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From South Africa to the White House, from the hallowed halls of Bell Laboratories to the most prestigious jobs in journalism, 11 extraordinary members of the Stevens community have touched their communities and the world with their far-reaching achievements.
These wildly successful entrepreneurs, academics, authors, business leaders, philanthropists and humanitarians – 10 of whom are Stevens alumni – were celebrated at the third annual Stevens Awards Gala on March 28. The excitement surrounding their achievements and the university’s tremendous progress in recent years was evident in the record turnout.
About 450 people gathered for the annual celebration at the historic Plaza Hotel in New York City for an evening of dinner, dancing, music and reflections on the Stevens experience and the profound impact of its alumni and friends.
Honored that evening were: Frank M. Fawzi ’84 M.M.S. ’87, CEO of IntelePeer, Charles V. Schaefer, Jr. Entrepreneur Award;
John H. Tan ’87 M. Eng. ’89, Vice President and Director of Structural Design Services at Naik Consulting Group PC, Outstanding Contribution Award (for his work with Senior Design teams, and Cooperative Education);
Elizabeth Bailey M.S. ’66, John C. Hower Professor Emeritus of Business Economics and Public Policy at the Wharton School, the University of Pennsylvania, Distinguished Alumni Award – Academia and Government (among her many roles, first female commissioner of the Civil Aeronautics Board, appointed by President Jimmy Carter);
Gustav H. Koven III ’65, Founding Partner and Managing Director of Brown Savano Direct Capital Partners, Distinguished Alumni Award – Business and Finance;
Richard Reeves ’60 Hon. D. Eng. ’87, Historian, teacher, political commentator, award-winning telejournalist, Distinguished Alumni Award – Arts & Humanities;
Joseph J. Kaminski ’60, Founder of the Kaminski Foundation and Retired Executive Vice President, Air Products & Chemicals, Distinguished Alumni Award – Community & Humanitarian;
Gerard J. Foschini Ph.D. ’67, Telecommunications Pioneer and Retired Distinguished Inventor at Bell Laboratories, Distinguished Alumni Award – Engineering;
Thomas H. Scholl, Entrepreneur, Venture Capitalist and Technology Innovator, Friend of Stevens Award;
Art Harper ’78, Founder, GenNx360 Capital Partners, International Achievement Award;
Robert L. Klein ’42 M.S. ’43, Retired Director and Secretary, Morris Cablevision, Lifetime Service Award;
and Moushmi Patel Culver ’00, Associate Vice President of the Corporate Strategy Office for Merck & Co., Young Alumni Achievement Award.
A new award, the Legacy Award, was presented to Charles Stewart Mott 1897, Hon. D.Eng.’37, the co-founder of General Motors who was an extraordinary public servant and philanthropist. A short video chronicling his career and legacy premiered at the Gala, with excerpts of interviews with Mott. The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation accepted the award on his family’s behalf.
Chris Cimino, WNBC-TV meteorologist, served as master of ceremonies on this frigid day in early spring that had called for snow showers in New York.
“I want to apologize for the winter we had – sorry about that!” Cimino told the audience, while praising Stevens’ long history of innovation and enhancing society.
A distinct energy and excitement filled the Grand Ballroom—which included alumni from the past 70 years, as well as students savoring the elegant evening and the chance to meet and be inspired by top achievers in their fields.
Among the most striking moments—the many family members, friends and colleagues who came out to support the honorees, attesting to their impact.
Gerald Foschini had Bell Labs colleagues and family filling at least two tables, a tribute to his impact during his 50-year career with the prestigious company. A top Merck executive came out for Moushmi Patel Culver, and students whose lives have been changed by John Tan’s and Joe Kaminski’s mentoring and generosity also came back to say thank you. Kaminski’s and Richard Reeves’ classmates from the Class of ’60—friends of more than 55 years—gave them standing ovations.
The awardees all offered emotional tributes to loved ones, professors and mentors who helped them, and saluted Stevens in their own unique ways.
Art Harper shared that he was the first in his family to graduate from college, and described the challenges of freshman year classes.
