Distinguished Alumni Award
In 2006, the College of Media established the Distinguished Alumni Award to publicly honor graduates who are accomplished and successful in their fields, have demonstrated leadership and excellence in their personal and professional lives, and have made a significant difference in the life of the College.
The first recipient of the award is Morris R. Beschloss '52 JOURN. He is pictured to the right, delivering the Distinguished Speaker Series lecture in journalism after accepting the award. The presentation ceremony was held at the Alice Campbell Alumni Center in Urbana, Ill., on Sept. 25, 2006.
About Morris R. Beschloss
Beschloss, along with his wife, Ruth, has been a longtime supporter of the College, a place he remembers fondly from his days as a student there. He graduated from the journalism program in 1952, and carved out a distinguished career as a journalist, industrialist and consultant.
His journalistic accomplishments alone are a testament to his distinguished career and to the importance of educating students in public affairs journalism. That is the foundation of the journalism program in the College of Media.
Beschloss was born in Germany in the 1930s. As a young boy, Beschloss, his parents and his brother left Nazi Germany for the United States. At the time, he did not speak English, and he has said he had to teach himself.
The family eventually settled in Taylorville, Ill., where Beschloss was a good student and a star athlete on the Taylorville High School track team.
From there, he came to the University of Illinois.
Originally enrolled in LAS and the College of Commerce, he came over to "our side" and finished his last two years in the College of Media.
At the University, he was active. In the Tau Delta Phi social fraternity, he served as president and on its national board of directors his senior year. He was president and a national board member of Alpha Phi Omega, and president of the journalism honor society, Sigma Delta Chi. He was a battalion commander in ROTC and, in his senior year, a member of the Scabbard and Blade military honorary, as well as editor of the ROTC magazine.
In 1951 and '52, he was the sports editor at The Daily Illini during one of the most successful athletic periods in the school's history. Ray Eliot's undefeated Illini football team beat Stanford in the 1952 Rose Bowl on New Year's Day, 40 to 7. Before that celebrated game, in his DI column, Beschloss had predicted a 21-7 Illinois victory.
In 2002, he feted the beloved winning team and other alumni during a 50th reunion he organized at the Rose Bowl.
Beschloss was the founding editor of the College of Commerce's monthly magazine, The Trader. He also provided color commentary for sports radio broadcasts, initiated a professional daily newspaper column and appeared several times on Chicago TV to discuss Big Ten sports.
After earning his degree in journalism from the University in 1952, he served in the U.S. Army in psychological warfare and as an information officer.
In 1956, he went looking for a public relations job.
He said he answered a want-ad and found a job working in advertising and public relations for a manufacturer of metal parts. Later, at Hammond Valve of Hammond, Ind., Beschloss quickly worked his way up to being named president of the company at the age of 33. There he presided over several acquisitions and turned the company into an industry leader, enjoying a career that lasted for more than 40 years. He also joined and helped revived the Valve Manufacturers Association.
He became an innovator, advocate and leader in the pipe, valve and fittings business and is known as the father of the modern valve industry.
Now a communications force in the Coachella Valley and Palm Springs area, Beschloss returned to his journalistic roots after retiring from the valve industry in the 1980s. Ever since, he has been writing regular columns for The (Palm Springs, Calif.) Desert Sun, appearing twice weekly on morning TV news for on-air political and economic commentary, and as an economic analyst on KPSI radio. He publishes two newsletters, "The Beschloss Perspective" and "The Global Outlook" and contributes to "The Wholesaler Magazine." He also serves as senior economic adviser to Rep. Mary Bono and as executive adviser to the Harris Bank of Chicago.
Beschloss is a major force in the Jewish community. He is a co-founder of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, and has written of his and his family's experiences living in Nazi Germany.
A loyal supporter of his alma mater, Beschloss started the Desert Illini Club in Palm Springs, Calif., and has hosted numerous UI Foundation and alumni events. Nationwide, he is known to friends and alumni as "Mr. Illini."
In 2000, Beschloss and Ruth donated $500,000 to the College of Media (then the College of Communications) to establish the Beschloss Family Media Design Center. Today, this computer lab in Gregory Hall is at the heart of student work in the College. Recently, the Beschlosses contributed $25,000 for the Sarah Channick Memorial Fund. A plaque in the Media Design Center honors Sarah Emily Channick, the Beschloss's grandniece, who died in 2005 following an accident on campus only a few weeks into her freshman year.
Beschloss has already received numerous awards in his lifetime. Among them are induction into the PVF Industry Hall of Fame, the valve industry's "Man of the Second Half of the 20th Century," and the Free Enterprise Foundation Award.
He is also an Eagle Scout of the Boy Scouts of America and earned the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award, one of only 400 out of 250,000 Eagle Scouts nationally.
For his illustrious career as a prominent Chicago industrialist and respected journalist, and his dedicated support of the College of Communications and the University of Illinois, Morris R. Beschloss is presented with the 2006 Distinguished Alumni Award.