Alumni CLASnotes Spring 2006
In This Issue:

Updates from CLASmates

Erik von Brero

Erik and Gay van Brero. Photo courtesy Erik van Brero
Erik and Gay van Brero. Photo courtesy
Erik van Brero.
A simple man, Erik van Brero has led a life ripe with intrigue and adventure.

Born into a family with a grandfather who fed more than thirty families through the support of his soap business, and parents who helped shelter wounded troops during the Nazi invasions, van Brero was influenced by his surroundings to have a military career.

Van Brero toured in Vietnam as the Executive Officer at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe. He saw the build up of Vietnam and helped start the process that brought American troops home.

Today, as a program manager and senior director with Nakuuruq Solutions, van Brero helps provide contractual services to various federal government agencies.

As an elementary student taking his first step on U.S. soil, van Brero was already at a disadvantage. He didn't speak English, but with his parents' help, he conquered the language in five months.

While at UF, van Brero experienced his fair share of mischief. As a senior Alpha Tau Omega fraternity brother, he helped initiate a young Steve Spurrier. Van Brero remembers being house manager and prodding Spurrier when he felt his charge wasn't working hard enough. At a Touchdown Club event in Washington, van Brero asked Spurrier, in his heavy Dutch accent, if he remembered him. "I remember that voice!" Spurrier replied.

Majoring in Political Science, van Brero hoped to become a lawyer, "but back in those days we still had the draft." He went into the ROTC to get his two years of service out of the way, "I went into the military--and 20 years later," he laughs, "I retired. So obviously I didn't make it to law school."

His time in the military brought him to Vietnam, where he met and befriended local nationals and attended some of their weddings.

Yet not all of his experiences were light-hearted. While camping in a war zone city, underground tunnels were found with blueprints of the field he was stationed six months earlier. The blueprints contained "a picture of the officers' quarters--and in the room was my name--of all my roommates' names." The officers discovered that some of the local nationals that visited to shine the soldiers' shoes and ready their uniforms had collected the valuable information.

The military bug has also bitten his wife, Gay van Brero. An Army Civilian Employee, she currently works for the Garrison Commander of the Fort Myer Military Community, in Fort Myer, Virginia. The installation supports the Pentagon and Arlington National Cemetery and houses 43 general officers that work with the Pentagon, where she was stationed during the 9-11 attacks on New York and Washington.

"That plane came almost directly overhead before it went into the Pentagon," van Brero said. "She was working that day when it hit. The three-star general that was killed at the Pentagon was actually one of her residents."

A grandfather of 14, van Brero's life is now filled more with the laughter of family and friends rather than the harsh sounds of gunfire. He hopes that when all is said and done, he will have left his grandchildren with the simple message: Respect all others and you will be respected in return.

Charles T Wells

Erik and Gay van Brero. Photo courtesy Erik van Brero
Photo courtesy UF Foundation
This February, Justice Charles T. Wells (1961, Political Science), dressed in his orange and blue Gator robe, was honored by the Florida Supreme Court in a ceremonial session in its Tallahassee courtroom. The Orlando native practiced law for many years in Florida before Governor Lawton Chiles appointed him to the court. He is best known for presiding over the Florida Supreme Court during the presidential election cases of 2000. He also confronted the terrorist attacks of 9-11 during his term as Chief Justice, and created the first comprehensive emergency management plan for Florida's state courts as a result. When asked about his colorful sartorial choice at his retirement ceremony, he joked that he felt that he could get away with wearing the robe on his last day: "What are they going to do, fire me?" According to his wife, Linda F. Wells, Esq. (also a 1961 CLAS alumna), there was much Gator talk during the retirement ceremony from the various speakers--former legislator Dudley Goodlette, 9th Circuit Court Chief Judge Belvin Perry, former Justice Stephen Grimes, Florida Bar President John G. White, and clerk Candy Messersmith (all of whom but Belvin are certified Gators).

In Brief

1960s

Roland H. Gomez, Jr. (B.S., in Arts & Sciences, 1963), a civil litigator and lawyer, received the Henry Latimer Center for Professionalism's Award for his service as a mentor to young lawyers, his longtime community involvement with the Optimist Club, his work as director of North Dade Pet Rescue, and his devotion to creating a girls soccer program, which he ran for over 20 years.

Ronald M. Keyser (B.S., Physics and Math, 1965; M.S., Physics, 1967; Ph.D., Physics, 1970) has been named General Chairman of the 2010 IEEE Nuclear Sciences Symposium and Medical Imaging Conference. This nine-day, annual conference attracts over 1500 scientists from around the world. He is a Senior Scientist with ORTEC-AMETEK in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. He and his wife, Merry, have two children and three grandchildren.

Donald Songer (B.A., Political Science, 1967) has recently been named the Olin D. Johnston Professor in Political Science at the University of South Carolina. His most recent book, The Transformation of the Supreme Court of Canada: An Empirical Examination was published by the University of Toronto Press in January.

1970s

Joseph A. Alfred (M.S., Mathematics, 1972) was promoted to director of patent licensing and sales at AT&T in January. He will be responsible for developing wireless, broadband, and standards-based patent licensing programs.

Kelli Edwards Brown (B.A., Arts & Sciences, 1979) is a certified geriatric care manager who serves on the board of the Florida Geriatric Care Manager Association and chairs the Committee on Aging for Dunedin, Florida. Dunedin was the first city in Florida to be certified as Elder Ready. Brown was in private practice for eight years and has been with Care Resources for the past three. At the national conference in 2009, she received the Outstanding Chapter Member Award. She is an active advocate for the elderly and their concerned parties in her community.

John P. Hussey (Ph.D., English, 1971), Professor Emeritus of English at Fairmont (WV) State University, has published a collection of novellas set in 19th century Concord, Massachusetts, The Ghosts of Walden.

