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Leadership Luncheon honors 4 outstanding donors, alumni

Published on June 15, 2022

Leadership Luncheon honors 4 outstanding donors, alumni

Ceremony returns after 3-year pandemic hiatus

Group at President’s Leadership Luncheon
Dignitaries of the 2022 President's Leadership Awards, (left to right) Moh'd RuJoub, David Foster, Marilyn Foster, President Elsa Núñez, Matt Pepin '91 and Beth Regan '79, M '89.

Eastern Connecticut State University honored four members of its alumni and donor community on June 10 at its annual President’s Leadership Luncheon and Awards ceremony. The event gathered more than 100 donors and friends while recognizing the generosity and accomplishments of Professor Moh’d RuJoub, alumni Matt Pepin ’91 and Beth Regan ’79, M '89, and local philanthropist David Foster.

Kenneth DeLisa
Vice President of Institutional Advancement Ken DeLisa

President Elsa Núñez welcomed attendees to the first Leadership Luncheon since the onset of the pandemic. “This luncheon is so important to the life of our university,” she said, “for today we come together to thank our family of committed donors for their generous support of our students, and to honor those former students who have gone on to bring honor to Eastern through their personal and professional achievements.” 

“Today we recognize the impact of our alumni and of our donors,” followed Vice President of Institutional Advancement Ken DeLisa. “Because of your professional achievements, personal philanthropy, and unwavering commitment to Eastern, you inspire our passion for higher education. You serve as role models for our students and you create opportunities for them to succeed.”

Justin Murphy ’98, president of the ECSU Foundation Board of Directors, recounted the many recent successes of Eastern’s foundation and donor family. “The work of the Foundation never stops... Not even a global pandemic prevented the ECSU Foundation from its work.”

Fall 2021’s Athletic Director Challenge was its most successful campaign yet, according to Murphy, raising $135,000 from 500 donors. The Foundation awarded a record $850,000 to 376 students in the 2021-22 academic year. “Thanks to the philanthropy of many of you in this room,” said Murphy, “the ECSU Foundation is on target to raise $1.5 million by the time our fiscal year ends on June 30.”

Moh’d RuJoub

Moh’d RuJoub accepting award
Friend of the University Award winner Moh'd Rujoub (center) with Justin Murphy ’98, president of the ECSU Foundation Board of Directors, and President Elsa Núñez.

For his myriad involvements with Eastern and the Willimantic community, Moh’d RuJoub received the Hermann Beckert ‘Friend of the University’ Award. As coordinator of the Accounting Program, RuJoub’s legacy is one of student employability, alumni engagement and commitment to all things accounting.

RuJoub has served as faculty mentor of Eastern’s Accounting Society and the student chapter of the Eastern Institute of Management Accountants (IMA). He’s a member of the Chief Financial Officers Association and serves as an ad hoc reviewer for American Accounting Association publications.

Moh’d RuJoubRuJoub has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the 2018 National Distinguished Service Award by the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA), as well as the IMA’s Campus Advocate of the Year in 2015. He received the Educator All-Star Award in 2016 from the National Association of Black Accountants (NABA). 

In addition to leading Eastern’s Accounting Program for the last two decades, RuJoub is the driving force behind the recent reinstatement of the Master of Science in Accounting, which is now a fully online master’s program. He also established the Volunteer Income Tax Assistant (VITA) program at Eastern, which in its 23-year existence has provided income tax assistance to thousands of local lower-income families and yielded millions in tax refunds in the Windham-area economy. 

For the past 26 years, RuJoub has organized the annual Accounting Banquet, an evening of professional networking for students, alumni and faculty. Finally, RuJoub created his own scholarship, the Dr. Moh’d RuJoub and Family Endowed Accounting Scholarship, has raised more than $60,000 since 2017.  

“It has been a joy to serve at this great institution and help so many of our students go on to succeed and become leaders in the accounting industry,” said RuJoub. “I felt strongly to create the Rujoub Family Scholarship after seeing firsthand how many students struggle financially… dedicated, hardworking students who need a little extra monetary support. I’m proud to report that (we’ve) been able to give more than 20 scholarships to bright and deserving accountings students since starting this endowment.”

Matt Pepin ’91

Matt Pepin
Distinguished Alumni Award winner Matt Pepin '91 (center) with Justin Murphy ’98 and President Elsa Núñez.

Due to his rise to the top of the journalism profession, Matt Pepin ’91 received this year’s Distinguished Alumni Award. From humble beginnings with the Campus Lantern, Pepin now serves as sports editor of the Boston Globe – one of the country’s premier news organizations in one of its hottest professional sports cities. 

