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Grand Gathering

The Northwestern Alumni Association honored several distinguished graduates at the annual awards celebration in April.


Amidst the grand surroundings of the Northwestern Alumni Association’s 2006 Alumni Awards Celebration at the ballroom of Chicago’s Hotel InterContinental, Alumni Medalist Patricia Holmes Buehler (C53) told the audience of 400 alumni and guests that she was skeptical to learn she was chosen for the University’s highest alumni honor. “When I received the letter, it said the dinner would be held on April 1, and I immediately thought, ‘Now who is pulling my leg?’”

It was no April Fools’ joke — Northwestern President Henry S. Bienen, NAA president Rich Dean (EB69), NAA executive director Cathy Stembridge (GC00) and members of the University community paid tribute to Buehler for her 40 years of volunteer service to Northwestern, including her work as co-president of the advisory board of the Feinberg School of Medicine’s Buehler Center on Aging, a nationally recognized center for gerontology and geriatrics focused on research, educational programs and community outreach. Buehler was also honored for service that included roles as a University trustee and adviser to the School of Communication and the School of Music; a 50th reunion co-chair; founder of the NU Arts Inner Circle, which evolved into the First Nighters Club, an organization designed to promote Northwestern’s arts community; and the Newcomers Club to welcome faculty and their families to the Northwestern community. She was also recognized for her philanthropy that endowed scholarships and professorships and established the Buehler Sports Medicine Center at Ryan Field.

At the ceremony Buehler remembered her late husband, Albert C. Buehler (see Deaths, winter 2004), for his longtime dedication to Northwestern, and attributed her leadership philosophy to her father’s advice to work according to her strengths and seek out others to meet challenges by committee.

J. Philip Kirk (L63), former president of DST Realty, who helped revitalize downtown Kansas City, Mo., through historic renovation and who helped establish Hope Lodges around the country to house cancer patients and their families during out-of-town treatment, received this year’s Service to Society Award.

Nineteen other distinguished alumni also received awards for outstanding professional achievement and service to Northwestern at the black tie ceremony, now a 74-year NAA tradition.

CBS News correspondent Joie Chen (J82, GJ83) presented the 2006 NAA Merit Awards to Gregory G. Berlanti (C94), television writer and producer and former co-executive producer of Everwood (see “Ever Good,” spring 2004); Judith Borg Biggert (L63), lawyer and Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Illinois’ 13th District; Kathryn Johnson Cathcart (GMu63), music director of the opera program at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music; Douglas R. Conant (WCAS73, KSM76), president and CEO of Campbell Soup Co. (see “Souper CEO,” spring 2005); Promod Haque (GMcC74, 76, KSM83), managing partner of Norwest Venture Partners; Aleksandar Hemon (SCS96), author of Question of Bruno and Nowhere Man and lecturer at Northwestern (see “Bosnian Writer Masters English as ‘Genius,’ spring 2005); George W. Lingen Jr. (D62), dentist with Lingen, Lingen & Associates, past president of the Illinois State Dental Society and delegate to the American Dental Association house of delegates; Ray B. Loeschner (GSESP57, 62), president of Loeschner Enterprises and former president of Olivet College and Ohio Northern University; William McDermott (KSM97), president and CEO of SAP Americas; David J. Skorton (WCAS70, FSM74), president of Cornell University and a cardiologist specializing in congenital heart disease; Joseph A. Walder (WCAS73, FSM75, G79), professor of biochemistry at the University of Iowa and founder, president and CEO of Integrated DNA Technologies; Julia D. Wallace (J78), editor of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution; and Mary A. Zimmerman (C82, GC85, 94), theater director and playwright, member of the Lookingglass Theatre Co., artistic associate of the Goodman Theatre and Northwestern professor (see “Genius at Play,” spring 1999).

Service Awards went to Irwin Benuck (FSM79, GFSM82), attending physician at Children’s Memorial Hospital and Northwestern Memorial Hospital, senior attending physician at Evanston Hospital and Feinberg School of Medicine professor of clinical pediatrics; Howard S. Dubin (J54), chair and CEO of Manufacturers’ News Inc. and founder of the Medill Alumni Association; Todd Happer (J88), vice president of science education and museum editor for Natural History Magazine and co-president of the Medill Club of Greater New York; Warren R. Haug (GMcC63, 65), consultant and adjunct professor of chemical and biological engineering at Northwestern; Robert C. Knuepfer Jr. (KSM78, L78), international partner with Baker & McKenzie law firm, former chair of the Kellogg School of Management Alumni Advisory Board and member of the Kellogg Dean’s Council; and Carter G. Phillips (G75, L77), managing partner of Sidley Austin’s Washington, D.C., office and member and former chair of the Northwestern Law Board.

To view additional photos of the 2006 NAA Alumni Awards recipients or to nominate outstanding alumni for the 2007 Alumni Medal, Merit, Service or Service to Society awards, please visit

2006 Alumni Medalist Patricia Holmes Buehler thanks family and friends during her acceptance speech at the ceremony.
2006 Alumni Medalist Patricia Holmes Buehler thanks family and friends during her acceptance speech at the ceremony. Photo by Jasper Chen (McC04)