David Vacca (B.A., Political Science, 1978) received his MBA specializing in acquisition and contract management from the University of Dallas in 1986. After leaving UF, he became an officer in the U.S. Navy, and later joined the Federal Government as a contract specialist. He has been with the General Services Administration since 1990. In 2001, David was recognized as Contracting Officer of the Year.

Samuel L. Wright, Sr. (B.A., Psychology, 1974) was recently named Student Ombudsman at the University of South Florida and appointed to the State of Florida African American Task Force. He was re-elected Second Vice President of the Hillsborough Branch of NAACP in November, 2008.

1980s

Dawn Cusick (B.A., English, 1989) has two nonfiction children's science books coming out this August: Bug Butts and Animal Tongues. She wrote and edited craft and how-to books for 20 years, while attending school part time to earn a certificate in biology at the University of North Carolina-Asheville and an M.S. in biology at Western Carolina University. Her books are the convergence of two passions: publishing and science. She is also a part-time biology instructor at Haywood Community College in Clyde, North Carolina.

Laura Jane Deleruyelle (B.A., Speech Pathology and Audiology, 1984) is completing her Doctor of Nursing degree from Case Western Reserve University. Her doctoral thesis topic covers menopausal symptom relief and side effects experienced by women on compounded bioidentical hormone therapy and women taking synthetic conjugated equine estrogen and progestion hormone therapy. She is employed at Bradenton Urgent Care Center and Carlos Arios family practice.

Edward Hobson (B.A., Political Science, 1983) was promoted to program manager in charge of criminal investigations and physical security at the U.S. Peace Corps headquarters in Washington, DC. Previously, he served six years as the regional security officer for Peace Corps in East Africa, based in Uganda and Kenya. He is also an accomplished wildlife artist; one of his paintings is currently on display as part of the "Art of Conservation" exhibit at the Hiram Blauvelt Museum in Oradell, New Jersey.

Stephen Kraus (B.S., Psychology, 1986) received his Ph.D. in social psychology from Harvard University in 1991 and taught at UF from 1991-1993. He recently co-authored The New Elite: Inside the Minds of the Truly Wealthy, a research-based look at the lives and lifestyles of the wealthiest one percent of Americans. He is vice president of the Harrison Group consulting firm and lives in San Francisco with his wife and five-year-old son.

Alma B. Littles (B.S., Chemistry, 1982) is Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at Florida State University College of Medicine. She currently serves as chief academic officer with oversight responsibility of the medical school curriculum on the six regional campuses in Florida.

Robert Joseph Nolan (B.S., Psychology, 1985) is Adjunct Associate Professor of Human Development at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida. He is also president of New Pinnacle Performance Counseling in Bradenton.

Harsha V. Ramayya (B.A., Speech Communications, 1986) has been named senior account executive at New Horizons Learning Center in Jacksonville, Florida. He served as President for the Northeast Florida American Institute of Banking Council, as an adjunct instructor at Florida Community College in Jacksonville, completed the Graduate School of Bank Management at the University of Virginia in 2001, and is a member of the Florida Banker's Society. Ramayya maintains his passion for communications as a radio announcer, and has worked for Clear Channel radio in Orlando and Cox Radio in Jacksonville.

Ronald J. Renuart, Sr. (B.S., Zoology, 1986) was elected State Representative to the Florida House of Representatives. He is a combat veteran who, as a Colonel in the Florida Army National Guard, served two tours in Iraq and a tour of Afghanistan. He attended the Nova Southeastern University College of Osteopathic Medicine where he earned his D.O. degree. He was elected as Chief-of-Staff of Baptist Medical Center Beaches in Jacksonville Beach in 2004, and he was recognized in 2006 as Physician of the Year by the Florida Osteopathic Medical Association. He lives in Ponte Vedra Beach with his wife Jackie and his three teenage children.

Terry M. Truex (B.A., Geography, 1989) is a Vice President and Regional Information Systems Manager at Kimley-Horn and Associates, Inc. in West Palm Beach, Florida. In November he married Brandy Upright (B.S., Public Relations, 1992).

1990s

Robert J. Sniffen (B.A., Political Science, 1990) of Sniffen Law Firm, P.A., Tallahassee, has been listed in Florida Trend Magazine's "Legal Elite" in Labor and Employment Law. He was also recently named in the 2009 edition of The Best Lawyers in America publication as one of the country's top attorneys in Labor and Employment Law.

Lea Phillips Todd (B.A., English) has returned to school after several years of successful teaching in Nebraska and Florida. She completed her M.A. in Education, Culture, Curriculum and Change from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and is currently working toward a Ph.D. in Education. She currently teaches undergraduate courses at UNC-CH. She and her husband, William C. Todd (UF 1997), have added two baby gators to the family: Scarlett is three years old and Mason is seven months.

2000s

Earl D. Fisher (B.A., Sociology, 2005) is an insurance agent with AllState property and casualty licensed in Florida and Georgia.

Jason Graham (B.A., Classical Studies, 2001) was recently promoted to regional marketing specialist for the Penn Mutual Florida regional office. He will cover the Central and Northern regions of Florida. He earned a Masters degree in Business Administration from the Rollins College Crummer School of Business in 2007.

Harrison Hove (B.A., Political Science, 2005) earned his American Meteorological Society certification in 2008, becoming the youngest certified broadcast meteorologist in the country. He now works as a meteorologist for the Ohio News Network based in Columbus, Ohio.

Stephen K. Rice (Ph.D., Sociology, 2006) is an Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice at Seattle University. His areas of focus include criminological theory, race and ethnicity, and emotions and crime--restorative justice, procedural justice, and defiance.

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