2009 Distinguished Alumni Award for Professional Achievement.
Nominated by: Geoff Surkamer, '00
In nominating his brother, fellow LFGSM alum Geoff Surkamer (Class of 2000) highlighted Rick Surkamer's talents as an agent for positive change as well as his ability to apply his leadership skills in diverse circumstances. "No challenge is too daunting," Geoff explained. “Rick has two passions that dominate all others: work and family, and for both passions his speed is set on all or nothing."
“Since earning his MBA, Rick has been a role model for all graduates and an enthusiastic supporter of LFGSM,” said Joan Steltmann, LFGSM’s Vice President, Enterprise Advancement. “We are pleased to honor him with this Award because it allows the School to formally recognize the time he has generously shared helping to guide and inspire our students and alumni over the years.”
Surkamer was honored in a ceremony prior to LFGSM’s 2009 Commencement Ceremonies on June 28, 2009. Accepting the Award, Surkamer reflected on his decision more than 25 years ago to earn his MBA at LFGSM. "I realized I didn't have the skill sets to be successful in a for-profit business environment. If I didn't find a much greater depth of knowledge in all disciplines and be able to put the package together, I would never be successful and I'd always be frustrated. LFGSM and Moose Dunne [LFGSM's first president] provided my with that window of opportunity and I remain thankful to this day." Further, Surkamer strongly advocated the value of lifelong learning. "Even at my age, I'm on a constant quest to understand better why certain things work they way the work or why certain disciplines come together the way they doduring these times of rapid change," he said. "This School is the place where that acumen can be developed and then applied to your business."
Surkamer became Chief Operating Officer of the Sun-Times News Group in late 2007 after joining the company as Vice President of Operations in February 2007. He is responsible for advertising, marketing, new media and information technology, as well as the production and distribution of 70 publications and websites. In February 2009, a new board of directors added the additional title of President to his responsibilities. He currently is leading the restructuring and redefinition of the organization's newspaper operations.