New York’s MTA Chief named Distinguished Alumna

NURIA WHITE FERNANDEZ ’82 was honored as the University’s 2012 Distinguished Alumna and inducted into the Centurion Society at the Founder’s Day Convocation last October.

“Today is right up there with those memorable days that you’ll never forget,” Fernandez remarked at the Founder’s Day luncheon.

A native of Panama, her first glimpse of Bradley was in a photograph. “The picture we were shown was so compelling,” she explained. “My father said, ‘that’s where you are going,’ and that’s where I came. … I believe my Bradley education was a launching pad for where I am today.”

Fernandez has 30 years of experience in the transportation industry and currently serves as the chief operating officer for the New York State Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), the largest transportation system in the nation. She is responsible for the system’s overall security, development of its capital and environmental sustainability programs, federal and state government affairs, and oversight of its five operating agencies and capital construction.

Prior to joining the MTA, Fernandez was senior vice president at CH2M Hill after serving two years as commissioner for the Chicago Department of Aviation, overseeing operations for O’Hare and Midway international airports. She spent five years in the private sector at Earth Tech Inc. She also was deputy administrator for the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration and held positions with the Washington Metropolitan and Chicago transit authorities.

She is a member of the Caterpillar College of Engineering and Technology Executive Advisory Council and serves on the boards of the American Public Transportation Association and Mineta Transportation Institute. Fernandez is active in multiple organizations and was honored by the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials with its 2012 Women Who Move the Nation Award. Selected as a Vision 2020 Women’s Equality Delegate from Illinois, she advocates for women in business.

Fernandez holds an MBA from Roosevelt University. She has two daughters and lives in New York City with her husband Daniel Hall.



Helping lead the way 

Only 16 days after being honored as Bradley’s 2012 Distinguished Alumna, NURIA WHITE FERNANDEZ ’82 faced one of the greatest challenges of her career: Superstorm Sandy. As chief operating officer for the New York State MTA, she will share her unique thoughts on Leadership and Diversity: Going Global in Your Own Backyard at Bradley’s inaugural Leadership Summit, June 13–15. The event also will feature leadership lessons from RAY LaHOOD ’71 HON ’11, the U.S. Secretary of Transportation, and STEVE GORMAN, MBA ’78, chief operating officer for Delta Air Lines. Visit for more details and to register.



Centurion Society inducts new members

There are now 173 members of the Centurion Society, which began in 1982 to recognize alumni for outstanding achievements in their fields, bringing national and international recognition to the University. 

Kary Gennarelli McIlwain ’81

As president of Y&R Midwest (formerly Young & Rubicam) and managing partner for Y&R North America, KARY GENNARELLI McILWAIN ’81 led the firm to a ranking as one of the top 10 Creative Heavyweights by Creativity magazine. She has overseen many top brands and developed campaigns for clients such as Sears, Hilton Hotels, Kraft Foods, Procter & Gamble Co., Johnson & Johnson, and H&R Block. McIlwain also led the company in acquiring new business in 2011–12, including Butterball Turkey, Famous Footwear, and BMO Harris Bank. 

McIlwain has been a board member and volunteer with several civic groups and school organizations, creating campaigns for nonprofit and pro bono clients such as the United Way, American Red Cross of Greater Chicago, and the National Domestic Violence Hotline. 

“I feel like this place is really going far,” she said after visiting with Bradley students and faculty. 

McIlwain holds a master’s degree from Northwestern University. She and her husband John live in Oak Park with their son.

James J. Barr ’68

After rising through the ranks at V. Jobst & Sons, JAMES BARR ’68 co-founded River City Construction in 1984 after Jobst closed. He won the Civil Engineering and Construction (CEC) Department’s Outstanding Alumnus Award in 1990 and has been a member of the CEC Advisory Board. A lifetime national director of the Associated General Contractors of America board, Barr has been active in other industry groups, including the Greater Peoria Contractors and Suppliers Association and the Peoria Area Labor Management Council. 

“I’m very humbled by it and a little overwhelmed,” Barr said. He cited the influence of Dr. Amir Al-Khafaji in encouraging his involvement with Bradley. 

He and his co-workers started Bradley Alumni with River City Construction (BARCC) to endow an engineering scholarship and continue to financially support the University. Barr noted the group has a 97 percent participation rate over its 18 years. 

Barr has five children, including J. MICHAEL BARR ’04, JENNIFER BARR SCOBY ’94 MS ’99, and LAURA BARR TYRPIN ’87. He and his wife Carole live in Peoria.  

View videos of the Centurions’ convocation speeches at



Longtime professors honored

Putnam Award 

Education professor Dr. Heljä Antola Crowe received the Charles M. Putnam Award at Founder’s Day 2012. Twice she has held the William Kemper Teaching Excellence Fellowship, and she has directed the Professional Development Schools project in Peoria. She began teaching at Bradley in 1993. Antola Crowe (at left, in blue) holds two degrees from the University of Jyvaskyla in Finland and a doctoral degree from the University of Mississippi. 

The Putnam Award has been Bradley’s top award for excellence in teaching since 1957.

Rothberg Award

Dr. Lori Russell-Chapin was announced as the Samuel Rothberg Award for Professional Excellence recipient, an honor given for distinguished contributions to research or creative productions. Russell-Chapin (above, in black) has been published in many journals, has written three books, and has co-authored three books. She teaches graduate-level counseling courses and is associate dean of the College of Education and Health Sciences. The first recipient of the William Kemper Fellowship, she also is co-director of the Center for Collaborative Brain Research. Her doctoral degree is from the University of Wyoming.

Caterpillar Faculty Achievement Awards

Three assistant professors were presented with Caterpillar Faculty Achievement Awards at the Founder’s Day Convocation. Dr. Enad Mahmoud (above) was recognized with the award for scholarship. The civil engineering and construction professor has published nine papers in refereed journals and secured $675,000 in grants. Dr. Angela Pratt (center) received a Caterpillar Award for teaching. An instructor in the sports communication concentration, students cited her for being a moderator for lively topical debates in the classroom. History professor Dr. Aurea Toxqui (right) also received a Caterpillar Award for teaching. She was praised for using art, music, and literature to help students gain a deeper understanding of history.



Award honors professor’s volunteerism

Dr. Peggy Flannigan was honored with the Francis C. Mergen Award for Public Service during the Founder’s Day Convocation on October 12, 2012. An associate professor of nursing, Flannigan has been involved with several community organizations, notably the Mark Linder Walk for the Mind, the Tazewell County Breast and Cervical Cancer Coalition, and the Tazewell County Women’s Health Event. She also has been active at her church and has volunteered the last three summers at the SAME Cafe, a pay-what-you-can restaurant in Denver owned by Brad and LIBBY BIRKY, MA ’02