Final Draft Article #2

October 13, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Reid Rosen

Final Draft Article #2

Com 208 Journalism for Print & Web


Gene Ambroson is one interesting guy. Gene worked with IBP which is now Tyson Fresh Meats here in Sioux City.

Why would Mr. Ambroson be considered an interesting guy? Having to deal with labor unions, strikes and lobbyists, Gene now has some interesting stories worth telling. I chose to interview Gene because we often hear about what Unions and Lobbyists do to support US politicians and influence US policies, Gene was in charge of the communications for what was the largest meat packing company in the world until 1987.

Gene is also an expert on the real side of politics playing a large part in trying to influence government policy and Unions to favor IBP. Gene’s careers have taken him all over the Midwest and finally ended him up here at Morningside in charge of Alumni Relations.

Gene Ambroson is a popular guy here on campus but many of us didn’t know his entire story.

Gene graduated college with a major in Mass Communications and started his career working in the media at the NBC affiliate in Sioux City.  After an attractive job offer, he ended up working with IBP on employee communications, eventually working his way up to Director of Communications at IBP. Ambroson’s job at IBP incorporated a wide variety of jobs and locations. He had to deal with all manner of issues (usually involving labor relations) at many different locations, from Pasco, Washington to Luverne, Minnesota.

The most difficult issue Ambroson had to face were the strikes at Dakota City. He explained to me that the way IBP was operating had allowed for more automation and had changed how meat was distributed. Gene described the centralization by saying, “For years and years we cut meat into halves and quarters and shipped it by train or truck. Then IBP came along and changed the game by boxing all its meat.” Workers were paid less and became expendable. The Dakota City Strikes were a historical part of the Sioux City community and Gene was at the front lines of the issue.

Gene had the stressful job of settling the strike but making sure IBP was still making money. To do this he had to do a lot of work with Washington. During the early 80’s, IBP set up the political action committee. The committee would pool money together and support a certain politician. The interests of IBP were in Agriculture and Labor relations so IBP gave money to any political group that favored these interests. Ronald Reagan was then president and was very favorable to business and very tough on labor relations. Because Reagan and Bush both received money from IBP, Gene had the opportunity to meet George Bush Senior.

After working over thirty years with IBP Gene was offered a job by Don Kelsey in 1987 at Morningside. He originally thought it was a goofy idea but after some thought Ambroson liked the idea of a transition into education. Ambroson described his move to Morningside by saying, “I was making all the money I ever wanted to make, but there was something pulling me in another direction.”

Gene is now in charge of Alumni Relations. Tom Rice is Gene Ambroson’s boss; he has been working with Gene Ambroson for over 22 years since coming to Morningside. Rice described Gene’s position at Morningside by saying, “Gene is important to Morningside having to work with some 12,600 graduates; Gene has to try and keep communications up with everyone.”

During Homecoming Ambroson is in charge of the majority of events involving the alumni and has to guarantee it runs smoothly. However, Gene’s time at Morningside hasn’t been all easy. Gene saw Morningside’s lowest enrollment in 1999 with only 171 freshmen.

Ambroson’s role in Morningside’s recovery has involved in reconnecting with alumni, as well as successful fundraising for the college. Gene described the situation by saying “We knew we had to change something and my job was to work on new fundraising campaigns.”

Ambroson has also worked on establishing the Acacia Fraternity her on Campus. Starting 1995, Charted it in 1997. Terrance Hancock is the current Venerable Dean of the Acacia fraternity and had said “Gene is the best asset we have.” Ambroson has helped to create a Greek life here on Morningside’s campus allowing students further opportunities.

Gene’s work has left many of us in the Sioux City area and Morningside affected without even knowing it.  From settling the Dakota City strike, to helping Morningside bring up its enrollment and earn some revenue from Alumni. The sum of everything Ambroson has done professionally has resulted in Gene playing an interesting part in the Sioux City community.

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