2014 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients
- December 1, 2014
Congratulations to the 2014 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients
Robert C. Bachus, Ph.D.
Principal Engineer, Geosyntec Consultants
Robert Bachus graduated from Harper College in 1971 and continued his education at the University of Illinois at Chicago earning both a bachelor’s and master’s degree. He continued his studies at Stanford University, where he earned a Ph.D. in geotechnical engineering.
After Stanford, Bachus began teaching at Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech), where he conducted funded research and published extensively in the field of geotechnical engineering. While at Georgia Tech, he immersed himself in the then-emerging fields of geosynthetics and geoenvironmental engineering, developing classes and conducting research in these areas.
In 1990, Bachus left Georgia Tech to join Geosyntec Consultants, where he currently serves as a Principal Engineer. Bachus has led and grown the firm from 100 people to an organization that currently employees approximately 1,100 individuals in its 75 U.S. offices and six international offices. Today, Geosyntec Consultants is recognized as an industry leader in the solid waste and geotechnical engineering fields, focusing on innovative techniques for leachate treatment, sustainable landfill designs and data management and visualization.
Bachus remains active in publishing and research, and he regularly speaks to student chapters of American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). He also teaches landfill design courses for Georgia Tech and the Center for Training, Research and Education for Environmental Occupations at the University of Florida and geotechnical engineering classes on behalf of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).
During his time at Harper, Bachus represented the College in three sports - cross-country, track and field and basketball. Bachus was the first Harper student-athlete to earn a varsity letter in all three sports in both years he attended Harper. As a result of his involvement and dedication, Bachus was voted Harper Athlete of the Year in May 1971.
Of his experience at Harper, Bachus, says, “Bottom line, had I to do it over again, I would not change a thing. Harper College was very good to me and for me. The experiences at Harper prepared me well for my eventual career.”
Dr. T. Tylor Behrens
Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean,
Southern Methodist University
Vice President/Founder, SkillBott, Inc.
A first generation college student, Dr. T. Tylor Behrens enrolled at Harper College in 1985. As a below-average high school student, he required remediation in math and English. Behrens credits his Harper instructors for being patient, caring and for establishing a strong foundation for his academic improvement and growth.
Not only did he graduate from Harper in two years, he transferred out of state to continue his baccalaureate degree in psychology. After completing his bachelor’s and master’s degrees, he continued on to earn a Doctorate in Higher Education Management from UCLA.
Behrens’s experience as a first generation college student inspired him to become a peer advisor while at Harper. He discovered that his passion for helping his fellow community college peers would serve as the foundation for his entire career.
Today, Behrens wears multiple hats at Southern Methodist University (SMU). He serves as the Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs, Dean of Residence Life and Student Housing, and Executive Director of the Hegi Family Career Development Center.
The Princeton Review recently ranked his career center number seven of 367 university career centers nationwide, and it has been in the top 20 for five years running. Earlier this year, Behrens was awarded the President’s Outstanding Leadership Award. This prestigious award is presented to only one of 1,000 faculty and staff at SMU each year.
Prior to joining SMU, Behrens served nine years with Siemens where he earned numerous awards.
In addition to his role at SMU, Behrens serves as Vice President and Founder of SkillBott, Inc., a company that provides learners and educators state-of-the-art college and career readiness courseware. SkillBott recently signed a distribution partner agreement with OutThink, which is an online software provider in India and the UK.
Behrens is an accomplished presenter and author on management, career development and workplace leadership. His significant community involvement includes service on countless boards and committees, volunteer work, and the coordination of hundreds of student-led service learning projects.
Rodney S. Craig
Mayor, Village of Hanover Park
Following a six-year tour of duty in the United States Navy, Rodney Craig attended Harper College as an adult student, earning a certificate in Electronics Technology in the fall of 1976. He continued his education at Concordia University, where he earned a Bachelor’s of Organizational Management.
Craig went on to work in Systems Operations with the Federal Aviation Administration for 33 years. He entered public service when he was appointed as a Trustee of the Hanover Park Fire Protection District in 1995. In 2001, he was appointed as a Trustee to the Hanover Park Village Board where he served until his election as Village President (Mayor) in 2007. He was subsequently reelected as Village President in 2009 and 2013.
Currently, in his third term as mayor, Craig is an advocate for public safety, community development and education. He has worked to streamline village operations, increase transparency and increase cooperation between the village government, schools, park districts and other organizations. Craig is a strong supporter of Hanover Park schools, where he is a youth mentor and regularly reads to students.
