2013 Alumni Achievement Award winners
In light of our 150th anniversary, “it is a good time to reflect on the enormous achievement of not just the University, but the alumni of this University,” said President Ronald K. Machtley in his opening remarks of the Alumni Achievement Awards noting there are 40,000+ Bryant alumni, living across the U.S. and abroad.
This year’s awards ceremony and dinner, which took place March 1, attracted more than 130 attendees. Many of the six award winners arrived early to tour new facilities and catch up with former professors.
Joseph F. Puishys ’80 (Huntington Beach, CA and Minneapolis, MN), CEO of Apogee Enterprises Inc., received the Distinguished Alumnus Award. He noted that attending Bryant, in his family, was a tradition and felt like “coming home.”
Puishys, who spent 32 years at Fortune 100 company Honeywell International, offered some advice to the “younger folks” in the crowd:
“The Number 1 responsibility you have is to mentor. Pick someone that you, when you’ve retired, would be proud to say ‘that person made a difference.’”
Receiving the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the Graduate School of Business was Mirghavamaddin Bozorgmir (aka Amir Lear) ’83 MBA (Greenwich, CT), CEO of Mutual of America Capital Management.
Bozorgmir has lent his knowledge in the field of Financial Services to Bryant’s College of Business and is a regular contributor to the Bryant Leadership Council of Donors.
In accepting his award, Bozorgmir said that Bryant has experienced a “quantum leap” – especially over the past 17 years by embracing, “to its very core,” the global vision of the students – through SIE, study abroad, and the Vision 2020 strategic plan – and expanding the demographics of the students.
“Investing in the future generation through education is not only a moral obligation but a necessity for a vibrant economy,” he added. “Thank you for the award, but thank you more for giving me the education I needed 30 years ago.”
Eric R. Handa ’97 (Hong Kong and United Kingdom), co-founder and chief executive officer of AP Telecom, accepted the Young Alumnus Leader Award. Despite having lived abroad since graduating, Handa remains involved with Bryant, lending his expertise to administrators, faculty, and students in a variety of ways. He has supported the Bryant Leadership Council, the Black & Gold Club, and is currently a University Society donor.
“Business in Beijing, Bogota, or Brisbane is very different. Yet, with a Bryant pedigree you’re well prepared and able to solve complex issues, and succeed in the workplace and in life,” said Handa. “Bryant has many amazing programs that focus on specific individual global growth and I am very proud to say that I am a product of Bryant.”
Honored for their decades-long involvement with Bryant with the Nelson J. Gulski Service Award were Diane (Zordan) Wardyga ’77 and Alan Wardyga ’77, ’84 MBA (North Smithfield, RI). Their many good deeds on behalf of the University and volunteer service to Bryant since graduating have made a significant impact on the campus.
“While I have seen the campus change, a campus and a community like Bryant isn’t just about the buildings...it’s about the people. And, over the last 40 years, I’ve been involved with some wonderful people,” said Alan Wardyga at the dinner. “We appreciate and want to encourage the type of creative thinking a Bryant education develops.”
The Wardygas are members of the Bryant Leadership Council and the 1863 Society.
President Machtley took special note of the faculty members who, he said, are “at the heart of what we do.” This year, communication professor Wendy Samter, Ph.D., was awarded the Distinguished Faculty Award.
Professor Samter, a 10-year member of Bryant’s faculty, was recognized for her devotion to the teaching profession and her personal concern for and commitment to students. She was cited as “a faculty member who works hard for the benefit of students and the advancement of the Bryant brand."