Surgical pioneer to speak at the 2005 Fairfield Awards Dinner

Surgical pioneer to speak at the 2005 Fairfield Awards Dinner

Benefit for Fairfield University Multicultural Scholarships will honor four alumni

Image: Benjamin Solomon Carson Dr. Benjamin Solomon Carson Sr., director of pediatric neurosurgery at the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions and a leader in innovative surgical reconstructive techniques, will be the speaker at the 2005 Fairfield Awards Dinner to be held at the Grand Hyatt New York on April 20.

Chairing the committee for the dinner, which raises funds for multicultural scholarships at Fairfield University, is Ronald Carapezzi of Fairfield, Conn., a University trustee and a 1981 graduate of Fairfield who now serves as president and CEO of GE Commercial & Industrial Finance.

Honored at the dinner will be three Fairfield University alumni who have distinguished themselves by their service to others: the Rev. W. Laurence O'Neil, S.J., M.A.'61, CT '72, who has devoted 45 years to teaching and leadership on the Fairfield campus; Geralyn Radowiecki Spollett '76, of Fairfield, associate director of the Yale Diabetes Center; and William Lucas '69 of Trumbull, vice president of finance at Fairfield University.

Dr. Carson, named director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins at the age of 33, made medical history in 1987 when he led a 70-member surgical team in the 22-hour successful separation of the Binder Siamese twins. The procedure employed hypothermic arrest, the deliberate lowering of body temperature and circulatory arrest, and sophisticated surgical reconstructive techniques for success. Ten years later he headed a team of South African and Zambian surgeons in another successful separation of complexly joined Siamese twins, with both remaining neurologically normal.

What makes Dr. Carson's story so extraordinary, are the childhood obstacles that seemed to preclude his dream of becoming a physician. Growing up in a single parent home with dire poverty, poor grades, a horrible temper and low self-esteem, he rose above these seemingly insurmountable challenges to become a professor of neurosurgery, oncology, plastic surgery and pediatrics.

The Library of Congress named Dr. Carson one of 89 Living Legends in 2001 and CNN and Time Magazine selected him as one of America's top 20 physicians and scientists. In addition to numerous neurosurgical publications, he is the author of three best-selling books, "Gifted Hands," "Think Big," and "The Big Picture."

Image: Rev. W. Laurence O'Neil Rev. W. Laurence O'Neil, S.J., M.A.'61, CT '72 is being honored with the Alumni Service Award. Fr. O'Neil joined the Prep faculty in 1955 and has held several positions since then at both Prep and the University, always in the role of helping students excel in their studies and in their professions. At the University he has served as director of career planning and placement, director of the Counseling Center, and dean of students. Currently director of Student Support Services and a strong advocate for a diverse student body, Fr. O'Neil works with international students to help them adjust to university life in the United States.

Fr. O'Neill, who also serves as chaplain of the Fairfield University Alumni Association, was honored in 1992, with the creation of the Rev. W. Laurence O'Neil, S.J., Scholarship to help students with financial need, particularly Latino students. The scholarship was established by his sister and her husband, Eileen and John Stanley.

Image: Geralyn Radowiecki Spollett Geralyn Radowiecki Spollett of Fairfield, '76 will receive the Alumni Professional Achievement Award. Spollett, the associate director of the Yale Diabetes Center, Yale University School of Medicine, does clinical work, research, and education, and develops programs for African-Americans, Hispanics, and Native Americans with diabetes.

On the national level, she has served on the National Certification Board for Diabetes Educators and is involved in the national board of the American Diabetes Association, As one of the foremost experts in her field, she is in demand on the lecture circuit, and has presented throughout the United States as well as in Budapest, Mexico City, and Birmingham, England. She is an associate editor for "Diabetes Spectrum," has written for most of the major diabetes journals, and has been a reviewer for many nurse practitioner journals and nursing texts focusing on the care of persons with diabetes.

The co-author of a book on diabetes management that will be published through the American Diabetes Association in June, she was selected by her students at Yale in 1994 for the Excellence in Teaching Award. In 1995 the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners presented her with the Connecticut State Award for Excellence in Clinical Practice.

Image: William Lucas William Lucas '69 will receive the Distinguished Administrator Award. Lucas has devoted his entire career to Fairfield University, beginning in the Office of Financial Aid after graduation and progressing to University comptroller three years later. In 1983, then-University President Aloysius P. Kelley, S.J., named him vice president for finance.

The fiscal year ending in June 2004 marked the University's 34th consecutive year of operating within a balanced budget, in spite of the fluctuations in the financial markets and while expanding steadily in size, reputation and endowment.

Dedicated to keeping Fairfield's fiscal health strong, Lucas has worked diligently, carrying out or overseeing the wide-ranging responsibilities of the Finance Division. His responsibilities include supervising the departments of payroll, the bursar, accounting, purchasing, the physical plant, and human resources.

New facilities, technologies, and services have made their way into the budget with regularity during his tenure. When Lucas began working full-time, the University was half the size it is today in enrollment, facilities, faculty, and staff. Today the annual budget stands in excess of $100 million and the endowment has more than doubled in the last decade.

Image: Ron Carapezzi Ron Carapezzi '81, chair of the Dinner Committee for the Fairfield Awards dinner, majored in finance at Fairfield and went on to spend one year playing shortstop with the Cincinnati Reds' minor league team. Today he is president and CEO of GE Commercial & Industrial Finance and regularly deals with people and companies from every corner of the globe. His corporate experience has reinforced his commitment to promoting diversity on campus, not only to increase opportunities but to provide valuable experience for all students as they learn from people of various cultures and backgrounds.

Carapezzi and his wife, Newell, are benefactors of the University. Together they established the Richard Magro Jr. '81 Scholarship, in memory of his good friend and classmate who died about 10 years ago. Carapezzi was also an active member of the class committee during the three-year Our Promise: The Campaign for Fairfield University.

Carapezzi recently won a Privilege & Responsibility award from his former high school, St. Joseph's in Trumbull, for his contributions to scholarship funds, sports, and academics. He has served on the board of the Domus Foundation in Stamford and is active in the Hephzibah Children's Association in Illinois.

Since its inception in 1988, the dinner has raised $3.9 million for the endowed Alumni Multicultural Scholarship fund and provided financial aid to 80 students.

For more information about the 2005 Fairfield Awards Dinner, or to attend, contact the Office of Corporate Relations at (203) 254-4000, ext. 2927.

Posted On: 03-23-2005 10:03 AM

Volume: 37 Number: 205