The Foundation is proud to partner with the Paxton-Buckley-Loda Hall of Fame. The first class of distinguished members was inducted into The PBL Hall of Fame in 2014. Since the very beginning, The Foundation has provided financial support for this worthy program that recognizes outstanding achievements of our alumni. This recognition serves the dual purpose of spotlighting the member’s contribution to society while also serving as role models for today’s students. Alumni who have excelled and contributed in education and/or work/military, made professional contributions, led in community activities, and have had an overall positive impact on society are considered for this honor.
Paxton-Buckley-Loda High School Class of 1991
Mike Biehl graduated from Paxton-Buckley-Loda High School in 1991. After graduating, Mike attended Illinois State University where he earned a bachelor’s degree in finance and a master’s degree in sports management.
During high school Mike was involved in sports, but never played football, however, during the summer of 1996 Mike had the opportunity to work as a training camp assistant for the Buffalo Bills. Little did he, or anyone else, know that this was the beginning of a career in the NFL.
During the 1996-1997 school year, Mike returned to Illinois State University to complete his master’s degree in sports management.
After graduation, Mike returned to the Buffalo Bills where he worked as an assistant scout until his departure to the San Diego Chargers in June of 2001. During Mike’s time with the Chargers, he worked as a college scout and was the Assistant Director of College Scouting. Mike eventually left the Chargers in May of 2014, when he was hired as the Director of College Scouting for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a role that he served in until June of 2022 when he was promoted to Director of Player Personnel.
Throughout Mike’s career he has helped to compile talented rosters that were very successful. During his time in Buffalo, the Bills compiled the NFL’s sixth best record and qualified for the playoffs twice. While in San Diego, the Chargers compiled the eighth most wins in the NFL, won five AFC West Division titles, and made the playoffs six times. While in Tampa Bay he helped rebuild a team which led to the Bucs winning Super Bowl LV.
Gary E Swanson
Paxton High School Class of 1970
Gary E. Swanson graduated from Paxton High School in 1970. After graduation he attended Parkland College and then the University of Illinois at Urbana where in 1974 he earned a bachelor’s degree in education. Swanson taught high school for 6 years before beginning his career in Chicago at NBC, where he compiled a distinguished professional broadcast career spanning 13 years.
From 1978 to 1991 Swanson was an editor and producer for NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw, the Today Show, Sunrise, Sunday Today, and prime time news magazines. Swanson covered “breaking news” in 26 states and Canada for the network including national sporting events, and trips of presidents Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and Bill Clinton. He was honored with national EMMYs for producing and editing: The Silent Shame, a prime-time investigative documentary; Military Medicine, a two-part investigative series on NBC News; and Hotel Crime, an investigative news magazine piece.
Swanson left NBC and in 1993 earned his master’s degree in journalism, also from the University of Illinois. Swanson became professor and director of television for nine years at the prestigious Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and oversaw the construction of the 20-million dollar McCormick Tribune Center. Professor Swanson also taught at DePauw University in Indiana and at Elon University in North Carolina. Most recently, he was the Mildred S. Hansen Endowed Chair and Distinguished Journalist-in-Residence at the University of Northern Colorado. He spent 23 years teaching undergraduate and graduate students at the university level.
Professor Swanson is a three-time Congressional-appointed Fulbright scholar to the country of Portugal and the People’s Republic of China, where he lectured from 2005-2007 at the country’s top university, Tsinghua and the Communication University of China.
In 1992, he covered the Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Spain for NBC News as field producer and cameraman. In 2008 he was live on-air commentator for the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympic Games on China Central Television International (CCTV-9). Professor Swanson continued his work as a distinguished live guest, analyst, and commentator at the 2012 London summer Olympics.
Gary Swanson is an internationally recognized and highly acclaimed speaker, educator, photojournalist, documentary and news producer, director, editor and consultant. He has given numerous keynote speeches, served as organizer and chair at conferences, presented workshops and lectured at embassies, festivals, and universities throughout 34 countries in South America, Africa, Europe, Great Britain, The Middle East, Asia, Oceania, British Columbia, and the United States.
Swanson has earned more than 80 awards for broadcast excellence and photojournalism including three national EMMYs, the duPont Columbia Award, two CINE ‘Golden Eagles,’ 16 TELLYs, France’s Monte Carlo International Award, the Hamburg International Media Festival’s Globe Award in Germany, the 2011 Communitas Outstanding Professor and Educator Award, the 2013 Professor of the Year Award, the University of Illinois College of Education Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award, and many others.
His photography has won numerous awards and his work has been displayed in galleries and museums throughout Asia, Great Britain, South Africa, and the United States. He has been published in numerous magazines including Frommer’s Travel Guide, Travel + Leisure, Photo District News (PDN), Shutterbug, Popular Photography, Digital Photo, and others.
Professor Swanson is currently the International Director of Programs: Media, Film & Journalism at IAFOR, The International Academic Forum in Tokyo, Japan, and London, England. He is guest professor and Senior Fellow at the Osaka School of International Public Policy in Osaka, Japan.
Swanson continues consulting, advising, and speaking at the conferences he organized in Singapore, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka, Japan, and the United Kingdom. He is also President of Dimage Studios – a photography and video production company & art gallery in Pennsylvania, and was recently awarded a U.S. Patent for a new and innovative invention he designed.