URI announces recipients of 3rd annual Distinguished Achievement Awards, Oct. 18

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KINGSTON, R.I. – September 10, 2008—An air cargo chief, CNN’s chief national correspondent, a crusader for water development in Africa and the head of an investment management company are among the 2008 University of Rhode Island Distinguished Achievement selections.

The four President’s Award winners, all URI alumni, are: William J. Flynn, president, chief executive officer and director of Atlas Worldwide Holdings; John C. King, chief national correspondent for CNN; Clarice Owiti Odhiambo, founder of AfricaCenter for Engineering Social Solutions; and Bruce S. Sherman, chief executive officer and chief investment officer of Private Capital Management.

The President’s Award winners and 27 Dean’s List recipients will be honored at URI’s third annual Distinguished Achievement Awards ceremonies Saturday, Oct. 18 at the Westin Hotel, Providence. The black-tie optional event will begin at 5:30 p.m. with guest registration, followed by college receptions at 6:30 p.m. Dinner and the awards ceremony will begin at 8 p.m. Tickets are $90 per person and $25 for children under 12. For more information, contact the Public Programming and Events Office at events@advance.uri.edu or 401-874-5569.

Distinguished Achievement Award recipients are selected by a committee of representatives from URI’s colleges, the Office of the President, the Office of the Provost, the Division of University Advancement, the Department of Athletics, the Alumni Association, and the graduate and undergraduate student body.

• William Flynn, who earned his bachelor’s degree from URI in 1975, heads Atlas Worldwide Holdings Inc., in Westchester, N.Y. The New York City resident joined the air cargo company in 2006. Established 1992, the firm operates through two subsidies: Atlas Air and Polar Air Cargo. Through Atlas Air, it leases crewed and fully maintained cargo planes to commercial airlines, and through Polar Air Cargo, it provides scheduled international freight services, mainly from the Asia/Pacific region and Latin America. Additionally, the company provides chartered freight services to commercial and military clients. Atlas Worldwide operates a fleet of 43 Boeing 747 aircraft. In 2007, the company had revenue of $1.5 billion and employed about 2000. On July 24, 2006 Flynn presided over the opening bell of the NASDAQ stock exchange. Before his arrival at Atlas, Flynn served as president and chief executive officer of GeoLogistics Corp. from 2002 to 2006, where he oversaw the company’s turnaround and sale to Agility Logistics. In 2003 Flynn was awarded the Marco Polo Award by the US-China Foundation for his business development work and support of humanitarian efforts in the Peoples Republic of China.

Prior to his work at GeoLogistics, Flynn was senior vice president of the industrial rail segment of rail shipping company, CSX Transportation, Inc. A year ago, he appeared on a panel as part of the China Rising Honors Colloquium with URI alumnus Alfred Verrecchia, chief executive officer of Hasbro Inc., headquartered in Pawtucket, and Paul Zheng, chief executive officer of PDK Worldwide Enterprises located in Fall River, Mass. Flynn serves as a director of the Confucius Institute at the University of Rhode Island. He recently sponsored the University’s Confucius Institute Chinese New Year celebration.

• As chief national correspondent, John King, who earned his bachelor’s degree in journalism in 1985, is responsible for reporting on a range of stories in the United Stares and around the world. King joined CNN in May 1997 and was appointed chief national correspondent in April 2005. King served as CNN’s senior White House correspondent from 1999 to 2005.

The Washington, D.C. resident has been a key part of CNN’s innovative coverage of the 2008 presidential campaign. He has traveled to important early election states to cover and interview major candidates, has broken news about campaign developments and has pioneered the use of CNN’s “multi-touch” board, which allows him to delve into election data and track delegates like never before primary election nights.

King also contributed to CNN’s Emmy-winning 2006 mid-term election coverage and to coverage of the 2004 presidential race, the Iraq War, the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the tax cut debates of 2001 and 2003 and the war on terrorism. He has interviewed President George W. Bush, first lady Laura Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, former Secretary of State Colin Powell and current Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. King traveled with Cheney to the Middle East in March 2002 as the administration began to build support for confronting Saddam Hussein.

Before joining CNN, King wrote for the Associated Press, which he joined in 1985. In 1991, he was named chief political correspondent and headed the AP’s political coverage of the 1992 and 1996 presidential elections. At AP, he broke several political stories, including Michael Dukakis’ selection of Lloyd Bentsen as his running mate in 1988 and Bill Clinton’s selection of Al Gore in 1992.

• Clarice Owiti Odhiambo is founder of the Africa Center for Engineering Social Solutions. In that role, she is determined to bring clean water, sanitation, and small business opportunities to the women of African villages. She earned her master’s degree in chemical engineering from URI in 1988, and worked as an engineer for Unilever and Coco Cola designing products for the African market. She has traveled all over the world.

When Coca Cola named her the Africa manager of the company’s community water partnership program, which brought fresh water to African villages, Odhiambo saw firsthand how the projects help women who once walked miles to muddy water holes to supply their families.

