Annual Alumni Awards recognizes 13 Illinois Tech alumni

Tue, 2017/04/25

On Friday, April 21, Illinois Tech held the annual Alumni Awards ceremony, honoring the 13 Illinois Tech Alumni who won awards this year for their philanthropy, leadership, intelligence, and overall success. Eight unique awards were given, including one award, the Galvin Award, which honors those that are not alumni of Illinois Tech. The Galvin Award is named after Robert W. Galvin, a non-alumnus of Illinois Tech who still affected the university in many positive ways. Other awards given include the Outstanding Young Alumnus/Alumna Award, which recognizes alumni under the age of 40 who have advanced rapidly in their careers, the John J. Schommer Honor I Award, which is awarded to outstanding student athletes at Illinois Tech that go on to achieve further success, the Professional Achievement Award, which honors those who have accomplished significant successes in any professional field, the Lifetime Achievement Award, given to alumni that have recently passed on and led lives that merited recognition, the International Award of Merit, which is bestowed upon those that have positively affected lives around the globe, the Alumni Service Award, bestowed upon alumni who show unwavering support and commitment to Illinois Tech, the Collens Merit Award, which honors alumni who have made a significant impact upon the university through both philanthropic contributions as well as involvement in their gifts, and lastly the Alumni Medal, the highest honor bestowed by the Illinois Tech Alumni Association, which is given to those who show qualities deserving of the Collens Merit Award, the Alumni Service Award, and the Professional Achievement Award.

The winner of the Galvin Award, Rosemarie A. Mitchell, joined the Stuart School of Business’ Board of Advisors 20 years ago, and has since attracted many successful alumni and business leaders to the board as well. In addition, Mitchell led efforts to create a mentoring program that helped connect board members and students. Since 2008, Mitchell has served as part of Illinois Tech’s Board of Trustees, and she has also given generously to Illinois Tech, helping to establish the Harvey and Diane Kahalas Scholarship Fund.

Alireza Khaligh, a winner of the Outstanding Young Alumnus/Alumna Award, received his Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from Illinois Tech in 2006. When at the University of Maryland, Khaligh funded a research program on power electronics and started an academic program there for power electronics as well. Although still young, Khaligh also became an expert for the National Science Foundation’s Energy, Power, Control, and Networks Programs.

The second winner of the Outstanding Young Alumnus/Alumna Award, Wesley B. Leggette, earned his B.S. in Computer Science in 2012. One of the most accomplished inventors in Chicago, Leggette has 140 issued patents with another 20 patents pending. Leggette’s own inventions have allowed software to store unlimited amounts of data as well as easily route slices of data to specific computer servers and drives.

Brad C. Krygier, the winner of the John J. Schommer Honor I Award, received his B.S. in Management in 1980. In terms of athletic achievement, Krygier became the first Illinois Tech student to be invited to the National Sports Festival by the U.S. Olympic Committee in 1979, and Krygier’s four-person pentathlon team went on to win the gold medal. According to Krygier, his experience as an athlete has helped him in business, and he served as both the vice president and general manager for joint ventures between national banks and real estate companies.

One of three winners of the Professional Achievement Award, Judson B. Althoff, earned his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering in 1995. Althoff is currently the executive vice president for Microsoft and leads 25,000 employees of the Worldwide Commercial Business organization. He received the Phoenix Award for opening a Microsoft Innovation Center that provides software, coaching, and grants to women entrepreneurs.

Another winner of the Professional Achievement Award, Sherrie B. Littlejohn, earned her M.S. in Computer Science from Illinois Tech in 1982. Littlejohn is currently the executive vice president of Wells Fargo, and leads the Internal Innovation Strategies team. Littlejohn also holds the position of the chair of EMERGE, a women’s leadership forum, with the Information Technology Senior Management Forum (ITSMF). In 2016, she was named one of the “Top 50 Most Powerful Women in Technology” by the National Diversity Council.

The third of three winners of the Professional Achievement Award, Michael V. Romalis, received his B.S. in physics from Illinois Tech in 1993. An atomic physicist, Romalis has designed some of the most sensitive magnetometers in the world and is regarded as one of the world’s experts on precision measurement. Romalis also won the American Physical Society (APS) 2011 Francis M. Pipkin Award for his work on matter versus antimatter.

Robert L. Growney, a winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award, earned both his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering and his Master of Business Administration at Illinois Tech. Growney retired at president, chief operating officer, and vice president of Motorola, Inc. in 2002. In addition, Growney joined the Illinois Tech Board of Trustees in 1997, served as chair of the Stuart School Board of Advisors until 2008, and was the school’s commencement speaker in 2003.

The second winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award, Gertrude Lempp Kerbis, received her M.S. in Architecture from Illinois Tech in 1954. Lempp Kerbis started her own firm in 1967, Lempp Kerbis & Associates, which was the first woman-owned and operated architectural firm in Chicago. In 1965, Lempp Kerbis won an Honor Award from the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Chicago for one of her best-known buildings, the Rotunda Building at O’Hare. In 1980, Lempp Kerbis became the first female president of Chicago’s chapter of AIA.

Robin R. Chaurasiya, who earned both a B.S. in Political Science and a B.S. in Psychology from Illinois Tech in 2006, was the winner of the International Award of Merit. In 2012, Chaurasiya established Kranti, a nonprofit organization that helps women who are victims of human trafficking and daughters of sex workers. In 2016, Stephen Hawking named Chaurasiya one of the 10 finalists for the Varkey Foundation’s $1 million Global Teacher Prize.

The winner of the Alumni Service Award, Jeffrey A. Karp, received his B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Illinois Tech in 1979. Until his recent retirement, Karp served as the CEO at Power Construction. Karp is also a member of the Illinois Tech Board of Trustees and has volunteered for the university for more than 30 years.

Arthur W. Hill, the winner of the Collens Merit Award, earned his B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Illinois Tech in 1971. Hill was one of the lead donors that supported the Ed Kaplan Institute for Innovation and Tech Entrepreneurship and was also a supporter of student scholarships. He established both the George and Dorothy Hill Endowed Scholarship and the Robert Milton Hill Endowed Scholarship in honor of his grandfather and brother, respectively.

Adrian R. Nemcek, who was awarded the Alumni Medal, received B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Illinois Tech in 1970. Nemcek retired from his role as executive vice president of Motorola, Inc. and president of Motorola Networks in 2006. He also served as a chair of the Alumni Association Board of Directors from 2005-2013, is a member of the Illinois Tech Board of Trustees, and has made a great impact on Illinois Tech through his philanthropy.

If you would like to nominate an outstanding Illinois Tech alumnus for the 2018 Alumni Awards, please visit