Posted on May 28, 2008

Below are award winners honored at the Alumni Convocation and the Engineering Awards Reception during ReUnion '08. The citiations printed below are excerpted from the Convocation program.

Alumni Gold Medals recognize alumni and faculty who have demonstrated distinguished service to the College.

John S. Wold `38        

John, it is no exaggeration to say that you grew up at Union. As the young son of Peter Wold, a professor of physics from 1920 to 1945, the campus was your playground. In fact, it was here, in a pile of discarded mineral samples outside of the geology building, that you discovered the field that would become your career. Not surprisingly, you became a student at Union, and the College’s second exchange scholar at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland. You received a bachelor’s degree — in geology, of course — and went on to earn a master’s in geology from Cornell University, and an honorary degree from the University of Wyoming. Along the way, you married your sweetheart, Schenectady native Jane A. Pearson, and started a family. You have three children and eight grandchildren, one of whom, Joseph, is a member of Union’s class of 2010. You became a geologist and president of a number of mineral and oil firms in Casper, Wyoming. You also would become a leader in preserving natural resources of the American west, a U.S. Congressman and Wyoming State Representative. The American Heritage Foundation named you the “Wyoming Oil/Gas and Mineral Man of the 20th Century.” In 1999, Union presented you the Eliphalet Nott Medal, given to alumni who have attained distinction in their field. John, just as Union has made a difference for you, you have made a difference for Union. You have remained close to Union. Among your many roles, you are trustee emeritus, having served as a trustee from 1981 to 1990. You are also honorary chairman of the You Are Union fundraising campaign. Perhaps your greatest contribution came recently when you and Jane announced your support for a new building that will be the focal point for the intersection of disciplines and solidify Union’s role as a leader in the integration of science, engineering and the liberal arts. It is truly fitting that this building will bear the name of the man who grew up at Union, and went on to make a difference. John, it is a pleasure to recognize you for all that you have done for Union College. The Alumni Council is proud to present you with this Alumni Gold Medal, citation and certificate.

Dr. Robert B. Howe `58

Robert B. Howe `58 – In the early 1950s Union’s then-director of Admissions, Jonathan Pearson III, Class of 1942, travelled west along the Mohawk Valley for an appointment with a promising young man out of Little Falls, N.Y. That meeting opened the door to scholarship support and marked the start of a lifetime relationship with Union College. Since graduating from Union in 1958 and soon after Harvard Medical School, you’ve spent much of your career teaching and researching in the area of hematology at the University of Minnesota, where you’re a professor of medicine and associate dean for Faculty and Clinical Affairs. You have authored or co-authored more than 40 articles, earned a patent on a medical device and served as a Fellow of the American College of Physicians. And yet your busy professional life has not hindered decades of involvement with Union. In 2005, your service was recognized with a Distinguished Alumni Award. Your Union resume includes: Chairman of the Ramee Circle Society, president of the Minneapolis Alumni Club, member of the alumni Physicians Advisory Board, Annual Fund Volunteer and former chairman of the Terrace Council, member of the Alumni Council and class representative. Along with your wife, Sondra, you presented, “Music, Medicine and Mozart” at ReUnion in 1998. Your recreational interests include sailing, karate and skiing. From those activities, to professional endeavors, to volunteer service, you truly do follow your personal motto, “Can’t is a four-letter word.” For you, no goal is deemed unachievable. In recognition of all that you have done for Union, the Alumni Council is proud to bestow upon you this Alumni Gold Medal, citation and certificate.


The Faculty Meritorious Service Award goes to a faculty member or member of the Union College community who has rendered exceptional service to the College.

