September 27, 2006
Association to honor five Distinguished Alumni
CARBONDALE, Ill. -- The Southern Illinois University Alumni Association will honor five prominent graduates as Distinguished Alumni during the University’s homecoming activities Friday and Saturday, Oct. 6 and 7.
The SIU Alumni Association will honor the alumni at 2:30 p.m., Friday, Oct. 6, at a public reception and induction ceremony in the Student Recreation Center’s Alumni Lounge. Their framed photos will become part of the University’s Distinguished Alumni wall in the Student Recreation Center.
The 2006 SIU Distinguished Alumni are: H.E. Hedayat Amin-Arsala, senior minister to the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan; Richard “Dick” Blythe, retired president of Blythe’s Sports Shop, Inc., in Griffith, Ind.; Glen Daum, music composer, arranger and producer in New York for the past 25 years; Curt Jones, president and creator of Dippin' Dots Ice Cream in Paducah; and Nancy Van Milligen, president and chief executive officer for the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque.
Here is a closer look at this year’s honorees:
His Excellency Hedayat Amin-Arsala was president of the General Assembly and later secretary-general of the SIU Model United Nations as an undergraduate. Today, he is deeply committed to his native country, serving as senior minister to the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, with the majority of the cabinet ministers reporting to him. Amin-Arsala, devoted to serving his home country since 1987, initially joined the Afghan Interim Government as the minister of finance in the early 1990s. After serving a stint as vice chairman and minister of finance in 2001, Amin-Arsala was appointed vice president of Afghanistan in 2002. He served in this capacity over two years during the creation of this new government.
Senior Minister Amin-Arsala formerly worked in the World Bank in various economic and senior operational positions between 1969 and 1987. Amin-Arsala earned his bachelor’s and master’s degree in economics from Southern in 1968 and 1969, respectively. He, and his wife, Betsy, also an SIUC graduate, are life members of the SIU Alumni Association.
After graduating from Southern, Richard Blythe joined his parents in a small family owned sporting goods store in northwest Indiana. Upon becoming corporate president in 1960, Blythe turned the business into one of the largest independent sporting goods stores in Indiana, and the corporation now has three locations in the state. Blythe’s three sons have now assumed responsibilities for the daily activities of the business.
Blythe has been chairman of the Indiana Grand Kankakee Marsh Restoration Project since its inception in 1992, and the project’s acquisition and restoration of 14,000 acres of wildlife habitat has earned him the national co-winner of the National Wetland Conservation Award in the private sector. He also received from the governor of Indiana the prestigious Sagamore of the Wabash award, the highest honor awarded to an Indiana citizen. In December 1995, he was inducted into the Hammond Indiana Sports Hall of Fame for his high school and SIUC athletic participation.
Blythe, and his wife, Iola, have three sons, a daughter, two daughters-in-law, and 10 grandchildren. In June 2005 they celebrated 50 years of marriage. Blythe, who received his bachelor’s degree in pre-business from Southern in 1956, is a life member of the SIU Alumni Association.
Music is a way of life for Glen Daum. The Centralia native worked his way through SIUC by leading his own orchestra and performing as a pianist in others. He was the music director and arranger of the “Revue In Blue’ variety shows and the chief arranger for the Marching Salukis. Since 1978, Daum has been a composer, arranger and producer in New York and has written music for commercials, television, films and recordings.
His arrangements have been played by ensembles ranging from the Count Basie Orchestra to the Boston Pops Orchestra. His television credits include news programs (“ABC World News Tonight,” “CNN Headline News” and “Face the Nation”), daytime dramas (“All My Children” and “General Hospital” and Turner Classic Movies. He also specializes in film and animation assignments, having won two Emmy Awards for his work on “Sesame Street,” an acclaimed children’s program. Daum’s son and daughter both live in Los Angeles. Daum, who received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music from Southern in 1962 and 1964, respectively, is a member of the SIU Alumni Association.
While being reared on a farm near Grand Chain, Curt Jones engaged in various business projects such as radio repair, broom making, and raising livestock. Today, he guides one of the most innovative companies in America. In 1987, Jones was researching various freezing techniques for the large-scale commercial preservation of bacteria and enzymes. By utilizing liquid nitrogen in a quick-freeze process, he developed the concept of Dippin’ Dots Ice Cream.
Dippin’ Dots products are distributed throughout the United States and in Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Australia, Canada, Mexico and Venezuela. In 1994, Jones was named Entrepreneur of the Year for the Kentucky/Southern Indiana Region in the retail/wholesale category, and that same year was inducted as a Lifetime Member into the Entrepreneur of the Year Society. In 1996 and 1997, Dippin’ Dots, Inc., was listed as one of Inc Magazine’s top 500 fastest growing privately held companies in the United States. The Dippin’ Dots franchise company was named top new franchising opportunity of 2002 by Entrepreneur Magazine and has ranked on the magazine’s Franchise 500 list from 2002 through 2005.
Jones received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Southern in microbiology in 1981 and 1986, respectively. Curt and his wife, Kay, have a daughter, Tracey. They are life members of the SIU Alumni Association.
Making a difference in the lives of others is a passion for Nancy Van Milligen. As the President/CEO of the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque, Van Milligen strives to support and nurture happy and healthy families and children. She coordinates the resources of nonprofit organizations, businesses and volunteers to increase awareness of the importance of philanthropy and making the community a better place to live. Van Milligen’s primary goal is serving the needs of children.
Nancy, and her husband, Mike, a fellow SIUC graduate who is Dubuque’s city manager, have five children of their own. The Van Milligens have also been foster parents for 14 children over nine years and host foreign exchange students. In Nancy’s words, “Children are our future and we have a responsibility to raise them to be happy, healthy, and ethical citizens. Children learn what they live…kids need adults who are committed to them and can help shape their lives.”
Van Milligen has extensive community, state, and national leadership experience and has served on numerous boards and commissions statewide. Her service includes being past chair of the Iowa State Empowerment Board, which focuses on children, and past chair of the Iowa Council on Foundations. Prior to joining the Community Foundation, Van Milligen was the vice president of institutional advancement at Clarke College. Van Milligen received her bachelor’s degree in political science from SIUC in 1977, and a master’s in public affairs from the University in 1990.
Building relationships between the University and its graduates is among the goals of Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment, the blueprint the University is following as it approaches its 150th anniversary in 2019.