Where are they now?

Bradley and its students have witnessed many  changes over the last 40 years. But the desire of students to step up and lead on important issues remains constant. These stories briefly reflect on some past campus issues and describe the paths taken by 22 student body presidents after they left the university limelight.

Selling newspapers

In 2009, TONY “CHIP” COLLETTI ’74 began managing 3867 Partners, a private investment firm that bought a major interest in the Chicago Sun-Times. The investment firm sold the Sun-Times, along with 40 suburban publications and websites, to Wrapports LLC last December. 

Tony practiced law in Chicago until 1991 when he became legal counsel and manager of government affairs for the Department of Commerce and Community Affairs in Springfield. He returned to private practice and later founded a public affairs consulting firm in Washington, D.C. 

During his college years, after an era of campus protests, Tony recalls that Bradley students began concentrating more on college life. “It was a bridge to a different attitude on campus.” He credits his Senate experience with helping secure his fellowship at Notre Dame Law School. “The Bradley president had the foresight to have the student body president at Board of Trustees meetings. It forced us to see issues from the Board’s viewpoint and to partner with the administration.”

Tony has two daughters. He and his wife Veronique reside in Crystal Lake and Miami.  

Tuition hike delayed

Some of the fondest college memories of PHIL PRITZKER ’75 also revolve around Bradley’s seventh president, MARTIN ABEGG ’47 HON ’93. “As part of the discussion process about an increase in tuition and fees, President Abegg and the vice president of business affairs met with a couple of us at my apartment. The increase was ultimately put off until the next year, as I recall,” says Phil, who has worked in real estate for more than 25 years. He manages the largest condominium in Illinois (more than 950 units in downtown Chicago) for the Habitat Co. Phil has been honored for being a member of the Wheeling District 21 School Board since 1989. He also serves on the executive committee of the Illinois Association of School Boards. Phil has five daughters. He and his wife Susan live in Arlington Heights. 

Father/daughter team

A graduate of Loyola Law School of Chicago, KEVIN TILTON ’75 has practiced law since 1979. He also is president of County Title Co. His daughter BRAE TILTON ’08 recently joined his law practice in Peoria. 

One idea investigated by the Student Senate during Kevin’s term as president was the possibility of eliminating PE as a graduation requirement. 

At the time, he noted that students had been interested in Watergate, but were concerned primarily with finding employment. “They are interested and worried about their own destiny, their own job plans, their own future with their college degree.”

Kevin and his wife Bonnea live in Bartonville and are also the parents of two sons.

This dynamic father/daughter duo participated on the speech team in the ’70s and from 2004 to 2008, respectively. Brae also served as the president of the speech team. Read more about Bradley's speech team dynasty.

The time had come …

A cherished memory for ANNE EDWARDS-COTTER ’77 is the evening President Gerald Ford visited Bradley. Anne sat next to him on the dais at Robertson Memorial Field House, shortly after being elected Bradley’s first female president. Of 106 full-time civil engineering majors at Bradley in 1976, Anne was one of just eight women. Did she consider herself a trailblazer? “Everybody likes to be unique and different, but other than that I never gave it much thought,” she remarked that year. 

Anne founded Chicago-based Cotter Consulting in 1990 and serves as its president. “We have over 75 employees and provide project management and construction management services for capital projects in the Chicago area and in southeastern Wisconsin.”

“One of our biggest issues in Student Senate was getting beer served in the pub/bowling alley at the Student Center,” she says, looking back to when the Sit ‘n’ Bull was transformed into The Archive and then The Wharf. For decades Lydia Moss Bradley’s will was thought to outlaw alcohol on or near campus, but attorneys determined that it was city leaders, not Mrs. Bradley, who had stipulated no alcohol.

Regarding her three years in Senate, Anne says, “I loved the experience and believe that it prepared me well for a successful business career.” She and her husband Bill live in Darien. They have four children, including PATRICK COTTER ’10.  