Thomas C. Werner, the Florence B. Sherwood Professor of Physical Sciences

Tom, since you joined Union in 1971, you have been instrumental in securing Union’s place as a national leader in undergraduate research. You have been more than a teacher. You have been a collaborator, responsible for directing projects in which students become colleagues. The vast number of papers in which students are listed as co-authors is but one tribute to your success. Others include the dozens of student presentations at national conferences, and the large number of students, launched by your dedication and passion, who have gone on to pursue advanced degrees in chemistry. As a longtime member and former chair of the board of governors of the National Conference on Undergraduate Research, you twice co-chaired Union’s hosting of NCUR, the largest national conference of its kind. In 1991, you helped establish the Steinmetz Symposium, now a well-known annual exposition of student scholarly, research and creative achievement. In 2002 you received the American Chemical Society’s Award for Research at an Undergraduate Institution, for your contributions to chemistry and the development of students. You have secured a number of grants. Among them, Union’s NSF-AIRE award, a $500,000 grant for the promotion of undergraduate research. Despite your busy schedule as a teacher and researcher (and fisherman) you have given generously of your time to College service. Your many roles have included chair of the Faculty Executive Committee, faculty member of the Board of Trustees, and co-chair, with the late Christie Sorum, of the Academic Reputation Committee. What’s more, you have been a frequent and popular speaker on the alumni club circuit, sharing your interesting research in drug detection. Most recently, you have been sharing your experience as a collaborator with the UCLA Olympic Analytical Lab, a facility made famous by investigations of the use of performance-enhancing drugs by athletes. Tom, you recently added the word emeritus to your title, but – except for missing the occasional meeting – you show no signs of retirement. We wish you and Mary all the best. Tom, for all you have done for the College and the alumni, it is my pleasure to present you with the Faculty Meritorious Service Award.


The Special Appreciation Award recognizes service and unwavering loyalty to Union College and to the Alumni Council

Thomas C. Gutenberger, Vice President for College Relations

On a warm afternoon in August 1999, the President introduced the new Vice President for College Relations as “a young guy with a lot of energy.” “Young guy?” we all thought to ourselves. Try “kid.” You could have passed for a student. A few years later, you’ve retained at least some of your youthful looks. But as for the energy, that seems to have grown along with the College’s friend-raising and fundraising goals. A college like Union relies on the generosity of friends. You have played a key role in maintaining and building the friendships that are so important now and in the future. To get a sense for your legacy, we can tally up a few things. Under your leadership over $160 million in cash has been received, new buildings include: Grant Hall, Abbe Hall, Becker Career Center, Five Minerva Houses, Taylor Music Center, Messa Rink and Breazzano Fitness Center, over 15,741 alumni have made a gift, alumni clubs have increased from 2 to 28, you have made over 1,000 personal visits with alumni – logging in excess of 300,000 miles on behalf of the Union. Lest we think all your energy was on behalf of the College, we need to remember that somehow you and Linda managed to find time to have four kids — Morgan, Casey, Egan, and Corey. Tom, it has been our privilege to have you at Union – and everywhere on Union’s behalf – these last nine years. As you begin your next chapter at your alma mater, the University of Richmond, we wish you and your family all the best. It is my pleasure, on behalf of the Alumni Council, to thank you for your service with this Special Appreciation Award.


Engineering Alumni Awards go to alumni who are working as dynamic leaders and who show a commitment to their profession and community.

The 2008 award recipients are: Leslie Hill ’63, of Albuquerque, N.M. was given the Dean's Award; Herbert Freeman ’47 of Cranbury, N.J. was given the Gold Award – Electrical Engineering; Yvonne Turchetti ’02, of Red Hook, N.Y. was given the Silver Award – Electrical Engineering; David Duchscherer ’67, of Grand Island, N.Y. was given the Gold Award – Civil Engineering; Mary McKay ’98, of Ballston Spa, N.Y was given the Silver Award – Civil Engineering; Alexander Gelston ’68, of Skaneateles, N.Y., was given the Gold Award – Mechanical Engineering; Smitesh Bakrania ’03, of Ann Arbor, Mich., was given the Silver Award – Mechanical Engineering.