2019 Alumni Awards Honor 15 Graduates and University Partners for Outstanding Local and Global Contributions


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Chicago, IL — September 19, 2019 — Illinois Institute of Technology will recognize 15 individuals for their outstanding contributions to the university, their respective professional fields, and the greater community.

The 15 recipients of the 2019 Alumni Awards come from a wide variety of backgrounds, including technology, business, architecture, and health care. Award winners will be honored during a ceremony at 2 p.m. Friday, September 20, at Illinois Tech in the Hermann Hall Ballroom. Click here to RSVP.

All award recipients are Illinois Tech alumni, with the exception of the Galvin Award recipient, which is reserved exclusively for deserving non-alumni. This year’s honorees include the creator of Amazon Alexa; a 101-year-old Chicago activist whose life is recorded in the United States Congressional Record; Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s grandson who is also a successful Chicago architect; the first African-American executive at Sears, Roebuck and Company who led design innovations; and a physician who helped build and now runs a Guatemalan orphanage.

Below are the recipients:

Alumni Medal
John P. Calamos Sr. (ECON '63, M.B.A. '70): veteran, successful businessman, a member of the Illinois Tech Board of Trustees since 2004, and a generous donor to many university priorities, including the establishment of an endowed chair for the dean of Stuart School of Business and an endowed chair of philosophy in Lewis College of Human Sciences.

Alumni Service Award
Steven F. Weiss (ARCH '73): a dedicated member of the Illinois Tech community, who is also an Alumni Association Board director and board chair of the Mies van der Rohe Society.

Collens Merit Award
Dirk Lohan, FAIA: Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s grandson, who has been on the Illinois Tech Board of Trustees since 1987, who has helped restore campus facilities while helping guide future development priorities.

Galvin Award
Peter B. Cherry: the son of past Illinois Tech Trustee Walter Cherry, who continues his father’s legacy through a multitude of contributions to campus.

International Award of Merit
Mitchell Golbus (PSYC '60): a physician who joined a medical mission to rural Guatemala, which led to him helping build an orphanage and then run it as executive director.

John J. Schommer Honor I Award
Matthew Pearson (ME '04, MAE '06, Ph.D.'11): a former Illinois Tech athlete who learned teamwork and leadership while on the swim team. He went on to work for United Technologies Research Center (UTRC), the corporate research center for all of United Technologies’ businesses.

Lifetime Achievement Award

Charles A. Harrison Jr. (M.S. DSGN '63): the first African-American executive in Sears, Roebuck and Company history when he became chief product designer in the 1980s. He helped design products such as the Dial-o-Matic food cutter, riding lawn mower, the cordless shaver, the portable hair dryer, the see-through measuring cup, and Craftsman power tools.

Walter Nathan (ME '44): a veteran and successful businessman who became a member of the Illinois Tech Board of Trustees in 1998 and went on to become a well-respected and beloved booster, tirelessly supporting capital projects, scholarships, fellowships, research, as well as Illinois Tech alumni, trustees, students, faculty, and staff.

Outstanding Young Alumnus/Alumna Award

Saurabha Bhatnagar (CS '02): the deputy chief medical officer in the Office of Electronic Health Record Modernization in the United States Department of Veterans Affairs who uses his background in computer science to bring a unique perspective to health care.

Manish Motwani (CPE '03, M.S. CS '06): an early employee with Cleversafe, one of the most successful companies to emerge from Illinois Institute of Technology’s startup incubator program.

Suruchi S. Thakore (MBB '05): a physician whose research is focused on the influence of hormonal contraception on the human immune system within the female reproductive tract and its relationship to acquiring viral infections.

Professional Achievement Award

Charles N. Haas (BIOL '73, M.S. ENVE '74): developed a concept of quantitative microbial risk assessment (QMRA) that is a fundamental concept used in deciding drinking water standards. It has been used to approach wastewater reuse in the United States and around the world.

Beatrice Lumpkin (M.S. MT '71): worked as an activist, author, educator, consultant, organizer, and advocate for the rights of women, laborers, and African Americans for 83 years. In August 2018 her life was entered into the United States Congressional Record in honor of her 100th birthday.

Rohit Prasad (M.S. EE '99): leads Amazon Alexa research and development in artificial intelligence technologies aimed at making interaction with Alexa a seamless experience for customers.

William S. Saric (ME '63, Ph.D. '68): shapes the research priorities and investments of multiple federal agencies as one of the most influential researchers in the field of fluid instabilities and transition to turbulence.

About Illinois Institute of Technology

Illinois Institute of Technology, also known as Illinois Tech, is a private, technology-focused, research university, located in Chicago, offering undergraduate and graduate degrees in engineering, science, architecture, business, design, human sciences, applied technology, and law. One of 21 institutions that comprise the Association of Independent Technological Universities (AITU), Illinois Tech offers exceptional preparation for professions that require technological sophistication, an innovative mindset, and an entrepreneurial spirit.