Distinguished Alumnus Award
the highest distinction the alumni association can bestow. This award honors alumni who have enhanced the prestige of the University by virtue of their character, integrity, and nationally recognized personal accomplishments.
Joel Bussert '67 earned his bachelor of science degree in history and English from Valparaiso University. Joel then went on to earn his master degree in journalism from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1969. Joel entered the National Football League Player Personnel office in 1975 and has served under three NFL Commissioners. He is currently Senior Vice President of Player Personnel/Football Operations. In his career with the NFL, Joel has supervised the Competition Committee, which develops and creates new playing rules and personnel policies. Joel served on a small committee that promoted equal employment opportunities in the hiring of head coaches and front office executives. These policies have included the “Rooney Rule,” which requires all NFL clubs to interview at least one minority candidate for a vacant head coaching or senior football operations position. During his 37 years with the NFL, he has also been in the forefront of innovation in the NFL, including the use of the instant replay, improved in-stadium communications, and player safety and playing rules, while preserving the traditions and integrity of the game. Joel can often be seen on ESPN during draft day moving from one phone to another, answering questions, and approving draft day trades. Before his work with the NFL, Joel was a reporter for the Champaign News – Gazette, and the Danville Commercial – News. He has been a member of the Board of Trustees/Church Council for almost 35 years at Immanuel Lutheran Church and Holy Trinity Lutheran Church. Joel currently lives in New York, New York.