2015 Alumni Achievement Award


Peter Conzemius '65

"Pete is deserving of this recognition because he has applied the lessons taught at Saint John's to all realms of his life," says a classmate on his Alumni Achievement Award nomination form. Conzemius, who retired in 2013 as CFO of M.A. Mortenson Company, a Twin Cities construction firm, was well known for his commitment to ethical leadership. When interviewed in a 2006 Saint John's Magazine about financial leadership, Conzemius said, "The principle things are trust, integrity, ethics and values and making sure those traits are embraced throughout the company, from top to bottom."

Michael Howlett '70 (posthumous)

Michael Howlett was an accomplished attorney, popular law professor and a judge in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois. His volunteer contributions included service on the board of the American Refugee Committee, vice chairman of the Illinois Courts Gender Bias Task Force and president of the Illinois Lawyers Assistance Program for drug and alcohol addiction. Howlett was remembered fondly by family, friends, and colleagues following his death from cancer on March 26, 2014. "Mike inspired all of us here in the court by his staunch dedication to demonstrating the three c's to all litigants and colleagues: courtesy, compassion and competency," said Chief Judge Timothy Evans.

Fr. Michael Tegeder '70

When Fr. Michael Tegeder explored the Catholic Intellectual Tradition at Saint John's, he took its message to heart. As a priest in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis for four decades, he has been a devoted pastor, popular preacher and crusader for social justice. Tegeder is well known for speaking out about controversial issues in the Catholic Church and for calling for action from church officials. He is also currently president of the Parks and Trails Council of Minnesota. A Minneapolis Star Tribune story featuring Tegeder's work in two inner-city Minneapolis parishes states, "his duties include tending to addicts and the destitute and burying suicide and murder victims-sometimes literally."

Dr. Thomas Gelhaus '75

Tom Gelhaus has spent more than three decades caring for the dental needs of his patients in north central Wisconsin. One classmate who nominated Gelhaus for this honor notes that "his philosophy is simple: treat each patient as if Jesus was in the chair." Gelhaus and his staff also spend one day a month providing free dental work for needy families in central Wisconsin. Gelhaus doesn't limit his philosophy to his home territory. For more than 20 years, he has used his two-week vacation for dental mission work in Bolivia, Peru, Guatemala and Honduras.

Steve Wolfe '75

Steve Wolfe received his first exposure to legal aid when he worked with prisoners during law school. Today, Wolfe is a senior leadership attorney at Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services (SMRLS), where he's worked for more than 30 years. In his role, he oversees SMRLS's central office as it helps low-income people in cases involving fair housing, education, elder rights, medical benefits and family law. Wolfe notes that in legal aid, "you become aware of the common humanity and similarities between people." He is also known for his humility. One classmate says, "I have never once heard Steve talk about what he was doing for others."

Mark Poepping '80

When Mark Poepping graduated as a math and computer science student in 1980, SJU didn't have personal computers, the internet, cell phones or wired dorm rooms. But Poepping has spent the last 30 years involved in various aspects of just those issues at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. As senior director and head IT architect, Poepping is a primary contributor in setting the direction for computing at the university and oversees a team of 80 in setting and supporting central IT services on campus. He is also responsible for coordinating implementation of a long-range technology vision for central computing at Carnegie Mellon. One classmate says, "Mark's leading role in the computer science field is significant and should be recognized."

Eric Olson '85

Eric Olson had a successful career in the insurance industry, working his way up to partner and eventually president and co-owner. Shortly after his firm was acquired, Olson retired in 2014 enabling him to concentrate more on another passion: community service. Olson honed his leadership skills at SJU as a three-year varsity hockey captain and resident assistant, and now serves on numerous community boards and is a youth football and hockey coach. Today, he is the head hockey coach of the Waunakee Warriors (Wisc.), where his philosophy-respect for teammates, coaches, officials and opponents-has been so successful, it's been incorporated into all schools in the district.

John Boucher '90

Col. John Boucher is a distinguished military graduate and commissioned a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army from the Saint John's ROTC program. Since graduation, Col. Boucher has served in a variety of leadership positions in intelligence, special operations and diplomatic assignments. He has deployed three times to the Balkans, twice to Afghanistan and once to Iraq. Boucher is a highly decorated military officer and currently serves as the commander of the Human Intelligence Training - Joint Center of Excellence at Fort Huachuca, Arizona. He has been selected to be the next division chief, Middle East Operations at the Defense Intelligence Agency.

Craig Junker '90

When Craig Junker graduated, he wasn't sure what he wanted to do. But a two-year stint with the Christian Brothers as a LaSallian Volunteer teacher in Mississippi sealed the deal. Junker has been in education ever since. As president of Cotter Schools in Winona, Minnesota, and later as superintendent of the Lake City (Minn.) Public Schools, he emphasized the need for school communities to deeply care for, respect and inspire one another. Since 2014, Junker has served as president of Totino-Grace High School in Fridley, Minnesota. Junker told The Record in a 2011 interview the impact that SJU has had on his life. "I learned at SJU that prayer life and teaching go hand in hand," he said.

Mark Morrey '95

Mark Morrey currently serves as an assistant professor of orthopedics in the Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Medicine, where he is a shoulder and elbow surgery specialist. Morrey deferred his medical career for seven years to teach elementary school and volunteer abroad with underprivileged children. His long list of accomplishments includes receiving the Humanitarian Award from the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, earning a Girdlestone Research Fellowship at Oxford University and winning two Teacher of the Year Awards for the Department of Orthopedics at Mayo Clinic. Morrey can now add SJU Alumni Achievement Award to the list.