Protecting kids

Safe housing was a hot button that ART WEBSTER ’78, the first student body president to serve a second term, still recalls speaking about to the Board of Trustees. Due to a housing shortage, almost 200 students were housed at the YMCA in downtown Peoria and, tragically, one fell to his death. “There should have been an adequate amount of nearby housing for students,” says the Georgetown Law School graduate. The situation improved in 1979 with the construction of the six-story Student Apartment Complex (SAC).

Attempting to make student government more efficient, Art drafted a new constitution in 1977. A referendum was held, but fell a few votes short of passing. “We went out to meet with students in the dorms every Friday. We also worked very well with the administration. We were never confrontational.” Since 1986 Art has been an assistant attorney general in Hartford, working on child protection cases. He has been teaching children’s law at the University of Connecticut School of Law for the past 20 years. He lives in Cromwell, Connecticut. 

Bradley’s Gerald Ford

Because he was never elected to the Student Senate, ROGER DUSING ’81 likes to joke that he was “Bradley’s Gerald Ford.” When the Senate’s vice president resigned, Roger was asked to step in; then in December 1980 he took the helm when the elected president accepted an out-of-state internship. “My fondest memories were attending the Board of Trustees meetings. I had an ongoing ‘feud’ with Dr. JIM ERICKSON ’61 MA ’66, the dean of students, about why we had two flagpoles in front of Bradley Hall, but rarely did we fly flags on them. By the end of my term, flags were flying every day,” he recalls. Roger has worked in human relations for 28 years. Currently, he is HR director at Park University. He and his wife Darla are the parents of two children. They reside near Kansas City in Liberty, Missouri. 

Presidential romance

Everyone knows presidents and their vice presidents need to get along in order to be effective. MIKE ROGOWSKI ’82 took things a step further. He married his vice president, GAIL WENZLAFF ’83. After working together on student issues, such as long cafeteria lines, dorm overcrowding, and course evaluations, the couple married in 1985. 

Mike recalls expressing student concerns to the administration through town hall-style meetings and inviting administrators to Senate meetings. He also remembers the invaluable guidance and mentorship of Dr. JIM ERICKSON ’61, MA ’66, then vice president of university relations and dean of student services. 

A graduate of the University of Wisconsin law school, Mike is a shareholder in a 150-member law firm with offices in Madison and Milwaukee. He also has worked extensively in Wisconsin state government, as a liaison between business and government, and as a municipal judge. 

Mike and Gail live with their three children in Madison. 

Proactive approach

bill holderby

Interacting with President Martin Abegg ’47 HON ’93 and being proactive about campus issues was the approach BILL HOLDERBY ’85 took as president. 

A winner in a runoff election, he remembers “going into President Abegg’s office pretty much whenever I wanted to.” Bill also had regular meetings with Dr. John Hitt and Dr. Alan Galsky to discuss campus issues such as dorm maintenance and housing. 

“We did try to put together some policies and tried to be proactive rather than reactive,” Bill says. 

Today, Bill works on a variety of projects in multi-level, online, and social media marketing. He and his wife Dulce live in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where he also manages a Latin American singer.

Neighborhood outreach

The 1985–86 school year was an exciting time for Bradley and RAY EINIG ’87. He became all-school president; Bradley launched its first significant fundraising effort, the Campaign for Bradley; and the basketball team had a record-setting 32-3 season before losing to powerful Louisville in the NCAA tournament. 

Improving student relations with nearby neighborhoods was a focal point of Ray’s term. “In the Student Senate, we launched outreach efforts, including meeting with nearby homeowners’ associations,” he says. “I even met with the mayor of Peoria, Jim Maloof, to let the community know we were serious about working together.” 

Ray is president of Xperior Solutions Inc., a management consulting firm. Ray lives in Schaumburg with his wife DOMINICE LaPORTE ’87 and their two children. 

In tune with technology

Campus safety was an important issue to KAREN REKOWSKI BLAIR ’87, who worked to get emergency call boxes and better walkway lighting. 

Bradley’s “Dorm of the Future” with computers in student rooms was implemented, and “our keyboarding (we called it typing) skills escalated within days,” Blair says. She also recalls the appearance by dean of students Ed King ’54, MA ’62 on the Phil Donahue Show and being on the search committee for basketball Coach Dick Versace’s successor. 

