Just as the end of every academic year has scores of moving parts and pieces, our annual End-of-Year Celebration lunch has plenty going on as well. We take a moment to bring all the great parts of the past ten months, acknowledging the commitment of our alumni and volunteers, the accomplishments of our alumni and the hard work of our students.

The celebration at the Toyota Club at Reser Stadium serves to say thank you to our alumni and volunteers who helped us throughout the academic year with their critical knowledge and valuable time. The Fridays in Austin engagement platform built into the first- and second-year experience relies heavily on our alumni and partners to share their professional, personal and leadership skills with our students, but it is more than just a Friday.

More than 800 alumni and volunteers joined us at Fridays in Austin, invited students to their workplaces for the regional Travel Fridays road trips, shared the podium at Thursday night Launch-U entrepreneurship speaker series, or helped judge our pitch competitions throughout the year. The College hosted about 500 meet-ups, presentation and speaker panels, seven career fairs, launched a mentorship program, and visits to 20 work sites around the region.

We also take a moment at this event to recognize the accomplishments of top students in each academic program. Some are acknowledged for their outstanding grades, others, their commitment to fellow students, or leadership and character.

Altogether we honored more than 80 student from the eleven academic disciplines and degree options.

As well, we use this event to celebrate the accomplishments of our successful alumni.

This year, we had two awardees for the Distinguished Young Professional honor: Senior Associate Dean Jim Coakley presented to his former student Terence Chesire ’98, and the program director for accounting Professor Jake Rose presented to Kate Johnson ’98.

The classmates both have built exceptional careers for themselves.

Cheshire stuck to the big names of information systems, and his CV reads like the who’s who of top companies in information systems – SAP, IBM, Intel and others. After earning his master’s degree at MIT Sloan School of Management in Cambridge, Mass., his career trajectory continued to rise. Cheshire currently is the VP of Product Management and Marketing for the Digital Service Management business unit at BMC Inc, a $2 billion firm that develops enterprise software for IT systems management for global businesses.

Chesire gives credit to the quality of education he received at the College of Business. “Professor Coakley, well, now Dean Coakley told me great things were happening in information systems, and he was right!” Chesire said in his remarks.

By contrast, Kate Johnson ’98 now the CEO of Act-On Software, built her career in the startup sector, spending nearly equal parts of her years in the Silicon Valley as the Silicon Forest.

Prior to being named CEO earlier this year, Kate served as the company’s Chief Financial Officer, where she was responsible for all of the financial, accounting, planning, and human resource aspects of the business.

Before joining Act-On, Kate spent six years as Chief Accounting Officer and VP of Finance for Jive Software, where she played a leading role in the company’s IPO process, including building a global finance and accounting organization that supported and scaled with the company from $20 million in revenue to over $175 million.

Johnson is now eager turn to mentoring and channel her strong passion for offering career advice for young women starting out due to her experiences as a woman in leadership.

And that is exactly the full-circle engagement we seek.

“There’s a reason we bring together our alumni standouts, and our student standouts,” said Dean Mitzi Montoya in her remarks. “We want the 80 students in this room to continue as alumni to work hard, give back and be engaged. And one day return here to receive the same honors and recognition.”

Additional 2018 College of Business alumni achievement awards

  • Emeritus Professor Arthur Stonehill, was recognized with the Distinguished Service Award, the college’s highest honor.
  • Third-generation family business owner Mark Reser, ‘88, CEO of Reser Fine Foods, was recognized with the Distinguished Business and Innovative Professional award.
  • Internet entrepreneur and OSU alumni Randy Conrads, ‘72, earned the Weatherford Distinguished Entrepreneur Award.