Michael J. Vidmar ’03 (right) was presented the 2015-16 Young Alumni Distinguished Service Award by Jennifer Avellino ’89, president of the Alumni Council, at the 211th Alumni Council Session on October 23, 2015.
Raised in Brookfield, Illinois, you always dreamed of playing Division I soccer, but education was your top priority. During a campus visit one particularly wintry weekend in January, you knew Dartmouth would be your home. You claim your Slovenian background drew you to the mountains of New Hampshire, and the combination of academics and athletics proved a fantastic fit.
Once on campus, you jumped into a whirlwind of activity. The men’s varsity soccer team enjoyed some successes during your tenure, and you felt lucky to represent Dartmouth under the auspices of coaches Fran O’Leary and Jeff Cook. A young man of diverse interests, you played cello in a string quartet, volunteered at St. Denis Catholic Church as a Eucharistic minister, and were a member of Alpha Delta fraternity. Majoring in economics, your interest in your personal faith drew you to enroll in a religion course, and ultimately minor in religion. Intellectual highlights include studying economics with Professor Bruce Sacerdote ’90 and working with Professor David Kang of the department of government.
Robert’s Flowers, owned by a former resident of your hometown and fellow alumnus of Lyons Township High School, became a home away from home. You were warmly welcomed by the Kantor family and even given a job there that you held through your time at Dartmouth, through which you gained a wider perspective on Hanover and the Upper Valley from a local business standpoint. You remain close today.
Upon graduating, you headed back to Chicago to work in financial services at Jones Lang LaSalle, then entered the real estate field at Dmyterko & Wright Partners. A stint at capital investment at Focus Hospitality Services followed, after which you entered graduate school at The Liautaud Graduate School of Business at the University of Illinois at Chicago. You are currently an associate director at Fitch Ratings.
Your knack for alumni leadership became clear soon after graduation. You’ve been devoted to your club, the Alumni Council, and your class. You’ve served as the secretary, events chair, vice president, and president of the Dartmouth Club of Chicago. As president, you brought your youthful energy to events, collaborating with such diverse partners as the Dartmouth College Gospel Choir, who raised the roof at the yearly holiday lunch to the delight of the alumni, students and parents in attendance; and DGALA, with which the club helped create a memorable float for the Pride Parade. You’ve thoroughly enjoyed serving on the Alumni Council and note that students and alumni alike don’t always realize how much management and assistance alumni provide for the College. You learned a great deal about how the college functions during your term on the Council.
Your roles at Dartmouth have included serving on the executive committee of the Club Officers Association (COA); as the Alumni Council representative for the COA; as the chair of the Alumni Council’s Athletics Committee, at an unusually young age; and as an alumni interviewer. Not one to slow down, you now serve as president of the great Class of 2003. During your undergraduate years, you felt you benefited from the generosity and influence of passionate, vibrant Dartmouth alumni. You not only formed close friendships, but also gained valuable experience in the community. Through sharing stories, you’ve continued to learn from your mentors about the College and have experienced the evolution of the College, and are grateful for that.
Not content to serve only your alma mater, you sit on the board of the Preston Bradley Center, a social justice and outreach organization in Chicago, and volunteer at your church. Your musical talents still flourish, as you play the upright bass for The Last Drop, a Slovenian Alpine-style polka band; and perform with a Slovenian men’s acapella group, Špendov.
Mike, for your generous and inclusive contributions to the many wide-reaching segments of the alumni population and your devotion to your community, we are pleased to honor you with the Dartmouth College Young Alumni Distinguished Service Award.