Lou Liay Spirit Award

Each year, the University of Illinois Alumni Association bestows the Lou Liay Spirit Award upon a UI alumnus or alumna who has consistently demonstrated extraordinary loyalty, commitment, dedication and service to the UI Alumni Association and related groups. The award, established in 1997, is named after Lou Liay, EDM '62, executive director of the UI Alumni Association from 1983 to 1998.

John Volk, '67 ACES

A past recipient of the College of ACES Award of Merit, John Volk is management consultant serving the global animal health, veterinary and pet care markets. Kenneth Schmidt portrait

A sought-after expert in strategy and communications, and highly knowledgeable about veterinary practice, Volk advises companies in a broad range of areas, including acquisitions, long-range strategic planning, marketing, corporate identity and new product introductions.

He previously led The John Volk Company, a leading advertising and public relations firm in the fields of agriculture and animal health. In that executive role, Volk helped launch several major veterinary products for companies such as Merck Agvet (now Merial), Pfizer (now Zoetis) and Ralston Purina (now Nestle Purina) while also pioneering the use of direct-to-consumer advertising in animal health with the launch of Heartgard-30, the now ubiquitous heartworm preventative for dogs.

A 1967 graduate of the University’s Agricultural Communications Program, Volk also served a stint as communications director for the College of Veterinary Medicine. The Washington, Ill., native and father of two currently lives in Chicago with his wife, Marcia, ’68 MEDIA, though he visits his farm in central Illinois often.

Learn more about nominating an Illinois alum for the Lou Liay Spirit Award