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BSU News - News & Updates

2009-09-30

2009 Outstanding Alumni to be honored at Homecoming

BEMIDJI, Minn. (Sept. 29, 2009) — Nine individuals will be honored as Outstanding Alumni of Bemidji State University during induction ceremonies to be held this Saturday in conjunction with the University’s Homecoming activities.

Bemidji State’s 2009 Outstanding Alumni are: Paul A. Hedtke ‘81 of San Diego, Calif.; Kevin Jackson ‘85 of Bemidji; Gordon Johnson ‘71 of Great Falls, Mont.; Michele Leonhart ‘78 of Washington D.C. and Redondo Beach, Calif.; Adele Munsterman ‘74 of Brooklyn Park, Minn.; Col. Gregg P. Rice ‘69 of Colorado Springs, Colo.; Dr. Linda Shadiow ‘69 of Flagstaff, Ariz.; David Sorensen ‘72 of Minneapolis; and Dr. Ranae Womack ‘79 of Ashland, Ore.

Paul A. Hedtke ’81 - San Diego, Calif.
Hedtke graduated from Bemidji State in 1981 with a double major in physics and mathematics. While a student at BSU, he was selected to the Argonne National Laboratory Undergraduate Research Participation Program and published a paper in the American Institute of Physics journal “Review of Scientific Instruments.” Hedtke’s career has been spent in engineering, product design and business development, first at General Dynamics, then at Hughes Aircraft and for the past eleven years at Qualcomm where he currently serves as senior director of business development. In 1999-2000, he led a project that established Qualcomm’s initial business presence in Europe in 1999-2000 and its moves into wireless health care in 2002-03. He currently leads a Qualcomm project to develop and launch a wireless health services company. Before making the move to Qualcomm, he was named the 1987 Engineer of the Year for the Convair division at General Dynamics.

Hedtke completed the executive program for scientists and engineers at UC-San Diego in 1992 and is a 1994 graduate of UCLA’s Anderson Graduate School of Management and Executive Marketing program. Hedtke, who has been involved in volunteer work and development of financial support for the San Diego-area public schools, and his wife, Tammi, live in San Diego with their son, Joshua.

Kevin L. Jackson ’85 – Bemidji, Minn.
Jackson, who earned a bachelors degree in mass communication from Bemidji State in 1985, has become one of the most-recognizable radio voices in northern Minnesota. He started his radio career before finishing college, working as an announcer at KKBJ in Bemidji. After a short stint working for a station in Roseau, Minn., Jackson returned to Bemidji to sell advertising for Paul Bunyan Broadcasting, but quickly recognized that his talents were not in sales. He returned to the air as sports director and became the voice of Bemidji High School athletics, a position he held for 12 years.

Jackson has twice been honored by the Minnesota Sports Broadcasters Association for best show in a medium market, first in 2002 for “Fishin’ Paul Bunyan Country,” and again in 2007 for “Olympic Spotlight,” a show that aired during the 2006 Winter Olympics and focused on the U.S. men’s and women’s curling teams, both of which were from Bemidji.

Jackson currently serves as the program director for four stations at Paul Bunyan Broadcasting and continues to hold the title of sports director for all five of its Bemidji stations. He is involved with a broad variety of community service programs, personally and through the community service efforts of Paul Bunyan Broadcasting, and has served on numerous committees and provided his voice talents for a variety of events for the University. He and his wife, Nicole, have three children, Jacob, Kaila and Molly.

Gordon J. Johnson ’71 – Great Falls, Mont.
Johnson earned a bachelors degree in music from Bemidji State in 1971 and is currently the music director and conductor of the Great Falls Symphony. He made numerous guest-conducting appearances in the U.S. and internationally with the Kumamoto Symphony in Japan; the L’Orchestra Nationale de Musique in Toulon, France; the Guam Symphony; and the Wilmslow and Blackburn Symphonies in England. Before joining the Great Falls Symphony, Johnson was music director and conductor of the Glacier Orchestra and Chorale in Montana from 1982-97 and held the same position with the Mesa, Ariz. symphony from 1997-2005.

Johnson is an adjunct professor at the University of Great Falls and the University of Montana, Northern and has earned awards for his work from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers. He also has been given an award for Adventuresome Programming by the Glacier Orchestra and is a member of the Highland Park High School Hall of Fame in St. Paul, Minn. His orchestral performances have been broadcast on National Public Radio’s “Performance Today” program and Public Broadcasting System’s “Montana Summer Symphony.” He also serves as a host for “SHOWCASE, a Great Falls Symphony Digest” on Montana Public Radio. He is an active member of the Great Falls community, serving on a variety of boards and committees.

