Written by Ed Osborn
President Elsa Nùñez, secnd from right, with Presidential Leadership Award Winners, left to right, Stephen Kenton, Anna Alfiero and Steve Watts, right.
Willimantic, Conn: -- Eastern Connecticut State University recognized four people who have made exceptional contributions to Eastern, their local communities, the state of Connecticut and beyond at the President's Leadership Awards Luncheon on April 4.
Anna (Stankewich) Alfiero '62 received the Alumni Association's Distinguished Alumni Award, which recognizes outstanding leadership or professional success by Eastern graduates. Alfiero had an exemplary 35-year career in the Waterford Public School system and was named to the inaugural class of inductees into the National Teachers Hall of Fame in 1992 by President Bill Clinton.
Alfiero also serves as the organizer of the Willimantic State Teachers College Class of '62. Last year she chaired the committee to celebrate their 50th Reunion, and she is leading the effort to create a permanent, endowed scholarship that will honor the legacy of her classmates. "There were 60 in our graduating class," she said, "and we were the first class of schoolteachers who were required to take graduate credits and get our master's degree. We were supported and encouraged by our teachers and fellow students, and we were committed to leaving the world a better place than we had found it. I cherish those times."
The Hermann Beckert Friends of the University Award was presented to Professor Emeritus Stephen Kenton. Following a teaching career at Eastern of 38 years, during which time he became known for creating an ever-expanding network of math and computer science alumni, Kenton helped start an endowed scholarship in his honor. Through his enthusiasm and hard work, the scholarship has raised $51,000 to support math and computer science students. Kenton described three different students, including his own daughter, who fell in love with Eastern and enrolled or transferred here as a result. "Our students really love it here," he said. "I feel privileged to have been part of this University."
Receiving the ECSU Foundation's Distinguished Donor Award was Steve Watts. In 2010, Watts established the LeClaire B. Watts Endowed Scholarship in memory of his wife, Lee, who taught Spanish at Eastern for many years before she passed away in 2009. "By creating this scholarship, I know that Lee would be happy that she can continue to serve Eastern and its students years after she is gone," he said. Watts also serves on the Board of Directors for the ECSU Foundation.
Eastern President Elsa Nùñez thanked the recipients for their professional, civic and philanthropic accomplishments, and applauded the donors present for their commitment to assisting students in paying for their educations.
"I am here today especially to acknowledge the hundreds of Eastern students who, without your support, might not be walking our halls, sitting in our classrooms, and burning the midnight oil in the library to achieve their goals as scholars and budding professionals," she said. "We had nearly 3,000 donors this past year -- including a record-high 1,850 alumni donors, which is a positive validation of what we are doing here at Eastern."
Also receiving recognition was Sandy Roth, who is the recipient of the Alumni Association's Distinguished Service Award. In addition to receiving her master's degree at Eastern, Roth created a scholarship to support history majors in memory of her late husband, History Professor David Roth. She also serves on the ECSU Foundation Board as secretary. Roth was unable to attend the April 4 event and will receive her award at Eastern Celebrates in May.