From left, David Boger '61, Elrena Evans '00, Jessica Jackley Flannery '00, Lee Schwartz '76,
Edward Staiano '58, and Bill Westenhofer '90.
LEWISBURG, Pa. – A host of Bucknell University alumni who have distinguished themselves in their professions recently returned to campus to share and celebrate their experiences with students and mentors and to savor undergraduate memories. || Watch the video || Homecoming 2008 photos
During Homecoming Weekend 2008, four of the alumni were honored with achievement awards at the second annual Awards Gala.
“Each has a different connection to Bucknell. All are products of Bucknell. Each is distinguished in the field – entrepreneurs, academy award winners, individuals in microfinance,” Bucknell President Brian C. Mitchell said of the award recipients. “We have chosen a terrific group and they seem genuinely pleased to back here at Bucknell."
'Like coming home'
Among them was Edward Staiano, Class of ’58, the recipient of the Distinguished Engineering Alumni Award. “I never expected this. It’s kind of a surprise. But I love it,” he said. “Coming back here is like coming home.”
In addition to receiving his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Bucknell, Staiano taught engineering at Bucknell for a decade before joining Motorola in 1974 and leading the cellular phone division to become the company’s largest business.
Jessica Jackley Flannery, Class of ’00, was the recipient of the Distinguished Citizenship Young Alumni Award for her work as a co-founder of Kiva, a microfinance company that connects people through lending to alleviate poverty. Flannery led two workshops while on campus, saying that being back at Bucknell was like, “putting on an old T-shirt you forgot you had and you’re like, ‘Oh, yeah, this fits.’ It’s so great.”
Visual effects wizard Bill Westenhofer, Class of ’90, was presented with the Association for the Arts Academy of Artistic Achievement Award. Among his many credits is an Academy Award for his work in the film, “The Golden Compass.”
“I’m the first one on a project when it comes to the company and the last one off. It involves everything from breaking down and figuring how we’re going to do the effects to actually going to the set. I work directly with the actors,” Westenhofer told students about his work. “One of the big jobs I have is making sure, if there’s a digital character in the frame, that (the actors) have everything they need to respond to the character that’s not there.”
The late Charles Pollock, Class of ’70, was awarded the Distinguished Citizenship Award. His wife, Gayle, accepted, saying, “Thank you so much for this very special recognition of Charlie. He would have been so honored to receive such an extraordinary tribute from his beloved alma mater.” Pollock also served the University as vice president for external relations.
David Boger, Class of ’61, a renowned researcher in fluid mechanics, is now laureate professor in the chemical and biomolecular engineering department of the University of Melbourne. He treated students and faculty to field insights in a talk titled, "Sustainability and the Resource Industries."
Later, he recalled the encouragement and mentoring he received as an undergraduate student. “Bucknell,” he said, “has treated me really well.”
Another graduate, Elrena Evans, Class of ’00, editor and contributor of the recently published book, Mama, PhD, visited campus to participate in a panel discussion with Anjalee Deshpande-Nadkarni, an assistant professor of theatre and dance. The topic: motherhood and academic life.
Geographer of the U.S.
And most recently, Lee Schwartz, Class of ’76, returned to a give a talk, “Why Geography Matters: Geographical Awareness and Global Diplomacy.” It is a topic on which he has built a distinguished career. He works at the U.S. Department of State where his official title is Geographer of the United States.
Before his talk, President Mitchell presented Schwartz with the Bucknell Award of Merit, given in recognition to individuals whose exceptional contributions to their professions and communities exemplify the highest standards and aspirations of Bucknell.
About being back on campus, Schwartz said, “Nothing’s changed in 35 years. It’s fun. I wish I had done this sooner.”
Contact: Division of Communications