Brunch Celebrates Joliet Junior College Alumni, Employees, Retirees, Friends

Joliet Junior College celebrated alumni, retirees, faculty, staff and friends at the 34th annual Alumni Brunch on Sunday, June 7.

Robert Larson, optometrist, class of 1976, Alumni Achievement Award

This year’s Alumni Brunch honored the classes of 1955, 1965, 1975, 1985, 1995, and 2005.

“There were so many people, representing all these different generations of JJC history. It was nice for them to socialize and come together to celebrate JJC and their time as students here,” said JJC Executive Director of Resource Development Kristi Mulvey. “The brunch has always been a great way to bring together and celebrate our alumni, retirees, staff and local community members.”

See photos from the Alumni Brunch here

Among the celebrated were three award recipients: Dr. Robert Larson, an optometrist from the class of 1976, who accepted the Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award; Silas Ellingson, mathematics professor emeritus, and John Cronin, retired farmer, who were named Susan H. Wood Hall of Fame Award winners.

The Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award is presented to those alumni who have demonstrated outstanding success in their chosen field and who have provided humanitarian service to society. This award is the highest honor that can be bestowed upon alumni.

The Susan H. Wood award recognizes former faculty members, administrators or friends who have served JJC in an exceptional way.

The following are bios of the 2015 award recipients:

Dr. Robert Larson, optometrist, graduated with an Associate in Arts and Science from JJC in 1976. Over the course of his career, he has become a trusted specialist in his field and prominent community figure. Born and raised in Joliet, he recalls his educational start at JJC, sharing that JJC provided him with a quality and affordable education that enabled him to transfer to Indiana University to pursue optometry. Larson earned a Doctor of Optometry in 1980. He completed his post-graduate work in pharmacology at the Illinois College of Optometry. Since receiving his doctorate, Larson has been a member of the Illinois Optometric Association and American Optometric Assocation. In his spare time, Larson has dedicated himself to serving the Joliet community. Throughout the years, he has been involved with the Crisis Line of Will County, the Plainfield Lions Club, the George Werden Buck Boys and Girls Club, the Joliet Country Club and the University of St. Francis Caritas committee.

Silas Ellingson, professor emeritus, mathematics, worked at JJC for more than 25 years and served as chair of the Mathematics Department. During his time as chairman, Ellingson enjoyed working with outstanding young students and faculty. Ellingson earned his bachelor’s degree from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota and a master’s degree from Northern Colorado University in Greeley, Colorado. He was awarded three National Science Foundation scholarships while in school. Before JJC, he held mathematics positions in Montana, North Dakota, Wyoming and Illinois. In 1984, Ellingson was selected by the USSR Education Department as one of 40 National Council of Mathematics teachers to tour 14 schools in their country.

John Cronin, retired farmer, Susan H. Wood Hall of Fame winner

John Cronin, retired farmer, is the operations manager and has been volunteering as a tour guide at JJC’s historic, 150-year-old Cronin Schoolhouse for many years. Cronin attended the schoolhouse as a student in the 1940s and was instrumental in its restoration after it was donated to the JJC Foundation in 1987. In addition to his work at the schoolhouse, Cronin also works closely with the Agriculture Department, providing assistance to the John F. Richards Land Laboratory and providing equipment for the annual field day. He is a member of the Will County Threshers Association, Sycamore Threshers Association, and he served on the Will County 4-H Advisory Council. Cronin also volunteers for Holy Family Parish Church and school. He was recently awarded the Rotary Club’s Silver Eagle Award for his dedicated volunteer service to the Joliet community.

To see past winners of the Distinguished Alumni Award, visit

To see past winners of the Susan H. Wood Hall of Fame Award, visit

For more information about the JJC Alumni Relations office, visit

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