Each year, the Graduate Alumni Office recognizes two
outstanding alumni for their service during the past academic year. Examples of
service include recruitment of prospective students, speaking on campus,
financial support of the graduate business program, participation in alumni
activities and career recruitment.
We’re pleased to recognize the following alums as recipients
of the alumni awards for 2013.
Award: Michael Riegel (MBA ’98)
In the third week of July, just as the summer heat is likely
to be settling over South Bend, Mike Riegel will be settling into his Notre
Dame dorm room. But this isn’t the average freshman experience; Mike is about
25 years beyond that. Instead of lugging mini-fridges and gaming systems, he’s
bringing his wife Liz and three children—Sarah (14), Mark (12) and Megan (10).
The Riegel family is heading to campus from their home in
Raleigh, N.C., to be part of Notre Dame Family Volunteer Camp, an opportunity
for the whole family to engage in community service activities while enjoying
the sites and special places around the University.
“It’s a great way to teach our kids about giving back,” says
Riegel. “That’s really what the Notre Dame experience is all about.”
Riegel is the vice president of Mobile and WebSphere for IBM,
where he leads the marketing strategy across 182 countries for IBM’s mobile and
Web efforts to advance the company’s Smarter Planet strategy. He also launched
IBM's newest brand—IBM MobileFirst—to represent the industry's broadest set of
mobile software and services for clients
He was awarded the 2013 Distinguished Alumni Award in
recognition of his achievement in business and for his strong commitment to the
Mendoza College of Business through leadership and service to the graduate
business community. Mike has been instrumental in recruiting and arranging
internships for MBA students at IBM, as well as providing speakers and
supporting events such as the ND MBA Marketing Conference.
He finds a strong alignment in mission between Notre Dame
and IBM, which is one of the reasons he helps the recruiting efforts. But he
also has an attitude of appreciation for what he’s gained—and continues to gain—as
part of the legendary Notre Dame alumni network.
“For me personally, Notre Dame was the door opener, and
continues to be the door opener, for everything I do,” he says. “But for anyone
who has graduated at Notre Dame, you have to realize that part of the reason
for your success is all of the people ahead of you who gave back. So you have
to do the same thing for others. Plus, staying connected with students and
professors is a great way to keep on learning.”
Recent Alumni Service
Award: Michael T. Benson (MNA ’11)
Mike Benson has no shortage of higher-ed affiliations: He
earned his bachelor’s degree in political science from Brigham Young
University, his master’s degree in nonprofit administration from Mendoza and a
doctoral degree in Middle Eastern history from the University of Oxford (St.
Antony’s College). Not only that, the Salt Lake City native served as the president
of Snow College (2000-2006) and Southern Utah University (2006-present); and,
as of Aug. 1, he takes over as president of Eastern Kentucky University.
Although he values all of his experiences with the various
institutions, Benson—one of the youngest university presidents in America—considers
earning a Master of Nonprofit Administration from Notre Dame as transformative.
He had a sterling track record as a leader and as a prolific fund raiser at
both Snow and Southern Utah before starting the program. Yet Benson realized
that having a stronger business skillset would help him make better strategic
“I’m a huge proponent of MNA,” he says. “It literally
changed my professional career. It gave me an extra tool that I was lacking.”
During his tenure at Snow, Benson raised more money in five
years than in all of the institution’s previous 117-year history. At Southern
Utah, his many successful fund-raising efforts included directing the
development and implementation of the school’s largest and most ambitious
comprehensive $100 million campaign, The Future Is Rising. In 2011, Utah
Business magazine named Benson one of the “100 Most Influential People in
Benson and wife Debi are the parents of Truman, 6, Tatum, 4,
and Talmage, 2. He also is the father of Emma, 16, and Samuel, 14.
As an MNA alum, Benson is an unabashed recruiter to the
program, born out of a deep sense of alignment with the University’s faith
mission and an appreciation of the strength of the alumni network.
“Any connection to Notre Dame is so rewarding,” he says. “We
have been given an incredible opportunity and blessing, and it’s our
responsibility to take that and try to make a difference for others.