Eight alumni were honored with 2011 Distinguished Alumni Awards at an April gala sponsored by the IUP Alumni Association. Biographies of the winners with more details than are presented here are accessible from the Distinguished Alumni Awards website. There you can also find information on award eligibility and how to make a nomination.
From commissioning as an infantry officer to selection for general officer in 2001 to retirement as a major general in 2010,Thomas Csrnko ’74 carried out U.S. Army assignments in Europe, the Middle East, and the U.S. for three and a half decades. His final post was as commanding general of the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare School at Fort Bragg, N.C. There, he had responsibility for selection, training, and qualification of more than sixteen thousand students of Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations and Special Forces soldiers worldwide. He has received numerous awards and decorations and earned an M.A. degree in Management from Webster University.
A guitar player, vocalist, and drummer, John Esposito ’78 is president and CEO of Warner Music Nashville, a division of Warner Music Group Corp. He has been with the Warner family of companies for nearly a decade and in 2009 became the first executive to head his current division. He spearheads WMG’s environmental campaign, WMGreen, and was recognized with the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Forces for Nature Person of the Year in 2006. He also serves on the board of the T.J. Martell Foundation, which raises funds for cancer, leukemia, and AIDS research, and is a board member of LiveConnections, a nonprofit dedicated to music education.
As chief of schools officer for the Dallas Independent School District, Donna Puryear Micheaux ’75 provides instructional leadership and directs operations for 230 campuses, which serve 157,000 students. Since joining the Texas district in 2007, she has improved student achievement scores, reorganized and rebuilt low-performing high schools, and secured funding to develop a principals’ coaching program. The recipient of a master’s degree and a doctorate from Pitt, she is also a 2005 graduate of the Broad Superintendents Academy. Before moving to Dallas, she worked for the Pittsburgh Public Schools and for Pitt’s Institute for Learning, where she played a key role in literacy and instructional improvement programs.
Ellen Sylves Ruddock ’66 is director of the Center for Family Business in IUP’s Eberly College of Business and Information Technology. In this role, she helps business owners, their families, and key employees succeed through educational programs and networking opportunities. She herself has had successful careers in teaching, retailing, fundraising, and consulting and has won numerous awards, including Athena, Civic Leader of the Year, Department of the Army Outstanding Civilian Service Medal (twice), and IUP’s President’s Medal of Distinction. The recipient of advanced academic credentials from Carnegie Mellon’s Tepper School of Business and Eberly’s MBA certificate program, she has spoken worldwide on personal leadership and productivity, planning, and goal setting.
The president and CEO of Lutheran Services in America, one of the nation’s largest health and human services networks, Jill Schumann ’75 was appointed last year by President Barack Obama to the White House Council for Community Solutions. The LSA system she leads serves one in fifty Americans each year. She is also a board member of LeadingAge, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Board of Pensions, and the Roundtable of National Faith-Based Health and Human Service Organizations and chairs the board of the National Human Service Assembly. The recipient of an MBA from Mount Saint Mary’s University, she also did doctoral work at Rutgers.
Federal Aviation Administration official Karlin Roth Toner ’83 directs the Joint Planning and Development Office, overseeing an interagency initiative to develop the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen). She is also senior advisor to the secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation for NextGen coordination. With more than twenty years’ experience with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, she received a NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal and is also an associate fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. The recipient of M.S. and doctoral degrees in Aerospace Engineering, both from the University of Florida, she received an honorary doctorate from IUP in May.
Scientist and women’s advocate Elizabeth Latorre Travis ’65 is Mattie Allen Professor in Cancer Research and associate vice president for Women Faculty Programs at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. She received a master’s degree in Education with a Radiation Biology minor from Pitt and earned a Ph.D. in Experimental Pathology at the Medical University of South Carolina. She has been an educator, researcher, lecturer, and scientist at these and other leading world institutions, including the National Cancer Institute and England’s Gray Laboratory at Mount Vernon and has worked toward the advancement of women in math and science at M.D. Anderson since the early 1990s.
Ohio State professor Jon Woods ’60 teaches in the School of Music (occupying the first-ever endowed chair in the College of Arts) and directs the university’s marching and athletic bands. He has a master’s degree (Penn State) and doctorate (University of Michigan) in Music Education. After fourteen years as a music teacher and band director at high schools in Western Pennsylvania and Delaware, he joined the OSU Marching Band in 1974 as associate director and became director ten years later. His bands have appeared at thirty-five bowl games, three Presidential inaugural parades, and several NCAA tournaments for men’s and women’s basketball. They are also widely known as TBDBITL.