Lou Liay Spirit Award (Est. 1997)

Bestowed upon alumni by the University of Illinois Alumni Association on behalf of the University of Illinois. The award is presented to those who have consistently demonstrated extraordinary spirit and pride in support of the University, the Alumni Association, and related organizations, exemplifying a positive image of their Alma Mater while inspiring loyalty and pride in their fellow alumni. The award is named after Lou Liay, EDM ’62, executive director of the UI Alumni Association from 1983-1998.

2017 Recipients


    A past recipient of the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences Award of Merit, John Volk is management consultant serving the global animal health, veterinary and pet care markets.

    A sought-after expert in strategy and communications, and highly knowledgeable about veterinary practice, Volk advises companies in a broad range of areas, including acquisitions, long-range strategic planning, marketing, corporate identity and new product introductions. He previously led The John Volk Company, a leading advertising and public relations firm in the fields of agriculture and animal health. In that executive role, Volk helped launch several major veterinary products for companies such as Merck Agvet (now Merial), Pfizer (now Zoetis) and Ralston Purina (now Nestle Purina) while also pioneering the use of direct-to-consumer advertising in animal health with the launch of Heartgard-30, the now ubiquitous heartworm preventative for dogs.

    A 1967 graduate of the University’s Agricultural Communications Program, Volk also served a stint as communications director for the College of Veterinary Medicine. The Washington, Ill., native and father of two currently lives in Chicago with his wife, Marcia ’68 MEDIA, though he visits his farm in central Illinois often.


Past Recipients

  • 2016

    • Dr. Kenneth Schmidt, ’65 LAS, MD ’67 UIC

  • 2015

    • Gayl Pyatt, ’64 LAS

  • 2014

    • Michael L. VanBlaricum, ’72 ENG, MS ’74 ENG, PHD ’76 ENG

  • 2013

    • Edwin C. Lennox III, ’90 ENG, MS ’92 ENG, MS ’97 ENG

  • 2012

    • Frederic G. Nearing, ’48 ENG

  • 2011

    • Alan L. Puzey, ’74 ACES

  • 2010

    • Samuel N. Darby, ’62 FAA

  • 2009

    • John Menees, ’52 ENG

  • 2008

    • Denis Lougeay, '66 ENG, MBA '68

    • Denruth Barre Lougeay, '65 ED, EDM '68

  • 2007

    • Norman Beasley, ’58 DSSWV

    • Mary Jane Beasley

  • 2006

    • John S. Ellison, ’64 ACES

  • 2005

    • Carol Keiser Long, '68 ACES

  • 2004

    • David G. Powless, '75 BUS

  • 2003

    • Marie L. Johnson, '54 LAS, MS '58 ED

  • 2002

    • Dan Perrino, '48 FAA, MS '49 FAA

  • 2001

    • Larry L. Fischer, '74 ACES

  • 1998

    • William Branom, '54 MEDIA

    • Henrietta Branom Knecht, '27 LAS