An education leader

Under Jon L. Erickson’s leadership, ACT grew to be No. 1 in college admission and advising assessment.

Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of articles recognizing alumni receiving distinguished service awards in September 2018.

Jon L. Erickson, ’76, earns Maurice O. Graff Distinguished Alumnus Award

Alum Jon L. Erickson says his biggest takeaway from college was the desire — or expectation — to make a positive contribution to society. The long-time college and workforce readiness leader definitely has.

Erickson retired as president of Education and Career Solutions of ACT after a 31-year career with the company best known for college admission tests. In fact, under his leadership, ACT grew into the No. 1 college admission and advising assessment company in the U.S.

Erickson has been a champion for improving the quality of education throughout the country and world, says Jon Whitmore, a retired CEO of ACT and former university president. “Jon had the long-range vision to see that his hunger for educational success for all could reach a much larger audience through his work at ACT,” says Whitmore.

Despite climbing the ACT corporate ladder, Erickson never lost his passion for supporting underprivileged students, says Jay Goff, vice president of Enrollment and Retention Management at Saint Louis University. “His innovative approaches for using data and strategic planning processes has helped improve student learning and college-going levels in some of the nation’s challenged communities,” says Goff.

Those who know Erickson say he never lost his vision to keep students engaged and on track for academic and career success. “At his retirement party, a colleague summed up Jon’s core leadership style by saying he led with both his head and his heart,” notes Whitmore.

His lifetime commitment to education exemplifies that.

The Jon L. Erickson file

  • Internationally recognized expert on college and workforce readiness assessment.
  • Passion for education and student development.
  • Employed by ACT Inc., the top college admission and advising assessment company in the U.S., from 1984-2015, retiring as president of education and career solutions.
  • Former college student services and academic affairs specialist, high school teacher and coach.
  • Master’s in educational psychology from UW-Milwaukee, 1981; bachelor’s in history and social studies from UWL, 1976, magna cum laude.

Seven to receive distinguished alumni awards

Alumni who graduated during the past four decades will receive the top awards bestowed by the UWL Alumni Association this fall. They’re being honored for distinguished service and successful careers. They’ll return to campus to speak with students and participate in a panel at 2 p.m. Friday, Sept. 21, in the Great Hall, Cleary Alumni & Friends Center. An Alumni Awards Brunch and Ceremony is planned for 9 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 22, in The Bluffs Room, UWL Student Union. Tickets are $25 per person and can be ordered through the Alumni Association at 608.785.8489. Learn more.

Awards and honorees include:

The Maurice O. Graff Distinguished Alumnus Award

Recognizes outstanding achievement of alumni who have brought honor and distinction to the university. Long-time administrator Maurice O. Graff instituted the honor in 1977.

• Joonkoo Yun, ’92
• Jon Erickson, ’76

Rada Distinguished Alumnus Award

Recognizes alumni who have graduated within the last 20 years, achieved professional distinction and taken part in humanitarian activities. Professor emeritus Ron Rada and his wife, Jane, created the award in 2002.

  • Matt Brantner, ’05
  • Marc Gall, ’03

Parker Distinguished Multicultural Alumni Award

Recognizes outstanding alumni who have contributed greatly to improve multiracial culture and understanding on campus and in their careers. History Professor Emeritus James Parker initiated the award in 1997.

  • Thomas Harris, ’11
  • Houa Xiong, ’98 & ’00

Burt and Norma Altman Teacher Education Award

Honors and recognizes outstanding educators and the significant contributions they make to children and communities. Professor Emeritus Burt Altman and his wife, Norma, long-time supporters of teacher education, created the award in 2015.

  • Phil Ertl, ’88