Recent alumni pay it forward with new giving fund

By Cheryl Cranick, Honors Program

A $10,000 gift established a new Honors giving fund this summer. Its donors are three Honors alumni who’ve graduated within the past six years. According to one of the fund’s creators, Nate Eaton ’05, “Our vision for the Young Honors Alumni Fund is to provide a mechanism through which young alumni can give back to the students of the Honors Program so that they may fulfill their own vision of an Honors experience at UConn.” Continue reading

Young scholars discover potential through Holster grants

2011 holsters

By Cheryl Cranick, Honors Program

In September, Robert Holster ’68 witnessed the culmination of his generosity: the first Holster Scholar presentations. His $1 million gift, given jointly by his wife Carlotta ’68, funds the Holster Scholar First Year Project, sponsoring Honors student research. But it has a unique qualification: the grants are given to first years.

Holster felt giving back was an “obligation,” crediting UConn Honors as “fundamental to getting me off to a good start,” he said. He was a member of the inaugural Honors class in 1964. Continue reading

2011 Distinguished Alumni Award: Nicole M. Lindsay

Nicole Lindsay is Executive Director of New York Needs You (NYNY), a start-up non-profit which supports first-generation college students in realizing their college and career ambitions. Ms. Lindsay joined NYNY in September 2009 as the first staff person.  Now the organization has a six-person staff and an operating budget of $1.2 million. NYNY closes the opportunity gap through the most intensive career mentorship program in New York City, enabling high-potential, first-generation college students to realize their college and career aspirations. NYNY is the only non-profit in NYC that focuses exclusively on first-generation college students. The primary components of the NYNY curriculum are life planning, career development, and community leadership. The first class of 50 NYNY Fellows began the two-year program in June 2010 and recruitment for the second class is underway. Previously, she was the Vice President of Talent Development at Management Leadership for Tomorrow (MLT), overseeing all program-related activities. Continue reading

2011 Distinguished Alumni Award: Robert M. Holster

Robert M. Holster has been Chairman of the Board of HMS Holdings Corp. (HMS) since 2006. He was also President from 2001 to 2005 and CEO from 2005 until 2009. HMS (which trades on NASDAQ under the symbol HMSY) is a leader in providing cost containment solutions for government-funded, commercial, and private healthcare payors. HMS helps clients ensure that healthcare claims are paid correctly and by the responsible party, and that those enrolled to receive program benefits meet qualifying criteria. HMS is headquartered in New York City, employs more than 1500 associates nationwide, and this year will report revenues in excess of $300 million. HMS was ranked tenth on Fortune’s 2010 “100 Fastest-Growing Companies” list and first on Crain’s 2010 list of the fastest growing companies in New York. Continue reading

2010 Distinguished Alumni Award: Virginia DeJohn Anderson

Virginia DeJohn Anderson is a professor of early American history at the University of Colorado, Boulder, where she has taught since 1985. Her area of specialization is the history of Colonial and Revolutionary America. Her latest book, Creatures of Empire: How Domestic Animals Transformed Early America, received the Phi Alpha Theta Best Subsequent Book Award in 2005. Creatures of Empire combines ethnohistorical and environmental history approaches to examine the impact of imported livestock on Anglo-Indian relations in the North American colonies. Continue reading

2010 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipient: Roger Ballentine

Roger Ballentine is the President of Green Strategies Inc., where he assists clients in the energy and environmental arena with domestic and international public policy matters, investment guidance in the “clean tech” marketplace, marketing and business development strategies, sustainability, and capital formation. He is also a Venture Partner with Arborview Capital LLC, a private equity firm focused on the clean technology marketplace, as well as Lecturer on Law at the Harvard Law School teaching in the area of energy and climate policy and a Senior Fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute in Washington D.C. Continue reading

2009 Distinguished Alumni Award: Mark Weidenbaum

Dr. Mark Weidenbaum came to the Honors Program at the University of Connecticut from Waterford, Connecticut. Under the guidance of Drs. John Tanaka (chemistry), Hans Laufer (biology), and Frederick Steigert (physics), he graduated summa cum laude in chemistry as a University Scholar in 1977. He went on to receive his M.D. at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1981 and trained for two years in General Surgery at Roosevelt Hospital (New York). Continue reading

2009 Distinguished Alumni Award: Daniel LeVine

Daniel LeVine entered the Honors Program at UConn in fall of 1974. Dan majored in mathematics and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa in his junior year. Subsequently, he graduated summa cum laude from UConn in 1978.

After leaving UConn, Dan continued his studies at the Division of Applied Mathematics at Brown University where he earned his Ph.D. His doctoral dissertation, “Multidimensional Scaling with Dissimilarity as a Nonmonotone Function of Distance,” explored how an algorithm commonly used in mathematical psychology could be modified in order to broaden its application. Continue reading

2008 Distinguished Alumni Award: Bonnie Sarno Vontell

Ms. Sarno Vontell grew up in West Redding, Connecticut, and decided to pursue her undergraduate education at the University of Connecticut where she was admitted into the Honors Program. During the course of her four years at the University, Ms. Sarno Vontell was admitted to Alpha Lambda Delta, Phi Alpha Theta, Mortar Board, Phi Kappa Phi, and Phi Beta Kappa Honor Societies. She was also named an Albert N. Jorgensen Alumni Scholar, a Richard L. St. Lawrence Centennial Alumni Scholar, and a Connecticut Scholar. Of the many awards that Ms. Sarno Vontell received, her crowning achievement was graduating summa cum laude as both an Honors Scholar and a University Scholar. Continue reading

2007 Distinguished Alumni Award: Carolyn Runowicz

Carolyn Runowicz, M.D. is a professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Northeast Utilities Foundation Chair in Experimental Oncology, and Director Carole and Ray Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Connecticut Health Center.

Dr. Runowicz is a national expert in gynecologic cancers and women’s health. Prior to her appointment at the Health Center, she served as professor of Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, and vice-chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital, both in New York City. Dr. Runowicz is involved in many national health organizations, including the American Cancer Society, where she serves as president of the society’s National Board of Directors. She has testified at Senate hearings advocating cancer screening as a representative of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and as a speaker on the President’s Cancer Panel, “Meeting the Challenges of Older Adult Cancer Survivors.” Continue reading