Community activist Robert Jackson named Alumnus of the Year
NEW PALTZ -- The Alumni Association of the State University of New York at New Paltz named community and public education advocate Robert Jackson its Alumnus of the Year.
Jackson will be formally recognized at the SUNY New Paltz annual Alumni Association awards and scholarship ceremony and reception on Saturday, Oct. 6. In addition to Jackson, the association will honor School of Business Dean Hadi Salavitabar with the Distinguished Teacher award and Jean Poirier with the Recent Graduate Achievement.
Jackson, a 1975 graduate of New Paltz, gained wide acclaim earlier this year in the fight to improve public education in New York City. In May 1993, he filed suit against the state when he became fed up with funding cuts in his Washington Heights school district, where he was, and still is, the president of the Parents' Association for Community School Board 6.
In January, the New York County Supreme Court ruled that the state failed to provide New York City school students with a sound and basic education, and violated the New York State Constitution and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Jackson's court victory for New York City public schools won plenty of headlines, but just begins to describe his history of service to the community. Most recently, he won the Democratic primary race for Manhattan's 7th District City Council seat. And, in 1994, as president of the 499 Fort Washington Avenue Tenants' Association, he led the tenants on a rent strike that resulted in a new boiler and a rent rebate for all striking tenants. In addition to his leadership with the Parents' Association for Community School Board 6, he is an active member of the Concerned Democratic Coalition of Northern Manhattan and served as a judicial delegate to the Democratic County Committee.
The alumni awards are given each year to recognize alumni who have distinguished themselves in their personal endeavors and reflect the values and mission of SUNY New Paltz.
"Institutions such as SUNY New Paltz play a vital role in launching the public service careers of people, such as Robert, who have emerged from the 'trenches' with an authentic vision for change," said Lisa Chase, New Paltz' Education Opportunity Program director, in her letter nominating Jackson.
In addition to the Alumnus of the Year award, the Association also presented its annual Distinguished Teacher and Recent Graduate Achievement awards and student scholarship and book awards.
School of Business Dean Hadi Salavitabar was chosen to receive the Distinguished Teacher Award. This award is presented to a SUNY New Paltz faculty member for accomplishments that exceed normal expectations. Salavitabar joined the business faculty in 1982 and lives in Kingston.
The association highlighted Salavitabar's role in expanding business programs, to include an MBA program, and establishing the School of Business. Alumni credit him with creating an evolving learning program that incorporates input from alumni business professionals into academic programming and mentoring. His example of a student-centered environment begins in his office, where he is always available to students.
Jean Poirier, a director of business projects in the School of Business, was chosen to receive the Recent Graduate Achievement Award. This award is presented to an alumnus or alumna who graduated within the last 10 years who has exhibited professional accomplishments that exceed normal expectations in a chosen occupation. She is a 1991 graduate and lives in Hopewell Junction.
In selecting Poirier, the association recognized her role in involving alumni in the development and enhancement of programs in the School of Business, and creating strong ties to business alumni. The following students were chosen for endowed scholarships:
Barbara Elhlers, a junior art history major from Howard Beach, was selected for the alumni Merit Scholarship, which honors the student with the highest academic accomplishments or who has achieved superb academic status in spite of adversities.
Robyn Thurston, a senior interpersonal/intercultural communications major from Oneida, was selected for the Helen Weber Kuhnke Scholarship, which honors a student's exceptional service to the university or community.
Dimitry Geller, a junior entertainment management major from Staten Island, was selected for the Simon and Evelyn Crawford Gluckman Scholarship, which honors a student majoring in education, business or a related field of study.
Kristen Rowe, a sophomore theatre arts major from Tilson, was selected for the Ruth Cleveland Endowment award, which honors a student majoring in the humanities.
The following were chosen for Alumni Association Scholarships for merit:
Corinne Wolcott, a junior visual arts major from Brockport; Beth Cashara, a senior mathematics major from Kingston; Tessy Jose, a freshman biology major from Staten Island; Hy-Yoeon-Kim, a graduate international business major from New Paltz.
The following were chosen for Mid-Hudson Alumni Chapter Book Scholarships:
Ryan M. Brown, a sophomore computer engineering major from New Hampton; Stephanie Cali, a freshman theatre arts major from Massapequa Park; Kristen Hazard, a Junior Elementary Education major from Jamesport; Lisa L. Massa, a junior elementary education major from Poughkeepsie; Kenneth Schultz, a senior secondary education major from Highland; Scott Tunkel, a senior technical theatre major from ardiner; Staphanie White, a freshman communications major from Mahopac.
NOTE TO EDITORS: The ceremony and reception for the awards and scholarship recipients will be held at 5 p.m. in the Purple Lounge in the Student Union Building. Media interested in covering the event should contact Ken Ross at 257-3245 for details.
Located in the heart of a dynamic college town, 90 minutes from metropolitan New York City, the State University of New York at New Paltz is a highly selective college of about 8,000 undergraduate and graduate students.
One of the most well-regarded public colleges in the nation, New Paltz delivers an extraordinary number of majors in Business, Liberal Arts, Sciences, Engineering, Fine and Performing Arts and Education.
New Paltz embraces its culture as a community where talented and independent minded people from around the world create close personal links with real scholars and artists who love to teach.