We are now accepting nominations for this award for 2023, and will recognize the recipients at our Friends on the Lawn event on May 18, 2023.
View the Alumnus/Alumna of the Year Award Nomination form
- The Alumnus/Alumna of the Year award honors a Saint Paul College graduate for outstanding professional accomplishments and contributions to the college community.
- Candidates must be a graduate of one of the following:
- Saint Paul College — A Community & Technical College
- St. Paul Technical College
- St. Paul Technical Vocational Institute
- The Boy’s Vocational School
- The Girl’s Vocational School
- Candidate must have met two of the following criteria:
- Made a significant contribution to further their profession
- Attained significant career accomplishments and achievements
- Member of a Program Advisory Committee
- Member of the President’s Advisory Council
- Member of the Friends of Saint Paul College Board of Directors
- Strong record of hiring Saint Paul College students and alumni
- Contributed to Saint Paul College financially or through in-kind donations
- Served as a mentor for Saint Paul College students
- Community leadership and public service
- A committee appointed by the President of Saint Paul College will review the nominations and make the final selection of the recipient.
In grateful appreciation for their service to the College, the Foundation honors an alum each year with the Alumnus/Alumna of the Year award. Our honorees exemplify our mission, vision and values to change the lives of students at Saint Paul College. Our 2022 Alumna of the Year is
John Percy Riebel – AKA "Chef Jack" – was proudly born and raised in St. Paul. He discovered his passion for cooking as a teenager and enrolled in culinary school at the St Paul Technical Vocational Institute.
Chef Jack’s restaurant journey began as a 19-year-old prep cook in the brigade of Chef Paul Laubignat at the newly-opened Radisson Plaza in Minneapolis. He was next hired as a line cook at Goodfellow’s, Chef Stephen Pyles’s celebrated new American restaurant. During his eight-year tenure, Jack rose to executive sous under Chef Kevin Cullen, cooking multiple James Beard dinners and serving such luminaries as Julia Child, Billy Joel, and Mikhail Gorbachev.
In his first chef turn, he took the reins of Tim McKee’s fine dining destination, La Belle Vie in Stillwater, Minnesota. Combing the countryside for ingredients, Chef Jack cultivated the relationships with craft purveyors that became a hallmark of his style. He next spearheaded the Dakota Jazz Club’s relocation to its 400-seat Minneapolis home. Artists such as Wynton Marsalis and Hugh Masekela praised Chef Jack’s hospitality, which transformed the Dakota into a dining destination named one of the top ten jazz clubs in the world by Playboy magazine.
Striking out as a co-owner, Chef Jack opened the craft bourbon and barbecue mecca Butcher and the Boar. It quickly became a Minneapolis hotspot, garnering James Beard finalist nods for Best Chef Midwest and Best New Restaurant. After brief turns heading up Paddy Shack and Il Foro, Chef Jack returned to his roots with a reboot of St. Paul’s legendary Lexington. With its lovingly restored interiors and unpretentious classic cuisine, Chef Jack’s vision for the Lex is: "a working-class supper club, the kind of place anyone can go and feel special."
Over nearly 40 years in the restaurant industry, Chef Jack fed, mentored, sparred with, and inspired an entire generation of Twin Cities’ food professionals. He was a fixture at charity events such as Share Our Strength’s Taste of the NFL, a Superbowl-week guest on Beat Bobby Flay, and winner of numerous competitions from the Twin City Burger Fest to Minnesota Monthly’s Local Chef Challenge. A lifelong learner, he spent vacations travelling the world to stage in other kitchens and enjoy fine dining with his wife Kathryne. He amassed a cookbook collection of over 500 volumes, donated to St. Paul College.
Throughout his career, Chef Jack credited the education he received at St Paul under Chefs Eberhard Werthmann, Manfred Krug, and Larry Fisher. He and his family are delighted to establish this scholarship to help remove barriers to educational access for the next generation of young chefs.
Jack received an honorary Doctorate Degree in Culinary Arts in December 2021 a few days before he passed away. It was made known to him at that time that he was to be the Alum of the Year as well.
Past Alum of the Year Recipients
We are grateful to these exemplary individuals and institutions for their unwavering support, contributions and service to our programs and students. Here are our past recipients:
Alum of the Year Recipients
- Richard Anfang (Painting and Decorating ‘66)
- Jerry Barnes (Pipefitting ‘67)
- Jean Bauer (Medical Laboratory Technology ‘75)
- Ryan Caulfield (Culinary Arts ‘96)
- James Doody (Plumbing ‘70)
- Carla Fryar (Cosmetology ‘82)
- Robert Haskins (Machine Tool ‘75)
- Richard Hesse (Machine Tool ‘58)
- Leonard Karter (Watchmaking ‘73)
- Nathaniel Khaliq (Carpentry ‘72)
- Sidney Magee, Jr. (Auto Body Repair ‘68)
- Rep. Tim Mahoney (Pipefitting ‘85)
- Tom McCarthy (Plumbing ’86)
- Tom Nielsen (Machine Tool ‘84)
- John O’Connor (Sheet Metal ‘61)
- Tola Oladipupo (ASL ’16)
- Billeigh Riser (Electrical '72)
- John Schiltz (Culinary Arts ‘75)
- Curt Southward (Electrical Technology ‘74)
- Robert Tipler (Electrical Technology ‘64)
- Steven Tufenk (Pipefitting ‘74)
- Pamela Wellumson (Sign Language Interpreter Training ‘81)
- Robert Widerski (Plumbing ‘62)