Odhiambo is a graduate of the Kenyan boarding school system modeled on the British system that uses a series of exams to select the brightest students for a university education. As a schoolgirl, her best subjects were math, physics and chemistry. She went to the University of Nairobi, where she hoped to study chemical engineering. Since the subject was not offered, she majored in math and chemistry.

Still interested in chemical engineering, Odhiambo decided to follow her older brother, Peter Okero, to URI for her graduate education. Other family members also attended URI, and Odhiambo’s daughter, Alice, is a sophomore marketing major at URI.

Odhiambo made five trips to the United States between September 2007 and May 2008 to drum up support for the Africa Center. This fall, she is back in the U.S. cementing the relationships that will help the center grow.

• Bruce Sherman the Chief Executive Officer and Chief Investment Officer of Private Capital Management in Naples, Florida, is a 1969 graduate of the College of Business Administration. He has led the Company since he founded the Firm in 1986. Despite selling his Company for well over $1 billion to Legg Mason in 2001, he continues to be the Chief Executive Officer.

A chapter in the book Investment Gurus by Peter Tanous highlights the success of Sherman’s money management investment strategy. Bruce has appeared on PBS’ Nightly Business Report and BBC’s Inside Money and has been featured in Forbes magazine, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.

The trading room at the URI College of Business Administration, which gives students in their finance classes real-time access to international financial markets, is named in Bruce’s honor.

The Distinguished Achievement Dean’s List Award recipients are listed below by college.

Arts and Sciences

• Pamela Watts ’76 is a two-time Emmy award winning anchor and currently anchor/reporter for WPRI’s Eyewitness News. She began her career at WRIU. As a student, she went to work for WPRO Radio. After graduation she was a newscaster for WRKO and WBZ Boston, and then went to ABC-6 TV. She Lives in Harrisville.

• Gerald P. Keane, M.D. ’74, earned his medical degree at Brown Medical School. A board certified physiatrist, he serves the Stanford University and University of California-Berkley athletic programs, and is a consultant for the San Francisco 49ers. He has been a team physician for the U.S. Figure Skating Association and a faculty member at Stanford’s medical school. He lives in Hillsborough, Calif.

• Daniel A. Procaccini, ’74, has been associate justice of the R.I. Superior Court since 2001. A graduate of Suffolk University Law School, in 2007, he was presented the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Rhode Island Legal/Educational Partnership for outstanding contributions to legal education. He is an adjunct professor at Roger Williams University School of Law. He is an East Greenwich resident.


• Deborah A. Ciolfi ’80 is the Principal at Providence Investors LLC, a private wealth management and strategy firm. She has a 25-year record of success as a senior executive and advisor in finance, strategic planning, philanthropic initiatives, and is a recognized leader in socially responsible investing and portfolio management. She lives in Wayland, Mass.

• Richard Vangermeersch M.S. ’64, is URI professor emeritus of accounting. The Narragansett resident was one of URI’s most beloved and engaging educators for 34 years. A prolific writer and researcher, alumni remember his classroom song and dance routines and his 250 “Vangrams,”—humorous takes on accounting principles. A professorship has been endowed in his name. He is a Narragansett resident.

• Stephen H. Hopkins, ‘79, CPA, is a partner of Roundtable Investment Partners. Previously, he was co-head, president and chief operating officer of Citigroup Asset Management, a global money management firm with more than $400 billion in assets under management. He also built Goldman Sachs Asset Management from a business plan to a top tier global investment firm. He is a New Canaan, Conn. resident.

Continuing Education

• Ann Marie Rathbun ’01 is a full-time sales manager at Newport Harbor Hotel and Marina and a strong advocate of education opportunities for adult and returning students. She is the president and active member of Alpha Sigma Lambda Honor Society, Epsilon Rho Chapter at ASFCCE and earned an MBA at Johnson & Wales University in 2006. She is a Johnston resident.

• Virginia A. Nardone ’68, ’78 M.S., served as directorof Special Programs at the Alan Shawn Feinstein College of Continuing Education for 15 years. There, she worked with academic departments to implement and manage a range of degree programs such as biotechnology. She also formed relationships with other universities and firms for the College. She is a Hendersonville, N.C. resident.


• Steven A. Bouley ‘80 is the general manager, California Operations, of Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne, the largest designer and manufacturer of rocket engines in the U.S. He is a member of the URI College of Engineering Advisory Council and recently established a new graduate fellowship. He received his MBA from Pepperdine University and lives in Simi Valley, Calif.

• Kenneth A. Epstein ’69 is involved in US, China, and Japan projects as a principal for NewCap Partners Inc. He has worked in investment banking and Corporate Ventures for more than 20 years. He earned an MBA in International Finance from the University of Michigan. He lives in Belmont, Calif.

• Kenneth J. Hylander ’80 is senior vice president and safety and engineering, chief safety officer, for Northwest Airlines. He has 28 years of airline experience in a variety of safety, engineering, quality, and operations management positions. He received an MBA from California State University, Hayward, and lives in Eden Prairie, Minn.

Environment and Life Sciences

• Curt Spalding served as executive director of Save The Bay for 18 years. He is credited with expanding the scope of Save The Bay’s programs and building the organization to a budget exceeding $4 million with more than 1, 200 volunteers. Under his leadership Save The Bay increased community concern and stewardship for Narragansett Bay, reaching thousands of students and families with award winning marine educational programs. He is a Cranston resident.

