Elmhurst College has awarded the 2012 Founders Medal, one of its most prestigious honors, to two longtime contributors and supporters, Marilyn Graber and Kenne P. Bristol.
Established in 1978, the Founders Medal recognizes individuals who have made outstanding contributions in philanthropic or personal service to the College’s mission. The medals were awarded on Friday, October 26, at the Frick Center during a ceremony attended by the College’s Board of Trustees and several previous medal winners.
President S. Alan Ray presented the medal posthumously to Marilyn Graber, who died earlier this year. Though she attended the College only in 1954, the Minnesota native considered herself a loyal alumna of Elmhurst. She was a longtime resident of Elmhurst who for years served as secretary/treasurer of the family business, Graber Concrete Pipe, and was a board member of the Elmhurst Memorial Hospital Foundation.
Graber was a frequent visitor to the campus and a strong supporter of Elmhurst’s nursing and science programs and the annual Jazz Festival. Over the years she donated lighted Christmas trees, wreaths and a nativity scene that beautified the Hammerschmidt Memorial Chapel during the holiday season.
One of her more significant gifts to the College was a SimBaby, a life-size, robotic model of an infant that can be programmed to simulate a variety of symptoms and conditions. The SimBaby, nicknamed “Baby Boo,” is an important training tool used by students in the Deicke Center for Nursing.
The citation for her Founders Medal describes Graber as “a loyal, faithful friend and advocate” of the College. “Marilyn was a difference maker,” Ray said. “She loved the interaction with Elmhurst students and embraced life to its very fullest. Marilyn left the Elmhurst campus a better place. We miss her in many different ways.”
A daughter, Jill Graves, accepted the award on behalf of the family and said, “She always had a strong and loving heart for Elmhurst College,” adding that her mother started her adult life in Elmhurst and was laid to rest in St. Peter’s Cemetery next to Langhorst Field. “We accept this award with gratitude.”
Bristol, a trustee since 1993, concluded a five-year term as president of the Board of Trustees earlier this year and previously had chaired the board’s executive committee. He is a retired banking executive and an Elmhurst resident. In 2005 he established the Kenne Bristol Scholarship, given annually to business students who meet high academic standards and demonstrate financial need.
Fellow Trustee Hugh H. McLean presented the medal and praised Bristol as a personal mentor and a steadying yet inspiring influence to him and other board members. McLean described Bristol as a "leader who is passionate about the College, about his community, about his family.” The citation for his Founders Medal notes that Bristol is “a successful banker and businessman, (and) his expertise has been invaluable to trustees and the administration. He is a strong believer in the importance of strategic planning and helped to lead the school through its most recent planning process. Kenne cares deeply about Elmhurst College, and it shows.”
In accepting the award, he noted that “rapid change is now a part of our daily lives,” and that the College must address new challenges in order to continue its traditions. These challenges include finding “cost-effective ways of operating, innovative ways to teach, embracing online learning, staffing that recognizes these changes and can implement accordingly, and remaining attractive for students.”
People make the difference in any organization, he added. “I submit that because of our people, including the students, Elmhurst College is a standout. The administrative leadership, the faculty and the support staff are superb, and they keep improving. To be outstanding is a goal that must be strived for every day.”
In previous years, the College has presented Founders Medals as part of an event held in December, but the format for that event is being revised, said Joseph R. Emmick, vice president for development and alumni relations.
“When we learned that Marilyn and Kenne were this year’s winners, presenting the medals as part of our Board of Trustees weekend seemed like the perfect fit,” Emmick said. “It was a privilege for the College to recognize Marilyn and Kenne in front of our trustees and many of our past Founders Medal recipients.”