Board of Visitors Emeritus Members


Frederick W. Axley

Fred was Of Counsel with McDermott, Will & Emery a Chicago law firm. He was a member of the American, Illinois and Chicago Bar Associations and the Chicago Council of Lawyers. He also was the President Emeritus of Friends of the Chicago River, a director of Business and Professional People for the Public Interest, President of Shore Line Place, a 44-unit senior citizen residential facility located in Wilmette, Illinois and President of Housing Opportunity Development Corporation, a not-for-profit real estate development company headquartered in Techy, Illinois. Fred was a former trustee of the Wilmette Elementary School Board and of the Illinois Chapter of the Nature Conservancy. He was also on the Board of The Ohio Art Company, an Ohio-based toy company. Fred earned his BA in English Literature and Economics from the College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, Massachusetts, in 1963. After service as a Lieutenant in the U.S. Navy, he received his MA in English Literature from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1966. In 1969, he received his law degree from the University of Chicago. A founding member of the English Board of Visitors, Fred actively served on the Board until his death in 2013. His friends on the Board fondly remember Fred for his thoughtful comments and literary references.


Philip S. Brown

Phil is a retired vice-president of Kansas City Southern Industries and the Kansas City Southern Railway Company. He is a 1958 graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a BS in English Literature. After service in the U.S. Army, he received his law degree in 1963 from the University of Michigan. He also attended the Program of Management Development of the Harvard Business School. Phil is licensed to practice law in the state of Missouri and before the Supreme Court of the United States. Prior to joining Kansas City Southern Industries, he practiced law in Kansas City and served as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Jackson County Missouri. He was an officer and member of the board of directors of subsidiaries of Kansas City Southern during his career, including Mid America Cellular Systems, Inc., an early participant in the cellular telephone industry; and Midcon Labs. Inc. and Central Biomedia, Inc., producers of animal health products. Phil was also on the Board of Directors of Rycom Instruments, Inc., and a manufacturer of buried cable fault locators for the telephone and power industries.

Phil has served as Chairman of the Board of the Swope Parkway Health Center which serves low income families in Kansas City Missouri and as President of the Grassland Heritage Foundation which is an organization dedicated to the preservation of native grassland. He is currently serving as a member of the board of the Jewish Community Relations Bureau/AJC, which promotes racial and religious tolerance and functions as an intermediary when problems develop in these areas.

Phil and his wife Peedee ’62 were married for 55 years, until her death in 2014. They have three children and six grandchildren. All live in the Kansas City area.


Donald Gibbs Jr.

Upon graduating in 1969 with an honors degree in English, Don has held a series of increasingly responsible managerial positions in the US toy industry. Don has worked for such companies as Ideal Toy, TOMY and Lewis Galoob Toys, including his position as Executive VP and CEO of the Original San Francisco TOYMAKERS, Inc. a Bay Area marketing and product development company focused on toys and kids leisure products. Don is currently Principal of Gibbs Sales & Marketing, a consultancy working with start-up toy, gift, and education companies.

Married to Barbara Forrester Gibbs ’70, also a University of Wisconsin - Madison English Major, Don was surprised to sire three sons who are successful scientists and engineers. He reports that all of his sons can write a good, declarative sentence. A founding member of the English Board of Visitors, Don served as the 1st Board of Visitors Chair from 2002 – 2003.


William H. Gofen

Bill graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 1952 with a major in English. His first two years in Madison were in the Integrated Liberal Studies (ILS) Program that coincidentally were the first two years of ILS. Subsequently, he attended Harvard Business School, receiving his MBA in 1954. He served two years in the U.S. Army, and since 1956 has been with the investment-counseling firm of Gofen and Glossberg in Chicago. He has been married to Ethel Caro since 1961. They have a daughter and son, and five grandsons. Ethel is a freelance writer and poet, who has published numerous articles on health and travel and books on Argentina and France for teenage readers. Bill was a founding member of the English Department’s Board of Visitors.


Sally Mead Hands

Sally Mead Hands was a founding member of the English Board of Visitors and served until her death in 2008. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1948 with a BA in English Literature and had four children and five grandchildren. She participated in a variety of volunteer activities, including the Junior League in Milwaukee and Chicago, and was a docent for the Chicago Historical Society for twenty-five years. She was involved with her church, served on the Planned Parenthood and the Interfaith Housing Council boards. Sally was a patron of the arts, education and the environment. She was a governing member of the Chicago Symphony and the Art Institute. She served on the Board of Directors for Consolidated Papers, Inc. from April 1991 through April 1999. She was a trustworthy doubles partner on the tennis court and an avid (borderline fanatical) golfer. Her friends on the Board of Visitors and in the English Department warmly remember Sally, her compassionate spirit and her generosity.


