The 2019 class of Outstanding Alumni award winners has been announced at the University of Mary. Award winners include a Catholic Deacon with a master’s degree in management, the Executive Director of the Organization of Benedictine Colleges and former University of Mary professor, a WEM Foundation Award-winning educator, and a 2018 Forbes Top Financial Advisor.

Tony Finneman and Jeannine Saabye will be recognized for their achievements as servant leaders by being awarded The University of Mary Presidential Leadership Award. Will Ruffin II will receive the University of Mary Bell Banner Award for his modeling of the ideals of the University’s sponsors, the Benedictine Sisters of Annunciation Monastery. For his distinction as a leader in his profession, Matt Stucke will be presented the University of Mary Harold Schafer Alumni Leadership Award.

The Alumni Recognition ceremony for Finneman, Saabye, Ruffin, and Stucke will be held during the 2019 Homecoming weekend on Friday, October 11, 2019, in the Lumen Vitae University Center.

Tony Finneman

The University of Mary Presidential Leadership Award

This award is conferred on individual alumni for distinguished achievements as servant leaders regionally, nationally or internationally.

Tony Finneman, ’91 (Master’s in Management)

Tony served his country in the U.S. Army from 1969-1971 during the Vietnam War and continued serving from 1975 until 1986 in the National Guard. While working his way up in MDU/WBI, he completed an Associate Degree from Dawson Community College, Glendive, MT. He received a Bachelor of Science degree from Minot State University in 1989 and earned a Master of Science degree in Business Management from the University of Mary in 1992.

Tony is a 3rd and 4th degree knight of the Knights of Columbus. In 2003, he entered the diaconate for the Bismarck Diocese and was ordained a deacon in 2006. He currently serves as deacon at Ascension Parish in Bismarck.  He has been involved in and spearheaded several projects for Ascension and the Bismarck Diocese, including a visit to the Holy Land.

A natural leader, Tony is an active and involved community member as well. He and his wife, Sharon, have opened their home to pilgrims during the university’s Vocations Jamboree. Tony is a volunteer for ND Game & Fish, a long-serving Elks Club member, and a founding member of the Badlands Bowl High School Football Game.

Tony’s two daughters, Stacy, ’96, and Nicole, ’00, are proud University of Mary alumnae. He and his wife, Sharon, are longtime members of the President’s Club and are supporters of many University of Mary causes.


Jeannine Saabye

Jeannine Saabye, ’72 (Bachelor’s in Elementary Education/Social Studies Education)

In addition to teaching during her years at the University of Mary, Jeannine assumed significant leadership in working with the Bush Foundation to secure grants for the improvement of teaching and learning. One prominent grant involved university-wide exploration of the meaning and importance of the Benedictine values to the University of Mary and integration of these core principles in the classroom. Jeannine also secured a grant that examined the link of academic majors, core values, and career choices as lifelong vocations. Both of these grants, along with Jeannine’s leadership in extending them to the faculty, staff, and students, contributed a great deal to the University of Mary’s distinctive identity as an institution of higher education shaped by Benedictine values.

After Jeannine’s official retirement, she continued to work diligently on the University of Mary Mission Integration Committee. In part, her work in this organization ensures that the Benedictine message and values of the University of Mary continue and are understood by all who serve at the University–faculty and staff. She has taken the lead to develop workshops, informational sessions, and orientations in order to extend and enlarge understanding of the mission of the university.

As a result of her dedication to extending the mission, values, and Benedictine identity within the University of Mary community, Jeannine was tapped to become the Executive Director of the Organization of Benedictine Colleges by Monsignor James Shea, president of the university. In this capacity, Jeannine worked closely with North American Benedictine colleges and universities on a variety of levels, representing the institutions at meetings and conferences, and developing workshops and meetings of these schools’ representatives.


Will Ruffin II

The University of Mary Bell Banner Award

In recognition of the ideals of the University’s sponsors, the Benedictine Sisters of Annunciation Monastery, the Bell Banner Award honors alumni for modeling the values of respect, hospitality, moderation, service, community, and prayer.

Will Ruffin II, ’01 (Bachelor’s in Business Administration), ’01 (Master’s in Management)

In his 11th year as an educator, Will teaches fifth grade at Lincoln K-8 District-wide School in Rochester, MN. Recognized for his professional achievements, Will was the recipient of a 2017 WEM Foundation Outstanding Educator Award for Ethics in Education. He was one of six educators who received the honor from the WEM foundation and Synergy & Leadership Exchange for “outstanding accomplishments and contributions to student learning.”

Will’s love of teaching comes through in the way he approaches his work. Using a hands-on approach, Will gives his students time to research self-determined topics during the day and challenges himself to show love and care to all his students. Will embodies ethical behavior and promotes ethical development for students.

In addition to teaching, Ruffin serves as the coordinator and leader for the All Pro Dads program, an effort to regularly bring fathers into schools, and helped launch the program at schools throughout the district.

The University of Mary Harold Schafer Alumni Leadership Award

This award recognizes graduates who have attained distinction as leaders in their professions while exemplifying the values cherished by the University of Mary.

Matt Stucke

Matt Stucke, ’04 (Bachelor’s in Business Administration)

Matt, a B.S. degree holder in business administration with an emphasis on leadership and entrepreneurism, is first vice president at Raymond James–Georgia. Matt provides his clients with portfolio management, succession planning, corporate benefit plans, and trust and estate planning strategies. He ensures proper organization of all facets of the wealth management process for high-net-worth individuals, families, corporations, and professional athletes. In 2018 Matt was listed at #237 in Forbes Top Financial Advisors.

When he was a student at the University of Mary on a soccer scholarship, Matt was involved in the Harold Schafer Leadership Program and winner of its Entrepreneurship Fair competition in 2003. He created a product called Safe Sole, a protective sandal worn over a sport cleat that provides slip-free walking, and patented the invention while at the University of Mary.

Matt serves on two boards in his community, Warwick Dunn Charities, which awards down payment assistance, food and other donations to single parent families and children across the nation to combat poverty, and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, a pediatric healthcare provider.