UMSL recognizes five distinguished alumni at virtual Founders Celebration

James Brennan, Stanley Freerks, Terry Freerks, Stephen Kolodziej, Elizabeth Petersen

James Brennan (top from left), Stanley Freerks, Terry Freerks, (bottom from left) Stephen Kolodziej and Elizabeth Petersen were the 2020 recipients of the Distinguished Alumni Award at Thursday’s virtual Founders Celebration. (Photos by August Jennewein)

Members of the University of Missouri–St. Louis community tuned into the 29th annual Founders Celebration from computer and tablet screens on Thursday in part to honor five alumni for success in their careers and support of the university.

James Brennan, Stanley Freerks, Terry Freerks, Stephen Kolodziej and Elizabeth Petersen received Distinguished Alumni Awards.

The award has been given to esteemed alumni annually since 1987 and is the UMSL Alumni Association’s highest honor.

Learn more about this year’s honorees.

James Brennan earned a BSBA from the UMSL College of Business Administration in 1974 and has been active in the St. Louis homebuilding industry for decades. His company – McKelvey Homes – is the fourth largest builder in the region. It also holds the distinction of being the oldest builder in St. Louis. In addition to serving as president and owner of McKelvey Homes, Brennan is the past-president of the Home Builders Association of St. Louis and Eastern Missouri. The organization honored him for his dedication with a place in the Hall of Fame for Excellence in Achievement.

Stanley Freerks graduated with an MBA from the College of Business Administration in 1992. He spent 43 years in the insurance industry and received recognition in The Wall Street Journal for his work. He was an account executive and later became the president and owner of S A Freerks & Associates. The insurance brokerage firm boasted clients in multiple states. The Distinguished Alumni Award joins a long list of accolades bestowed on the now-retired Freerks, including being named Who’s Who in Colleges and Universities, receiving the Dean’s Medal from the College of Business and being awarded the E. Desmond and Mary Ann Lee Medal of Philanthropy.

Terry Freerks earned a BA in history from the UMSL College of Arts and Sciences in 1977 and an MEd from the College of Education in 1979. She has remained active at the university for decades and currently holds positions on the Chancellor’s Council, College of Arts and Sciences Leadership Council, Nursing Lab Campaign and Alumni Finance Committee. She’s an avid Triton fan and a regular attendee at UMSL sporting events. Outside the university, Freerks serves as a licensed professional counselor in private practice and is the CFO, executive director emeritus and retired head coach of the Clayton Shaw Park Tideriders swimming team.

Stephen Kolodziej graduated from the UMSL College of Arts and Sciences with a BA in chemistry in 1987 and continued his education at the university, earning a PhD in 1992. He’s shared his expertise through lectures at conferences held at prestigious universities around the globe, including MIT. He holds a long record of publications and presentations and has been issued 16 patents for his innovative work. Kolodziej is an associate research fellow in biotherapeutic pharmaceutical sciences at Pfizer and has frequently collaborated with researchers at UMSL. This collaboration resulted in funding opportunities and publications for the lab of Alexei Demchenko, curators’ distinguished professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.

Elizabeth Petersen earned a BA in biology from the College of Arts and Sciences in 1980 and an MEd from the College of Education in 1996. She is a nationally renowned curriculum writer, leader, collaborator and facilitator in STEM education. Her work as a science educator has been recognized with the St. Louis Educational Equity Award and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources Stream Team Teacher of the Year Award. Petersen is currently a STEM facilitator at Washington University in St. Louis and a frequent speaker on topics such as gender and racial equity in the classroom, best practices in teaching and environmental opportunities.



Short URL: