Rockhurst to Present Annual Alumni AwardsSeptember 15, 2014

Rockhurst University will honor four of its outstanding alumni for achievements in their professional and personal lives during the annual Alumni Awards Luncheon at noon Saturday, Sept. 20, in Greenlease Library, part of the University’s annual Family and Alumni Weekend festivities.

Alumni to be honored are James R. Owens Jr., ’72, and Pasquale Trozzolo, ’75, who will both receive the St. Ignatius Award; Betsy Vander Velde, ’88 executive MBA, who will receive the Xavier Medal of Honor; and Patrick Wank, ’05, ’06 MBA, who will receive the Faber Young Alumni Award.

Hailing from Parsons, Kansas, Owens graduated from Rockhurst with a degree in history. He began his career with the U.S. Public Health Service in Chicago as an adviser to local boards of health. Owens also worked in more than 30 states as a healthcare management organization development consultant. Owens was recruited to the private sector at AIG and then Abt Associates, where he was country director for the Zdrav Reform Program in Kyiv, Ukraine. His love of international travel has led him to live in Ukraine, Russia and Australia, and to travel to nearly 100 other countries. In 2001, James established the James R. Owens Jr. International Scholarship Fund to assist international and Jewish students looking to attend Rockhurst.

Trozzolo is the founder and executive chairman of Kansas City-based Trozzolo Communications Group. With more than 35 years of experience in the marketing communications field, Trozzolo’s work has been recognized with awards from national industry organizations, cementing a reputation as one of the Midwest’s most accomplished independent public relations and marketing firms. Trozzolo has long served his community as a member of the board of directors for local organizations such as the American Red Cross. He is also a former race car driver who has successfully competed in national championship road racing events with the Sports Car Club of America.

Since 1994, Vander Velde has served as the president and CEO of The Family Conservancy, one of Kansas City’s oldest family service providers. In addition, Vander Velde has served the community as a member of a number of nonprofit boards, including the United Way of Greater Kansas City, The Alliance for Children and Families and Skillbuilders. Vander Velde has been continuously recognized as a pre-eminent leader in the Kansas City community, awarded the City Union Mission’s Women Who’ve Changed the Heart of the City Award in April 2014 and more recently nominated for the Athena Award, an international award for leadership and community service given by local chambers of commerce.

Wank’s history of leadership can be traced to his time as a student, when he served as a freshman orientation coordinator, a member of the RU risk management committee and an Eagle Scout. He continues to serve his alma mater following graduation, serving as a member of the Kansas City Young Alumni Council and as a member of the Rockhurst University Board of Trustees from 2008 to 2010. Professionally, Wank has served in a number of positions in local construction and engineering firms. In August 2014, he took on a new role at Black & Veatch as a project accounting manager.

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