Birth control was an issue on campus, and Karen remembers being awakened by a 1 a.m. call from a local radio station to discuss the controversy. 

Today, she serves on the Business Advisory Council for the Foster College of Business, owns two Culver’s restaurant franchises in the Chicago suburbs, and works in product marketing. Karen, her husband Christopher, and their son live in East Dundee.

Team effort

Calling his election as president “one of my most cherished accomplishments,” DOUG BROSS ’88 gives credit to his “awesome” executive team — MIKE LUSTER ’88, MARY COYLE SULLIVAN ’89, and LAURA ROULIER ’89

He says the campus was not an intense political environment and students had recurring concerns, such as the quality of cafeteria food, safety and lighting, and hours of operation for the gym and library. The direct access to campus officials, such as President MARTIN ABEGG ’47 HON ’93 was a great experience. 

Doug is married to JYLL HOLMES BROSS ’90. They live with their two children in Windermere, Florida, where he manages building supply distribution facilities and manufacturing plants for Builders FirstSource. 

People skills

MIKE SPITALLI ’90 felt he was a connection between the students and administrators to make sure concerns were understood and acknowledged. He says the experience of serving as president (1988–89) helped him gain a different perspective. 

“I learned how different groups worked together,” Mike comments. “What I got was the big picture. Overall, it was a good experience.”

Deciding to run for president after serving as a senator his sophomore year, Mike says the “people skills” he learned have helped him throughout his career. “I interacted with people who were seasoned professionals. That’s a great learning opportunity.” 

Mike works in health care marketing and lives in Naperville with his wife ELLEN BROWN JORDAN SPITALLI ’90.

Formally speaking

Imagine trying to communicate with the student body without Facebook, cell phones, texting, or any rapid, mobile communication system. “Communication was our biggest challenge, so we built kiosks around campus that became the central location for all groups to post activities,” STACEY BURNS FOX ’91 says. “It was our ’80s version of a webpage.”

The president and CEO of Stacey’s Inc. in Urbandale, Iowa, she owns the largest formalwear store in the Midwest and designs and sells her own line of prom and wedding dresses. She also specializes in lingerie, and her passion is serving women after mastectomies.  

Stacey was one of the wardrobe stylists for more than 60 cast members in a Coca-Cola commercial featuring Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson that will air during the Olympics. She and her husband Pat have six children and live in Des Moines.

Encouraging the student voice

On his way to a Board of Trustees meeting in the Hayden-Clark Alumni Center, CALVIN BUTLER ’91 couldn’t help but smile while recalling how Dr. Alan Galsky, then vice provost for student affairs, made him a morning person. “I was definitely not a morning person when I arrived on campus, but we often met at 6:30 or 7 a.m. to get things done, and to this day, I am a morning person,” Calvin says. He appreciates the relationships he had with Galsky and with the administration.

Calvin believes the opportunity to interact with leaders from other student groups gave him the chance to learn from his peers. “I’d like to think that when I was president, together with the administration, we put together a process concerning how we were going to go about becoming a more inclusive governmental body,” Calvin recalls. “We focused hard on encouraging all students to join us and have a voice, specifically women and minorities.”

The senior vice president for corporate affairs at Exelon, Calvin lives with his wife Sharon and two children in Naperville.

Carving out a work/life balance

Acknowledging that the challenges of being student body president impacted the time spent with friends, BEN LEWIS ’95 says the experience helped him learn time management. “There was a delicate balance between classes, meetings, and social time with friends. I served on numerous committees and task forces, including the mascot selection committee. I learned to schedule my time to devote attention to each commitment.”

One major concern of students was improving the health center, and Ben says he “learned to work effectively with others who had differing viewpoints and learned how to identify compromise so everyone benefited from the decision.”

Ben notes these lessons have served him well in his career as a public relations and strategic communications consultant to the financial services industry and in his family life. He is the author of two books, Perfecting The Pitch: Creating Publicity Through Media Rapport and Izzy and Norman’s Stupendous Safari. Ben and his wife Wendy have two children and live in Clarksburg, Maryland.

