Yolitz receives STEM College Outstanding Alumni honor

By University Communications
November 9, 2015
Craig Yolitz, a 1985 graduate, accepts the STEM College Outstanding Alumni Award during a ceremony at UW-Stout.

Photo: Craig Yolitz

Many college graduates quickly leave their alma mater behind when their professional careers take them down the road.

The dust hadn’t even settled, for example, on Craig Yolitz’s diploma when he started his first job two days after graduating in 1985 from University of Wisconsin-Stout.

Yolitz didn’t forget about UW-Stout, however. As he moved up the ladder and as technology changed, he realized the potential for a mutually beneficial relationship between his employer and his alma mater.

With Yolitz’s guidance and the support of his employer, Thomson Reuters, UW-Stout created a minor in Web technology in 2013 and this fall began offering a Bachelor of Science program in digital marketing technology.

For his efforts, Yolitz has been named the STEM College Outstanding Alumni by the UW-Stout Alumni Association. He was honored Oct. 2 during homecoming week.

“It was great to win the award,” said Yolitz, a vice president in the FindLaw business of Thomson Reuters. “It was an acknowledgment that what I have done for UW-Stout is valued and recognized. I hope it inspires others to do the same.”

Steve Schlough, chair of the UW-Stout apparel and communication technologies department, said “it is unlikely this major would have been approved without Craig’s effort.”

Yolitz realized a need at Thomson Reuters for more skills in Web technology, especially search engine optimization. Because the technology is relatively new and always changing, graduates with the latest knowledge can have an immediate impact in the industry.

“We couldn’t go to a postsecondary institution and hire people with this education. Having the right skilled talent is important to our future. I felt it was an opportunity a school could fill. UW-Stout listened and responded quickly,” Yolitz said.

“I am confident in saying that any company in any industry has talent needs in this area,” Yolitz said.
The new major is offered online. Learn more at www.uwstout.edu/programs/bsdmt.

Thomson Reuters’ relationship with UW-Stout includes the Thomson Reuters Web Development Program Fund at the Stout University Foundation. Thomson Reuters has helped develop the curriculum and provided classroom instructors for the major and minor, with an ongoing goal of keeping the curriculum relevant to the marketplace.

Yolitz credited Thomson Reuters for recognizing the value of working with UW-Stout on the program and Thomson Reuters employees who have stepped up to help teach some of the courses. “This is a great example of how industry and education can partner together,” Yolitz said.

At Thomson Reuters, Yolitz is FindLaw vice president of operations and account management. FindLaw provides integrated marketing solutions to small law firms.

Although the new bachelor’s program is underway, Yolitz isn’t finished helping UW-Stout. “Our next focus is on getting high school students to become aware of the program and the careers made possible through it,” he said.

UW-Stout was the right fit

A native of Eau Claire, Yolitz majored in industrial technology with a graphic arts concentration at UW-Stout, saying he had a passion for printing.

He said the program’s hands-on approach and business and leadership training “allowed me to move into leadership roles with the credibility of knowing what I was leading. Later, much of the broad-based knowledge, approaches and thinking that I learned at UW-Stout and built on during the first part of my career were easily applied to my new role when I made a career change to FindLaw,” he said.

UW-Stout’s printing-related major has changed to cross-media graphics management.

An important undergraduate experience for Yolitz was a Cooperative Education program position at his future employer, West Publishing, which became part of Thomson Reuters in Eagan, Minn. The co-op job was a springboard to his full-time job offer right out of college.

In the early 1980s, the Cooperative Education program at UW-Stout was just getting started. It has grown to include more than 1,000 students a year with companies around the country and world.

Along with his involvement in the new minor and major, Yolitz, who has a master’s degree from the University of St. Thomas, has served on several program advisory boards at UW-Stout. He also is an executive board member of the Minnesota Chapter of the American Red Cross and board member of the Page Education Foundation.