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Student eager to meet Caterpillar CEO

Barry McNamara
The presentation by Caterpillar chairman and CEO Douglas Oberhelman at Monmouth College’s annual Wendell Whiteman Memorial Lecture on April 2 is the headline event, but a group of MC students is looking forward to what happens next.

Approximately 30 students have been invited to a private luncheon for Oberhelman, who helped lead Caterpillar to record-breaking year in 2011, with sales and revenues of $60.1 billion, an increase of 41 percent from 2010.

Monmouth’s students don’t have anything quite as impressive on their resumés yet, but there is encouraging news on the front. After all, Oberhelman also studied at a small, private liberal arts college in Illinois, graduating from Millikin University with a degree in finance.

“Coming from a physics background, I can’t exactly relate with his coursework at Millikin,” said junior Brandon Kemerling of Peoria. “However, if I could have some one-on-one time at lunch with him, I would ask him if he knew exactly what he wanted to do with his degree. As I approach graduation, I still don’t know exactly what job I would like to focus on. I would ask him when he set his mind on what he wanted to do after college, or if he just took it step-by-step and worked his way to the top.”

Senior Jessica Landrey not only relates to the type of college Oberhelman attended, but also to his high school. Like Oberhelman, she is a graduate of Woodstock High School.

“My grandpa (David Frey ’57) also went to Monmouth, and he and my grandmother are good friends of Doug’s parents,” said Landrey. “My grandparents had lunch with his parents not too long ago. Actually my grandpa was the first person to tell me that Doug would be visiting Monmouth for a lecture. It will be very interesting to speak with him about Woodstock.”

Landrey is approaching graduation at an even faster rate than Kemerling, and as she will soon enter her final full month at Monmouth. She took a moment to look back on the education she has received.

“My favorite class in the business department has been business finance,” said the business major. “I know that many people thought that it was too hard, but I really enjoyed the challenge. Professor (Dick) Johnston was an excellent professor, and he would force us to think logically, which I didn’t always do by myself. I really enjoyed my time in his class.”

“A degree from Monmouth College has already started opening many doors for me,” said Mikael Mueller, who has also been selected by Monmouth’s business department to introduce Oberhelman at the Whiteman Lecture. “I plan on researching all of my options, but I’m optimistic that I’ll be able to pursue a graduate degree while working for a great company.”

A non-traditional student, Mueller graduated from Monmouth-Roseville High School in 1999. He will receive his diploma in May, 13 years after beginning his first stint at the college.

The Whiteman Lecture Series brings prominent leaders of American business and industry to the Monmouth College campus. It is named in memory of Wendell Whiteman, an alumnus of the college and long-time executive of Security Savings Bank in Monmouth.