Alumni

2015 Distinguished Alumni Awards

The outstanding accomplishments of Western Illinois University graduates Stephen P. Larson, former vice president of Caterpillar, Inc., and Ed Ohlin, president of H-BR Automotive Consulting, will be recognized Saturday, May 16 at Western's Spring 2015 Commencement Exercises.

The Distinguished Alumni Award, given since 1973, recognizes alumni who have brought credit to the University and themselves through exceptional professional accomplishments, meritorious service to ensure the continued excellence of WIU and through service to their communities at the national, state or local levels.

Steve LarsonA 1978 accountancy and 1979 MBA graduate, Larson, who will be recognized at the 9 a.m. ceremony, served as the vice president of Peoria (IL)-based Caterpillar Inc. with responsibility for the Parts Distribution and Logistics and Diversified Products Divisions until his retirement in 2014. He joined Caterpillar in 1979 and held a number of positions with growing responsibilities in the areas of accounting, finance, marketing, product management and logistics. In 1995, he was named San Francisco district manager in the North American Commercial Division (NACD), and he later held positions as a product manager for large track-type tractors and as NACD regional manager.

Larson completed the Duke University Advanced Management program in 2001, and in 2003, he moved to Singapore to become a vice president of Caterpillar Financial Services Corp. He was named president of the Americas region of Caterpillar Logistics Services in 2005 and was promoted to vice president of Caterpillar and president and chairman of Caterpillar Logistics Services in 2007. Larson also served for two years on the board of directors of Neovia Logistics, a company in which Caterpillar held an equity position.

Larson, the 2008 College of Business and Technology Distinguished Alumnus, volunteered his time to his alma mater by serving as a member of WIU President Jack Thomas' National Advisory Council, by coordinating and hosting WIU student and faculty visits to Caterpillar and through on-campus visits to speak to students and to provide input on WIU's logistics curriculum. In addition, he has provided support for the WIU Alumni Association, the College of Business and Technology and through student scholarship programs. He also served for six years as a commissioner on the board of the Metropolitan Airport Authority of Peoria and has been a volunteer and strong supporter of the Peoria Easter Seals organization.

Following his retirement, Larson was elected to the board of directors of Ryerson Holding Corporation, and has been participating in leadership programs at Deloitte University, The Leadership Center, in Westlake, TX.

Ed OhlinA 1973 political science graduate, Ohlin, who will be recognized at the 1 p.m. ceremony, has served as president at HB-R Consulting since 2008, responsible for marketing and product planning insight. He worked for Toyota Motor Sales USA from 1985 until his retirement in 2008, including stints as president of Toyota de Mexico, vice president of special projects and senior adviser in Beijing, China, corporate manager for Toyota Certified Used Vehicle Operations, corporate product planning manager for Toyota and Lexus Divisions, national sales operations manager, national sales operation assistant to divisional manager and assistant general manager, KC Region. He began his career with Ford Motor Company in 1979 and joined Toyota in 1985. As president at HB-R Consulting, his current clients have included Ford Motor Company on new model launches and Toyota on production simplicity issues.

While in China with Toyota, he taught English as a second language at Tuan Jie Hue Park in Beijing and continues to communicate with participants online. Ohlin earned his juris doctorate from the University of Illinois School of Law and his MBA from the UCLA School of Business.

Ohlin has been actively involved with his alma mater over the years and currently serves as a member of WIU President Jack Thomas' National Advisory Council. In addition, he supports many areas of campus including athletics, the Alumni Association, the College of Business and Technology, the Centennial Honors College and student scholarships.

View Past Recipients