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Quarter Century Award


Ken Reimer

Northeast Iowa Community College

Reimer says his involvement with NICC started because of former Iowa legislator Roger Thomas. Thomas got elected to the Iowa House of Representatives in November of 1996 and left his seat on the NICC Board. Thomas, who is also an Elkader resident, told Reimer he should apply for the opening. Reimer was selected from a field of three candidates, but six months later had to run for office when one of the two other interviewed candidates filed papers for a spot on the ballot. Reimer remembers going town to town in his NICC district, talking to everyone he could find. He won the election--and has been reelected ever since. His 24 years on the NICC Board are a longer time period than he expected, he says, but he's stayed on the board because "We've had some good leadership at NICC." He praises the other board members for creating an atmosphere of trust and respect that allow for such progress to be made. While he looks back at his 24 years of involvement with NICC and is pleased with what has been accomplished, he says the secret to success is to always be proactive: "We've got to keep moving ahead."



Joe Pugel

Des Moines Area Community College

Joe Pugel is a long standing resident of Newton, Iowa and was President of the Vernon Company from 1993 until his retirement in 2012. Joe and his wife Janet are active members of the Newton Community and have been leaders in many charitable organizations including the Newton Rotary Club, Iowa Association of Business and Industry, Progress Industries, Iowa Good Reads Association, and many more. Joe Pugel was elected to the DMACC Board of Directors in 1997.  He was selected as Vice President of the Board in October of 2001 and has served as President of the Board since March 10, 2003. Joe is a tireless and committed champion of Des Moines Area Community College and Iowa’s Community College System, leading and encouraging Iowa’s community colleges to fulfill their mission through expanding services, maintaining quality, and keeping a community college education affordable for everyone.



Bob Rasmus

Western Iowa Tech Community College

Dr. Bob Rasmus joined the WITCC Board of Directors in 1991 and was elected as Board President in 2002. During his leadership, the College saw significant growth in enrollment and services to the local community. His leadership and vision were instrumental in transitioning the College to new leadership and focusing the College on student success. Dr. Rasmus pushed the College to build strong partnerships to prepare a skilled workforce for the community.

Awarded posthumously  



Russell Wray

Western Iowa Tech Community College

Russell graduated from Northeast Missouri State University in Kirksville, Missouri in May of 1979 and began his career as a bank examiner for the State of Iowa. He and his wife, Roxie moved to Mapleton in 1985 to raise their family and started his employment at Valley Bank & Trust as a lending and trust officer. In 1987, he earned his salesman license and became the managing broker of Valley Realty in 1995.  He continues to be active in the community serving as the past chair of the Maple Valley Development, Inc.’s Housing Committee, a Monona County Enterprise Zone Director, and has been an elected Director of Western Iowa Tech Community College since 1998.



Jerry Smith

Southwestern Community College

Jerry Smith has served on the Southwestern Community College board of trustees since 1997.  Smith has been Southwestern’s representative to IACCT since 2000 and the board representative for Southwestern’s Education Foundation since 1997. Smith is an advocate for the mission of community colleges as a powerful spokesperson for the role education plays in improving quality of life for individuals, families, and communities. Smith was employed by MATURA Action Corporation in Creston, a non-profit agency dedicated to serving the economically disadvantaged, for more than 35 years.  He served as their executive director from 2001 until 2011 when he retired. In 2011, Smith received Iowa Community Action Association’s highest honor, the Robert R. Tyson Memorial Award. Prior to his position as executive director, Smith was the Region 14 workforce director.


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