Elmhurst U. Honors Founders Medal and Alumni Merit Winners

November 4, 2020 | by the Office of Marketing and Communications

The Elmhurst University Founders MedalElmhurst University recently presented the Founders Medal and Alumni Merit Awards to four people who have made outstanding contributions to the University, the community and society.

This year’s award winners, who were celebrated in a Founders Recognition Evening video that premiered on Oct. 23, are leaders in business, education and law who have brought distinction to their professions and to Elmhurst University.

Founders Medal

Established in 1978, the Founders Medal is one of Elmhurst University’s most prestigious honors, and celebrates individuals who have distinguished themselves through philanthropic and personal service to the University.

The 2020 Founders Medal was given to business leader and local philanthropist Al Koplin, who also has been a generous supporter of the University as a donor and as a member of the Board of Trustees for nearly 40 years. As president of Alfred N. Koplin, Inc., Koplin, of Hinsdale, has been a successful real estate investor who created the Hinsdale Management Corp. and, over several decades, built it into a real estate portfolio that manages more than one million square feet of property. Koplin’s philanthropic gifts to Elmhurst University have supported faculty endeavors, student scholarships and curriculum development. In 2015, Elmhurst awarded him with an honorary degree.

Alumni Merit Awards

The Alumni Merit Awards celebrate Elmhurst graduates who have made exemplary contributions to the community and to their alma mater.

This year’s Young Alumni Award winner is Zachary Hund ’10, an award-winning chemistry teacher at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools who has used his passion for teaching to create new programs and engage more students, especially women, in the study of advanced chemistry. Hund, of Flossmoor, Ill., also mentors graduate students interested in K-12 education, and for the past few years has been an adjunct faculty member at Elmhurst teaching chemistry.

The Distinguished Service to Alma Mater Award was presented to Jeanne Burda ’82, a member of the Elmhurst University nursing faculty and an active alumna whose efforts have significantly enhanced nursing alumni engagement with the University. As a lecturer in the nursing department, Burda specializes in family health. A Wheaton, Ill., resident, she also is a board member of the University’s alumni association, and alumni coordinator for the nursing department.

The 2020 Distinguished Service to Society Award winner is Robert Carter Olson ’83, a superior court judge in Arizona who has spent a notable career in public service. Serving on the Superior Court bench in Pinal County, Ariz., Olson began his career with the county as a criminal prosecutor, and also has served as the elected county attorney and as a commissioner. A resident of Gold Canyon, Ariz., he has received numerous awards for his civic and professional activities.

“We congratulate all of our winners, and thank them for their dedication and significant contributions not only to Elmhurst University but to the larger society,” said Elmhurst University President Troy D. VanAken. “These winners embody the best of what Elmhurst is, and exemplify what we can be.”

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