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Awards Honor Alumni Success in Medicine, Communications, Advocacy

Five grads recognized at Winterfest with BU’s highest accolade

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At the 2007 Alumni Awards Dinner and Ceremony: (back row, from left) President Robert A. Brown, Ali Noorani (SPH’99), and Steve Karbank (CAS’79), Boston University Alumni Council president; (front row, from left) George Schweitzer (COM’72), Raymond Kotcher (COM’79), Michael Apuzzo (MED’65), and Richard Shemin (CAS’72, MED’74). Photo by Fred Sway

Apparently the decade of the 1970s was good for planting the seeds of success. Of the four recipients of the Boston University 2007 Alumni Awards, three earned University degrees in that era.

At the annual Alumni Awards Dinner and Ceremony on January 25, President Robert A. Brown described the awardees as “a very special and elite group of individuals.”

“We try to prepare our students for careers and lives that are personally fulfilling, professionally successful, and marked by service to the community,” Brown said. “Your success is these areas is the foundation of our reputation.”

The honors were presented by Steve Karbank (CAS’79), president of the Boston University Alumni Council. A Young Alumni Award was also given.

Alumni Awards

Michael L. J. Apuzzo (MED’65)
Sweden’s Karolinska Institute has called Michael Apuzzo “the primary intellectual catalyst in neurological surgery.” As a resident in neurosurgery at Yale, he began working on a device that would allow surgeons to create complex brain images to aid in surgery. That subspecialty, called image-directed stereotaxis, or stereotaxy, was pioneered by Apuzzo and has since become integral to today’s minimally invasive neurosurgery. Apuzzo is the Edwin M.Todd/Trent H.Wells, Jr., Professor of Neurological Surgery and a professor of radiation oncology, biology, and physics at the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine. He is executive editor of the Congress of Neurological Surgeons Publishing Group, editor of several of its publications, and a board member and reviewer for many other journals. In 1995, Apuzzo received Boston University School of Medicine’s Distinguished Alumni Award, and in February 2007 he endowed the Michael L. J. Apuzzo Prize for Creativity and Innovation at MED.

“The extraordinary abilities you bring to advancing neurosurgery itself exceed imagination,” his citation reads. “Your glittering array of honors further reflects your international influence, including honorary membership in the neurological societies of eight countries.”

Raymond L. Kotcher (COM’79)
Raymond Kotcher is chief executive officer and senior partner of the public relations agency Ketchum, a unit of Omnicom Group. He joined as vice president in 1983, assumed the presidency in 1992, and became CEO in 2000. PR Week named Ketchum the 2002 Agency of the Year. In the previous year, Ketchum and its clients had received an unprecedented 10 Public Relations Society of America Silver Anvil Awards. The firm has since netted 29 more. Kotcher endowed the Kotcher-Ketchum Scholarship for graduate students in public relations at the College of Communication, and in 1994 he received a COM Distinguished Alumni Award. In 2006, he gave the college’s Commencement convocation address.

“As CEO of Ketchum, you give its multinational roster of public relations clients what they want: sensible and innovative approaches and up-to-date electronic pathways to communicate with the public and what they might not at first realize they need: high principles and recognition of their social responsibility,” according to his citation.

George F. Schweitzer (COM’72)
As president of the CBS Marketing Group, George Schweitzer has more than a full plate. He oversees all marketing, advertising, and promotion, as well as sales and affiliate promotions, network creative services, and special events. He is also responsible for collaborations with such CBS divisions as King World, CBS Paramount Television, CBS Radio, CBS Outdoor, and Showtime. He joined the company in 1972.

Schweitzer may need to build an extra mantel or two for his numerous honors. They include two Promotion Marketing Association Super Reggie Awards, an American Marketing Association Spire Award, a PROMAX Brand Builder Award and Pinnacle Award, and Entertainment Weekly’s first Marketing Executive of the Year Award. Brandweek named him Marketer of the Year, and both Entertainment Weekly and EPM Communication chose him as Entertainment Marketer of the Year. He was twice named to the Advertising Age Marketing 100.

“Colleagues and competitors call you smart and savvy, quick, formidable, tough, innovative and nourishing of innovation, a great guy to work with,” reads his citation. “Small wonder your staff members stay so long and your competition awards you that highest form of flattery: imitation.”

Richard J. Shemin (CAS’72, MED’74)
Richard Shemin’s award citation begins, “Very early in your medical career, the press dramatized your work on Boston’s first heart transplant teams, covering the dash across an airfield with a donor heart in a picnic cooler and open-heart surgery on a woman moments after her baby was delivered. You responded with characteristic modesty and broad-based practicality, teaching student-doctors to show unassuming appreciation of adulation by future patients and their families, to whom the young procedure would seem miraculous."

A specialist in minimally invasive and robotic-assisted cardiac surgery, Shemin has since won multiple research grants and published more than 300 scholarly articles and abstracts. He was a professor and chair of the department of cardiothoracic surgery at the BU School of Medicine for 20 years. Last year, he moved to UCLA Medical Center, where he is a professor and chief of the division of cardiothoracic surgery and executive vice chair of the department of surgery. In 2002, he received MED’s Distinguished Alumnus Award.

Young Alumni Award

Ali Noorani (SPH’99)
Ali Noorani is executive director of the 20-year-old Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA), through which organizations advocate for the rights and opportunities of immigrants and refugees. He joined MIRA in 2003, having been director of public health at the Dorchester House Multi-Service Center and Codman Square Health Center since 2000. While still a student in the School of Public Health, Noorani was a leader in local efforts for social justice, first as acting director of Boston’s Environmental Diversity Forum and then as director of the Greater Boston Urban Resources Partnership.

“Noorani himself is an eloquent voice, at once impassioned and practical, for the creation and implementation of fair, humane federal policies to protect both fragile populations and historic national goals,” according to his citation. “Clear-sighted and compassionate, he is a rising star in allaying fears that threaten to fragment what has ever been a nation of immigrants and forging solutions to an increasingly complex problem.”

Caleb Daniloff can be reached at cdanilof@bu.edu.

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