University Distinctions

University Distinctions

Explore St. Cloud State Distinctions and Facts

The oak leaf has long been a symbol for life and learning at St. Cloud State, where change is as constant as the flowing waters of the Mississippi River. Here the oak leaf signifies distinctions and facts that set St. Cloud State apart and foster institutional pride.

How to use:

  • Use the fields and tabs below to search for distinctions and facts that set St. Cloud State apart. A distinction is a story about an award, accomplishment, agreement, unique offering or excellent program. Facts are data-centered statements about the University including enrollment, economic impact and general statistics.
  • Use the check boxes with each entry and the report-building tool to create a customized PDF, based on distinctions and facts you've selected.
  • Use the submission form to suggest additions and corrections to the University Distinctions website.

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Accomplished alumni

Distinction


St. Cloud State has nearly 110,000 alumni worldwide. Nearly 77,000 of those live in Minnesota. About 15,600 live in the state's most populous county, Hennepin County. More than 11,000 live in Stearns County, where St. Cloud State is located.*

St. Cloud State's many accomplished alumni include:

  • James Bullard (1984, economics and quantitative methods), president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, a branch of the U.S. central banking system.
  • Jim Graves (1974, elementary education), founder, chairman and CEO of Graves Hospitality Corporation, which has developed more than 100 hotels, restaurants and resorts.
  • Benjamin Graves (1996, speech/interdependent studies), president and COO of Graves Hospitality Corporation, which has developed more than 100 hotels, restaurants and resorts.
  • Jeffrey Warne (1984, accounting), president and CEO of Perkins & Marie Callender's, a restaurant chain with more than 75 North America locations.
  • Keesha Gaskins-Nathan (1996, criminal justice studies), director for the Democratic Practice–United States program at the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, which advances social change that contributes to a more just, sustainable, and peaceful world. Formerly, Gaskins was senior counsel for the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice, New York University School of Law, New York City.
  • Beth Sorensen (1990, computer science), a MakeMusic executive and a driving force behind Finale, the industry standard for music notation, which was used to score films such as "Argo," "Life of Pi," "Lincoln" and "The King's Speech." Sorenson currently serves as a software development leader for the Boulder, Colorado company.
  • Stephen UBL (1991, speech, political science), president and CEO of Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the Washington D.C.-based advocate for biopharmaceutical research and discovery companies.
  • TyRuben Ellingson (1981, elective studies; 1982, master of art), conceptual designer who has worked with film directors such as James Cameron, Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Francis Ford Coppola, Guillermo Del Toro and the late Stanley Kubrick.
  • Tiffany Reiter (1997, biotechnology), Mayo- and Harvard-trained molecular biologist practicing intellectual property law in Boston with Fish & Richardson.
  • Brian Belski (1988, finance), chief investment strategist at BMO Capital Markets, a financial services multinational.
  • Heather Miller-Koch (2010, nursing), 10-time All-American track and field athlete and heptathlete at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
  • Paul Diethelm (2003, elective studies), award-winning songwriter and world-traveling guitarist, best known for his songwriting and touring with Grammy winner Johnny Lang and lead-guitar playing and comedic acting with the Fabulous Armadillos.
  • Dick Bremer (1978, mass communications), award-winning sports broadcaster, notably serving more than 30 years with the Minnesota Twins. Bremer is the recipient of the Silver Circle Emmy for Broadcast Excellence and is a member of the Minnesota Museum of Broadcasting Hall of Fame.
  • Deeann Griebel (1976, physical education), nationally ranked wealth advisor, including six selections to the Barron’s Top 100 Women Financial Advisor list since 2007.
  • Joe Alexander (1982, speech communication, mass communication), chief creative officer for the Martin Agency, Adweek's 2010 Agency of the Year. Among other efforts, Alexander supervised the GEICO Hump Day campaign and the Emmy Award-winning “Clouds Over Cuba” project for the JFK Presidential Library. 
  • Bonnie Henrickson (1986, physical education), women's basketball coach at University of California, Santa Barbara. Formerly head coach at University of Kansas.
  • Dan Hooper (1999, physics), dark matter expert and associate scientist in the Theoretical Astrophysics Group at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, Chicago. Also, an assistant professor at University of Chicago.
  • Peggy (Kriha) Dye (1991, music), world-traveling opera performer and artistic director. Notably, Dye performed the role of the Muslim princess in "Armide,"in the City of Light, shortly after the 2015 Paris terror attacks.  
  • Drew LeBlanc (2013, mathematics), winner of the 2013 Hobey Baker Memorial Award as the outstanding American college hockey player. A professional, LeBlanc has played in U.S. and Europe.
  • Bruce Pearson (1964, music), author of "Standard of Excellence Comprehensive Band Method," one of the world's most widely used music instruction series, available in English, Chinese, Spanish and Italian. A veteran clinician, Pearson has composed works for concert band and jazz ensemble.
  • Joel Goergen (1986, mathematics and electrical engineering), distinguished engineer at Cisco Systems, a networking equipment multinational based in San Jose, Calif.
  • Joseph Nayquonabe (1993, applied psychology), commissioner of corporate affairs, Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe.
  • William Knese (1974, accounting), former chair of the board of directors for the Institute of Management Accountants, a worldwide association of accountants and financial professionals working in business.  
  • Akash Sen (2003, master of business administration), talent director at Saatchi & Saatchi, a global advertising agency with offices in 76 nations.
  • Joseph Ripka (2004, music), prize-winning, Oberlin- and Yale-educated classical organist of international repute.
  • Bob Truax (1981, social studies), co-founder of Zubaz, a Minneapolis-based athletic and sports-leisure apparel company.
  • Clay Matvick (1996, mass communications), sportscaster for the ABC and ESPN networks.
  • Valeria Silva (1990, elective studies), former superintendent of Saint Paul Public Schools, a 39,000-student school district in St. Paul, Minn.
  • Tina Gust (1997, mass communications), former vice president of Minor League Baseball, the century-old organization that manages the developmental teams that feed Major League Baseball.
  • Search more notable alumni

