Lisle, Illinois ~ The next time you're vacationing at Walt Disney World Resort and you obtain a FASTPASS ticket so you and your loved ones don't have to wait hours to experience "The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror," you can thank Benedictine University alumnus Raymond Konopka Jr.
Konopka, a 1989 graduate of Illinois Benedictine College with degrees in Mathematics and Computational Science, is the founder of Raize Software, Inc., a company which specializes in helping computer software developers create better software and helped Disney develop the FASTPASS system used at all their theme parks worldwide.
The Naperville resident was one of three College of Science alumni recently honored for their achievements at a banquet held in the Jurica-Suchy Nature Museum on the Benedictine campus. Konopka was presented with the Alumni Achievement Award in the Mathematics and Computational Sciences.
Also honored were William F. Stroner, D.D.S., a Wheaton resident and 1950 graduate of St. Procopius College, who was presented the Alumni Achievement Award in the Biological Sciences; and Ralph D. Meeker, Ph.D., a Naperville resident and 1967 graduate of St. Procopius College, who was presented the Alumni Achievement Award in the Physical and Computational Sciences.
After leaving Benedictine, Konopka earned a master's degree from Northwestern and founded Raize Software a few years later. He established the Raize Software Scholarship in Computer Science at Benedictine University, which is awarded annually to outstanding students in the computational sciences.
"The scholarship gives him the opportunity to give back to the place where he valued the mentoring from his advisors and faculty, enjoyed campus life and met his wife (Elizabeth Marquardt, Class of 1989)," said Dayna Crabb, advancement officer for the College of Science.
After graduating from St. Procopius, Stroner earned a Doctor of Dental Surgery from the University of Illinois and taught at the College of Dentistry there for the next 33 years. He has been active in the community, helping the Boy Scouts, at various hospitals and nursing homes, and serving as a deacon in his parish.
"As a member of practically all dental associations, he was an influential resource in DuPage County acting as a dental advisor on several county boards and presenting numerous publications, manuals, book reviews and lectures on the subject of dentistry," Crabb said.
Meeker began a 50-year affiliation with Benedictine University in 1963 when he was a freshman majoring in Physics and Mathematics. After earning a doctorate in Physics at Iowa State University in 1970, he returned to Benedictine to teach. Meeker has also served as chairperson of the Department of Physics and dean of the College of Science.
"Meeker has always placed an emphasis on innovation and technology in the classroom, and during his time at Benedictine he has been the author or principal investigator on grants from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the National Science Foundation and others valued at nearly $2 million," Crabb said.
Meeker also received the Benedictine Life Award in 2003, the highest honor the University can bestow upon an individual.
Benedictine University is an independent Roman Catholic institution located in Lisle, Illinois just 25 miles west of Chicago, and has branch campuses in Springfield, Illinois and Mesa, Arizona. Founded in 1887, Benedictine provides 55 undergraduate majors and 15 graduate and four doctoral programs. Benedictine University is ranked No. 1 among the country's fastest-growing campuses between 2002-2012 in The Chronicle of Higher Education's list of private nonprofit doctoral institutions, and Forbes magazine named Benedictine among "America's Top Colleges" for the fourth consecutive year in 2014. Benedictine University's Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) program is listed by Crain's Chicago Business as the sixth largest in the Chicago area in 2014.