Dean’s Distinguished Lecture Series

Clockwise from upper left, the downtown Madison skyline, University of Wisconsin-Madison campus and Lake Mendota are pictured in an aerial view during an autumn sunset on Oct. 13, 2016. In the foreground is University Bay and the Class of 1918 Marsh. The photograph was made from a helicopter looking east. (Photo by Jeff Miller/UW-Madison)

The College of Engineering Dean’s Distinguished Lecture Series brings noted alumni to campus to deliver public talks and to engage with our students, faculty, staff and broader campus community.

2019 Distinguished alumni panel

On Friday, Nov. 15, 2019, students took part in a one-of-a-kind opportunity to participate in a moderated panel discussion with some of our most successful, influential alumni, who shared how they used their education to springboard their success and talked about how students can leverage their skills, training and relationships throughout their career—even if they choose a path other than engineering. The event featured questions submitted by students, as well as live questions from the audience.

View video of the discussion.

About the panelists

Jeff Sprecher

Jeff Sprecher (BSChE ’78) is founder, chairman and CEO of Intercontinental Exchange Inc. (NYSE: ICE) and chairman of the New York Stock Exchange. Intercontinental Exchange is a Fortune 500 company formed in 2000. Sprecher has served as CEO since May 2000 and as chairman of the board since November 2002. He previously served as president of Western Power Group Inc., a developer, owner and operator of large, central-station power plants in California. Raised in Wisconsin, Sprecher also holds an MBA from Pepperdine University in Malibu, California.

Todd Pulvino

Todd Pulvino (BSME ’84) is a principal and co-founder of CNH Partners, an investment firm that specializes in merger arbitrage, convertible arbitrage and other investment strategies related to corporate events. He also serves on the finance faculty of the Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management Executive MBA Program. Prior to co-founding CNH in 2001, he was a tenured associate professor of finance at Kellogg, where his research focused on the risks and returns in event arbitrage. He also has consulted for fund-of-fund firms and was a visiting professor at Harvard Business School. He began his career as an aerospace engineer. Pulvino also holds a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from the California Institute of Technology, and an AM and a PhD in business economics from Harvard University.

James Bakke

James Bakke (BS Marketing ’77) is president and chief executive officer of Sub-Zero Group Inc., the leading manufacturer of luxury kitchen appliances. He represents the third generation of the Bakke family to lead Sub-Zero, which was founded in 1945 by Westye F. Bakke, his grandfather. Bakke was named president of the company in 1990 and CEO in 1992. After earning his bachelor’s degree, he began his career as a sales representative with Oscar Mayer Inc.

Past lectures

Photo of Tom Werner

Industrial engineering alumnus Tom Werner was the series inaugural speaker. He gave the talk, “Changing the Way Our World is Powered,” on campus on Oct. 5, 2018.

Tom Werner is chairman and CEO of SunPower. Prior to joining SunPower, he was CEO of Silicon Light Machines, Inc., an optical solutions subsidiary of Cypress Semiconductor Corporation. Previously, Werner was vice president and general manager of the Business Connectivity Group of 3Com Corp., a network solutions company, and has also held a number of executive management positions at Oak Industries, Inc., and General Electric Co. He currently serves as a board member of Cree, Inc., Silicon Valley Leadership Group, and is a member of the Marquette University board of trustees. He earned his bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering from UW-Madison, a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Marquette University and a master’s degree in business administration from George Washington University.

View video of Tom’s lecture.