Bemidji State’s 2011 alumni award winners introduced at Oct. 7 Honors Gala

BEMIDJI, Minn. (Sept. 22, 2011) — Five Bemidji State University alumni will be honored by the University during the BSU Alumni Association’s annual Honors Gala, Friday, Oct. 7.

Bemidji State will honor three of the five as Outstanding Alumni for 2011 and also name this year’s winners of the University’s new Alumni Service and Young Alumni awards.

Bemidji State’s 2011 Outstanding Alumni are:
Trent Baalke, a 1987 Bemidji State graduate who is the general manager of the National Football League’s San Francisco 49ers.
William “Bill” Hawkins, a 1974 graduate who has built a globally-recognized sales and marketing consulting firm.
Michael Roberge, a 1990 graduate who is president and global investment officer for Boston-based MFS Investment Management.

Austin Wallestad, a 1970 graduate, will be the first recipient of BSU’s Alumni Service Award, and 2005 graduate Nathan Sannes will receive BSU’s inaugural Young Alumni Award.

The five alumni will be recognized at the BSU Honors Gala, a black-tie optional event at the Sanford Center Ballroom. A social program begins at 5:30 p.m. with dinner served at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are available for $35 each; tickets can be purchased online at or by calling (877) 278-2586 or (218) 755-3989. Advanced ticket sales are required; tickets will not be for sale at the door.

The BSU Honors Gala is sponsored by Leuken’s Village Foods, Sanford Health, Paul Bunyan Communications, Paul Bunyan Broadcasting, RP Broadcasting, Netzer’s Bemidji Floral and NLFX.

Bios for each of the five alumni to be honored at the BSU Honors Gala follow.

BSU Alumni Association
• Honors Gala information & registration

• Trent Baalke ’87— In January, Trent Baalke was named general manager of the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers after spending five years in the organization as a regional scout, director of player personnel and vice president of player personnel.

Baalke, a 1987 Bemidji State graduate with a degree in health and physical education, played football for the Beavers from 1982-86 and helped the program get back on a winning track. He recorded 169 tackles during his four-year career, was named All-Northern Intercollegiate Conference in 1985 and helped the Beavers finish as high as third in the NSIC. After leaving BSU, he was a graduate assistant for the North Dakota State football program that finished 14-0 and won a national championship in 1990. He later coached at South Dakota State before entering the NFL in 1998 as a scout with the New York Jets.

Later, he was a national scout and college scouting coordinator with the Washington Redskins before joining the 49ers in 2005.

After graduating from BSU, Baalke earned a master’s degree in educational administration from North Dakota State. He lives in Loveland, Colo., with his wife, Beth, who also is a BSU alum. They have two daughters, Katlynn and Cassie.

• William “Bill” Hawkins ’74 — After graduating from Bemidji State in 1974, Bill Hawkins spent six years teaching high school English and coaching at Columbia Heights and St. Francis high schools before deciding to focus his efforts on Hawkins Enterprises, Inc., a company he founded in 1978.

Since then, he has become one of the most sought-after sales and marketing consultants in the country and speaks to tens of thousands of people annually. He has authored a highly successful series of talks on electronic commerce and the future of the Internet, and also developed a business training series that has been translated into 11 languages. A charter member of Worldwide Group, LLC, Hawkins serves on its board and has helped much of the training and education that organization delivers around the world. He also sits on the Board of Directors for the Independent Business Owners Association International and was Chairman of the IBOAI in 2008. The IBOAI is the largest small business trade association in the world.

Hawkins has been involved in a number of philanthropic efforts and ministries. In 1997, he coordinated flood relief for Grand Forks, ND, and help raise more than $500,000 to help that community’s rebuilding efforts.

Hawkins lives in Ramsey, Minn., with his wife Sandy. They have two daughters, Kristen and Katie.

• Michael Roberge ‘90 — Since graduating from Bemidji State in 1990 with degrees in accounting and business administration, Michael Roberge has quickly risen through the ranks of the financial investing world. Today, he manages a global firm with assets worth more than $200 billion. He joined Moody’s Investor Services in 1991 as a municipal bond analyst, holding that position for four years. He moved to Boston in 1995 to join Colonial Management Associates as a senior bond analyst and portfolio manager. A year later, he joined MFS as an analyst and has been with the company ever since. He started as a manager of fixed income portfolios and quickly rose through the company, becoming its U.S. chief investment officer in 2006. In 2010, he was named president and global investment officer and currently oversees a team that manages assets from more than 50 countries.

Roberge currently serves as the President of the Boston Security Analysts Society and is on the board of Horizons for Homeless Children, which serves children in family shelters across Massachusetts. He also participates in Boston-based non-profit organizations, City Year and Jumpstart.

Roberge, who earned an MBA from Hofstra University after leaving BSU, lives in Wayland, Mass., with his wife Tracy. They have two daughters, Hannah and Emily.

Austin Wallestad ’70 –- Austin Wallestad, winner of the first BSU Alumni Service Award, was an All-America performer on BSU’s men’s hockey team from 1966-69. He helped guide the Beavers to NAIA national championships in 1968 and 1969 before graduating in 1970. He taught physical education and health in Illinois until 1978, when he moved to California to manage and own Jack-in-the-Box restaurants. He started as an assistant manager and, by 1988, was a district manager for the chain. He eventually owned about 20 restaurants before retiring in 2010. Wallestad received numerous awards and honors for his work in the restaurant industry and community involvement, including Jack-in-the-Box Franchise Operator of the Year, Lion of the Year and Melvin Jones Fellow from Lion’s Clubs in Madera, CA, Outstanding Citizen of the Year by the Fresno/Madera Police Chiefs Association and 1999 Sam Walton (Walmart) Business Man of the Year.

Wallestad has been board member and president of numerous community associations, including the Madera County Arts Council, the Madera Chamber of Commerce and the Madera Lion’s Club. He also served nine years on Bemidji State’s alumni board from 2000-09.

Wallestad lives in Bemidji, Minn., with his wife Paula. They have three grown children, Mary, Mike and Amanda.

Nathan Sannes ’05 – Former Bemidji State quarterback Nathan Sannes is the recipient of BSU’s inaugural Young Alumni Award. Sannes, who graduated magna cum laude with a degree in business administration in 2005 and a dual emphasis in finance and management, set a school football career record for completions and tied the school career mark for passing touchdowns. He also set numerous other single-season and single-game passing records and was named the BSU male athlete of the year in 2005-06. After graduation, he joined Federated Insurance as a marketing development trainee. He quickly rose to his current position of district marketing manager with responsibility for 10 sales territories in Minnesota and North Dakota. He also serves as Federated’s dedicated recruiter for Bemidji State. Sannes has won a dozen awards from Federated during his brief time with the company, including four Chairman’s Council Awards, the company’s highest honor.

He is a Life Underwriting Training Council Fellow and is co-chair of Bemidji State’s National Football Alumni Committee.

Sannes lives in Alexandria, Minn., with his wife Abby. They have one daughter, Emma, and are expecting a second child in October.