Swipe cards for all

During his term in office, AARON FREEMAN ’01 says the food payment system on campus changed from meal tickets to the current swipe card system. “We championed the addition of off-campus restaurants and grocery stores accepting meal plan money.” Aaron has his juris doctorate from the University of Dayton Law School and is a lawyer with Voyles Zahn & Paul in Indianapolis. He serves on the Indianapolis City Council. He and his wife HEATHER OKE FREEMAN ’02 MS ’04 live in Indianapolis with their son. 

Student-friendly rec center

BRIAN WEIDNER ’02 helped collect student input to make sure the Markin Family Student Recreation Center would meet student needs. “I’ve been to the facility a few times, and it’s an impressive space.” After working in human resources consulting, he founded Career Tree Network in 2007. The company helps health care employers with recruitment marketing. Brian lives in Milwaukee with his wife HEIDI BARES WEIDNER ’02

Meeting neighbors

When TED BERGER ’03 was student body president, the relationship between Bradley and the surrounding neighborhoods was strained, so he made a point to build rapport by going to neighborhood meetings. Ted also worked to help make Bradley’s buildings wheelchair accessible, revamped the Student Senate website, and tried to incorporate online voting. 

A volunteer firefighter for nine years, he is now the chief of staff at the Office of the Illinois State Fire Marshal. He also is deputy chief of training for the North Park Fire Protection District in Machesney Park and an EMT. As a part-time White House associate staff member, Ted helps coordinate logistics for presidential visits. He lives in Chicago.

Fighting for diversity

The time Bradley’s first female African-American student body president, ERICKA PACK DeBRUCE ’04, spent in Student Senate affected her career in a very tangible way. “I saw students paint their faces and dance on the basketball court while drinking alcohol, demeaning the heritage of many of our fellow students. There was no way I could just watch.” With the support of Student Senate, Ericka undertook an initiative to change Bradley’s mascot. The issue went to a vote by the student body, and “Bobcats” was chosen. Although the name didn’t change, people were no longer allowed to pretend to be Native American. Ericka started her career in diversity management upon graduating from Bradley and has worked at Talbots, the American Cancer Society, and the American Red Cross. She is now manager of diversity inclusion at BAE Systems and handles diversity management in eight countries.

“Although the resolution was overturned and Bradley’s nickname is still the Braves, that very long year is still one of my proudest to date.” Ericka and her husband Bryce live in Rockville, Maryland. 

Fiji fellowship for doctoral candidate

KERI THOMPSON ’05 stayed in politics after graduation. “I have been politically active in both Texas and Massachusetts.” She recently completed a graduate-level fellowship with the Department of State at the U.S. Embassy in Suva, Fiji, and she is close to completing her doctorate in political communication at the University of Texas, Austin. Keri also teaches at Emerson College in Boston. During her presidency, she encountered controversy over the Braves mascot, campus security, Haussler Hall’s workout facilities, and the aesthetics of campus. Keri lives in Boston.

Beginning changes

JONATHAN MEINEN ’06 recalls giving a speech at the rededication of Bradley Hall. “Bradley Hall was a big part of my childhood. I spent many childhood summers on campus, so it was personally a very important event.” He received his juris doctorate from Seton Hall University in 2009. Now an attorney for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, Jon says his time as president prepared him for presenting his ideas and evidence before a jury. He lives in Jersey City, New Jersey.

Jon competed in multiple events for the Bradley speech team from 2002 to 2006. He was the AFA national champion in after-dinner speaking in 2004 and an AFA All-American in 2006.

Lobbying Springfield

NICHOLAS SWIATKOWSKI ’12 helped revive the Freshman Convocation ceremony at Bradley, lobbied the Illinois
state government to continue support for Monetary Award Program (MAP) grants, and added a campus safety committee to the Student Senate. After his term, he was elected division commander in the U.S. Coast Guard
Auxiliary Division 8. Nick is a management trainee at Enterprise Holdings and lives in Enterprise, Alabama.