Johnson earned his master’s degree at Northwestern University in 1976 and is a doctoral candidate in music at the University of Oregon, where he was twice awarded the prestigious Ruth Lorraine Close Award for doctoral studies. In addition, he has studied with Leonard Bernstein, Erich Leinsdorf, Herbert Blomstedt and Michael Tilson Thomas.

Johnson and his wife, Ruth, have two sons, Max and Alex.

Michele M. Leonhart ’78 – Washington D.C. and Redondo Beach, Calif.
Leonhart graduated from Bemidji State in 1978 with a degree in criminal justice. Leonhart began her career as a patrol officer in Baltimore, Md., and joined the Drug Enforcement Administration as a special agent in 1980 to pursue a career in federal narcotics law enforcement.

After beginning her DEA career with a five-year stay in Minneapolis, Leonhart earned promotions from special agent and group supervisor to senior executive rank positions. In 1997 she became DEA’s first female special agent in charge, with command assignments in San Francisco and Los Angeles. In 2004, she was appointed by President Bush and confirmed by the U.S. Senate as the deputy administrator of the DEA. In that capacity, Leonhart is the highest-ranking DEA special agent, responsible for all enforcement, intelligence, administrative and regulatory operations and over 10,000 employees across the U.S. and in 83 foreign offices. Since Nov. 2007, she has served as DEA’s acting administrator.

Leonhart has been recognized for her role in several major domestic and international drug investigations and seizures. She received the Presidential Rank Award for Distinguished Executive from President Bush in 2004, the Presidential Rank Award for Meritorious Service from President Clinton in 2000, and numerous other awards. She has also been recognized for her leadership in the Law Enforcement Exploring Program, working with young people interested in a career in law enforcement.

Leonhart is married to Gene Johns, a narcotics detective with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office. They have two sons, Michael and Stephen, and split their time between California and Washington, D.C.

Adele P. (Levchak) Munsterman ’74 – Brooklyn Park, Minn.
Munsterman graduated from Bemidji State in 1974 with a degree in secondary education with a double major in French and Spanish.

Now teaching at Blaine (Minn.) High School, Munsterman retired from the Fridley Public Schools in June after a 32-year teaching career. There, she taught French and Spanish, coached the Fridley Tigerteers dance team and advised a variety of clubs including the Fridley Future Educators, Spanish Club, International Club and Hispanic Honor Society. She also sat on the board of the Minnesota Association of Dance Lines.

Munsterman has been named the AATSP-MN Teacher of the Year, the Fridley Education Association Teacher of the Year and a Delta Kappa Gamma Woman of Achievement. She was inducted into the Bemidji State University Professional Education Hall of Fame in 2000. She also has held numerous leadership roles in professional organizations, including the Minnesota Council on the Teaching of Languages and Cultures, the Minnesota Chapter of the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese, Phi Delta Kappa, the Education Minnesota Foundation Board and both the University of Minnesota and Bemidji State Alumni Boards.

She studied at the Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City, Mexico, before graduating from BSU, and earned her master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from the University of Minnesota. Munsterman and and her husband, Walt are active members of DFL Senate District #47 and Education Minnesota, where they are both directors on a 44-member governing board that represents 70,000 teachers union members.

Col. Gregg P. Rice USAF (Ret) ’69 – Colorado Springs, Colo.
Rice graduated from Bemidji State in 1969 with a bachelor’s degree in business management. He later earned a master’s in systems management from the University of Southern California and graduated from the Air Force Squadron Officer School, the U.S. Army Command and General Staff School and Australia’s Joint Services Staff College.

Rice served 23 years in the U.S. Air Force as a fighter pilot, with over 4,000 flight hours of flight time which included 116 missions during the Vietnam conflict. He held a variety of staff and senior-level executive positions during his career, including operations commander of a fighter wing, deputy commandant for the Air Force Academy Cadet Wing, F-16 squadron commander and Chief Personnel Assignments Branch and Air Division chief of safety.

Amongst his numerous military decorations are the Legion of Merit, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Air Force Commendation Medal and a number of air medals. He also has won a variety of honors such as Officer Training School distinguished graduate, T-41 Instructor Pilot of the Year and Outstanding Young Man of America and was named Top Gun for F-4 and F-16 wings.

Following his retirement from the Air Force, Rice joined the commercial airline industry, flying over 10,300 hours and retiring after 13 years as a captain with Southwest Airlines. He also has been involved in community and military service projects, including Homeward Pikes Peak fundraisers for the homeless of Colorado Springs and the national “Make a Wish” program. In 1992, he helped with the relocation of Air Force personnel displaced by Hurricane Andrew.

