Awards honor alumni, supporters, community leaders

2012-05-30T00:00:00Z Awards honor alumni, supporters, community leadersBy Times Staff
May 30, 2012 12:00 am  • 

MUNSTER | Calumet College of St. Joseph recently held its 47th annual Trustees’ Scholarship Ball. The Center for Visual and Performing Arts in Munster was filled to capacity as friends and supporters of the college gathered to raise funds to enable students to fulfill their dream of a college education.

The evening began with cocktails and appetizers and strolling violins by Carl Linden & Artists.

President Daniel Lowery gave a welcome and  Larry Meyers, chairman of the Board of Trustees, served as emcee. A film produced by Darren Jasieniecki portrayed the essence of the college and its social justice mission.

The St. Joseph the Worker Award was presented to Jo Ann Birdzell. Criteria for the St. Joseph the Worker Award includes distinction in his or her profession or vocation; noteworthy devotion to his or her community, country, or family; and embodiment of the ideals and virtues of college patron St. Joseph the Worker over the course of his or her career.

Birdzell began her career as a nurse, but quickly moved into health care administration, where she specialized in turning around troubled operations while at the same time maintaining and improving services for poor patients and their families at Methodist Hospital, St. Elizabeth Hospital and St. Catherine Hospital.

Highly respected in an industry that has experienced unprecedented change, Birdzell has served her community "as a tireless advocate for patients and families, regardless of their social status or ability to pay. She truly exhibits the dedication and values the College associates with St. Joseph the Worker," her award stated.

The Brother Gerard Von Hagel Award is given each year to alumni who exemplify the values of respect and understanding and the spirit of stewardship and service taught at Calumet College of St. Joseph. This year’s recipients are: R. Louie Gonzalez (’80) and Frederick Sampias (’69).

Gonzalez currently serves as the vice chancellor and dean of Ivy Tech Community College’s De La Garza Campus in East Chicago, leading that campus through a period of tremendous growth in enrollment, community outreach, and fundraising. He has been instrumental in developing academic programs and services designed to meet the needs of first generation college students.

Sampias began his career in financial management and banking with the Arthur Anderson Company and served other institutions until recently retiring as a regional president of First Midwest Bank. He has served on numerous nonprofit boards, including Calumet College of St. Joseph.

The Corporate Leadership Award is presented to a business, company or corporation for its leadership, spirit and commitment to the community and was presented to The Times Media Company and Publisher Bill Masterson. Masterson spearheaded the One Region - One Vision initiative, and The Times has also played a leading role in launching GRIP, the Gary and Region Investment Project, and the construction of a new Boys & Girls Club in Gary.

The Board of Trustees announced that the 1st floor student commons area in the new addition of the college will be named The Thomas G. and Ann Katsahnias Commons Area in honor of the chairman of the Board of Trustees for 25 years. The athletic facility will be renamed The Dennis and Leslie Rittenmeyer Athletics Facility to honor Dr. Rittenmeyer, who served as the college president from 1987-2011.

The evening raised more than $75,000 for scholarships.


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