College awards Bicentennial Medals to Alumni

President Schapiro presented seven of the College’s Bicentennial Medals at a private ceremony last Friday. Established in 1993 on the occasion of the College’s 200th anniversary, Bicentennial Medals honor members of the Williams community for distinguished achievement in any field of endeavor. The college awarded 23 Bicentennial Medals in 1993 and has added five to seven in each year since. The awards dinner included a reception in Lasell Gym at 6:30 and then a seated dinner in Chandler Gym, featuring a remodeled entrance replete with carpeting and a fountain, and singing by the Ephlats, one of the College’s co-ed a cappella groups. Guests at the awards included students, staff, trustees and alums of the College, who gave each of the recipients individually a standing ovation after President Schapiro introduced each.

This year’s recipients were Charles M. Collins, Stephen J. Farley and Regina A. Kelly, Stephen S. Marino, Edmund M. Mauro, Jr., George H. McCracken, Jr., and Stacy M. Schiff. The recipients’ contributions ranged from being a master teacher (Marino), to writing a Pulitzer Prize-winning biography (Schiff), to civic activism (Collins), to studying infectious diseases (McCracken) to community building (Farley and Kelly).

Charles Collins ‘69

Charles Collins is a leading community developer in his hometown of San Francisco. As chairman and president of WDG Ventures, Inc. he has been involved with billions of dollars worth of real estate development projects. He is known for managing projects in consultation with potential users and with the local residents, businesses, and public entities that those projects Affect. He was a founding director of the statewide youth advocacy organization Children Now and has led a consortium of interested private, public, and non-profit organizations in developing and implementing a strategy for community reconstruction and economic development in the city. Among the numerous prestigious positions he has held, nationally he serves as senior vice chair of The National Urban League. “You are widely credited with revitalizing through your years-long effort to reorganize [the League’s] more than one hundred affiliates,” Schapiro said at the awards ceremony. Collins also serves on the board of The Clark Art Institute and has been a trustee of Williams.

Stephen Farley ’85 and Regina Kelly ’86

Stephen Farley and Regina Kelly, who are married, have used oral histories and the arts to strengthen community in Tucson, Ariz. Kelly worked with economically disadvantaged teenagers on exploring the history of their neighborhoods. In helping design the book that resulted, Farley discovered that for several decades in the middle of the last century photographers shot countless pictures of daily life on the streets of downtown. This led to their working together on a project that resulted in a locally best-selling book about downtown Tucson and to the city’s Broadways murals: 18-foot tall reproductions of historic photos of everyday people going about their lives. The murals have resulted in a whole new feel to a busy entrance to downtown and to the whole community, which now sees itself and its history larger than life. The dedication of the murals in 1999 drew thousands of people to what itself became a historic festival. The hundreds of photographs not chosen for the murals were compiled with the help of at-risk teens into a popular book that tells vividly the story of the community. Proceeds from its sale helped fund the creation of Voices: Community Stories Past & Present, Inc., a non-profit that Kelly runs which continues to mentor and train low-income youth to create publications about urban culture. “The [youths’] lives, and the life of their community, are forever deeper and stronger because of you both,” Schapiro said.

Stephen Marino ’76

After graduating from Williams, Marino earned a master’s degree in teaching at Brown a year later, and immediately joined the Glastonbury Public School System, where he has successfully taught a wide variety of courses to regular, at-risk and special education students in grades 6 through 12. He is known for his ability to reach students at all levels of ability. He has been a driving force in the team, teaching a required course for seniors on Current Issues. To enhance his teaching in a course on the Islamic World he took his family to Istanbul, to experience where the Islamic world has met the West, and for six years studied for a degree in Islamic studies at The Hartford Seminary.

He is also deeply engaged in students’ extracurricular activities and in the professional development of his colleagues. Schapiro, quoting a colleague of Marino, said, “‘Steve relates to students in a way that gets them to rise to a higher level. He instills in them a sense of worth, responsibility, and dignity.’” As Schapiro then added, “It would almost be worth becoming a teenager again if it could mean having you as a teacher.”

Edmund Mauro, Jr. ’54

Mauro, Chairman of the Board of The INSCO Group, wanted to do something for the city he loves, Providence, and the game he loves, golf. As a result, he became the driving force behind development of Button Hole Golf Club. Reclaiming for the city an abandoned gravel pit that had become riddled with crime, The Golf Foundation of Rhode Island built a nine-hole short course, driving range, putting greens, and chipping areas to make the game affordable and accessible to the city’s multicultural, low-income residents. The program works with social service agencies to focus particularly on kids. Since the course opened two years ago, more than two thousand children, many of whom have no green space of any kind to play on, have received lessons in the game and become certified to borrow clubs and use the driving range or play a round for $1. “It would be great if Button Hole produced the next Tiger Woods,” Shapiro said, “but even greater if it produced the next Ed Mauro.” The U.S. Golf Association Foundation cites the course as a model for other cities to emulate. Mauro’s extensive business and civic activities had given him the experience and contacts to pull off the multi-year, $4 million project. Rhode Island PGA Tour star Brad Faxon said: “Without (Mauro), there is no way this would have happened. No one else in this state could have pulled this off.”

George McCracken, Jr. ’58

McCracken is recognized as one of the world’s foremost experts in children’s infectious diseases and their treatment with antibiotics. “There was little financial incentive for drug companies, little reason to believe medication would work in such fragile bodies, and a raft of technical challenges to overcome,” Schapiro said. “You, however, were undaunted.” McCracken serves as professor of pediatrics and as the Sarah M. and Charles E. Seay Chair in Pediatric Infectious Diseases at The University of Texas Southwestern Medical School and Children’s Medical Center in Dallas. He has won numerous awards and serves in elected and advisory positions in many professional organizations, including as president and treasurer of The National Pediatric Infectious Diseases Foundation. He has published several hundred peer-reviewed articles and chapters and has trained many of the current leaders in pediatric infectious diseases in countries throughout the world. He also is the founder and chief editor of The Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal. His work in the lab and in the field has led to the worldwide standard of care for bacterial meningitis and has improved and saved countless lives. “The benefits of your efforts continually ripple out around the globe,” Schapiro said. “And the number of infants, children, and adults worldwide who are alive or have a higher quality of life because of you cannot be counted, only imagined.”

Stacy Schiff ’82

Schiff won the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for her “Vera (Mrs. Vladimir Nabokov): Portrait of a Marriage,” which The Boston Globe called “monumental” and has been published throughout Europe. The New York Times said, “Ms. Schiff has succeeded in creating an elegantly nuanced portrait of the artist’s wife, showing us just how pivotal Nabokov’s marriage was to his hermetic existence and how it indelibly shaped his work.” Schiff was also a finalist for the 1995 Pulitzer Prize in Biography for her “Saint-Exupery: A Biography.” The Globe called it a “masterful recounting” of the life of the famous French aviator and writer, best known as the author of the children’s book “The Little Prince.” Schiff’s text has been published in nine foreign editions and won prizes in Canada and France. Her research for both books was far-reaching and original. She uncovered caches of personal correspondence and located key individuals – including those who knew the Nabokovs in their early American days and Saint-Exupery when he was writing “The Little Prince,” who had eluded prior biographers. “Determined, like the Little Prince, to find the meaning below the surface, you unearthed in your inaugural book a story that brought to life not only a man but a time and a generation’s uneasy relationship with the technology that changed its world,” Schapiro said.

Schiff has earned fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities, and is a 2003 director’s fellow at the Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library.

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