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Honoring BU’s Best

State treasurer, former journalist, businessman, and health advocate receive Alumni Awards

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At the 62nd annual Alumni Awards ceremony on February 27 (from left): President Robert A. Brown, Bridget E. Mooney (CAS’05), Allison J. Davis (CGS’72, COM’75), Arnold M. Katz (COM’62), Timothy P. Cahill (CAS’81), and Steve Karbank (CAS’79), president of the Boston University Alumni Association. Cahill, Davis, and Katz received Alumni Awards; Mooney received a Young Alumni Award. Photo by Vernon Doucette

Boston University honored four alumni for their achievements in public service, journalism, business, and women’s health advocacy at the 62nd annual Alumni Awards ceremony in February.

President Robert A. Brown described the alums — Timothy P. Cahill (CAS’81), the Massachusetts treasurer, Allison J. Davis (CGS’72, COM’75), a former journalist and now vice president and director of public relations for the Jackie Robinson Foundation, Arnold M. Katz (COM’62), the founding president of Brokerage Concepts, Inc., and Bridget E. Mooney (CAS’05), who is battling cancer and who is a board member of the nonprofit Thrive — as an elite group, whose accomplishments are an asset to the University.

“The careers and accomplishments of our alumni are the core of the reputation of the University,” Brown said. “The work you do, your accomplishments, your contributions to our communities and to society all reflect back on your school. We take great pride in your accomplishments, and we thank you for what you do and for remaining loyal members of the Boston University community.”

The honors, the highest that BU bestows on alums, were presented by Steve Karbank (CAS’79), president of the Boston University Alumni Association. Cahill, Davis, and Katz received Alumni Awards; Mooney received a Young Alumni Award.

Serving the public
Cahill is currently serving his second term as Massachusetts treasurer and receiver general. Before entering politics, he was a high school wrestling coach and the founder of Handshakes Café in Quincy, Mass. He was elected a Quincy city councilor in 1987 and Norfolk County treasurer in 1996. He is the author of Profiles in the American Dream: The Real-Life Stories of the Struggles of American Entrepreneurs.

Cahill told the crowd that his four years at Boston University were among the best in his life, despite the fact that BU had not been his first choice; as a high school senior, he applied only to Harvard — and was wait-listed. “And I waited, and I waited,” he said. He applied to BU at the urging of his father, who had spent a year here the 1950s. “I was very blessed to have been exposed to Howard Zinn, Murray Levin — some of the great political thinkers of our time,” he said. “I learned a great deal, about questioning authority, analyzing situations, and not just going along. And I’ve tried to carry that through my career.”

Cahill added, to the delight of the crowd in the School of Management auditorium, that he has made it a point during his political career to defeat any Harvard graduates. “I’m proud to say that as of now, the score is BU 2, Harvard 0.”

Telling truths, helping others
Allison Davis has worked as an investigative reporter and producer at WBZ-TV, Boston, and at KDKA-TV, Pittsburgh, as a writer and producer at NBC News, and as an executive producer at MSNBC. Before joining the Jackie Robinson Foundation, which provides four-year college scholarships to minority youths, she was senior vice president, creative, of Dunbar Productions, which was founded by Bryant Gumbel and CBS. She has received several Emmy nominations as well as Distinguished Alumni Awards from the College of General Studies and the College of Communication.

When she received the letter asking her to accept the BU Alumni Award, Davis said, “You begin to think what did I do to deserve the honor other than love an institution that, thankfully, loved me back. And you loved me, despite my less-than-stellar academic performance. You loved me through my short-term radicalism, know-it-all attitudes, and, yes, my huge afro.”

“What I learned here was so important,” she said, “because it was through the eyes and ears you opened, BU, through the mind you expanded, that I was able to tell stories to millions of people, from some of the most remote and beautiful and dangerous places in the world. Hopefully, those stories helped to educate and, in some cases, to promote needed change.”

The world of business
Arnold Katz joined the Massachusetts General Life Insurance Company in 1964 and was appointed vice president of marketing in 1972. In 1976, he founded and became president of Brokerage Concepts, Inc., which he sold to HealthNow Contractor Services in 2006. He remained Brokerage Concepts’ senior vice president and chief operating officer until October 2008.

Katz began his education in a one-room schoolhouse in upstate New York. At BU, he said, he received “the best learning and growing experience.” He recounted one of those experiences: sharing the stage with Faye Dunaway (CFA’62) in a BU production of Street Scene.

“She was the star,” he said. “I was a walk-on.”

Katz said his time at BU allowed him to grow “from a small-town boy to, hopefully, a sophisticated, educated man. I’ve lived in 17 countries and 28 cities. I’ve seen the world, built a business, sat on boards, and learned to give back.”

Hope for young cancer patients
Bridget Mooney was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer in 2005, a week after graduating from BU with a bachelor’s in international relations. Her doctors told her that she could not be cured and that she had a 16 percent chance of celebrating her 30th birthday.

But Mooney was not a passive patient. Her research led her to the organization Susan G. Komen for the Cure and to information on the latest advances in the fight against breast cancer. “I no longer simply came to doctors’ appointment, prayed for the best, and listened to my diagnosis,” she said. “I came prepared.”

She said she came to believe that she could help save lives, “so that no other 21-year-old girl will be diagnosed with breast cancer.”

Mooney, who is undergoing chemotherapy, is a board member of Thrive, a Boston-area nonprofit that serves young women with breast cancer, and is cochair of Susan G. Komen for the Cure’s National Young Women’s Advisory Council. “Boston University made me the woman I am today,” she said. “BU prepares us so fully for the unknown. It is a place where we are given the tools we need to trust our intellect and our instincts.”

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