2017 Illini Comeback Guests

Thomas F. Larwin

Thomas Larwin's PortraitThomas F. Larwin, ’65 ENG, has enjoyed a 50-year career in the transportation engineering field. He began his professional career as a civil engineer in the U.S. Army at Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona before earning his Masters degree in engineering at Penn State University. The Chicago native then enjoyed a 27-year career with the San Diego Metropolitan Transit Development Board (MTDB), where he led the development of the nation’s first modern light rail transit system–the San Diego Trolley–and also managed area bus services, taxicab regulation and a short-line railroad.

A board member of professional organizations such as the Institute of Transportation Engineers, the American Public Transportation Association and the Transportation Research Board, Larwin entered private consulting following his MTDB tenure while also teaching transportation engineering courses at San Jose State and San Diego State Universities. A prolific writer, the San Diego resident has penned more than 40 papers and publications on a broad range of transportation engineering and management topics in addition to publishing several articles on baseball and co-authoring The Kid: Ted Williams in San Diego.

A recipient of the Illini Club of San Diego’s Outstanding Alumni Award in 2003, Larwin recently completed a three-year run as the Club’s president.

Emily S. Gardner

Emily Garder PortraitOver the last 12 years, Emily S. (Klopf) Gardner, ’05 BUS, ’05 AHS, has established herself as an accomplished marketing professional in the sports and entertainment industry. Currently the associate marketing manager of sports and entertainment at MillerCoors, Gardner manages the beverage giant’s sports and entertainment marketing assets and leads relationships with key partners such as the National Hockey League and USA Rugby.

She began her professional career at Mid America Sports and Events, helping to raise funds for the foundations of former National Football League stars John Elway and Mike Ditka among others. She then enjoyed a nearly nine-year run with Octagon Marketing, a New York City-based sports, music and entertainment agency. At Octagon, Gardner launched and managed BMW’s successful professional golf and Olympics partnerships, driving innovative efforts that earned her a spot in Ivy Sports Symposium and Sports Pro Magazine’s “Next 10 Class of 2013,” an annual list recognizing young sports business executives poised to shape the industry landscape in the coming decades.

A member of the Tri Delta sorority during her undergraduate years on campus, Gardner also worked as a volunteer recruiter for the football office and served as an executive member of the Business Council.

Robert P. Gaynes

Robert Gaynes' PortraitA distinguished medical professional, Dr. Robert P. Gaynes, ’75 LAS, has served as a consultant to the World Health Organization and the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, earned induction into the Academy of Medical Educators for his teaching and mentorship of medical students, hosted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report podcast and authored the award-winning book, Germ Theory: Medical Pioneers in Infectious Diseases.

Gaynes spent more than 20 years with the CDC in Atlanta before moving onto Emory University in 2009, where he is professor of medicine and infectious diseases at the School of Medicine and also professor of epidemiology at the Rollins School of Public Health. He is also an attending physician at the Atlanta Veterans Medical Center.

Gaynes has received numerous professional honors, including awards from the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine, the U.S. Public Health Service and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Abreast by his role on the Admissions Committee at Emory University’s School of Medicine and inspired by his rich undergraduate experience in the UI Honors Biology Program, Gaynes has returned to campus often over the years and held workshops for premed students about the transition to medical school.