Craig was instrumental in bringing many stakeholders together to expand access to education and job training. In 2010, he convened a summit of schools, businesses and community groups to help address the rising crime and unemployment rate in the Hanover Park community. Four years later, as a result of Craig’s vision and perseverance, the Hanover Park Education and Work Center opened its doors in September 2014. This facility is operated jointly by Harper College and Elgin Community College and makes education and job preparation assistance more accessible to community residents.
Craig volunteers his time on the Campanelli YMCA Board of Directors, the U-46 School District Leadership Committee, the Schaumburg School District 54 Foundation, the Anne Fox School Kids at Hope Community Leadership Committee and in many other community organizations.
In addition to the impact that he has made locally, Craig is also active in intergovernmental relations on a regional, state and national level.
General Manager, Woodfield Mall
David Gott graduated from Harper College in 1988 and went on to receive his Bachelor’s in Economics from Northern Illinois University in 1990. He has been employed for 16 years by Simon Property Group, an S&P 100 company and a global leader in the retail real estate industry.
Currently, Gott is the general manager of Woodfield Mall, one of the largest shopping destinations in the United States. In his role, Gott manages the daily operations at Woodfield Mall, maximizing the asset value and overseeing leasing, contract negotiation, budgeting, tenant relations and marketing for the property.
During his tenure with Simon, Gott managed several assets including the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City, Bowie Town Center, St. Charles Towne Center and Potomac Mills. In 2013, he received Simon’s Best of the Best Award for Mall Managers and the Simon Extra Mile Award in 2014.
Gott has also served as an instructor with the Real Estate Associate Program (REAP). REAP is an industry-backed, market-driven program that serves as a bridge between talented minority professionals and commercial real estate companies looking for talent. REAP is widely regarded as the most successful diversity initiative in the commercial real estate industry.
Gott serves on the Board of Directors for the Schaumburg Economic Development Commission and is often asked to be a guest speaker on property management. He also helps at-risk students who are on the verge of dropping out of high school through the Simon Youth Foundation which has awarded more than $10 million in scholarships.
Linda J. Lang
Retired, Harper College Adjunct Faculty and Assistant Speech Team Coach
For more than 30 years Linda Lang has immersed herself at Harper College, first as a student, then as a teacher, next as a speech coach and now as one of the College’s strongest supporters. Linda Lang came to Harper in 1983 to refresh her business skills before re-entering the job market. When she discovered that Speech 101 was a requirement for an associate’s degree, she almost decided to forgo the degree due to her fear of public speaking. However, that speech class turned out to be the catalyst for all her future educational goals.
Lang did so well in Speech 101 her professor invited her to join the first Harper College Speech Team. Pushing past her fear of public speaking, Lang joined the team and went on to win at every tournament she attended, an accomplishment no other speech team student has ever achieved.
Lang graduated from Harper with her associate’s degree and a 4.0 GPA in 1989. She went on to earn a Bachelor’s (summa cum laude) and a Master’s of Speech Communication from Northern Illinois University before returning to teach Speech 101 as an adjunct faculty member at Harper College. During her tenure, she served as assistant speech team coach, judged speech tournaments, volunteered countless hours of her time and traveled with the team to national tournaments. Lang also received the inaugural Harper Speech Team Alumni Award in 2008.
After retiring Lang established the Linda J. Lang Endowed Speech Scholarship. In addition to her endowed scholarship, Lang has generously supported many other scholarships and programs at the College. She also has served on the Harper College Educational Foundation’s Annual Giving Committee since 2004 and more recently has joined the newly formed Alumni Committee.
“Coming to Harper College and particularly participating on the Harper Speech Team provided me with much needed confidence,” says Lang. “If I hadn’t come to Harper, I would not have ended up with college degrees and a job teaching at Harper – a career I found challenging and rewarding.”
Meg McEnery-Schnoor, Ed.D.
Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning
Community Consolidated School District 15
Dr. Meg McEnery-Schnoor’s career as a special education teacher and school administrator began while attending Harper College in 1989. A professor suggested that she consider teaching special education because he felt she had the patience, desire and intelligence to foster learning in special needs populations. Schnoor also worked as a volunteer tutor, note taker and swim instructor for students with disabilities during her time at Harper. All of these experiences further solidified her aspirations to be a special education teacher.
