Six Alumni to be Recognized for Professional Contributions


The St. Ambrose University College of Health and Human Services, College of Arts and Sciences, and College of Business will honor six alumni for their outstanding accomplishments and professional contributions and for the many ways they embody the university's mission through leadership, scholarship, and service.

The virtual award ceremony will begin at 2:30 p.m. on Sept. 25 on WebEx. Register for the event by clicking here

Each recipient was nominated by a faculty or staff member who noted how these Ambrosians elevated their professions, communities, and alma mater.

College of Health and Human Services

John Bowser '02, PhD, will receive the Distinguished Alumnus Award. He is a public health researcher and evaluator at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee; adjunct faculty in the St. Ambrose Master of Public Health (MPH) program; a dedicated alumnus who encourages students to pursue a career in public health; and a willing expert and contributor who is helping inform SAU's response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"He has a strong commitment to public health, with an unwavering focus on social justice and service," said Colleen Doak, PhD, an associate professor in the MPH program. "Dr. Bowser is a tireless advocate of the Ambrosian mission and spirit, drawing on his experiences to inspire students and to encourage them to consider the MPH program," she added.

After earning his undergraduate degree in Marketing at SAU, Bowser earned a master's degree in Human and Community Resources and a doctorate in Community Health Sciences. He has focused much of his career on health and wellness among students in the state of Wisconsin and participates in ongoing public health initiatives relating to HIV/STD prevention and surveillance in schools, influencing health-related and academic outcomes for school-age parents, the mental and physical health of children, and school violence and bullying prevention.

Bowser also serves on the SAU College of Health and Human Services Alumni Committee and in the past year has extensively assisted the university in informing its response to the pandemic.

"John's contributions come from his strong commitment to social justice and service that was considerably strengthened by his education at St. Ambrose," said Assistant Professor and Director of the Master of Public Health Program Melissa Sharer, PhD. "He deserves recognition and appreciation for his extraordinary service to SAU during the COVID pandemic as well as his previous service throughout Wisconsin"

Anabel Flaherty '62, '77, MSEd, will receive the Distinguished Alumnae Award. Her career, spanning 61 years, began with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from St. Ambrose, and in the years following, she earned two master's degrees. Flaherty's education and drive led her to become the second licensed nurse practitioner in the state of Iowa, and she focused on psychiatric nursing.

Ann S. Garton, MSN, director of the Institute for Person-Centered Care at St. Ambrose and a clinical associate professor of Nursing, said Flaherty always "demonstrated the value of hard work, compassion for all, a belief in science, integrity and above all, the God-given dignity in every person. Anabel had a long and remarkable career at both the Vera French Mental Health Center and culminated her service in private practice. Anabel has been active in supporting the Humility Homes and Services. She is well acquainted with the suffering of those disadvantaged within our community."

During the pandemic, and before retiring on May 27, Flaherty continued to care for her patients via telemed. "She found that she could still provide the necessary services to those with mental health needs during a difficult time. She also recently volunteered and shared her expertise in practicing person-centered care through the pandemic on a podcast for the SAU Institute for Person-Centered Care," Garton said.


2020 Alumni Awards

Six Honorees

Each recipient was nominated by a faculty or staff member who noted how these Ambrosians elevated their professions, communities, and alma mater.

College of Arts and Sciences

Rosalind Wilcox '88, MFA, will receive the Distinguished Alumna Award. She is chair of the Fine Arts Department at Coahoma Community College in Clarksdale, Mississippi, and is described as an "artist, educator, musician, and brilliant storyteller" by Renee Busha, Galvin Fine Arts Center marketing manager.

"Born with a congenital condition that caused her to lose much of her eyesight in her 20s, she has never been one to let adversity stop her and lives a life of kindness and generosity," Busha said. "Rosalind has always worked, not only with her own students but has shared her life with those in every community in which she has lived."

Wilcox maintains ties with St. Ambrose University and graciously encourages young artists. Her exhibition, Finding God in the Dark - A Retrospective Exhibition, was featured in the Catich and Morrissey galleries this past spring, and during the week Wilcox was on campus she met with art students and gave a vocal performance in Madsen Hall.

Wilcox followed her Bachelor of Arts in Art Education from St. Ambrose with a Master of Fine Arts degree in Art Therapy from the Art Institute of Chicago and a Master of Arts degree from The University of Mississippi.

Dylan Parker '10 will receive the Emerging Leader Award. Since graduating from St. Ambrose with a bachelor's degree in Philosophy, Parker has devoted himself to strengthening his community.

"Dylan took his SAU social justice education and made the most of it, doing what many simply do not have the bravery to do – namely, run for public office," said Philosophy Professor Tadd Ruetenik, PhD.

"Inspired in part by the 2016 Presidential campaign, Dylan raised funds to travel to Philadelphia as a delegate. Soon after, he started a campaign to be a local alderman, showing that politics is local and important," Ruetenik added.

Parker is the 5th Ward Alderman in Rock Island, Illinois, and plans to seek a second term next year. He formerly worked as a diesel mechanic at MCH Kenworth Quad Cities, where he also participated in union organizing. At St. Ambrose, he organized the Food Not Bombs activist group and was a member of GreenLife.

College of Business

Ryan Weber '98 will receive the Distinguished Alumnus Award. He is an Audit Partner at RSM US LLP (the fifth-largest accounting firm in the world), the Office Managing Partner of the firm's Davenport practice, and leads the firm's campus recruiting efforts at SAU.

"We hear a lot about servant leadership, often from people promoting themselves with words rather than actions," said Associate Professor of Accounting Mike Cipriano, PhD. "Ryan is a servant leader who serves not only his firm and our Quad Cities community but also a huge number of our accounting students who consider him a mentor and role model."

After graduating with a bachelor's degree in Accounting, Weber launched his career with RSM in Davenport and eventually relocated to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where he led the firm's healthcare industry audit practice for the southeast region of the United States. He returned to the Quad Cities in 2014. In addition to working closely with St. Ambrose students, he serves on the board of several nonprofit and community organizations.

"He is a great person who represents what it is to be Ambrosian by giving back so much of his time to our students and our accounting program," Cipriano said.

Dick Kleine '13 DBA will receive the Distinguished Alumnus Award. After serving in the U.S. Air Force, Kleine launched a 38-year high-impact career with Deere & Company. In retirement, he built on his education – an undergraduate degree in engineering and a Master of Business Administration – by earning a DBA from St. Ambrose.

Kleine held 10 positions with Deere & Company before serving as Vice President of Quality, where he helped achieve business excellence through customer satisfaction, process improvement, and strategies to improve the company, its people and product quality. He empowered employees to achieve the company's vision, believing each one played a role in the success of the organization and recognized their contribution. Kleine pioneered a change in culture, management style, and in developing teams, and engaged employees in the John Deere organization.

Throughout his career and in retirement, Kleine has served numerous Quad Cities organizations as a board member and generously sponsors recognition programs for many non-profits.

"Dr. Kleine has tirelessly invested in and contributed to life in the Quad Cities, serving in many significant capacities. He was celebrated as the 2018 Outstanding Philanthropist by the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Illinois Quad Cities chapter," said Professor David O'Connell, DBA.

"He was devoted to innovation and change during his career at John Deere. His empowering approach to leadership was chronicled in the book Worker Leadership, and he retired in 1998," O'Connell added.


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