Biomedical engineer, inventor, and technology entrepreneur Gary Durack will deliver the keynote address for Parkland College's 2014 Commencement Exercises.
The graduation ceremony will be held Thursday, May 15, at 8 p.m. at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts in Urbana. Another guest honored at the event will be Jeffrey B. Hettler, owner of Five Star Trading in Champaign, who will be recognized as Parkland's 2014 Distinguished Alumnus.
Durack (pictured, left), a 21-year resident of this community, served until 2013 as CEO and CSO for iCyt Visionary Bioscience, a cell analysis product company he founded 18 years ago. Sony Corporation acquired iCyt in 2009, renaming it Sony Biotechnology.
Today, Durack invests in startup technology companies, advising and encouraging their founders. He is also affiliated with the Micro and Nano Technology Laboratory and the Institute for Genomic Biology at the University of Illinois. He serves as a business mentor with the Chicago Innovation Mentor Program and as a member of the Institutional Review Board for Carle Foundation Hospital. He and his wife, Valerie Durack, are invested in Urbana-Champaign and support activities that help those in need and strengthen the community.
Durack attended Rose Hulman Institute of Technology and later Purdue University, where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Electrical and Electronic Engineering. He worked for 10 years at the Coulter Corporation, a leader in medical diagnostics, where he directed the development of new cytometry products. In 1993, he moved to the University of Illinois, serving eight years as director of the Biotechnology Center Flow Cytometry Core Facility before devoting his time exclusively to his company.
His honors include the 2005 Entrepreneurial Excellence Award and the 2010 Economic Development Award from the University of Illinois and the Champaign County Economic Development Corporation. His company, iCyt, and its products earned both the 2006 Outstanding Research Park Company Award and the 2008 Frost and Sullivan Global Award for having "The Most Innovative Emerging Cytometry Technology." A Fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering, Durack has served as Technical Councilor for the International Society for the Advancement of Cytometry. He is also an author and editor for numerous peer-reviewed publications in the field of cytometry. He holds 20 U.S. patents and has more than a dozen pending patent applications.
Hettler, owner of Five Star Trading in Champaign, will receive Parkland’s 2014 Distinguished Alumnus Award. A 1982 Parkland graduate in business administration, Hettler went on to earn the Bachelor of Science in Marketing from Southern Illinois University Carbondale in 1984. He would ultimately use his Parkland degree to become an entrepreneur in the merchant wholesale food brokerage industry, selling a wide range of grocery items to retailers and independent wholesalers. He would put his SIU marketing skills to work as well, earning numerous awards for national merchandising displays that he developed.
Hettler is a regular contributor both to local food banks in Illinois and to a local senior assisted living facility. He is involved in fundraising statewide for the educational not-for-profit sector and has organized local golf outings in support of middle grades education. He is a member of the American Marketing Association and Independent Food Broker Associations.
He is a past president of the Parkland College Alumni Association and currently serves as a board member. In 2008, he established the Frank and Priscilla Hettler Scholarship in honor of his parents; this award has since helped many Parkland students from large families improve their lives through higher education. Finally, he is a charter member of the Parkland Proud/IGA Program, which dedicates a portion of sales at IGA stores to provide scholarships to deserving Parkland students.
Parkland's commencement will include remarks from college President Thomas Ramage, Board of Trustees Chairman Thomas Bennett, and graduating students Amber L. Simmons and John D. Norcross, All-USA Academic Team Nominees. Rabbi Alan Cook of the Sinai Temple of Champaign-Urbana will provide the invocation/benediction, and the Parkland College Wind Ensemble will perform several selections.
A reception will be held in the Krannert Center lobby after the recessional. Tickets are required.