(Ames, Iowa — Monday, October 8, 2018) The Ivy College of Business will honor four alumni and a former dean at the 87th Annual Honors and Awards Ceremony, hosted by the ISU Alumni Association. The awards will be presented after a luncheon on Friday, October 26, 2018, in the Scheman Building auditorium on the Iowa State University Campus.
“Each fall, I am humbled and honored to recognize some of our closest friends and alumni of the Ivy College of Business,” said Raisbeck Endowed Dean David Spalding. “We are fortunate to have such dedicated supporters of Iowa State University and the Ivy College of Business. Our students, faculty, and staff all benefit from their ongoing generosity and support.”
Established in 2018, the Ivy Award is the highest honor bestowed by the Debbie and Jerry Ivy College of Business. Honoring our namesake donors, it is presented to an individual, family, or organization in recognition of their exceptional career achievements and service to the college.
John D. DeVries (‘59 industrial administration), retired CEO, Colorfx, West Des Moines, Iowa.
John DeVries is among a small group of alumni who can say they were in the first graduating class of Iowa State University of Science and Technology. It was 1959, the year the name of the institution was changed from Iowa State College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts. After graduation, John jumped right into his career by accepting a position as a cost analyst with Collins Radio Company in Cedar Rapids. He later earned his MBA and his CPA and worked for Ernst & Ernst in Des Moines (1962-67), Mid-Continent Industries Inc. in Des Moines (1967-78), and eventually owned his own printing company and marketing company, Colorfx, which continues to thrive today. Community service has been a big part of John’s life. DeVries served on the Ivy College of Business Dean’s Advisory Council from 1984-2018, advising all five deans of the college. He has devoted years of service to the Greater Des Moines Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Club of Des Moines, Iowa Association of Business and Industry, where he served as director and chairman, the Iowa State University Foundation, and others.
His career has been filled with success and many awards, including the Order of the Knoll Cardinal and Gold Award from Iowa State (1998), Alumni Recognition Medal from Iowa State (1995), Outstanding CPA in Business in Industry from the Iowa Society (1995) where he was one of five national finalists. DeVries is a loyal supporter of Iowa State University and the Ivy College of Business through his thoughtful, strategic philanthropy, which supports a faculty endowed position. He also created the John D. DeVries Presidential Scholarship, which has been awarded to 63 students since 1999.
Citation of Achievement — established in 1985 to honor distinguished alumni who have demonstrated outstanding achievement in life beyond the campus.
Curt Espeland — (‘86 accounting), executive vice president and CFO Eastman Chemical Company, Kingsport, TN
Curt Espeland’s adventure didn’t stop when he graduated with honors from Iowa State University. With his business degree in hand, he started on a path that has taken him to work in many exciting destinations such as San Francisco, Prague, Singapore and Adelaide, Australia. He thanks his wife, Karen, for instilling a love of travel into their lives. Together with their four sons, the Espeland family enjoys trekking to new places. Espeland has been the Chief Financial Officer of Eastman Chemical Company, a global advanced materials and specialty additives company, since 2008. He has held a variety of corporate, business and regional finance roles over his 22 years at the company. He has extensive experience in corporate finance and accounting, strategy, mergers and acquisitions, international taxation and enterprise risk management. Prior to joining Eastman Chemical Company, Espeland was an audit and business advisory manager with Arthur Andersen.
Espeland has been a member of the Dean’s Advisory Council since 2011, where he provides valuable input for the future of the college. He enjoys meeting with fellow Cyclones and always makes time to speak with business students in the classroom. He credits his success to the exceptional faculty who helped him earn his degree. A native of Geneva, Minnesota, Espeland earned his MBA with honors in 2002 from the University of Chicago’s Graduate School of Business and completed the Advanced Management Program at Harvard Business School in 2008. Curt and his wife Karen are members of the Order of the Knoll.
Kurt Tjaden — (‘85 accounting), president, HNI International and senior vice president HNI Corp.
Kurt Tjaden is a champion for Iowa State University and the Ivy College of Business. During his years as a business student, he held leadership positions with the Student Alumni Association (now Student Alumni Leadership Council), Greek Week, Senior Class Council, Theta Chi Fraternity, Cardinal Key, and Order of Omega, as well as several other campus organizations. As an alumnus, Tjaden serves as a member of the Ivy College of Business Dean’s Advisory Council. In that role, which he has held since 2014, he provides valuable business insight, advice, and leadership for the college.