Matt PepinPrior to leading the Globe’s sports department, the Eastern English major worked as sports editor at the New Haven Register and Times Record-Herald in Middletown, NY. He joined the Globe in 2009 as digital sports editor before his latest promotion in 2018, where he oversees a staff of 30 full-time and 20 part-time employees, producing content for the Globe’s printed newspaper, websites, newsletters and social media. 

In a previous Eastern Magazine interview, Pepin said, “When I started pursuing journalism at the Campus Lantern it was a once-a-week affair. When I worked at the New Haven Register, we had to get it out daily.  Now, in the digital era, there’s this pressure to produce every minute, every hour.”

As a student, Pepin worked with Eastern’s venerable sports information specialist, Bob Molta. “No one left a greater impression on me than Bob Molta,” he said. “He showed me how to pull back the curtain and find the story… I’ve worked with a lot of journalists and media professionals across the world. Bob is the standard I judge them all by.” 

Beth Regan ’79

Beth Regan
Distinguished Service Award winner Beth Regan '79, M '89 (center) with Justin Murphy ’98 and President Elsa Núñez.

Commemorating her accomplishments as an educator, coach, athlete, tribal leader and dedicated Eastern alumna, Beth Regan ’79 received the Distinguished Service Award. At the ceremony, Regan was elated to learn of the creation of the “Beth Regan ’79, M ’89 Endowed Women’s Soccer Fund,” a fund spearheaded by current women’s soccer head coach Christian D’Ambrosio in honor of Regan’s pivotal role in the founding of the women’s soccer program. 

Regan arrived on campus in 1975 to pursue an undergraduate degree in History and Social Sciences — and later returned for a master’s degree in Education-Human Relations. Regan played varsity basketball and softball when Title IX legislation in the 1970s was creating new opportunities for female college athletes. 

Beth ReganIn her 35 years as a teacher at Tolland High School, Regan specialized in both Native American Studies and Russian history. Combining her abilities as a teacher with her love of athletics, she became the high school’s women’s soccer coach, leaving that position in 1986 to become the founding coach of Eastern’s women’s soccer program, a post she held for six years. Her involvement with Eastern athletics continues to this day, serving as volunteer assistant coach for the women’s basketball team. 

Regan is also a dedicated Special Olympics volunteer and coach, as well as an active member of the Mohegan Tribe. Known as “Morning Deer” among her tribe, she was elected to the Mohegan Tribal Council of Elders in 2014. A longtime resident of Hampton, CT, Regan has also fulfilled a number of community roles, presently serving on the board of directors of the Fletcher Memorial Library. 

“Service is my way of thanking all of you,” she said to the crowd of friends and fellow Eastern supporters. “It’s one way of giving back a little that was given to me… We may not be able to change the whole world, but we can change our little part of it.”  

David Foster

David Foster
ECSU Foundation Board of Directors Award winner David Foster (right) with Justin Murphy ’98.

For his dynamic philanthropy and local-legend status as a musical entrepreneur, David Foster received the ECSU Foundation Board of Directors Award. As the face of the Lester E. Foster and Phyllis M. Foster Foundation, he has overseen support for several Windham-area organizations, including the Covenant Soup Kitchen, Windham Hospital, Windham No Freeze Shelter, Horizons and others. 

David FosterSince 2006, the Foster Foundation has provided more than $125,000 for a variety of Eastern programs and scholarships. But its biggest gift yet was just announced this June: a $250,000 contribution to the David G. Carter, Jr., Endowment Fund.  

“Eastern is the pinnacle of our community and I’m a strong believer of scholarship and a big fan of Dr. Carter,” said Foster. “Knowledge is everything today. If everybody has a chance to have an education, they have a chance to better themselves.” 

Preceding his life as a philanthropist, Foster developed a storied reputation as an owner of the legendary Shaboo Inn in Mansfield, a R&B and jazz nightclub, and later as the band leader of The Shaboo All-Stars and founder of Shaboo Productions. Foster was recognized with a lifetime achievement award in 2012 by the Connecticut Blues Society and inducted into the Mohegan Sun Hall of Fame in 2013.

“Music is David Foster’s life,” said VP DeLisa. “He has a passion for singing; entertaining audiences brings him joy.  He owns a business that benefits musicians and enables them to create the sounds that inspire and entertain their audiences.  And he is the driving force behind a charitable endowment that will provide basic needs, improved health care and educational opportunity for countless individuals for generations to come.” 

Written by Michael Rouleau