Phillip A. Levy

Phillip Levy, IIDA (International Interior Design Association), has been an interior designer with an independent design studio and furniture showroom for over twenty-four years. As a graduate of the University of Wisconsin – Madison, English BS ’64, Phillip studied design at the famous Art Center, Los Angeles. Having worked in the industry for many years, Phillip brings over 35 years of nationwide experience to his craft. He is a professional member of IIDA, having served as State of Wisconsin Chapter President for three years.

He has received many honors and awards, as well as being published in numerous local and some national magazines and newspapers. Madison projects have included country clubs and University of Wisconsin projects. Phillip and his team finished the interior design of Olin House (chancellor’s residence) in the fall of 2008. The residential projects are numerous and range in location from Madison to other parts of Wisconsin, and include California, Florida, and Arizona.

Mr. Levy has served the Madison community for many decades as a director on the boards of Madison Downtown Rotary, United Way, Madison Art Center, Madison Opera, Madison Youth Symphony, Repertory Theater, State MS Society, Madison Symphony Orchestra, Civil Center Endowment, and Madison Chamber Orchestra.


Howard W. Mead

Howard graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 1956 with a BA degree, majoring in English. He spent a year and a half in graduate school trying to balance the likes of Milton and Shakespeare with the writing of an unpublishable novel. In 1957, the GI Bill money ran out and Howard married Nancy Peterman and took a job as an editor/marketing manager for the University of Wisconsin Press. In the spring of 1961, his confidence buoyed by nearly three years experience in the publishing game, Nancy and Howard purchased a nearly bankrupt, one-year-old magazine called WISCONSIN TALES AND TRAILS. They changed its name to WISCONSIN TRAILS and spent the next thirty-eight years exploring Wisconsin and describing its wonders. Howard is one of the founding members of the English Department’s Board of Visitors.


Carl J. Rasmussen

Carl Rasmussen is a partner in the law firm of Boardman, Suhr, Curry and Field, LLP, Madison, Wisconsin, where he chairs the firm’s Trust and Estate Practice Group. Carl is a Fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel, and former Chair of the Real Property, Probate and Trust Section of the State Bar of Wisconsin. He is a coauthor of ECKHARDT’S WORKBOOK FOR WISCONSIN ESTATE PLANNERS published by the State Bar of Wisconsin. Carl is listed in BEST LAWYERS IN AMERICA and WISCONSIN SUPER LAWYERS. THE WISCONSIN LAW JOURNAL named Carl a Leader in the Law for 2008. Carl holds four degrees from the University of Wisconsin - Madison, including: English BA ’70 (Honors), English MA ’73, English PhD ’78 and Law JD ’82. Carl was a panelist for a session on “Humanities in the Work of the World,” at the Modern Language Association Annual Convention in 2007.


Matt Siderits

Matt graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 1993 with a BS Degree in English. Following graduation, he attended the Marquette University Law School and earned his JD degree in 1996. While in law school, he was a member and an Executive Editor of the Marquette Law Review. His comment, “Defamation in Cyberspace: Reconciling Cubby, Inc. v. CompuServe, Inc. and Stratton Oakmont v. Prodigy Services Co.,” was published in the summer of 1996. Matt began his practice working for two years in a general practice law firm, and then focused on insurance litigation upon starting with Otjen, Van Ert & Weir, S.C. Matt also co-authored an article for the WISCONSIN CIVIL TRIAL JOURNAL entitled, “The Death of the Idiopathic Injury Defense in Wisconsin Worker’s Compensation.” In both 2006 and 2007, SUPER LAWYERS selected him as a Rising Star, with a rating by his peers in the top 2.5% of attorneys aged 40 and younger. Recently, Matt was a Senior Attorney managing the Milwaukee branch office of Aplin & Ringsmuth, LLC, a firm specializing in defense of worker's compensation matters. He is married to Tanya and has two children who he hopes will attend the University of Wisconsin. He and his family reside in Pewaukee, Wisconsin.


