The Colgate Scene
July 2004

Honoring service to alma mater
2004 Alumni Awards

Ralph F. Verni '64, Bruce F. Wesson '64, and George Whaling '59, recipients of the Wm. Brian Little '64 Alumni Award for Distinguished Service. [Photos by Timothy D. Sofranko]

During ceremonies in Memorial Chapel on Friday night at Reunion 2004, the Alumni Corporation honored several alumni, faculty, and staff members for their service to Colgate.

The Alumni Award for Distinguished Teaching, bestowed upon members of the faculty who are considered to be outstanding teachers, was given to Deborah J. Knuth, professor of English, and Charles E. McClennen, William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of geology. The Wm. Brian Little '64 Award for Distinguished Service, the Alumni Corporation's highest award, went to George A. "Tony" Whaling '59, Ralph F. Verni '64, and Bruce F. "Toby" Wesson '64, alumni trustee and former president of the Alumni Corporation Board of Directors.

The 2004 recipients of the Maroon Citation, which honors the year's most loyal alumni and friends for significant contributions: front row (l to r): Deborah Rhyde, football office and Maroon Council administrative assistant, Mary Jo Ashenfelter '79, Richard Janeway '54, John McLaughlin '54, Megan Pezzuti Pelino '89, Cynthia Dietzel '84, Patricia Applegate '74, and Victoria Stone, alumni affairs administrative assistant. Second row (l to r): Robert Smoler '79, M. Gerald Sedam '64, Read McNamara '69, Arthur Seifert '79, Craig Ferguson '59, Edward Jones '64, Richard Herbst '69. [Enlarge]

George A. "Tony" Whaling
A university trustee, Whaling is chair of the Hamilton Initiative Advisory Committee and vice chair of both the Athletics and Buildings and Grounds committees. He is a former chair of the Presidents' Club and member of the James B. Colgate Society. After a distinguished career in the graphic arts industry, Whaling is now chairman of Kingston Capital and a private investor in small companies and real estate. He has established scholarships that honor his parents and support students from New York State's rural areas. He was the principal donor to establish Tyler's Field, the home field of Colgate's field hockey and men's and women's lacrosse teams, which honors his late son, J. Tyler Whaling '93. Whaling is the son of George C. Whaling '22, nephew of John C. Whaling '21, and the father of Collins Whaling Baker '89.

The Ann Yao '80 Memorial Young Alumni Award, which is awarded to members of the fifth reunion class who exemplify exceptional volunteer leadership, was given to Sarah Treffinger Latson '99, president of the Colgate Club of Cleveland, and Andrew W. Rome '99, president of the Colgate Club of Washington, D.C.

Ralph F. Verni
A trustee emeritus, Verni chaired the Task Force on Campus Culture and served as a member of the presidential search committee that recommended Rebecca Chopp as the university's 15th president. Verni served on the Finance Community and Regional Campaign committees during Campaign Colgate, and also served on the Presidents' Club Membership Committee. He remains an advisory member of the Finance Committee. The father of four, Ralph also serves on a number of boards in the healthcare and financial service industries.

Bruce F. "Toby" Wesson
An alumni trustee, Wesson has a long record of service to Colgate, including serving on the Alumni Corporation Board of Directors. It was during his term as president that the alumni board embraced the Partnership for Community Development, a cooperative grassroots effort to revitalize the Hamilton area. Wesson advanced the downtown agenda and encouraged the board to play a role, providing advice and feedback in addition to funding. Wesson is chair of the Board of Trustees' budget committee and a key member of the Finance, Buildings and Grounds, Planning, and Athletics committees. He earned an MBA at Columbia, and spent more than 20 years at Smith Barney before helping to form Galen Associates. A strong supporter of career services, Wesson offered 20 years ago to host the first finance seminar for seniors, which continues today. Wesson has shared his experience in corporate finance with undergraduates, served as chairman of the Regional Campaign Committee and class gift chair, and remains a class agent. Two of Wesson's five children are Colgate graduates, Kristen Wesson Hartgers '90 and David Wesson '93.

During the awards ceremony, a moving moment of support and admiration took place when the entire assembly rose to a standing ovation as the Maroon Citation was given to Megan Pezzuti Pelino '89. It was during her term on the Alumni Corporation Board of Directors that she lost both her husband, Todd Pelino '89, and her sister, Kaleen Pezzuti, in the attacks on September 11, 2001. "Surrounded by her family, especially her children Ben and Annie, [she] was an example to all of dignity, strength, and the power of carrying on," the citation read.

More than 2,000 alumni, their families, and guests made their way to the Chenango Valley for Reunion 2004. The oldest graduate present at the reunion was LaVerne Norton '31, while the youngest was Monica de Reus '04. Cheryl Anderson Kiai '81 traveled the farthest to return to Colgate, having journeyed from Kenya.

Several alumni took their turn at being "faculty members" in some of the more than 50 Reunion College classes that also provided an opportunity to be a student once again. Among the topics that alumni covered were the consequences of population growth and rates of consumption; the new paradigm of retirement and civic involvement; advice on investing for retirement; and the decisions people make in trying to balance families and careers.

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