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2016 Commencement Award Winners and Honorary Degree Recipients

(Read about our previously announced faculty and student award winners and Commencement speakers.)

University Medal for Distinguished Service

Raymond McGivney, Professor of Mathematics, College of Arts and Sciences

Ray McGivneyRaymond McGivney, PhD, has published more than 25 articles on mathematics and mathematics education. He is the coauthor of two texts published by Wadsworth Press and two manuscripts that are currently being used at the University of Hartford. As an educational innovator, he was one of the first to use “clickers” that allow students to vote digitally on multiple choice answers, and to “flip the classroom,” having students learn material as homework and solve problems in class.

Since 1990, he has given numerous talks to professional and secondary school audiences at local, regional, and national meetings and has served as curriculum coordinator for five school districts. In 2007, he was awarded the Robert A. Rosenbaum Award by the Association of Teachers of Mathematics in Connecticut “in recognition of his leadership and significant contributions to mathematics in Connecticut.”

In addition, McGivney was the mathematics director for Connecticut Inter-District Grants totaling more than $500,000 that brought rising ninth and tenth graders from throughout the state to our campus over the summer for four weeks of intensive math instruction.

In 2003, McGivney was the recipient of the Roy E. Larson Award for Excellence in Teaching, and in 2006, the recipient of the Oscar and Shoshana Trachtenberg Award for Sustained Service to the University.

In addition to serving on numerous college and University committees, McGivney served as acting dean of students in 1974 and from 1977 to 1978. He was also acting dean of the College of Arts and Sciences from 1982 to 1983 and acting dean of the faculty from 1994 to 1996.

McGivney, a native of Auburn, Massachusetts, received his BA (1962) and MA (1964), both in mathematics, from Clark University. He received his PhD from Lehigh University (1968). He was assistant professor at Lafayette College from 1968 to 1970. He came to the University of Hartford in 1970 and was promoted to professor in 1980. He chaired the Mathematics/Physics/Computer Science Department from 1982 to 1988.

Distinguished Alumni Award

Brett D. Gerstenblatt ’94:

Brett Gerstenblatt

Brett D. Gerstenblatt ’94, a graduate of the University's Hartford Art School, has led the development of corporate branding, marketing, and communications programs for progressive companies for more than 15 years. He has advised C-suite executives and collaborated with leadership at a broad range of organizations including nonprofits, startups, and Fortune 500s, helping them pursue new strategies, respond to competitive challenges, and adapt to changing environments.

Currently he is the vice president, enterprise creative director at CVS Health. He is responsible for CVS’s campaign to remove cigarettes and tobacco products from its inventory. He works with executives and senior leaders to ensure the company’s purpose, strategy, and values are being expressed properly and consistently every day. Partnering with internal and external agencies, he leads the ideation and implementation of brand identity systems, marketing campaigns, and customer experiences to extend the influence and impact of the largest pharmacy innovation company in the United States.

Prior to CVS Health, Gerstenblatt was as an expert in McKinsey & Company’s marketing and sales practice. While at the firm, he was a founding member of McKinsey’s experimental design studio.

In 2001 Gerstenblatt founded a boutique branding and marketing consultancy and led the firm through 2011. Before starting his own company, Gerstenblatt was a designer, a practice leader at a digital marketing agency, and the executive creative director at a strategic communications firm. He has been a guest lecturer and critic at Parsons New School of Design; the University of Hartford’s Hartford Art School; the Graduate Center, CUNY; and Columbia University. Gerstenblatt studied abroad at the Hogeschool voor de Kunsten Arnhem and the University of Haifa.

Gerstenblatt and his wife live with their two children in Barrington, Rhode Island.

Honorary Degree Recipients

Miriam Therese Winter, Doctor of Humane Letters

 Miriam Winter

Miriam Therese “M.T.” Winter, PhD, joined the Hartford Seminary in 1980 to establish a department of liturgy, worship, and spirituality. Her ecumenical and cross-cultural emphases in theory and in practice, along with a deeply rooted feminist perspective, resulted in the Women’s Leadership Institute and a new master’s degree in Transformative Leadership and Spirituality at Hartford Seminary.

Winter is a Medical Mission Sister with a PhD from Princeton Theological Seminary and three honorary doctorates from Roman Catholic universities. In 2002, she was inducted into the Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame.

She has published award-winning books on Biblical women; on feminist ritual and spirituality; and on spirituality in a quantum universe. Her teaching and her publications are the result of her desire to explore new and more authentic ways of living faithfully here and now, when all is constantly evolving. Her scholarship and sense of being in the world are rooted in what she calls the liturgy of life, a perspective that embraces all creation and is shaped by her multifaceted experiences locally and around the world. Since the 1960s, she has given voice to this in song. A pioneer in introducing folk-style liturgical music into Catholic tradition in the wake of Vatican II, her first recording, “Joy is like the Rain”, went Gold and her “Mass of a Pilgrim People” was premiered at the first ecumenical concert ever at Carnegie Hall. Many of her songs and hymns have been embraced ecumenically and are popular on other continents. Her more than a dozen recordings include collections of her songs sung by recording artists from various faith traditions.

