2010 Alumni Achievement Awards
Three Western Illinois University alumni received the WIU Alumni Achievement Award at the Dec. 18 Commencement Exercises, while another Western alumnus received the International Alumni Achievement Award.
This year's Alumni Achievement recipients are John W. Gay II, president of John Gay & Associates of Aurora, CO; Jerilyn K. Scardina of Burr Ridge (IL), retired physical education teacher and head girls tennis coach, Hinsdale Central High School; and Harlan L. Watson of Cabin John, MD, distinguished professional staff member, U.S. House of Representatives Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, Washington, D.C.
The International Alumni Achievement recipient is Datuk Kamaruddin ("Dean") Mohd Ismail, business development director and senior lecturer in security management at Saito College, Malaysia.
Western's Alumni Achievement and the International Alumni Achievement awards are given in recognition of outstanding contributions to any of the following: exceptional accomplishment in one's chosen field of endeavor; exceptional service in community affairs at the local, state or national levels; and exceptional service in support of the advancement and continued excellence of WIU.
Gay, a 1969 psychology graduate, is a master Certified Estate Planner, a Registered Financial Consultant and Planner and a Certified Investment Specialist. Since 1980, Gay has assisted more than 4,200 medical professionals with their business and personal financial needs, including assisting in building hundreds of $1 million to $46 million optometric practices. Additionally, he has conducted more than 1,900 practice appraisals and assisted in the buying or selling of more than 1,400 practices to date. Gay has owned or co-owned five Eyecare Centers. He was the co-owner and president of Gay-Huff Construction and Development Co., Inc., Gay-Huff Reality, Inc. and Kitchens by Gay-Huff, Inc. in Peoria (IL) from 1973 to 1980. From 1984 to 1992 he was co-owner and president of American Healthcare Designers Ltd. and American Healthcare Suppliers, Inc. He is a noted author and lecturer on practice management; he is a developer, lobbyist and consultant in fields such as practice management.
He is a life member of the National Defense Transportation Association and is actively involved and serves in many volunteer capacities and on boards and committees in his community and nationally, including serving as the chair of the Aurora Key Community Response Team Board and as an adviser to the Scottish Rite Appraisal Committee and the Finance Committee for the El Jebel Shrine. Gay also serves as a life member of the Dirksen Congressional Research Center's Endowment Fund.
He is chair of the WIU College of Fine Arts and Communication (COFAC) Advisory Board. In 2008, he received The Distinguished Friend of the College of Fine Arts and Communication Award at WIU. He also supports Western financially with scholarship support and gifts to COFAC. He holds a Doctorate of Laws and Letters from Covington Theological Seminary.
Scardina, a 1975 physical education graduate, served as a physical education teacher and head girls tennis coach at Hinsdale Central High School from 1977 to June 2010. She also served as assistant athletics director from 1991 until her retirement. As head coach, she won 11 state championships, including the final four consecutive championships. She also coached seven second place teams to the state championships.
During her tenure, Scardina won 29 Illinois High School Association Sectional tennis championships and 22 West Suburban Conference Championships. Her overall coaching record upon her retirement in 2010 was 406 wins, 26 losses and four ties. Scardina was also the varsity girls gymnastics coach from 1981-84 and assistant varsity gymnastics coach from 1976-80. Scardina was named National High School Girls Tennis Coach of the Year in 2007; was inducted into the Illinois Tennis Coaches Hall of Fame in 2001; and was named the Illinois Tennis Coach of the Year in 1999.
She was the coach of six Illinois High School Association individual player tennis state championships and three United States Tennis Association national junior champions. At WIU, she was a member of the women’s gymnastics team from 1971-74, and a member of the jazz troupe from 1973-74. She received her master's degree from George Williams College (Downer’s Grove, IL).
Watson, a 1967 physics graduate and a Blandinsville (IL) native, served more than seven years as senior climate negotiator and special representative and as U.S. special envoy to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and was accorded the personal rank of ambassador by President George W. Bush during his tenure of service as special envoy. In this role, he traveled across the globe to confer with world leaders regarding climate change and global warming.
His prior government experience includes serving more than 16 years on the staff of the U.S. House of Representatives' Committee on Science and Committee on Science and Technology, including nearly seven years as staff director of the Committee’s Subcommittee on Energy and the Subcommittee on Energy and Environment; as science adviser to the Secretary of the Interior and as principal deputy and deputy assistant Secretary of Interior for Water and Science; and as a professional staff member of the U.S. Senate's Committee on Governmental Affairs' Subcommittee on Energy, Nuclear Proliferation and Federal Services.
Watson received his master's degree in economics from Georgetown University and his doctorate degree in physics from Iowa State University. He completed postdoctoral work at Argonne National Laboratory where he conducted research on superconductivity. Watson also spent three years at B-K Dynamics, Inc. as a project and senior scientist specializing in defense matters, and two years at TRW, Inc. as a member of the technical staff working on advanced energy technology. Over the years, Watson has donated funds for WIU student scholarships, served as a lecturer at WIU -- including presenting the WIU Morrow Lecture in 1995 -- and has published articles with WIU Physics Professor Emeritus Yan Lwin.