Meet MCC’s 2017 Hall of Fame Honorees

The MCC Hall of Fame honors, alumni, community members, and MCC employees whose personal and professional accomplishments and positive contributions to the college and community set them apart.

Learn more at www.mesacc.edu/alumni/hall-fame

Alumni Achievement Award – Robert Klee, Gilbert Orrantia, Michael Ropacki, Ph.D., Matt Salmon, Karl Schroeder, Joan Sullivan Garrett

Service Award – Robin Arredondo-Savage

Outstanding Athlete Award – Stellan Björk, Albie Lopez, Jan-Erik Palm

Excellence in Teaching Award – Jeffrey Andelora, Ph.D., Richard Effland, Ph.D.

Alumni Achievement Award recipients

Robert Klee

Robert Klee dedicated his career to public education in Arizona. A teacher and coach for nine years, Klee transitioned to educational leadership, retiring in 2017 as the Superintendent of Crane Elementary School District. A proponent of year-round education, he received the 1996 Pioneer Award from the National Association for Year-Round Education, was nominated for the 1997 Outstanding Educator Award from the University of Arizona, and received the 2017 June Pallack Excellence in Education Outstanding Leadership Award. A member of MCC’s 1975 NJCAA National Championship football team, Klee graduated from MCC in 1975. 

Gilbert Orrantia

Gilbert Orrantia, Director of Arizona’s Department of Homeland Security, graduated from MCC in 1978.  Prior to his current position, he served in the FBI for 26 years and received two of the highest commendations granted by the FBI – the Medal of Valor and FBI Star – for his role in the 1986 Miami Shootout, the deadliest firefight in FBI history. Orrantia has lectured to members of the FBI Academy on officer safety and survival. He is an expert on counterterrorism and currently serves as Co-Chairman of the Governor’s Arizona Human Trafficking Council.

Michael Ropacki

Michael Ropacki, Ph.D., is a clinical neuroscientist specializing in neurological disorders, and specifcally neurodegenerative diseases. He is currently Senior Vice President of Research and Development at MedAvante. The recipient of numerous awards, Dr. Ropacki was most recently honored with the 2014 Coalition Against Major Diseases, Annual Recognition Award for leadership and dedication in advancing drug development for neurodegenerative diseases. He’s authored or co-authored more than 70 manuscripts, abstracts, and presentations. A 1991 MCC graduate, Ropacki holds master’s and doctoral degrees from Texas Tech University.
Matt Salmon Matt Salmon was elected United States Congressman for the 5th District of Arizona for five terms. He served on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and as Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere. Salmon was named a “Watchdog of the Treasury” and earned the Taxpayer Hero award from Citizens Against Government Waste. He is currently the Vice President for Government Affairs at Arizona State University. Salmon is an experienced public affairs and telecommunications professional and is fluent in Mandarin Chinese. 
Karl Schroeder Karl Schroeder, whose career ladder spans courtesy clerk to executive leader, is the President of the Seattle Division for Albertsons Companies. He is responsible for 239 stores operating in Washington, Alaska and Northern Idaho under the Safeway, Albertsons, Carrs, and Haggen banners. Schroeder was named 2013 Executive of the Year by the USC Marshall School of Business and received the 2014 Illuminator's Torch Award. He is a graduate of MCC, the University of Southern California, and the University of San Francisco.
Joan Sullivan Garrett Joan Sullivan Garrett, Founder and Chairman of the Board for MedAire, earned her associate’s degree in nursing from MCC in 1979. MedAire is the leading global provider of 24/7 medical and security assistance, medical kits and equipment, and crew medical training. Sullivan Garrett is the author of numerous white papers regarding medical and health subjects and is often quoted as a subject matter expert in national and international media. She will receive the Meritorious Service Award from the National Business Aviation Association as well as the International Aviation Women’s Association Woman of Excellence Award in the fall of 2017.

Service Award recipient

Robin Arredondo-Savage Robin Arredondo-Savage, Vice Mayor of the City of Tempe, graduated from MCC in 1992. A U.S. Army veteran, she has led the effort to make Tempe a Veteran Supportive City and to open Valor on Eighth, an affordable housing community designed for veterans with families. A 21-year Tempe small business manager, Arredondo-Savage has served as Chairman of the Tempe Chamber of Commerce and the Tempe Union High School District Governing Board. She received the 2017 Spirit of Tempe Award, which honors a lifetime achievement of service. 

Outstanding Athlete Award recipients

Stellan Björk Stellan Björk led MCC to the NJCAA Championship in tennis in 1972 along with doubles partner Jan-Erik Palm. He earned All-American honors in 1972 as well as regional championships in 1972 and 1973. Björk went on to capture the Sun Devils Invitational Doubles Championship in 1975. A former Swedish Army officer, after college Björk returned to Sweden where he is Executive Director of AB Alelyckans Sportcenter, an indoor racket hall in Gothenburg, Sweden.
Albie Lopez Albie Lopez won a 2001 World Series Championship with the Arizona Diamondbacks. A right-handed pitcher out of Mesa, he attended MCC on a baseball scholarship. In 1990, he led the MCC Thunderbirds to the Junior College World Series and earned 1st Team All-American honors. Lopez was a member of the 1989 USA Junior Olympic team, which won bronze and gold medals. He played Major League Baseball from 1993 to 2003. In 2013, Lopez was inducted into the Mesa Sports Hall of Fame (Mesa Public Schools).
Jan-Erik Palm Jan-Erik Palm led MCC to the NJCAA Championship in tennis in 1972 along with doubles partner Stellan Björk. He was 1st Team All-American in 1972, and was honored as an All-American in 1973. After playing number 1 singles and serving as team captain on a tennis scholarship at Arizona State University, Palm competed professionally from 1976 to 1981. He is President of Spectrum Commercial, Inc., a Commercial Real Estate Investment company, and President and CEO of Calvin Scott, Inc.

Excellence in Teaching Award recipients

Jeffrey Andelora Jeffrey Andelora, Ph.D., has taught English at MCC since 1996 and currently serves as the Interim Dean of Instruction for Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences. He is committed to shaping the future of English instruction at two-year colleges, and his administrative work focuses on teaching and learning. Andelora currently serves as National Chair of the Two-Year College English Association (TYCA), and he sits on the executive committees for both the National Conference of Teachers of English and the Conference on College Composition and Communication. He has authored numerous articles and regularly presents at professional conferences.

Richard Effland

Richard Effland, Ph.D., received Faculty Emeritus distinction to honor his 25-year career teaching anthropology at MCC. A pioneer in the use of technology for teaching and learning and online course development, Effland’s use of classroom technology was highlighted by Apple Computer as well as community college districts and universities in the United States and China. He combined learning anthropology with digital literacy, discussion-based and reflective learning, and applied research. Effland’s scientific contributions span Arizona from the Grand Canyon to southern Arizona. He also served as consultant to the AkChin and Salt River Indian Communities. He is currently working on a book on why societies fail.