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Past Recipients

CEO Jim Crane

Joe Vandepopuliere

Jim Crane


Jim Crane, a former Mules baseball player who founded a billion-dollar international logistics company, and Joe Vandepopuliere, who helped invent the "chow" line of animal foods, are being honored during homecoming as recipients of the 2006 Distinguished Alumni Award.

Pitching Skills Come in Handy

Mentored by the late Coach Robert Tompkins, Crane learned the value of staying focused early in college life. During the 1974 NCAA Division II College World Series, he pitched his way to a team record 18 strikeouts in a single game, including fanning 11 batters in a row – a UCM record that still holds today.

The same commitment and determination that the 1976 industrial safety graduate displayed on the pitcher's mound has served him well professionally. He is chair of the board, CEO and the largest shareholder of EGL Eagle Global Logistics. This leading provider of global transportation and logistic services generates some $3 billion in annual revenues.

From Insurance to Business Owner

Crane's professional career after college began with a major insurance carrier. After seven years with that firm, he decided to take a chance on his own company. Confident he could succeed with a non-asset-based business model, Crane borrowed $10,000 from his sister. From a two-person operation, he built a company that employs more than 10,000 people in some 400 facilities around the globe.

Company, Individual Honors

The company was named to Fortune magazine's list of America's Most Admired Companies for three consecutive years: 2003, 2004 and 2005. Crane's personal honors include Houston's 1996 Entrepreneur of the Year and Outstanding Industry Professional by the International Transportation Management Association.

Work Ethic from Farming Roots

Before Joe Vandepopuliere invented internationally known products and became a UCM alumnus in 1951, he discovered that successful people have something in common with mules — they aren't afraid of hard work. The son of Belgian immigrants grew up on a vegetable farm in rural Parkville, MO, where he often worked in harmony with Missouri's beloved state animal.

Vandepopuliere overcame severe rheumatic fever as a youth and earned success in industry and education, receiving academic degrees from UCM (1951), the University of Missouri-Columbia and University of Florida.

Helps Invent Chow Foods, Polio Vaccine

During a 15-year career with Ralston Purina, he was involved in extrusion research for animals leading to the production of the company's highly successful line of "chows" for dogs, cats, monkeys and fish. Consumers recognize such items today as industry-leading products like Purina Dog Chow and Puppy Chow.

His attention to improving primate nutrition led to a chow that helped produce healthy rhesus monkeys for Dr. Jonas Salk's polio vaccine research and set the standard for primate diets in zoos around the world.

25-Year Career at Mizzou

Leaving industry for the academic world in 1972, he dedicated the next 25 years to students and research as a professor in the MU Department of Animal Science.

His work has led to three U.S. patents, the first of which is a Chicken Bra, a device poultry producers use to prevent blisters from forming on a chicken's breast. Other patents relate to the "pasteurized egg," or methods of controlling salmonella in shell eggs.