Rend Lake College graduate Donald H. Dame, who now serves as Vice President of Human Resources and Government Relations for Freeman United Coal Mining Company, has been chosen as the 2003 Alumnus of the Year.
Dame will be honored at the annual Rend Lake College Foundation Dinner, which will be held at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, December 4, at Holiday Inn in Mt. Vernon. The public is invited.
Freeman Energy Corp., headquartered in Springfield, Ill., has been a wholly owned subsidiary of General Dynamics since 1959 and is in the primary business of mining and selling bituminous coal.
"I’m very appreciative," Dame said of his selection. "The people of that institution gave me an opportunity that I would not otherwise have had."
When Dame chose Rend Lake College, he did so because it was close, affordable and provided a quality education, he said.
When he learned he would be honored as the 2003 Alumnus of the Year, Dame said his first thought was, "Why me?" He said he knows several other RLC graduates who are just as deserving but still considers it an honor.
Dame began his employment with Freeman in 1972, when he was hired as an underground, union-represented coal miner. In 1976, he joined the company’s Education and Training Department, where he served in various positions of responsibility. In the early 1980s, personnel and employment were added to his list of duties, and later that decade, he became Director of Labor Relations for Freeman.
Dame was named Director of Human Resources in 1996. Two years later, he was promoted to Vice President of Human Resources and Government Relations. In this capacity, Dame is responsible for all benefits, personnel, labor relations, worker’s compensation, safety, training and education and government relations activities for the company. He reports directly to the President and Chief Operating Officer.
Dame earned an Associate of Arts Degree in 1972 as well as an Associate in Applied Science Degree in Mining Technology four years later from Rend Lake College, where his father, Charles Dwight Dame Sr., served as Coordinator of the Practical Mining Technology Program in the 1980s. Dame also holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Occupational Education from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale.
Dame said his father’s career path may have had some impact on the selection of his own profession, but there were other factors involved. "Being from Southern Illinois in 1970, mining was a good career to get into," he said.
Dame has served on various advisory boards for both educational institutions and has been a member and Chairman of Training Resources Applied to Mining, sponsored by both Pennsylvania and West Virginia State universities. He currently serves as a board member of the Illinois Coal Association, which he previously chaired. Dame also spent nine years as president of a public school board in Illinois.
Dame and his wife, Tresa, reside in Springfield. They have two daughters, Dana and Deidra. Tresa also is a graduate of RLC, where she earned an Associate of Arts Degree.
Dana is a graduate of Rend Lake College and SIUC, with a major in business. She and husband Rod Place have a daughter, Macy. Deidra is a Millikin University graduate and is married to Jarod Almaroad.
"There are a lot of good people at Rend Lake College, and when I get there I’ll try to thank them all," Dame said.
Tickets for the RLC Foundation Annual Dinner December 4 are available in advance by contacting the Foundation Office at (618) 437-5321, Ext. 1213.