Michael A. Kasper
Millikin major: Psychology
- Other degrees:
- Master’s degree in health administration from Indiana University, 1997.
Current employment: Chief executive officer for DuPage Medical Group, a health services organization with nearly 600 doctors, more than 3000 employees and $750 million in revenue.
Why did you choose MU?
Coach Poelker recruited me to play football, and when I visited the campus I knew it was the right place for me.
What activities did you participate in as a student at MU?
- Wrestling (two-time academic All-American)
- Football (lettered)
- Alpha Tau Omega fraternity.
What are some of your accomplishments since graduating from Millikin?
- I have been married to my wife, Nikki, for 19 years, and we have two kids, Amelia, 10, and Cash, 7.
- I have successfully ran five companies since graduating, and have been part of the philanthropic community, sitting on boards for the American Heart Association and CEOs against Cancer.
- I chaired the Chicago Heart Ball twice, raising nearly $5 million for the fight against heart disease.
When not supporting the Big Blue, what is your favorite thing to do?
Spending time with my family. We love to travel, and enjoy many live music events like JazzFest in New Orleans, Lollapalooza, and all the great music festivals in Chicago.
Who is your most memorable MU professor or staff member and why?
Dr. Graham Provan and Dr. James St. James. Dr. Provan introduced me to history with great passion and it sparked a lifelong interest. He was the best lecturer I have ever heard, and I thank him for his energy and bringing history to life for his students. As a psychology major I had many classes with Dr. St. James; in fact one class was just one other student and me. Dr. St. James helped to train me in the world of academic research. That part of my education proved to be critical as I went on to do health services research and I have always kept the “scientific approach” at the core of how I attack and solve problems.
What is your most memorable MU experience?
Graduation. I was the first in my family to graduate from college and my entire extended family attended. I also remember vividly looking at all my friends and thinking what they might all do 20 years after college. I have been fortunate enough to have maintained those relationships over the years; all of them are successful in fields of business, medicine, technology. It confirms Millikin kept its promise to us and paved the way for our success.
What is one concept you learned at Millikin that you use regularly?
Study! My first semester GPA was 1.9. I knew to achieve my goals I needed to be a more dedicated student. I ended up graduating with a GPA above 3.5. Millikin allowed me to fail and then helped me achieve success. I felt the university, the staff and my friends created an environment that allowed me to succeed.
What advice do you give to current Millikin students about preparing for life after graduation?
- Be yourself. Many feel they need to be someone different to succeed. The reality is being true to yourself will be the most critical factor in success and happiness.
- Be flexible. Don’t be rigid in your vision for your career. Careers are not linear; the more diverse your experience, the better prepared you will be for executive management.
- Money should never be the top factor in choosing a job, especially early in your career. The top 5 factors that will help grow your career are:
- Who will you be working for? Will they mentor you and take an interest in your growth?
- What will you be doing? Will you be developing skills and experiences that will help you in the future?
- Are you passionate about the work? If you are not energized about the work you are doing, the work product will not be your best and you risk failing.
- Move around. Each market in the country has unique characteristics. Experiencing different places helps you grow both personally and professionally.
- HAVE FUN. Life will present its challenges, finding time to do the things you enjoy with the people you love will ultimately define your happiness.
Anything else you would like to share with the Millikin community?
My daughter, Amelia, has a genetic disorder Loews-Dietz Syndrome. It is a connective tissue disorder that can be deadly if not diagnosed early. Nikki and I have dedicated our life to raising awareness of all connective tissue disorders.