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Distinguished Alumni Awards to be Presented at Massachusetts State House

April 1, 2013
Press Release
Distinguished Alumni Awards to be Presented at
Massachusetts State House

February 21, 2013: Amherst, Mass – The UMass Amherst Alumni Association is proud to announce the 2013 recipients of its most prestigious recognition for alumni, faculty and friends: the Distinguished Alumni Awards. This year’s recipients have translated their UMass Amherst experience into distinguished achievement in their field of endeavor, bringing honor to the University of Massachusetts Amherst.  Mel Yoken '60, '72 PhD: Distinguished Alumni Award

For over a half a century, Yoken has studied or taught French language and literature within the University of Massachusetts system. Chancellor Professor Emeritus of French Language and Literature at UMass Dartmouth, Yoken began his teaching career in 1961 and still meets and advises students on a regular basis.

Mary Deane Sorcinelli '78 EdD: Distinguished Alumni Service Award

Sorcinelli is Associate Provost for Faculty Development, Director of the Center for Teaching and Learning, and Professor of Educational Policy, Research and Administration at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.   The Center supports the professional development of faculty across all career stages and disciplines.

Michaela Pommells '02: Distinguished Young Alumni Award

Pommells is a social justice strategist, organizer, educator and blogger. She develops curricula and facilitates racial justice and anti-oppression training modules for youth and educators in K-12 schools and universities. She presents regularly at community lectures and interdisciplinary conferences on the historical contexts and present-day impacts of institutional racism and translating the theory of racial justice into practice.

Fred Feldman: Distinguished Faculty Award

After 42 years of teaching philosophy at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Feldman is still leading large introductory lecture classes. Some 21,000 students have taken courses with Feldman since 1969 when he joined the Department of Philosophy, with twenty-eight of his dissertation students achieving successful careers teaching philosophy.

Richard Neal: Distinguished Honorary Alumni Award

At-Large Whip for House Democrats and co-chairman of the New England Congressional Caucus, Neal was first elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1988. He represents the first District of Massachusetts, which includes cities and towns in western and central Massachusetts. He is a member of the powerful Ways and Means Committee and the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Select Revenue Measures. For more than a decade, Neal has been a lecturer in the Journalism Program at UMass Amherst where he teaches the course, “The Politician and the Journalist.” He has participated in and supported a variety of events on campus, including serving as a name reader at the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences Senior Celebration Ceremony.

Alumni Association Board President Ron Grasso '92 will present the awards at 12:00 p.m. on Wednesday, April 3, 2013 in the Great Hall at the Massachusetts State House in Boston.  This prestigious event is sponsored by Alden Credit Union, Marsh U.S. Consumer and Coca-Cola, supporting the UMass Amherst Alumni Association’s “Leaders in the Making” Scholarship Endowment Fund. Scholarships are awarded annually to promising sophomores and juniors who exhibit academic excellence and leadership through volunteerism. 

For more information, please visit https://umassalumni.com/awards/distinguished_recipients.html.

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Media Contact:
Elena Lamontagne