Rice and his wife, Ilene (Heimsjo) ’69, have two grown children, Michael and Trisha.

Dr. Linda K. (Christofferson) Shadiow ’69 – Flagstaff, Ariz.
Shadiow earned a double major in English and speech and theater from Bemidji State in 1969. She taught high school English for six years after graduation before beginning her career in higher education as the supervisor of English at Montana’s Office of Public Instruction. There, whe worked to bring instructional resources to rural and reservation schools. She also served as assistant director of Advance by Choice, an academic support program for nontraditional college students.

After completing her doctorate, Shadow returned to Bozeman, Mont., as a professor of English before joining the faculty at Northern Arizona University. There, she served as associate executive director for the Center of Excellence in Education where she worked on policy issues, curriculum development and interdisciplinary partnerships.

Shadiow is currently a professor of educational foundations and English at Northern Arizona and serves as the director of the school’s faculty development program. She has written more than 50 articles in professional books and journals and has presented at over 100 national and international educational conferences. She was selected by the Northern Arizona students to be the 2005 commencement speaker and has been recognized as Faculty Scholar of the Year, Administrator of the Year and as one of the Centennial Class of 100, representing the university’s first century.

Shadiow earned a master’s degree in secondary education from Montana State University and holds a doctorate in secondary English education from Arizona State. She and her husband, Robert ’70, make their home in Flagstaff, Ariz.

David L. (Dave) Sorensen ’72 – Minneapolis, Minn.
Sorensen earned a degree in business education from Bemidji State in 1972. Upon graduation, he began a 36-year career at General Mills, starting as a grain buyer and merchandiser. He has since served a variety of roles, including management of the company’s Portland, Ore., grain operations and its feed ingredient operations, was director of commodity analysis and procurement business planning and spent a year as director of new business development. He advanced to director of purchasing and was eventually named vice president of worldwide sourcing.

Sorensen is past chair and former member of the Board of Trustees for CAPS Research, a non-profit, independent research organization focusing on procurement and supply. He also has served on the Wayzata Youth Hockey Association board, leading the efforts to build a new arena in Plymouth, Minn. He was the founder and former board chair of Minnesota Agriculture in the Classroom, is involved in youth recreation fundraising for Courage Center and is a member of the Minnesota State Fair board. Sorensen is also an officer and member of the BSU Foundation board, and he and his wife have funded an endowment to provide leadership scholarships to BSU students.

Sorensen and his wife, Kathy, have three grown children, Mark, Jeff and Jennifer.

Dr. Ranae D. (Erickson) Womack ’79 / ’87 – Ashland, Ore.
Womack has received two bachelor’s degrees from Bemidji State, first in health education in 1979 followed by a nursing degree in 1987.

An emergency-room and surgery nurse following her undergraduate work, Womack came to Bemidji State in 1985 to implement the Native Americans Into Medicine program and also spent a year as acting director of Indian Student Services. She joined the faculty in Bemidji State’s Department of Nursing in 1992, serving as department chair from 1995-99. She was named dean of the University’s College of Social and Natural Sciences in 1999 and held that position until 2007. She retired from the University in May as a professor emerita of nursing.

During her 23-year career at Bemidji State, Womack was instrumental in acquiring funds from private foundations, the State of Minnesota and federal sources for a variety of projects including the four-year baccalaureate nursing program, recruitment and retention of Native American students, a wetlands ecology endowment and culturally appropriate science education for Native American elementary school children.

Womack has served on the board of directors for North Country Health Services, the Northwest Minnesota Foundation, the Northwest Minnesota Women’s Fund, the BSU Foundation and Beltrami County Health Services.

She received her master’s degree in nursing from the University of North Dakota in 1990 and earned her doctorate in higher education administration and statistics from North Dakota in 1993. Womack and her husband, Dr. Larry Womack, have four grown children, Erica and Brent Bohan and Katherine and Kristopher Womack.


About Bemidji State University Bemidji State University, located in northern Minnesota’s lake district, occupies a wooded campus along the shore of Lake Bemidji. Enrolling more than 5,000 students, the University offers more than 50 undergraduate majors and nine graduate programs encompassing arts, sciences and select professional programs. The University is a member of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system and has a faculty and staff of more than 550. University signature themes include environmental stewardship, civic engagement and global and multi-cultural understanding. For further information about the University, visit bemidjistate.edu. Become a fan of Bemidji State University on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.