Today, Tjaden is president of HNI International and senior vice president HNI Corporation, a Fortune 1000 company headquartered in Muscatine, Iowa. He is responsible for the leadership of the company’s international operations and global strategic accounts. He is known for his impactful ability to develop relationships, for his leadership skills, and his strong character.
Tjaden’s commitment to Iowa State can be seen and felt in many areas. He is a member of the Iowa State University Foundation Board of Governors, serving as chairman of the awards committee. For the ISU Alumni Association Board of Directors, he has chaired the Officers Nominating Committee and served as a member on the Finance Committee, Governance Committee, and Strategic Plan Task Force. He and his wife, Kristyn (’85 Speech Communications) have maintained an extraordinary level of involvement with Iowa State, hosting alumni events throughout Iowa. They were recipients of the Order of the Knoll Emerging Philanthropist Award from the Iowa State University Foundation and have endowed the ISUAA’s Tjaden/Cassidy Senior Class Council Scholarship. Kurt and Kristyn are members of the Order of the Knoll and Cyclone Club.
Renee Schaaf — (‘80 industrial administration), senior vice president and chief operating officer, Principal International, Des Moines, Iowa.
Renee Schaaf has built an impressive career with the same company that hired her right out of college in 1980 – Principal. Today, she is responsible for global business development, strategy and operations in key emerging markets in Latin America and Asia. She collaborates with all Principal International member companies, specifically individuals, to advance their global pension and long-term savings plans. To do that, she travels the world, builds relationships, and must always be aware of government policies, actions, and news. Prior to her current role, Schaaf was the Vice President of Strategic Planning and Business Development for Principal International, where she was responsible for multiple business development disciplines, including: product development, technology, marketing, distribution and customer experience.
Schaaf has been a long-time supporter of the Ivy College of Business, serving on the marketing and management advisory council for more than 10 years. She was instrumental in assisting business students by helping to coordinate a visit to the Principal Australia operations. That meaningful experience, which would not have been possible without her, allowed students to meet the top managers in Australia, and speak with their communications agency. Those interactions provided an enriching opportunity for students to understand the insurance markets in Australia and appreciate the differences between the U.S. and Australian markets.
In addition to her international work, Schaaf has held several leadership positions in various areas of the Principal Financial Group. She has considerable knowledge and experience in global pension policy. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Iowa State and her MBA from Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa. She completed Global Advanced Management Program from Northwestern University, Kellogg School of Management in 2016.
Russ and Ann Gerdin Award — established in 2009 to honor contributions from valuable corporate partners or individuals who are not College of Business graduates. The award honors Russ and Ann Gerdin, who made the lead gift for the Gerdin Business Building. Neither attended Iowa State University.
Benjamin J. Allen — retired, former interim president Iowa State University and past dean of the Ivy College of Business, Webster Groves, MO
Benjamin Allen has a unique history with Iowa State University, and one of historic importance with the Ivy College of Business. Allen is most immediately remembered as the interim president of Iowa State, and past president of the University of Northern Iowa. He received his doctorate and master’s degree in economics from the University of Illinois, his bachelor’s degree in business economics from Indiana University, and his Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Iowa State University in 2011.
A familiar face on the Iowa State campus and in the Ames community, Allen held key faculty and administrative roles over three decades. He joined the Iowa State faculty in 1979, and became chair of the department of transportation and logistics in 1984. He has the distinction of having been named the first University Distinguished Professor in Business at Iowa State, in 1988. He served as interim dean (1994) and dean (1995 to 2001) of the College of Business. He was interim vice president for external affairs from 2001 to 2002, and ultimately served as vice president for academic affairs and provost from 2002 to 2006.
Allen has long been known for his ability to mentor faculty, educate students, and build relationships. His relationship with Russ Gerdin led to many significant accomplishments for the college, including a $10 million donation that led to the construction of the Gerdin Business Building. Allen is an ISU Foundation Governor, emeritus status. He and his wife, Pat (‘01, master of fine arts in English) are lifetime members of the ISU Alumni Association.
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