“Thirty-eight years later, I’m happy to report that it was well worth it. The ROI there really was good!” he laughed, noting, as several alumni did that evening, Stevens’ recent #3 national ranking for ROI (return on investment) by salary consultancy PayScale. Harper reminded a colleague in attendance – a Princeton graduate – that Stevens was ranked above that Ivy Leaguer—to the roaring approval of his audience.
As so many of the awardees stressed, no one ever achieves success alone. “You need help along the way,” he said. “It all started at Stevens.”
Harper then addressed the students in attendance, especially his fellow alumni of the Stevens Technical Enrichment Program.
“I’m here as proof of what is possible,” he said. “All the hard work … is worth it. Stick with it, get through it, it’s going to pay off.”
As with all of the talk of Stevens’ top ROI, Richard Reeves lent some humor.
“The tuition was $400 a semester. You know, I got my money’s worth,” he said with a smile.
As he poked fun at his own struggles with the engineering courses, the noted presidential biographer of John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, paid his alma mater one of its highest compliments of the evening.
“I learned to think. I learned to isolate the variable,” he said.
Like the other honorees, he also paid tribute to the Stevens faculty, in his case, Professor Richard Humphrey.
Humphrey, who “covered the Middle Ages in an hour,” Reeves said with a smile, taught students the miseries of the time period that often led to early death. But then, according to Reeves, Humphrey told them: “… spring came, people fell in love and they didn’t want to die. I have never forgotten this.”
Joseph Kaminski recalled growing up in Queens, New York, to a working class family that did everything they could to send him to college, an opportunity they never had.
“I wish my parents could be here tonight to see what their sacrifice has yielded,” he said.
The Kaminski Family Scholarship and Kaminski Foundation have helped both Stevens students and people in need from Hoboken, New Jersey to Allentown, Pennsylvania, to South Africa. As with several of the awardees, Kaminski thanked his wife, Judy, who, along with her family, was his inspiration for a life devoted to philanthropy.
“Through her actions and words, she has encouraged all in her family to do more in our lives, to give back,” he said.
Robert Klein has supported Stevens for an astounding 70 years – from his generous philanthropy to organizing reunions to writing the Stevens Indicator class log -- but was still surprised to be honored.
“For what? For just doing what I’ve enjoyed doing over the years -- supporting the institution that taught me how to think, a very important thing,” he said.
To roaring approval, he proposed giving an award to Stevens President Nariman Farvardin.
“In the years that he’s been at Stevens, he’s made a huge impact,” said Klein, referring to the university’s improved reputation and finances to robust enrollment.
“The bottom line is – Stevens now has an enhanced reputation we all can be proud of.”
Moushmi Patel Culver spoke of her long desire to work for Merck and finally fulfilling that dream. She credited her Stevens education and the people in her life –her parents, her husband Nicholas Culver ’01, her Merck mentors -- for her success.
Culver, who mentors young women through Merck and her alma mater, recently spoke to 500 young women globally about how she’s managing to have a great career and still have time for her family. This award, the mother of two says, propels her further.
“Even though you’re young in your career, you can have a big impact,” she said.
President Farvardin praised the “truly inspiring and exceptional awardees.”
He also shared some good news, including the university’s #3 ROI rating, a 75 percent increase in undergraduate application over the past five years, and 27 percent for this fall, among many accomplishments.
“If you’re impressed with what you’ve seen, I want to tell you—you ain’t seen nothing yet,” he said.
Student Aleesha Chisholm left inspired.
“It was a very humbling experience. Seeing the success of all awardees inspired me to join an alumni group and work toward what they’ve done. Hopefully, one day I can be the same way. And I’m always inspired by women in engineering.”
Anne Dutreuil ’10 also found inspiration from the awardees, particularly Art Harper, a fellow STEP alum. Dutreuil is the recipient of a GE Scholarship for African-American students, a program Harper helped bring to Stevens. Dutreuil says alumni like Harper demonstrate the impact one person can make in the world.
“It gives me hope for the things I can do,” she says.
Top row, from left, are Thomas Scholl, Gerard Foschini, Frank Fawzi, Nariman Farvardin, Gus Koven III, Art Harper, Joseph Kaminski, and Awards Gala Chairman Joseph Garvey. Bottom row, from left: Richard Reeves, Moushmi Patel Culver, John Tan, Elizabeth Bailey and Robert Klein.