Posted 9:11 a.m. Monday, April 5, 2021

Margaret "Peg" Van Bree, '82, has had an illustrious career in health care, having served in leadership roles at academic hospitals in Minnesota, Virginia, Wisconsin, Texas and Rhode Island. She is the 2021 recipient of UWL's Graff Distinguished Alumni Award.

Van Bree finds success in an ever-changing field

A colleague remembers sitting in a meeting with new Chief Executive Officer Margaret “Peg” Van Bree and two other vice presidents. Their task: fill three VP vacancies in their hospital.

“We can either play cards or run a hospital,” remarked Van Bree.

With that, they divvied up responsibilities, rallied behind Van Bree and completed short-term goals while keeping long-range plans on track.

“Peg is an exceptional leader, collaborator and mentor,” says former colleague William Brosius.

Van Bree, ’82, has taken that leadership throughout the country during her nearly 40-year career in health care. She shared her health expertise as chief executive officer, president and chief operating officer at academic hospitals in Minnesota, Virginia, Wisconsin, Texas and Rhode Island.

Van Bree hasn’t been dismayed with the challenging work needed to manage ever-changing health care institutions.

For instance, in both Texas and Rhode Island, Van Bree challenged current operational processes by introducing innovative predictive analytics to better understand patient flow, manage capacity and improve patient satisfaction.

Throughout her top administrative positions, Van Bree has maintained adjunct and teaching affiliations. Students not only benefit from hearing from someone on the front lines, Van Bree does too. Preparing lectures keeps you up-to-date and makes you reflect on your work, she notes.

Van Bree’s impressive record as a healthcare executive and her outstanding impact on her local communities has led to her being awarded the Graff Distinguished Alumni Award.

It’s an honor those who have worked with her say she deserves. Dr. Latha Sivaprasad calls Van Bree a mentor and more.

“She helps people think big and make a greater impact by creating opportunities for them to flourish,” notes Sivaprasad.

Margaret Van Bree, ’82

Margaret Van Bree, ’82

  • Revered health executive, educator; collaborator; mentor.
  • Recipient of Exemplary Leadership Award, Ronald McDonald House of Providence; Career Achievement Award, Providence Business News; Houston’s 50 Most Influential Women, others.
  • Retired president of Rhode Island Hospital and Hasbro Children’s Hospital.
  • Bachelor’s in community health education; master’s in hospital administration, University of Minnesota; doctorate in public health, Tulane University.

(Will accept award in fall 2022)


Four are distinguished alumni

Alumni from the ’80s through 2009 have earned top awards bestowed by the UWL Alumni Association for 2021. They’re being honored for distinguished service and successful careers.

Distinguished alumni awarded in 2020 and 2021 will be honored virtually in fall 2021 or during an in-person ceremony in 2022, if possible. When recognized, the alumni will speak with students and take part in a panel discussion.

A virtual ceremony for some of the recipients is set for 9 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021. Get details from the Alumni Association calendar.


The 2021 honorees include:

The Maurice O. Graff Distinguished Alumni Award

Recognizes outstanding achievement of alumni who have brought honor and distinction to the university. Long-time administrator Maurice O. Graff instituted the honor in 1977.

Margaret Van Bree, ’82

(See above)


Rada Distinguished Alumni Award

Recognizes alumni who have graduated within the last 20 years, achieved professional distinction and taken part in humanitarian activities. Professor emeritus Ron Rada and his wife, Jane, created the award in 2002.

Anna Hatch, ’09

  • Renowned scientist in biomedical research, science diplomacy and science communication.
  • Recipient of the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship; P.E.O. Scholar Award.
  • Currently a Declaration on Research Assessment Program Director at the American Society for Cell Biology in Rockville, Maryland.
  • Bachelor’s in biology and chemistry; doctorate in biochemistry, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire.


Parker Distinguished Multicultural Alumni Award

Recognizes outstanding alumni who have contributed significantly to the improvement of multicultural understanding on the campus and in their careers. History Professor Emeritus James Parker initiated the award in 1997.

Mai J. Lo Lee, ’07

  • Student mentor; social justice advocate.
  • Recipient of the 2020 Wisconsin’s 48 Most Influential Asian American Leaders.
  • Currently Diversity Director of Multi-Ethnic Students Affairs, UW-Green Bay.
  • Master’s in education; bachelor’s in mass communications, UW-Eau Claire.


Burt and Norma Altman Teacher Education Award

Honors and recognizes outstanding educators and the significant contributions they make to children and communities. Professor Emeritus Burt Altman and his wife, Norma, long-time supporters of teacher education, created the award in 2015.

Scott Noet, ’90

  • Dedicated and respected long-time educator.
  • Recipient of the Goethe Institute American Fellow of the Year; Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History Minnesota Teacher of the Year; state and school Teacher of the Year; Transatlantic Outreach Program Fellow of the Year; others.
  • Currently a 7th and 8th grade social studies teacher at Owatonna, Minnesota, Public Schools.
  • Bachelor’s in history; master’s in education, Southwest State, Marshall, Minnesota.


2020 honorees include:

The Maurice O. Graff Distinguished Alumni Award

Michael McGinley, ’82

James Burkhart, ’68

Rada Distinguished Alumni Award

Kara Pennoyer, ’06

Parker Distinguished Multicultural Alumni Award

Jennifer Miller, ’70

Burt and Norma Altman Teacher Education Award

Penny Kroening, ’85

Steven Olson, ’85


Click here for more information on the 2020 honorees.