The George Washington University and GW Alumni Association recognized five alumni on April 18 for their remarkable service to GW in the 52nd annual Alumni Outstanding Service Awards reception in front of 150 university community members, including administrators, trustees and fellow alumni.
George Washington President Steven Knapp, who delivered opening remarks in the City View Room, said he was pleased to recognize the achievements of the evening’s honorees.
“I have the great privilege of being able to say these are not only alumni of the university who are wonderful supporters, wonderful examples of the service that goes all the way back to our namesake … but I also regard them as people I know very well and, indeed, as my personal friends,” Dr. Knapp said.
Four honorees received the Alumni Outstanding Service Award, including: Brian Herrman, B.B.A. ’77, immediate past chief executive officer of Z-Medica Corporation; Kathy Megyeri, M.A. ’69 and ’82, who taught high school English for 34 years in Montgomery County, Md.; Richard Popiel, B.A. ’75, M.D. ’81, executive vice president for health care services and chief medical officer for the Regence Health Insurance Company; and Michelle D. Rubin, B.A. ’91, vice president of Regional Properties, Inc., a Beverly Hills, Calif.-based real estate development company.
Additionally, receiving the 2013 Jane Lingo Alumni Outstanding Service Award was Lilien F. Robinson, A.A. ’60, B.A. ’62, M.A. ’65, professor of art history at GW and a specialist in 19th-century European art.
The evening is “one of my favorite nights of the year,” said Alumni Association President Jim Core, M.A. ’96, adding the recipients’ stories “truly are inspiring.”
One of those stories is that of Mr. Herrman, a member of the School of Business Board of Advisors who was introduced by GWSB Dean Doug Guthrie. He described a man who has been his friend, colleague and mentor, particularly in his earliest days as dean. “Brian has been at my side in every step I’ve made over the last three years,” he said.
Mr. Herrman—who described hitchhiking across the country to be able to visit GW and remembered an especially important mentor he had in the Office of the Registrar—said one motto he has lived by is, “Don’t make a living, make a difference.”
“I love GW because they give so many opportunities to make a difference in students’ lives,” he said.
Introducing Ms. Megyeri, Adrienne Rulnick, associate vice president for alumni relations and development, lauded the philanthropist for how she “truly exemplifies what it means to be an engaged alumna.” Ms. Megyeri is involved with the GW Luther Rice Society, the Heritage Society and Women and Philanthropy Forum and Seminars.
Ms. Megyeri, who recalled meeting her husband in the basement of Lisner Auditorium, said she accepted her award humbly, thanking a number of university members for the impact they’ve had on her. Michael Morsberger, vice president of development and alumni relations, knows the power of a hand-written thank-you note—a rarity in today’s world, “especially for a male,” she joked. Professor Emeritus of Education Dorothy Moore encouraged Ms. Megyeri to accept Fulbright awards, showing her the “world is bigger than my Montgomery County classroom.” Dr. Rulnick is an “outstanding example” of how to engage alumni. And Dr. Knapp’s advice on the key to success— “stamina” —is “motivation to keep serving GW in any way I can,” Ms. Megyeri closed.
Jeffrey S. Akman, vice president for health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine and Health Sciences, introduced Dr. Popiel next. Dr. Akman said his former medical school classmate has always shown the qualities of a top leader, and his professional successes in health care are evidence of that.
Dr. Popiel said a supportive family and GW’s commitment to him— “an investment that changed my life” —made him who he is today. He added he continues to “feel the energy of students” every time he visits campus, and hopes that his work inspires future generations of leaders.
The third awardee, Ms. Rubin, chair of the GW Athletics National Advisory Council, was recognized by Director of Athletics and Recreation Patrick Nero, who described her as a hard worker, advocate and generous supporter of university athletics, funding trips for GW athletes to travel to California. Ms. Rubin, who helped write GW’s recognizable fight song, knows what athletics can do to “shape our young people,” Mr. Nero said.
Accepting her award, Ms. Rubin, whose GW experience was “truly the best four years of my life,” said she learned one very important lesson while attending GW.
“What I learned here is what George Washington says … deeds, not words,” Ms. Rubin said, adding it is the student-athletes who inspire her to give back.
“When you ask, who was your favorite professor? Her name comes up over and over,” Dr. Barratt said.
Calling GW both her professional and private home, Dr. Robinson said the university has been a family since she began as a freshman.
Years later, much has surely changed around campus. But one thing has stayed the same.
“I am so proud to be a part of it,” she said.