Winter is imbued with the pioneering call of her international community. She offers a healing presence to a deeply wounded world, for her spirit is one with the powerless and poor and with all who are willing to help bring about a more just and peace-filled planet.

Alan B. Lazowski, Doctor of Commercial Science

Alan B. Lazowski

Alan B. Lazowski is chairman, chief operating officer, and founder of Connecticut-based LAZ Parking, which has parking garages throughout the United States. He co-founded the company in 1981 while attending the University of Connecticut and has grown LAZ Parking into a national hospitality parking company. He also has completed coursework at Harvard University specializing in real estate investment analysis.

LAZ Parking’s mission statement begins with “Create opportunities for our employees.” Lazowski is a well-respected philanthropist who has given both time and money to various charitable efforts and started the LAZ Parking Charitable Foundation in 2009.

Lazowski has received numerous professional awards, including the Thomas and Bette Wolff Family Entrepreneurship Award from the University of Connecticut, the NAACP Civil Rights Award, the Anti-Defamation League’s Torch of Liberty Award, the Junior Achievement Business Hall of Fame Award, and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Hartford Business Journal.

He is on the board of directors of the National Parking Association, the Green Parking Council, Women in Parking, the Goodwin College Foundation, The Bushnell, the Greater Hartford Jewish Federation, the Hebrew Home and Hospital, the Anti-Defamation League, the Hartford Economic Development Corporation, and the Chabad House of Greater Hartford.

He also is the founder and co-chair of the Voices of Hope organization created by descendants of Holocaust survivors. In 2014, President Barack Obama selected Lazowski to serve on the United States Holocaust Memorial Council.

Rabbi Philip Lazowski, Doctor of Humane Letters

Rabbi Lazowski

Philip Lazowski, PhD, is rabbi emeritus at Beth Hillel Synagogue and a member and past president of the Education Council of Greater Hartford and the Educators Assembly of Connecticut. He has ministered as chaplain at Hartford Hospital’s Institute of Living for the past 40 years and, from 1972 to 2015, as chaplain for the Hartford Police. He is also chaplain of the Connecticut State Senate.

A Holocaust survivor, Rabbi Lazowski has authored 14 books. His first, Faith and Destiny, is the autobiographical account of how, as a young boy, his “faith and sheer will to survive carried him through four years of fear, tragedy, and horror in Nazi-occupied Poland.” When he was 12, Rabbi Lazowski’s mother pushed him from the window of a movie theater in Zetl, Poland, and told him to save himself, be somebody, and tell the world what was going on. The rabbi has spoken to thousands across the globe about his experiences and the Holocaust.

Rabbi Lazowski has taught modern Hebrew at the University and serves on the University’s Maurice Greenberg Center for Judaic Studies Board of Visitors.

He received his Bachelor of Religious Education from the Teachers Institute of Yeshiva University in 1955, his Bachelor of Arts from Brooklyn College in 1956, and his Master of Science from Yeshiva University’s Graduate School of Education in 1960. He was ordained as rabbi by the Academy of Higher Jewish Learning in 1962 and awarded his doctorate of Jewish Literature from Jewish Teachers Seminary and People’s University in 1970. He was awarded his doctorate by the Jewish Theological Seminary in 1985. He is also licensed permanently as a Hebrew School principal.

Rabbi Lazowski and his wife, the former Ruth Rabinowitz of Hartford, have three married sons, Barry, Alan, and David. The rabbi and Alan (CEO of LAZ Parking) helped fund the University’s Rwanda Teachers Education Program, which includes genocide education.

Calvin Trillin, Doctor of Letters

Calvin Trillin

Calvin Trillin has been acclaimed in fields of writing that are remarkably diverse. As someone who has published solidly reported pieces in The New Yorker for more than 50 years, he has been called “perhaps the finest reporter in America.” His wry commentaries on the American scene and his books chronicling his adventures as a “happy eater” have earned him renown as “a classic American humorist.” His About Alice, a 2007 New York Times bestseller, was hailed as “a miniature masterpiece.”

Trillin was born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri, and now lives in New York. He graduated from Yale in 1957, served in the army, and then joined Time. In 1963, he became a staff writer for The New Yorker. From 1967 to 1982, he produced a highly praised series of articles for The New Yorker called “U.S. Journal”—3,000‑word pieces every three weeks from somewhere in the United States on subjects that ranged from the murder of a farmer’s wife in Iowa to the author’s effort to write the definitive history of a Louisiana restaurant called Didee’s “or to eat an awful lot of baked duck and dirty rice trying.” Some of the murder stories from that series were published in 1984 as Killings, a book The New York Times Book Review called “that rarity, reportage as art.”

From 1978 to 1985, Trillin was a columnist for The Nation, and from 1996 to 2001, he wrote a column for Time. His columns have been collected in five books. His Quite Enough of Calvin Trillin was awarded the Thurber Prize for American Humor in 2011. Since 1990, Trillin has written a piece of comic verse weekly for The Nation. His books of what he calls deadline poetry have all been New York Times bestsellers.

Trillin lectures widely and has written and presented two critically acclaimed one‑man shows at the American Place Theatre in New York. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.