university governance

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Lawrence welcomes five new members to its board of trustees

Five new members have been elected to Lawrence University’s Board of Trustees, including two with previous board service. Each joins the board for a three-year term effective July 1.

Derrell Acon, an award-winning vocalist, Lydia Howarth, a retired publishing editor, David Knapp, senior managing director with Chicago’s Northern Trust, Robert Perille, a former private equity investment firm partner, and Sara Quandt, public health professor at Wake Forest University, were elected to the board at its most recent meeting.

Susan Stillman Kane
Susie Stillman Kane

They replace four members of the board who are retiring: Bob Anker, a 1964 Lawrence graduate who joined the board in 2004; Bob Buchanan, a 1962 Lawrence graduate who has served on the board since 1978; Garth Neustadter, a member of the class of 2010, Lawrence’s first Recent Graduate Trustee, and O. B. Parrish, a 1955 Lawrence graduate who served initially from 1983-86 and again from 1998-2017.

“On behalf of the Board of Trustees, it is my distinct pleasure to welcome three new and two returning trustees to the Board who represent a wealth of professional experience,” said Susie Stillman Kane ’72, board chair.

“In addition to her previous work in the publishing field, Lydia brings perspectives on higher education through her work as spouse of the chancellor of Vanderbilt University,” said Kane. “Sara, a veteran member of the academy as an applied medical anthropologist, has served as a director of Lawrence Alumni Association and has given generously of her time to Lawrence, faculty members and students. Derrell, a lecturer and opera performer, has performed globally and will provide important insights to board deliberations as a graduate of the conservatory. During his earlier service as a trustee, Bob’s strong interest in improving career services led to the birth of the Lawrence Scholars in Business Program. David’s extensive professional experience as well as that on the Lawrence Board will help to ensure the needed balance between the long-term institutional perspectives and good governance practices.”

Derrell Acon
Derrell Acon

Derrell Acon ’11, Chicago, Ill.
Acon is the board’s fourth Recent Graduate Trustee, a position established in 2014 exclusively for Lawrence alumni within 2-10 years of their graduation. He will serve one three-year term.

An award-winning bass-baritone, Acon has nearly two dozen operatic roles to his credit, among them Sarastro in “The Magic Flute” at the Glimmerglass Festival, Leporello in “Don Giovanni” for the Hawaii Performing Arts Festival and the title character in “Don Bucefalo” for the La Musica Lirica International Music Festival.

Acon is a two-time Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions regional finalist and  earned first place and Grand Prize awards in Chicago’s Bel Canto Foundation Opera contest in 2010 and first prize honors in the 2015 Nicholas Loren Competition.

He has delivered lecture/recitals internationally, including the American Academy in Rome, Italy and the University of Gondar in Ethiopia.

A summa cum laude double-degree graduate of Lawrence with a B.A. in government and a B.M. in voice performance, Acon earned a master’s degree and a doctoral degree in 19th-century opera history and performance from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.

Lydia Howarth
Lydia Howarth

Lydia Howarth ’75, Nashville, Tenn.
Howarth, a former Lawrence admissions volunteer, is a retired editor for various publishing entities, including the University of Wisconsin Press, the University of Chicago Press, the National Geographic Society and the Brookings Institution. She is the wife of the chancellor of Vanderbilt University, Nicholas Zeppos.

A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Lawrence with a bachelor’s degree in English and philosophy, Howarth earned a master’s degree in English from the University of Chicago and a master of fine arts degree in writing and literature from Bennington College.

David Knapp
David Knapp

David Knapp ’89, Chicago, Ill.
A senior managing director in wealth management with the Northern Trust in Chicago, Knapp returns to the board, where he previously served from 2003-2016, including two years as board secretary (2014-16). During his previous tenure on the board, Knapp was chair of the investment committee and the Lawrence Corporation of Wisconsin.

Prior to joining Northern Trust, Knapp worked as a consultant with Stern Stewart & Co. in Chicago and was vice president and director of the SCI Financial Group in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Beyond his service as a trustee, Knapp has been active in Lawrence’s Scholars in Business program, has served as a volunteer for both the admissions office and career services.

After earning a bachelor’s degree in philosophy at Lawrence, Knapp earned an MBA from the University of Iowa.

Robert Perille
Robert Perille

Bob Perille ’80, Santa Monica, Calif.
Perille begins his second stint on the board after previously serving from 2006-2011. He joins the board after also serving on the President’s Advisory Council. He played a leadership role in the creation of Lawrence’s Scholars in Business program.

A veteran of the investment industry, Perille retired in 2015 from Shamrock Capital Advisors, a private equity investment firm in Los Angeles focused on the communication, entertainment and media industry. He currently invests in private companies through Calvello Investments, LLC, a family holding company, and serves as a venture partner for Draper Frontier, a seed stage venture fund based in LA.  Prior to Shamrock, Perille spent 23 years with Bank of America, including as a managing director in leveraged finance and then managing partner of a captive private equity fund, Bank of America Capital Investors.  He currently serves on the boards of five private companies and the board of the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank.

