Roosevelt University President Chuck Middleton announced the May 4 commencement speakers this week. Fittingly, the ceremony where Sustainability Studies graduates walk across the stage will include remarks from the CEO of the company Earth Friendly Products.
As I mentioned at yesterday’s Senate meeting, two of Roosevelt University’s most distinguished alumni, Van Vlahakis, owner and chief executive officer of Earth Friendly Products, and Robert Mednick, a Roosevelt trustee and recipient of the prestigious Sempier Award presented by the International Federation of Accountants, will speak at the University’s May 4 commencement ceremonies and receive honorary degrees.
Throughout their careers, Mr. Vlahakis and Mr. Mednick have been leaders in their professions and both have been widely recognized for their outstanding contributions to their fields. We are delighted to present them with Roosevelt’s highest honor, a Doctor of Humane Letters degree, honoris causa.
Mr. Vlahakis will speak at the 10 a.m. ceremony for graduates of Roosevelt’s College of Arts and Sciences and Evelyn T. Stone College of Professional Studies, while Mr. Mednick delivers the 2 p.m. Commencement address to graduates of the Heller College of Business, Chicago College of Performing Arts and College of Education.
Mr. Vlahakis is owner and operator of Earth Friendly Products, which manufactures more than 150 products, including the world’s top-selling ‘green’ biodegradable laundry detergent, ECOS. An immigrant from Greece, he came to the United States with $20 in his pocket, determined to pursue a successful career in business. Receiving a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Roosevelt in 1958, he spent more than a decade in the janitorial services industry where he came to recognize the need for effective cleaning products. To achieve this goal, he started a business in his garage, Venus Laboratories, which quickly outgrew the space and became a major company where Mr. Vlahakis created innovative formulas and patents for such products as Pet Stain and Odor Remover and Nature’s Miracle line.
In 1989, his concern for providing non-toxic cleaning products to the public led him to create an eco-friendly household and commercial cleaning product line, Earth Friendly Products, which today is sold worldwide at Walmart, Costco, Sam’s Club, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and other retailers.
Mr. Vlahakis is the 2011 recipient of the Illinois Governor’s Sustainability Award and the 2010 recipient of the California Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award for Excellence in Sustainable Building Measures and Products.