Sonnleitner and Fonkem honored as 2012 Outstanding Alumni

By UW-Fox Valley

Two highly successful professionals have been named the recipients of the University of Wisconsin-Fox Valley’s “Outstanding Alumni Award” for 2012. The award, presented annually by the UW-Fox Valley Foundation, Inc., will be presented to Mr. Thomas Sonnleitner and Dr. Ekokobe Fonkem and on Thursday evening, May 17, during the UWFox annual commencement ceremony in the campus’ Fieldhouse.

“This award recognizes outstanding alumni who reflect the ideals of UWFox, and whose achievements and contributions within their field of work or in their community have made a significant difference,” according to Lisa Weiner, executive director of the Foundation.

Following his discharge from active duty in the U.S. Navy, Sonnleitner attended UWFox from 1962-1965. After transferring to and graduating from UW-Madison in 1967 with a B.S. in Business Administration /Accounting and subsequently earning his CPA in 1970 he became an accountant for the UW System and UW-Madison, a position he held until 1973. While with the UW System, he was the Assistant Budget Officer (1973-1987), the Director of Budget Planning (1987-1990), and the Assistant Vice President-Financial Administration (1990-1995).

Since March 2000, Sonnleitner has been the Vice Chancellor for Administrative Services at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, overseeing financial management, budget, business services, human resources and facilities management. While at UWO, he has been successful in setting and achieving ambitious goals as evidenced by the tremendous growth UWO has enjoyed during his tenure as chief financial and facilities officer. When arriving at UWO in 2000, the operating budget for the university was $112 million. It now stands at $239 million. During that time period $200 million in construction projects were completed with another $100 million underway.

Sonnleitner currently serves on the board of directors for the Oshkosh Business Coalition on Health and the UWO Business Success Center. He previously served on the Evergreen Retirement Community Board and on its Foundation Board. He has been a NCAA and WIAA sports official and president of the West Madison Little League President.

Fonkem moved with his family from Cameroon, Africa, in 1999 to settle in the Fox Cities and attended UWFox from 1999-2000. While he was at UWFox he was the recipient of the Douglas and Carla Salmon Foundation Scholarship and the American Chemical Society Scholar Award. After completing his studies at UWFox he transferred to UW-Madison where he received his B.S. in Biochemistry in 2002.

In 2007, he received his Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine from the Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine. Fonkem completed his medical internship and neurology training at the Ohio State University Medical Center in 2011. He is presently a Fellow in Neuro-Oncology at Harvard University Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. In great demand for his expertise, he has already accepted a position, following his Fellowship, as the Director of the Brain Tumor and Neuro-Oncology Center at Scott & White Healthcare concurrently with an Assistant Professorship of Neurosurgery at Texas A & M University.

Fonkem’s distinguished achievements include being named “Best Biochemistry Student at UW-Madison in 2003” and the “2004 Biomedical Student of the Year” at the Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine. In 2010 he received the “Resident Research of the Year Award” from the Department of Neurology at Ohio State University. He has been recognized for his outstanding research, prolific publications and scholarly presentations in his field.

Fonkem is a member of the American Academy of Neurology, the American Medical Association and the American Osteopathic Association. Following his dream to give back to the community that raised him, he founded Fuankem Lekeanyi Memorial Medical Clinic in Cameroon. As his charity’s medical director and principal fundraiser, he is determined to bring much needed professional medical care to people living in deplorable health conditions. As a compassionate and caring physician, Ekokobe has chosen to shape his life around the values that he holds most dear: courage, integrity, respect and teamwork.


Diane Abraham