has brought diversity to both the faculty and student body. "Diversity," he says, "is something that should be part of our fabric."
Predebon has received numerous honors, including membership in Michigan Tech's Academy of Teaching Excellence; the Outstanding Service Award for his work with the student chapter of the Society of Automotive Engineers; and the Distinguished Teaching Award. As well, he received the Distinguished Faculty Award from the Michigan Association of Governing Boards of Colleges.
He has been deeply involved in the University's fundraising efforts; has advised both the Nordic and Alpine ski teams and Delta Sigma Phi fraternity; and has chaired the building committees for both the Dow Environmental Sciences and Engineering Building and the Great Lakes Research Center.
His research has involved experimental, analytical, and computational elements. He has been granted two US patents. He is a captain in the US Army Reserves and is a member of four honor societies.
His leadership informs his vision for the department. "The world is changing," he says, "and we need to respond to its challenges and opportunities." Ryan Schumacher photo