BEMIDJI, Minn. – Dr. Alex Cirillo, Jr., will be recognized as the recipient of the 2008 Distinguished Minnesotan Award during commencement ceremonies Friday, May 16, at Bemidji State University.
First presented by Bemidji State in 1981, the Distinguished Minnesotan Award acknowledges the contributions of current or former residents of the state who have performed exemplary service to the people of Minnesota or the United States.
Cirillo joined 3M as a senior physicist in the company’s Central Research Laboratories in 1979. Four years later he was leading 3M’s first laboratory in filtration products, and later directed the company’s commercial graphics division. He also served as the research and development executive for the company’s health care markets. In that role, Cirillo was responsible for several 3M Technology Centers and the 3M Bioanalytical Technologies Project, a business venture targeting products for genomic applications. In 2000, he was named president and general manager of 3M-Canada.
Today, based in St. Paul, Minn., as 3M’s vice president for community affairs and vice president of the 3M Foundation, Cirillo is extending 3M’s innovation to address community needs, prepare students for the 21st century workforce and sustain the environment. In 2007, 3M allocated more than $42.5 million in grants and product donations, with about 40 percent of the funds targeting educational initiatives.
Cirillo also has worked extensively as a consultant with a variety of businesses and organizations across the nation. He was recently selected co-chair of “Destination 2025,” a strategic planning project being undertaken by the BioBusiness Alliance of Minnesota. When completed, this project will help Minnesota’s bioscience industries plan for long-term competitiveness in critical markets such as medical devices, renewable energy and biomaterials.
Cirillo has extensive mentoring experience and spent several years with Menttium 100, a program that partners top-level corporate executives with emerging mid-level female employees to help prepare them for leadership roles in corporate America.
A native of Utica, N.Y., Cirillo earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the Catholic University in Washington, D.C., and master’s and doctorate degrees in chemistry from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee. He was a post-doctoral student at the Centre Nationale de Recherche Scientifique Laboratory in Orleans, France.
In addition to his 3M experience, Cirillo spent five years in religious life as a teaching Brother and six years in the U.S. Army Reserves. He has taught science and mathematics at various levels from elementary school to college. He is an avid guitar player and singer. He and his wife, Judy, have four children and eight grandchildren.
For more information on the Distinguished Minnesotan Award or on commencement ceremonies at Bemidji State University, please contact the Records Office, located in Deputy Hall on the Bemidji State campus, at (218) 755-2020.
A complete list of the 29 persons who have been recognized as Distinguished Minnesotans in the 28-year history of the award can be found below.
Recipients of Distinguished Minnesotan Award
1981 Sigurd Olson, naturalist and author
1982 Karl Kassulke, athlete and handicap advocate
1983 Janet Dearholt Esty, businesswoman and entrepreneur
1984 Frederick F. Manfred, author
1985 Dr. John Najarian, transplant surgeon
1986 Dr. Harlan Cleveland, political scientist
1987 Muriel Buck Humphrey Brown, advocate for the disadvantaged
1988 Elmer L. Andersen, businessman and former governor
1989 Curtis L. Carlson, businessman and philanthropist
1990 William S. Marvin, businessman and community leader
1991 Meridel LeSueur, writer and social activist
1992 Veda Ponikvar, newspaper publisher
1993 Nellie Stone Johnson, political and social activist
1994 Cheryl Dickson, leader in humanities programming
1995 William H. Kling, innovator in public radio
1996 Jerry Willet, businessman and former state senator
1997 Ann Bancroft, explorer of the North Pole and South Pole
1998 Bob Bergland, congressman and former U.S. secretary of agriculture
1999 Coya Knutson, congresswoman
2000 Jon Hassler, author and educator
2001 Libby Larsen, composer
2002 Rosalie Wahl, Minnesota Supreme Court justice
2003 Edgar Heteen, entrepreneur and snowmobile pioneer
2004 Herb Brooks, men’s ice hockey coach
2005 Gerald Vizenor, author and educator
2006 Kathleen Blatz, chief justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court
2007 Paul Wellstone, U.S. Senator & Shiela Wellstone, advocate against domestic abuse
2008 Dr. Alex Cirillo, Jr., vice president for community affairs, 3M