Notable people who have attended St. Cloud State include:

  • Leo Kottke, Grammy-nominated, hall of fame acoustic guitarist with a four-decades-long recording career.
  • Frank Brimsek, (1915-1998) National Hockey League goalie who won two Vezina trophies and backstopped two Stanley Cup championship teams.
  • Jim Eisenreich, 15-year Major League Baseball player who won a World Series with the 1997 Florida Marlins. In 1990, he was the first recipient of the Tony Conigliaro Award, for overcoming Tourette syndrome.
  • Bret Hedican, National Hockey League defenseman who played parts of 20 seasons with five teams and won the 2006 Stanley Cup with the Carolina Hurricanes
  • Matt Cullen, National Hockey League veteran who played on Stanley Cup-winning teams with Carolina Hurricanes (2006) and Pittsburgh (2016).

* Alumni Relations data from July 2013

Organizational Units: St. Cloud State University

Learning Commitments:

alumni

2

Alumni, Bonnie Henrickson

Distinction


Bonnie Henrickson (1986, physical education) is women's basketball coach at University of California, Santa Barbara. She previously coached for 11 seasons at University of Kansas.

As a hard-charging forward at St. Cloud State she helped the Huskies win three Northern Sun Conference championships and advance to three NCAA Division II quarterfinals.

http://www.kuathletics.com/coaches.aspx?rc=554&path=wbball

Organizational Units: St. Cloud State University,School of Health and Human Services

Learning Commitments:

alumni

2

Alumni, James Bullard

Distinction


James Bullard (1984, economics and quantitative methods), is president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, a branch of the U.S. central banking system.

In these roles, Bullard participates in the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) and directs the activities of the Federal Reserve’s Eighth District head office in St. Louis and branches in Little Rock, Ark., Louisville, Ky., and Memphis, Tenn. FOMC makes the key decisions about interest rates and the growth of the U.S. money supply.

An economist and monetary policy scholar, Bullard has been with the Federal Reserve since 1990. His research has appeared in numerous professional journals, including the American Economic Review, the Journal of Monetary Economics, Macroeconomic Dynamics and the Journal of Money, Credit and Banking.

He holds a doctorate in economics from Indiana University, Bloomington.

http://research.stlouisfed.org/econ/bullard/

Organizational Units: Herberger Business School

Learning Commitments:

alumni

2

Alumni, Jim Graves

Distinction


Jim Graves (1974, elementary education) is founder, chairman and CEO of Graves Hospitality Corporation, which has developed more than 100 hotels, restaurants and resorts worldwide.

Seven years after earning his St. Cloud State degree, Graves built his first motel. While that single AmericInn was blossoming into a chain of 220 across the United States, Graves Hospitality Corporation was graduating to more upscale establishments with names like Radisson and Marriott and finally, Graves.