After earning her Associate’s degree from Harper in 1991, Schnoor continued her education at Illinois State University, earning a Bachelor’s in Education with endorsements in Learning Disabilities, Emotional Disturbances and Cognitive Disabilities.
Upon graduation, she began her teaching career as an alternative school instructor for Township High School District 214. Her position involved working with economically disadvantaged children and wards of the state residing in Maryville Academy in Des Plaines. In addition, Schnoor continued her volunteer work as a swim instructor for students with disabilities, primarily those on the Autism spectrum.
In recent years, Schnoor earned a master’s degree and Doctor of Curriculum and Instruction degree. She has served as an Assistant Principal, Principal, District Director of Special Education and is currently the Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning for Community Consolidated School District 15 in Palatine, IL.
In her various positions, Schnoor has provided outstanding educational services to individuals with disabilities. She has served as an advocate, ensuring that the rights and needs of students with disabilities were considered and protected when serving on committees to open new school buildings, as well as a sounding board and resource for parents of students with disabilities. Schnoor’s efforts have been recognized by the Illinois State Board of Education with their Those Who Excel award, by Township High School District 214 with their Outstanding Contributions Award and the Illinois Alliance of Special Educators with the William Ott Award and Scholarship.
James P. Meier
MeritCorp Group LLC
Jim Meier began his engineering career in 1984 as a technician trainee for the Illinois Department of Transportation while still in high school. Upon graduation, he enrolled at Harper College, completing his Associate’s degree in 1991. Meier continued his education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison earning his Bachelor’s of Agricultural Engineering.
While still an undergraduate at Wisconsin, Meier served as an instructor for several land surveying and hydraulics lab courses and lectures during his final year. In addition, Meier worked for three different engineering firms rising to the level of survey project manager along the way.
After University of Wisconsin, Meier was hired as the water resources engineer and assigned as the resident engineer for a major flood control reservoir project. This project was in combination with a new golf course, that he helped design while he was at Wisconsin.
In addition to engineering and surveying, Meier has experience in property boundary law and floodplain/stormwater management. He has been called upon as an expert witness for several projects, as a licensed professional engineer, a licensed professional land surveyor and a certified floodplain manager in Illinois.
In 2005, after holding leadership positions in several engineering and consulting firms, Meier founded his own engineering company, MertiCorp Group LLC, by merging with another company. MertiCorp saw immediate success as a full-services civil engineering, land surveying, and land planning firm. After the downturn in the residential and construction industries, the company re-invented itself to stay ahead of the curve. MertiCorp was able to secure work in the public sector with school districts and park districts. Only 2.5 percent of all engineers are self-employed, and Meier is proud to be among this select group. The firm now includes an office in downtown Palatine, which Meier leads, with its headquarters in Aurora, Illinois.
Meier is a licensed Master Captain by the United States Coast Guard and enjoys boating on Lake Michigan, which was a life-long dream.
Meier is an active member of the Palatine Chamber of Commerce and involved with the Schaumburg Business Association, Fox Valley Business Leaders and is a member of the Biological Systems Engineering Curriculum Committee, which helps shape the engineering program for future students and maintain compliance for ABET Accreditation. He is also a member of the Harper College Educational Foundation Board of Directors and co-chair of the Alumni Committee.
Peter Soby, Jr.
Writer/Director/Producer/Social Media Strategist
Krazy Killah Media
While Peter Soby, Jr. was a student at Harper College, he was a student leader and involved in many activities. In 1987, he suffered a traumatic spinal cord injury which left him a C5-C6 quadriplegic and bound to a wheelchair.
After spending nine months in hospitals and rehab centers he returned to Harper and graduated with his associate’s degree in the spring of 1989. Soby continued his education at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana, earning a Bachelor’s of Speech Communications in June of 1991.
Soby moved to Los Angeles, CA and began working in the entertainment industry. He spent several years working for various production companies before starting his own company as an independent producer. Soby has written, directed and produced across many mediums, including film, television, radio, theater, music videos, sketch comedy and magazines.
Today, Soby continues to write, direct and produce, as well as offer his individual and business clients marketing, branding and social media expertise through his company, Krazy Killah Media.
He is a volunteer with Project Share, speaking to high school and middle school students about his experience and the dangers of diving into shallow water. His story has served as an inspiration to students as they see how he not only survived, but thrived in his career and in life.
Soby is also an active member of and volunteer at the Kabbalah Centre in Los Angeles. In addition, he has donated his film and video services to the center and to other community organizations for their events or charities.