After earning a bachelor’s degree in biology from Lawrence, Perille earned a master of business administration degree from Babson College.

Sara Quandt
Sara Quandt

Sara Quandt ’73, Winston Salem, N.C.
As an applied medical anthropologist at Wake Forest University, Quandt conducts research using a community-based participatory framework with rural, minority and low income populations, including work in occupational safety and health with immigrant farmworkers, poultry processing workers and other manual workers. Her research also has focused on older adults and nutrition, including self-management of diabetes and oral health deficits.

Her efforts have been recognized with awards from the National Rural Health Association, the National Occupational Research Agenda and the Washington Association of Professional Anthropologists. She also was honored by Lawrence in 2013 with the university’s Briggs Distinguished Achievement Award.

Quandt joined Wake Forest University’s School of Medicine’s department of public health in 1994 after spending 11 years on the faculty of the University of Kentucky.

In addition to her bachelor’s degree in anthropology from Lawrence, Quandt earned a Ph.D. in anthropology from Michigan State University.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.”  Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

Healthcare expert, award-winning litigator elected to Lawrence Board of Trustees

Two new members have been elected to Lawrence University’s of Board of Trustees.

Healthcare consultant Omer Sayeed and nationally recognized attorney Anton Valukas join Shelley Davis ’92, Chicago, Ill., Dr. Richard Fessler ’74, Winnetka, Ill., and Andrew Wong ‘06, Chicago, Ill., who were elected to the board earlier this year, as members of the 2015 class of new trustees.

“On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I am delighted to welcome Omer and Tony to the Board,” said board chair Susie Stillman Kane ’72. “Omer brings extensive background in the health care industry and Tony is known in legal circles as the best trial lawyer in the country.

“In joining Andrew Wong, our second Recent Graduate Trustee, Shelley Davis and Rick Fessler, these five individuals comprise one of the largest new trustee classes in recent memory. It is a tribute to the loyalty and commitment Lawrence instills in its alumni and friends that each is willing to give so generously of his or her time and talent by taking on this important role for the university.”

The board will hold its annual fall meeting at Bjorklunden, Lawrence’s northern campus in Door County, Oct. 28-30.

Omer Sayeed ’87

Omer Sayeed, Altadena, Calif.
A management consultant with extensive expertise in the health care industry, including both payer and provider operations, Sayeed is senior vice president of the UnitedHealth Group, Optum.

Prior to Optum, Sayeed spent three years as senior vice president with AccretiveHealth, where he was responsible for revenue enhancement and administrative cost reduction solutions.

Sayeed also spent 11 years as a partner in Accenture’s Health and Public Services practice, where he worked with payer CEOs and CFOs and led efforts to identify and deliver cost reduction in claims, finance and procurement.

After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in physics from Lawrence in 1987, Sayeed earned a master’s degree in philosophy and a Ph.D. in biology from Indiana University. He also received an appointment as a postdoctoral fellow in neurogenetics and behavior at the California Institute of Technology.

Sayeed spent a year on Lawrence’s President’s Advisory Council before his election to the Board of Trustees.

Anton Valukas, Evanston, Ill.
Valukas serves as chair of the law firm Jenner & Block, where he focuses on civil and criminal litigation.

Tony Valukas_newsblog_new trustee
Anton Valukas ’65

His history of litigation success earned him a 2009 federal appointment as the examiner for the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy, the largest bankruptcy in U.S. history.  Valukas issued a nine-volume, 2,200-page report that was widely praised for its clarity and usefulness in determining what brought about Lehman’s demise, an event many commentators point to as the precipitating event triggering the economic crisis of 2008.

Valukas has been named one of the country’s leading litigation lawyers for eight consecutive years by Chambers USA, while Chicago Lawyer honored him as its “Person of the Year” in 2009. Other honors include being named as one of “The 100 Most Influential Lawyers in America” by The National Law Journal in 2013, and “Litigator of the Year” and “Newsmaker of the Year” in 2012 and 2011, respectively by The American Lawyer magazine.

Prior to joining Jenner & Block, Valukas held several positions with the U.S. Department of Justice, including Assistant United States Attorney (1970-74), Chief of the Special Prosecutions Division (1974), and First Assistant United States Attorney (1975-76).  In 1985, he left the firm to serve as the United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, returning to Jenner & Block in 1989.

He previously served on the Lawrence Board of Trustees from 1991 to 1994 and was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree by Lawrence in 2012, when he also served as the college’s commencement speaker.

Valukas earned a degree in government from Lawrence in 1965 and his J.D. from the Northwestern University School of Law in 1968.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College” and Fiske’s Guide to Colleges 2016. Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.