The John Cook School of Business Celebrates 2017 Excellence Awards Honoring Alumni for their Commitment to Mission

The John Cook School of Business celebrated the 2017 Excellence Awards, recognizing the outstanding achievements of business school students, alumni, faculty and staff.

During the annual event, outstanding alumni are recognized for their dedication to Saint Louis University and the Cook School. This year’s awardees included:


Father Joseph Davis, S.J., Lifetime Service Award


The 2017 Father Joseph Davis, S.J., Lifetime Service Award was presented to Brett Rufkahr. This award is given to an alumnus who is a champion of Saint Louis University, and in particular the Cook School. They have a record of service to the University and exemplify the values of SLU.

Brett Rufkahr is a Cook School alumnus earning both his bachelors and master of business administration at SLU. Brett serves as the current president of the school’s Executive Advisory Board and previously was part of our alumni engagement board. He’s spearheaded many initiatives tied to the school’s mission that support our students.  He is the president of Alpine Private Capital, LLC, and has more than 25 years of experience in the investment management industry.


John Basler Outstanding Alumni Board Service Award


The recipient of the 2017 John Basler Outstanding Alumni Board Service Award is Melissa Lange. The award was established in 2009 to recognize those alumni serving in leadership roles on the John Cook School of Business’ Alumni Board who have embodied the mission of the board by working with faculty, students, alumni, and the community to enhance and promote the image of Cook School.  This award is named after the school’s first alumni board president.

Melissa holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Business Administration from the Cook School and a Master’s in Business Administration from Lindenwood University.  Melissa manages several of her company’s top projects to ensure deliverables are met on time and within budget.  She has been volunteering on SLU alumni boards for six years and currently serves as social chair on the Cook School’s Alumni Engagement Board. For the last six years she has coordinated the annual trivia night in which $50,000 for scholarships has been raised and that amount has been matched by the SLU go further campaign


Distinguished Young Alumni Award


The recipient of the 2017 Distinguished Young Alumni Award is Dan Farmer. This award is given to an alumnus who has demonstrated outstanding leadership, has a record of service to Saint Louis University and the community and exhibits exceptional professional accomplishments.

After graduating from the Cook School in 2013 with a concentration in Leadership and Change Management, Dan Farmer started his career at Edward Jones in the firm’s rotational development program. In 2015, he joined a newly created team that focuses on researching competitor strategies and industry trends. Outside of Edward Jones, Farmer has served on the John Cook School of Business Alumni Engagement Board for 3 years and was recently named to the school’s Executive Advisory Board. Dan is also involved in United Way, where he serves on the Board of Directors and was named chairman of GenNext, United Way’s young professional group for volunteers.


Distinguished Corporate Partner Award


The 2017 Distinguished Corporate Partner Award was presented to Ameren Corporation and accepted by Marty Lyons, executive vice president and chief financial officer at Ameren, and a Cook School alumnus and board member.

As a corporate citizen, Ameren has been an outstanding supporter of the Cook School of Business and Saint Louis University.  Over the years the company and its subsidiaries have given well over two million dollars to fund scholarships, ethics programs, weather research, sustainable business programs and building construction.  Now, with the increasing emphasis of data analytics as a driver for business decisions, Ameren and the Cook School are partnering in new ways to provide actionable research for Ameren and real-world experience for SLU students and faculty. In addition, Marty has served on the accounting advisory board and currently serves on the Cook School Advisory Board.


Entrepreneur of the Year Award


The 2017 Center for Entrepreneurship Entrepreneur of the Year award was presented to Robin Rath. Robin is the CEO and a co-founder of Pixel Press, a company building the next generation of creation tools for kids to create, share and play game-based content by leveraging the integrated power of toys and video games.

As a young startup founded in 2013, Pixel Press was honored to partner with Mattel and Cartoon Network. In addition, their products were the 2015 Best of Toy Fair New York and on 2016’s Toy Industry Associations Best Toys of the Year award list in the “Game of the Year” category.

Robin was recognized in the 2015 The Business Journals “Upstart 100” list, recognizing top inventors and visionaries driving the new economy and recognized in 2016 as the Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis’ “Inventor of the Year”.

Robin earned his BA in communication technology, fine and studio arts at SLU and was actively involved in the Center for Entrepreneurship as an intern, helping to launch the Global Student Entrepreneur Awards, the premiere global student-run business competition, founded in the John Cook School of Business in 1998.  

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