Two alumni will be feted for their distinguished achievements at the Presidential Inauguration Gala this fall. J. Scott Swensen ’74 has been chosen to receive the Stevens Honor Award while John G. Puente, M.S. ’60, will receive the Charles V. Schaefer, Jr. Entrepreneur Award. Stevens will honor both Swensen, chairman of Conduit Capital Partners, and Puente, director of Micros Systems, on Oct. 15, 2011, at the Presidential Inauguration Gala to be held at The Westin Hotel, Jersey City, N.J., beginning at 7 p.m. The formal dinner dance, which celebrates Stevens’ new president, Dr. Nariman Farvardin, will also honor Edwin A. Stevens Society members.
The Stevens Honor Award, first awarded in 1945 and given by the Institute and the Stevens Alumni Association, is presented annually and recognizes an individual’s notable achievement in any field of endeavor.
The Charles V. Schaefer, Jr. Entrepreneur Award is named for an extraordinary friend of Stevens. Charles V. Schaefer ’36 spent nearly 60 years supporting his alma mater as a loyal alumnus, trustee and ultimately, chairman of the Board of Trustees. The University gives the award from time to time to members of the community at large.
Swensen has amassed a long career in private equity investing and global finance and most specifically, has spent the last 14 years as lead investment manager of the Latin Power Funds.
He joined Scudder, Stevens & Clark (a predecessor company to Zurich Scudder Investments) in 1993 as lead investment manager for Latin Power I. Before joining Scudder, he spent 11 years in corporate and project finance at Chase Manhattan Bank and subsequently nine years at Banque Paribas, now BNP Paribas. While at BNP Paribas, he made a number of private equity investments and was the CEO of a $40 million company for five years. Conduit Capital Partners was formed in 2003 to continue the Latin Power business that Swensen had started 10 years earlier at Scudder, Stevens & Clark. The Latin Power Funds invest control equity in privately-owned electrical generating plants and pipelines in Central and South America and the Caribbean.
“Scott’s portfolio was immediately recognized by the committee as a classic Stevens success story,” said Joe Weber ’64, chair of the Stevens Alumni Association’s Awards Committee. “He was a distinguished student, son of an alumnus and graduated to outstanding success in business. Whereas the Stevens Honor Award may be bestowed upon any person for notable achievement in any field of endeavor, it was a pleasure for our committee to propose one of our own to the Board of Trustees for acceptance.”
As an undergraduate, Swensen was deeply involved at Stevens. He was a member of Khoda, The Link, Gear & Triangle, Tau Beta Pi (the engineering honor society), the Student Council and Pi Delta Epsilon fraternity. He also belonged to the lacrosse and squash teams and served as editor in chief of The Stute.
He earned an M.B.A. (ABD) degree from New York University’s Stern School and speaks Spanish and Portuguese. He is a member of the Board of Latin American Venture Capital Association and the Emerging Markets Private Equity Association’s Advisory Council.
“I am deeply honored to have been chosen to receive this prestigious award,” Swensen said. “I have always recognized the benefit of my Stevens education and to be recognized by this great institution is a true privilege.”
He lives in Manhattan, N.Y., with his wife, Cynthia, and has five children: Nicole, Tyler, Becky, Carrie and Jeffery; and one granddaughter. His father is the late John H. Swensen ’51.
As a Stevens Honor Award recipient, he will join a prestigious group that includes 20th century artist Alexander Calder ’19; Nobel Prize winner Frederick Reines ’39; aviation pioneer Igor Sikorsky; inventor Dean Kamen; and the digital camera inventor Steven Sasson, who was last year’s Honor Award recipient.
Puente has been director of Micros Systems since May 1996. During his career, he led the team that launched the first private telecommunications satellite into space through the company he founded, Orion Networking Systems, and formed several satellite telecommunications companies. In June 2010, he stepped down as chairman of the Board of Trustees for Capitol College of Maryland, a position he held for 30 years. He oversaw the college’s move from Kensington, Md., to its current Laurel, Md., location. Puente is a graduate of Polytechnic Institute of New York.
Past recipients of the Schaefer Award include entrepreneurs Ken De Baun ’49, Hon. D.Eng. ’95, in 2002 and Stephen Boswell, Engineer *Civil ’89, Ph.D. ’91, in 2004.
Puente served in the Air Force from 1948 to 1952 and is the younger half-brother of the late legendary musician Tito Puente. He lives in Potomac, Md., with his wife, Beverly, and has five sons.