The elegant Graves 601 Hotel – the place the New York Times magazine called “the hottest, most fashionable hotel in town” opened in 1997 in downtown Minneapolis to rave reviews.

Graves gained national attention during his 2012 congressional race against Republican incumbent Michele Bachmann. Despite being outspent 12 to 1 in Minnesota's most conservative district, Graves lost the general election by 4,300 votes, or less than 1 percent.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim_Graves

Organizational Units: St. Cloud State University,School of Education

Learning Commitments:

entrepreneur, politics, alumni

2

Alumni, Tiffany Reiter

Distinction


Tiffany Reiter (1997, biotechnology), is a Mayo- and Harvard-trained biologist practicing intellectual property law in Boston.

Reiter is an associate in the Boston office of Fish & Richardson, an intellectual property and patent litigation firm with 12 offices in the U.S. and an office in Munich, Germany. She earned her law degree at Suffolk University, Boston.

She holds a doctorate in molecular biology from the Mayo Graduate School, Rochester, Minn. Her dissertation investigated the redox regulation of the phosphatase calcineurin.

She was a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Genetics and Complex Diseases at the Harvard School of Public Health. 

She also worked as a patent agent for Clark & Elbing, a Boston-based intellectual law firm.

http://outlook.stcloudstate.edu/tiffany-reiter-97-mixes-science-and-law/

Organizational Units: St. Cloud State University,College of Science and Engineering

Learning Commitments:

alumni

2

Alumni, Tina Gust

Distinction


Tina Gust (1997, mass communications), is a former vice president of Minor League Baseball (MiLB), the century-old organization that manages the developmental teams that feed Major League Baseball.

She managed revenue-generating opportunities and advances its company initiatives. She supervised three departments: Business Development, Event Services and Exhibition Services. In addition, Gust was responsible for identifying and reviewing new business opportunities.

Gust joined MiLB in 1998. She now is a self-employed consultant.

Organizational Units: College of Liberal Arts

Learning Commitments:

alumni

2

Alumni, TyRuben Ellingson

Distinction


TyRuben Ellingson (1981, elective studies; 1982, master of art), is a conceptual designer who has worked with film directors such as James Cameron, Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Francis Ford Coppola, Guillermo Del Toro and the late Stanley Kubrick.

Among his recent filmwork are "Pacific Rim" (2013), "Priest" (2011), "Avatar" (2009), and "Hellboy" (2004).

http://www.stcloudstate.edu/news/outlook/story.asp?pubID=15&issueID=27337&storyID=32398

Organizational Units: St. Cloud State University,College of Liberal Arts,School of the Arts

Learning Commitments:

art, alumni, CLA

2

Alumni, Valeria Silva

Distinction


Valeria Silva (1990, elective studies), is the former superintendent of Saint Paul Public Schools, a 39,000-student school district in St. Paul, Minn.

Silva began her career as a teacher at Adams Spanish Immersion School on St. Paul's west 20 years ago, rising through the ranks to principal, director of English language learning and chief academic officer.

http://www.stcloudstate.edu/success/stories.asp?storyID=33998

Organizational Units: St. Cloud State University,School of Education

Learning Commitments:

alumni

2

Alumni, Valerie Snobeck

Distinction

11/15/2013 12:00:00 AM

Valerie Snobeck (2003, art) exhibited spring 2014 at the Whitney Museum of American Art, on Madison Avenue in New York City. The Whitney Biennial is an every-two-years show of new American art. Her work has been shown at galleries in London, Brussels and Los Angeles.

Snobeck was born in Wadena and has lived in Detroit Lakes. She earned her master of fine art at the University of Chicago.

http://whitney.org/Exhibitions/2014Biennial

Organizational Units: College of Liberal Arts,School of the Arts

Learning Commitments:

alumni

2

Natalie C. Davis, Miss Minnesota 2011

Distinction


Natalie C. Davis (2013, mass communications) represented Minnesota in the 2012 Miss America pageant, appearing on a live ABC television broadcast. At summa cum laude student at St. Cloud State, Davis earned scholarships and a awards as a student journalist for UTVS Television. Notably, she earned the Jodi Huisentruit Scholarship and won a 2013 Midwest Emmy and a 2014 Broadcast Association Award.

http://youtu.be/_-0DroA6bAI

Organizational Units: College of Liberal Arts

Learning Commitments: Active and Applied Learning,Community Engagement

alumni

2