Front row, left to right, Professor Emeritus Charles Prewitt; David Engelson.
Back row, left to right, Ellen Lang; Jonathan B. Alpert; Jim Watson and Eastern President Elsa Núñez.
The annual President’s Leadership Awards Luncheon was held on Sept. 18 to honor and thank the University’s leadership level donors. The luncheon is the premier donor appreciation event of the year; in addition to recognizing Eastern’s top donors, the event also honored several distinguished Eastern alumni.
“Today is special. Every day I am reminded of the generosity of our family of donors, but today, I get to say ‘thank you’ in person,” said Eastern President Elsa Núñez. “I am amazed by your generosity, and I am humbled by your commitment to Eastern and to our students. “Your role as leadership level donors is more important than ever, for you are leading by example. I know those efforts are paying off, and I thank you for that leadership.”
Ken DeLisa, vice president for institutional advancement, spoke to the fundraising achievements of the past year. Gifts to the ECSU Foundation exceeded $2 million for the fourth straight year. In addition, the number of alumni making gifts to Eastern has grown by 250 percent since 2003, with a record 2,350 alumni donors.
Ken DeLisa, vice president for institutional advancement.
“Through your personal philanthropy and commitment to Eastern, you inspire our passion for higher education and for creating opportunities for our students to succeed,” said DeLisa. “We are blessed to have you as part of our family and for your friendship and generous support of our students and faculty.”
Following the luncheon service, Núñez, DeLisa and alumna Kathleen Fabian, vice president of the Alumni Association, announced this year’s awards. Professor Emeritus Charles Prewitt received the ECSU Foundation Distinguished Faculty/Staff Donor Award. Four years ago, Prewitt made a generous donation in honor of his late wife Virginia to help Eastern open the Virginia and Charles Prewitt Office of Peace and Human Rights in Goddard Hall. Prewitt retired from Eastern in 1979 but continued to teach peace and human rights courses part time until 2013.
“The high point of my time at Eastern was the creation of the Peace and Human Rights minor,” said Prewitt. “That program and today’s award are reminders of the importance of peace and human rights in education, and that the goal of world peace is possible.”
David Engelson ’67, M’70 received the ECSU Alumni Association Distinguished Service Award. At age 27, Engelson became the youngest principal in Connecticut in 1970, and he served as an elementary school principal in Vernon for 32 years until his retirement in 2002.
Since then, he has served as executive director and now CEO of the Hockanum Valley Community Council. In relating his 35-year career in education and his current work at HVCC, Engelson said, “I enjoy being out in our local community meeting people. It is an honor to receive this prestigious award today. Thank you!”
Noted New York City psychotherapist Jonathan B. Alpert ’95 received the ECSU Alumni Association Distinguished Alumni Award. In addition to his private practice, Alpert is an author and media consultant. His book “Be Fearless: Change Your Life in 28 Days,” has been published in nine countries, and he is a frequent contributor to Inc. Magazine and the Huffington Post. Alpert has also appeared on The Today Show, CNN, FOX and Good Morning America, and has been interviewed by newspapers, magazines and radio networks around the world.
“Eastern gave me a solid education and offered me really interesting classes,” said Alpert. “It taught me to express myself and welcomed my ideas. Eastern embraced curiosity.”
Ellen Lang ’81 and her husband, Jim Watson, received the ECSU Foundation Distinguished Donor Award. Together they have built the Ellen L. Lang ’81 and James E. Watson, M.D. Endowed Scholarship to a current endowment of more than $50,000, and hope to bring the balance to six figures in their lifetime. With other generous gifts, Lang and Watson will soon pass $75,000 in total giving to Eastern, and as members of Eastern’s Legacy Society, have provided for Eastern through their estate plan. Lang is also president of the Alumni Association Board of Directors, for the second time.
“Eastern has a special place in our hearts,” said Lang. I was a nontraditional student and was already a registered nurse when I attended here. Eastern gave me a chance to advance and succeed.”