• Kimball Hall is the vice president of Amgen Rhode Island. She strongly supports Amgen’s relationship with URI, as evidenced by Amgen’s $1 million donation toward the Center for Biotechnology and Life Sciences. She oversees contributions of Amgen resources- expertise and equipment- to the Biotechnology Program, Chemical Engineering Department and other laboratory sciences.

• Peter B. Lord ’07 is a reporter for The Providence Journal where he has garnered a reputation as one of the best environmental journalists in the nation, receiving numerous awards. Since earning a master’s degree in marine affairs, he has been a teacher and mentor in the URI Journalism Department. He earned his B.A. at the University of Connecticut. He is South Kingstown resident.

Human Sciences and Services

• Evelyn S. Kennedy Commentucci ’69, MS ’72, is the founder of Sewtique, a textile restoration company in Groton, Conn. She is also the founder and executive director of P.R.I.D.E (Promote Real Independence for the Disabled and Elderly.) She has created a URI scholarship for students majoring in textile sciences, fine arts, or Italian studies. She is a Gales Ferry, Conn. resident.

• Meredith A. Caswell ’75 is the principal of Slater Junior High School in Pawtucket, which was the 2007 New England League of Middle School’s Spotlight School. The Wakefield resident was one of the three finalists for the National Middle Level Principal Award and was named the 2006-7 Rhode Island Middle Level Principal of the Year.

• Paul A. McCaffrey ’79 is a health and physical educator at Narragansett Elementary School and a past president of the Rhode Island chapter of the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance. With more than 20 years experience, the URI swim instructor also serves as an educator and mentor for student teaching candidates.


• Martha E. Griffin ’00 is a well-known and highly sought after speaker on lateral violence in the nursing field. After receiving her Ph.D in nursing at URI she studied the relationship between novice and expert nurses, and has used her research to help institutions teach their nurses effective communications skills. She lives in Wakefield.

• Joanne V. Hickey M.S. ’74 is a respected practitioner, teacher, author and researcher. She has written numerous book chapters, articles and a text, The Clinical Practice of Neurological and Neurosurgical Nursing, which is in its sixth edition. She is the Patricia L. Starck Endowed Professor of Nursing at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. She is a Pearland, Texas resident.

• Elaine Reimels BS ’68, M.S. ’76 is the senior director of heart and vascular care at AnMed Health in South Carolina. An extraordinary nursing leader, she worked previously as the associate nurse-in-chief at The Miriam Hospital in Providence. She serves on a variety of committees and is dedicated to customer service and patient advocacy. She lives in Anderson, S.C.

• Diann Uustal ’68 is the founder and president of an educational consulting firm, Education Resources in HealthCare Inc. and is a nationally known educator, author, and clinical ethicist. Creating an important niche as a nurse ethicist, she counsels patients, consults with physicians and ethics committees, and helps write hospital policies. She lives in Soddy Daisy, Tenn. and Jamestown, R.I.

Graduate School of Oceanography

• James A. Yoder M.S. ’74. Ph.D ’79 is the vice president for academic programs at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Previously he was on the faculty and served as the associate dean and interim dean at URI’s GSO. He has been a member of numerous national committees for oceanographic research and served as director of the Division of Ocean Sciences at the National Science Foundation from 2001 to 2004. He lives in Falmouth, Mass.

• John M. Hoenig M.S. ’79, M.S. ’81, Ph.D ’83 is a professor of marine science at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science. He has made substantial contributions concerning the rational use of fishery resources. He publishes extensively in biology and statistics and advises governments in the U.S., Australia and the Caribbean. He lives in Williamsburg, Va.


• Stephen J. Allen, ’76 is executive vice president and chief executive officer of The American Society of Health Systems Pharmacists’ Research and Education Foundation in Bethesda, Md. He was formerly director of pharmacy services at Owen Healthcare where he supervised pharmacy operations at the Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, D.C. He lives in Bowie, Md.

• Evangeline R. Lausier ’75 is an assistant professor of medicine at Duke University. She earned her B.S. in pharmacy with highest distinction and her medical degree at the University of Vermont. She completed her residency in Portland, Maine and a fellowship at the University of Arizona in integrative medicine 2006, and now practices at Duke Integrative Medicine. She lives in Durham, N.C.

• Saul Kaplan ‘79 is the executive director of the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation and serves as the executive counselor to the Governor on Economic Growth and Community Development. Prior to his state leadership role Kaplan was a Partner at Accenture and has worked broadly throughout the pharmaceutical and medical products industry. He lives in Providence.

• Vasant G. Telang ’68, associate provost, Office of the Provost, Howard University, Washington, D.C. A distinguished pharmacist, research scientist, author, and higher education administrator; recipient of leadership, research and teaching excellence awards; demonstrated service and leadership in professional pharmaceutical associations and societies; Dr. Telang provides international leadership and voice to pharmaceutical education excellence. He lives in Silver Spring, Md.