Jonathan Stapleton

Born in Rhode Island, Jon graduated in 1970 from University of Wisconsin-Madison in English Honors and received his JD from Harvard Law School in 1973. Jon has been in private law practice in New York City since 1973, first as an associate and partner in Breed, Abbot & Morgan; then as a partner in Arnold & Port. Since 2006, he has practiced as a partner in Baker & McKenzie. He practices in the areas of corporate law, securities and financial transactions. Jon is married with one son. His spouse, Betsy, who grew up in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula credits his success to his Wisconsin experience. Jon believes that she may be correct. He is a founding member of the English Department’s Board of Visitors.


Peter Straub

A Milwaukee native and graduate of the University of Wisconsin – Madison, English BA ’65, Peter Straub is the author of eighteen novels, which have been translated into more than twenty languages. They include GHOST STORY, KOKO, MR. X, two collaborations with Stephen King, THE TALISMAN and BLACK HOUSE, and his most recent, A DARK MATTER. Two of his novels, GHOST STORY and JULIA have been filmed. He edited the Library of America’s edition of H. P. LOVECRAFT: TALES and their two-volume anthology, AMERICAN FANTASTIC TALES. He has won the British Fantasy Award, nine Bram Stoker Awards, two International Horror Guild Awards, and four World Fantasy Awards. In 1998, he was named Grand Master at the World Horror Convention. In 2008, Poets & Writers gave him the Barnes & Noble Writers For Writers Award. In 2010, he was given the Life Achievement Award at the World Fantasy Convention. The University of Wisconsin Alumni Association honored Peter (and Susan his wife) with a Distinguished Alumnus Award in 2009; and in 2011 Columbia University gave him a Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Dean’s Award for Distinguished Achievement.

In 2016, Peter and Susan received the University of Wisconsin English Department’s Distinguished Alumni Award. He, along with his wife Susan, is a founding member of the English Department’s Board of Visitors.


Susan Straub

Susan (Bitker) Straub was raised in Milwaukee and graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 1966 with a BSE in English. After receiving her degree, she worked with the inaugural Project Upward Bound at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Susan continued working in and developing college counseling services in Dublin, Ireland and London. Trained in child psychotherapy at the Tavistock (London) and in social work at New York University where she received a MSW ’87. Susan created and directed The READ TO ME Program, an intergenerational reading program focused on young parents reading with their babies. The READ TO ME Program has been taught in numerous schools and community centers. It has been featured in O MAGAZINE and has received many awards and acclaim over the past twenty plus years since its’ founding.

She and Peter Straub have been married since 1966, raised two children, and currently live in Brooklyn, New York after living for many years in Manhattan. Along with Peter, her husband, Susan received the 2009 Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Wisconsin Alumni Association. In 2016, she and Peter received the 2016 University of Wisconsin English Department’s Distinguished Alumni Award. She is a founding member of the English Department’s Board of Visitors.


Judith Waite

Judith Waite is a credit analyst with Standard and Poor’s, the rating agency. She follows the utility sector, assigning ratings to the debt of electric and gas utilities, gas pipelines, and energy trading and marketing companies. She was previously with the Chase Manhattan Bank’s Corporate Finance Division. Prior to working in finance, Judith worked for several years with Crossroads Africa arranging travel and seminar programs for mid-level professions from all African countries, and traveled frequently in Africa interviewing travel grant candidates. This work followed a two-year assignment as a Peace Corps volunteer in Benin and a one-year assignment as development worker in Niger, West Africa. Judith is married and has one son. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin with a degree in Comparative Literature in 1969. She is a founding member of the English Department’s Board of Visitors.


Harry M. Yohalem

Harry Yohalem graduated in 1965 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the English Honors Program. He received his JD Law in 1969 from Columbia Law School, where he was a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar. Harry practice law in New York City with Shearman & Sterling and served as an Assistant Counsel to New York Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller. Thereafter, he held a series of legal and policy positions in the federal government, including Deputy General Counsel for Legal Services and Deputy Under Secretary of the Department of Energy. After leaving the federal government in 1981, he practiced law for a decade in Washington, DC as a partner in the New York-based firm of Rogers & Wells (now Clifford Chance). In 1991, he was appointed General Counsel of the California Institute of Technology, a position in which he served until his retirement in December 2009. Harry serves on the boards of the Flintridge Center and 211 LA County, both 501(c)(3) organizations providing services in the Los Angeles area. Harry is a founding member of the English Department’s Board of Visitors.