Distinguished Alumni to be honored at commencement

April 26, 2013

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PLATTEVILLE, Wis.­­­ — The University of Wisconsin-Platteville will honor four recipients of the Distinguished Alumni Award during the 190th commencement on Saturday, May 11.

Commencement exercises for the College of Business, Industry, Life Science and Agriculture as well Graduate Studies will be held at 9 a.m., followed by the College of Liberal Arts and Education at 12:30 p.m. and the College of Engineering, Mathematics and Science at 4 p.m. Candidates from the School of Graduate Studies participate in the college ceremony representing their degree program.

Each commencement will be held at the Williams Fieldhouse.

The Distinguished Alumni Award acknowledges individuals who have demonstrated career success. Award winners contribute to a body of knowledge that advances a profession through research or professional activities, have made a significant contribution to society in the form of philanthropic contributions or have demonstrated visionary thinking and actions.

Joe Lomax and Ruth Joyce were selected for the award to represent the College of Liberal Arts and Education.

Khalil “Kal” Kardous was selected as a Distinguished Alumnus for the College of Business, Industry, Life Science and Agriculture.

Kurt Kavajecz was selected for the award in the College of Engineering, Mathmematics and Science.

Lomax has blazed a historic trail in the field of criminal justice. During his nearly 40 years of dedicated service, Lomax led the transformation of UW-Platteville’s criminal justice program. He retired at the conclusion of the fall 2012 semester.

In 1963, Lomax was hired as an officer with his hometown Beloit Police Department, the first African-American to hold the position. As a result of achievement, training and hard work, he was promoted after three-and-a-half years. He ultimately operated the department’s traffic department and aspects of their training program.

Richard Post and Art Kingsbury, who founded the police science program at UW-Platteville, recruited Lomax in 1969.

In 1969, he joined the UW-Platteville faculty, where he was the first full-time African-American faculty member on staff.

There were just a few police science programs at institutes of higher learning in the country at the time, according to Lomax, and the federal government was just beginning to invest heavily in police science programs. “There were also very few persons of color and females in the field at that time,” said Lomax. “I had many discussions with criminal justice agencies to allow females to enter.”

Lomax was one of very few African-Americans who represented a university. He traveled to cities throughout the state and many times people in criminal justice agencies he would visit wouldn’t shake his hand.

Lomax launched the Criminal Justice Career Day and the department’s internship program at UW-Platteville. He introduced new classes during the years and organized the Criminal Justice Alumni Reunion as well as worked to get the online criminal justice master’s program and undergraduate online program started.

“I am proud of the fact that in addition to the internship program I was able to get the online master’s program and undergraduate online program started and the forensic investigation program in the air,” said Lomax.

Lomax served three terms on the UW-Platteville Faculty Senate and was chair of the criminal justice department for 17 years.

He helped the Platteville Police Department establish policies and procedures and served three terms on the city of Platteville’s Police and Fire Commission, including five years as chair.

The UW-Platteville Racial Disparities in Criminal Justice and Education Task Force came together under Lomax’s leadership. The group included volunteers from throughout the state interested in increasing education and reducing incarceration for persons of color.

“I am proud that we made a significant contribution to the field of criminal justice,” said Lomax, noting that persons in all fields of criminal justice throughout the country have been influenced by UW-Platteville’s criminal justice program.”

Joyce earned a bachelor’s in business administration, with a minor in journalism from UW-Platteville in 1979. She later earned a master’s degree in counselor education from UW-Platteville in 1989.

Joyce currently works as the director of Academic Affairs and Advising for the Wisconsin School of Business at UW-Madison. She offers advising to pre-business, admitted business and Certificate in Business students. She also serves as the designated advisor for the real estate and human resources majors and as a liaison to their faculty.

Joyce partners with Business Career Center advisors on major advising and handbook projects, while also serving on the orientation and survey committees for the BBA team. She also advises the National Society of Collegiate Scholars chapter.

Following her graduation from UW-Platteville, Joyce has been employed twice professionally on campus. She worked as a recruitment manager from October 2003 through July 2006 and as associate director of Alumni Services from February 1991 through August 1991. She also worked as an admissions advisor and coordinator for new student registration and orientation from August 1989 through February 1991.

Joyce served on the Alumni Association board of directors for many years, including a term as president.

Throughout her career, Joyce has earned multiple awards. In 2003, she earned the Outstanding Team in Student Services award presented by the UW Colleges. In 1997, she was recognized for her Outstanding Service as a mentor, where she was recognized by the Beta Beta Psi Chapter of the Phi Kappa Honor Society at the Madison Area Technical College.

“Ruth has changed the lives of many people throughout her career in student services,” said Kristin Determan in her nomination letter.

Outside of her career, Joyce has served on the local arrangements committee for the Alice in Dairyland Finals, is a regular donor to the American Red Cross and is a bell ringer for the Salvation Army. Thus far, Joyce has donated more than four gallons of blood to the American Red Cross. In addition, Joyce works more than three times each month as a vigil volunteer with Agrace Hospice Care.

Kardous, a native of Demascus, Syria, is a 1970 graduate of UW-Platteville. He earned a bachelor’s in comprehensive business, economics and French literature.

Following graduation, Kardous started working for an insurance company and quickly learned that was not the industry in which he wanted to work. He then began working for a copy machine company where he advanced quickly and was  transferred to Charlotte, N.C. He continued to work for the company until he decided to start his own company in 1988, Charlotte Copy Data. The business grew into 10 locations, with over 260 employees, in North and South Carolina.

Kardous served as CEO of Copy Data Network Inc. until his recent retirement. He currently resides in Charlotte.

Kavajecz is a 1983 alumnus of UW-Platteville with a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering.

Kavajecz has served as the plant manager of the Belvidere, Ill. assembly plant of Chrysler Group LLC for the past 13 years. He has 29 years of hands-on manufacturing experience in fast-paced automotive assembly operations and currently leads up to 4,800 employees.

With Chrysler Group, Kavajecz has led the launch of four new vehicles, three production shifts, and the transformation from a traditional manufacturing site into one focused on World Class Manufacturing principles. In 2008, his plant was recognized as the most productive North American assembly plant in the small car and SUV segment as well as the number one overall car assembly plant in North America.

Effective May 1, he became the director of Manufacturing Engineering General Assembly for North America and relocated to Auburn Hills, Mich.

Contact: Kim Schmelz, UW-Platteville Alumni Association, (608) 342-1970, schmelzk@uwplatt.edu

Written by: Dan Wackershauser, UW-Platteville University Information and Communications, (608) 342-1194, wackersd@uwplatt.edu

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