Volume 11, Number 3, 2002


News from the Alumni Association

12 UD alums honored with Presidential Citations

Twelve University of Delaware alumni were honored with Presidential Citations for Outstanding Achievement during Homecoming on Friday, Oct. 11, in Mitchell Hall on the campus in Newark. The citations recognize distinguished alumni who graduated within the last 20 years and have exhibited great promise in their professional or public service activities.

Honored were Lou Abbruzzesi of Purcellville, Va.; Virginia Corrigan of Wilmington; David DeWalt of Danville, Calif.; Iris Gibbs of Palo Alto, Calif.; Tyron Jones of New York City; Mark Lasoff of Oak Park, Calif.; Ann Lemon of New York City and Mohnton, Pa.; Zhi Lin of Seattle; Richard Mroz of Haddonfield, N.J.; Diane Robina of Mamaroneck, N.Y.; Nancy Sottos of Champaign, Ill.; and Leo Strine of Hockessin.

Lou Abbruzzesi

Abbruzzesi, who earned a bachelor's degree in business administration in 1992, has gone on to become a significant contributor to the voice/speech industry in numerous capacities. Along with two partners, he founded the iAmigo Corp., now known as Cambridge VoiceTech. The company is the leader in VoiceXML, the new industry-standard programming environment for advanced speech recognition and voice automation applications. Abbruzzesi lives in Purcellville, Va., with his wife, Judy, and two children, Austin and Sophie.

"The University of Delaware is more than my alma mater; it was the backdrop of my adolescence. As a resident of Newark since 1976, I took advantage of the University long before I was even in high school. The beautiful campus, the library and the pool were my stomping grounds. Most important, though, was the access to technology in the computer labs on campus. My interest in technology was born at UD, and it was nourished there until I graduated. I am thankful to the University for allowing me to be one of a handful of youngsters to have gotten a sneak preview of the revolution that would take place over the next 20 years," Abbruzzesi says.

Virginia Peters Corrigan

Corrigan, who earned a bachelor's degree in nursing in 1984, is coordinator of the Injury Prevention Program for Christiana Care Health System in Delaware, focusing on injury prevention education across the age span. She also directs the Delaware chapter of Think First, a national injury prevention program, coordinating the work of volunteers who offer programs in the first through third grades and in secondary schools. Corrigan lives in Wilmington with her husband, Francis, and their sons, Daniel, Owen, and Joseph. She also is currently enrolled in a UD graduate program to become a pediatric clinical nurse specialist.

"When I was in high school, I knew that I wanted to be a nurse. My mother is a nurse, and I've known so many people whose lives were better because of her. I evaluated many colleges and universities to find one that would provide me with the education and environment that would help me achieve my goal. The outstanding reputation of the UD's College of Nursing encouraged me to visit. I was fortunate to be educated and mentored by so many remarkable nurses, so much so that I am back again completing my master's degree at UD," Corrigan said.

David G. DeWalt

DeWalt graduated from the University of Delaware in 1986 with a bachelor's degree in computer science. Today, he leads Documentum, a growing software enterprise with operations in 18 countries throughout the world. As president and chief executive officer, DeWalt has piloted the transition of Documentum from a document management company to the leader in enterprise content management. DeWalt resides in Danville, Calif. with his wife, Mary Kathleen, and children Dylan, Madeline and Genevieve.

"I originally selected the University of Delaware because of the school's overall academic excellence, particularly the engineering and computer science programs. Once accepted, I was grateful to discover that the school's athletic programs, especially wrestling, were also very strong. Balancing a heavy academic schedule with sports was the best possible preparation for my career and personal life.

"The environment at Delaware is exceptionally supportive. The faculty, students and even the town of Newark foster a strong sense of community, which had a lasting impression on me. Today, with customers, partners and employees, I strive to maintain that sense of community that was so instrumental in shaping the person that I am today," DeWalt says.

Iris C. Gibbs

Gibbs graduated cum laude from the University of Delaware in 1990 with a bachelor of science degree in chemistry. She then attended Stanford University to follow her dream of becoming a physician. Today, Gibbs serves as an assistant professor of radiation oncology at Stanford's School of Medicine. Gibbs currently is exploring the use of highly focused radiation beams to treat tumors of the brain and spinal cord. She resides in Palo Alto, Calif.

"When I came to the University of Delaware in the fall of 1986, my main goal was to maximize my career options. Though something inside told me that a career in medicine was inevitable, I chose to major in chemistry. I later appreciated that this decision would keep a variety of career options open and lead to rewarding research opportunities. Being involved in basic research at UD as an undergraduate helped me to acclimate to the world of research at Stanford University. These opportunities are definitely directly linked to the rewarding career in academic medicine that I now enjoy," Gibbs says.

Tyron D. Jones

Jones holds a bachelor of arts degree in communication, awarded in 1992, and he completed a master of fine arts degree in theatre in the Professional Theatre Training Program in 1995. Jones made his Broadway debut last year in the role of Lt. Byers in Abby Mann's Judgment at Nuremburg. He has performed the title role in Hamlet with the American Shakespeare Company.

His recent film work includes the lead in the film Kiss It Up To God that won an award at the Cannes Film Festival. Jones also appears in two soon-to-be-released films, New to New York and When Tyson Met Tyra. Jones is a founding member of the Get Together Foundation for the Children, an organization whose primary vision is to stimulate a love of learning and enrich the imagination and self-esteem of New York City's most disadvantaged children. He resides in New York City.

"My mother is a 22-year veteran of the USAF. Just before she embarked on an assignment that took her on an eight-year tour of Europe, she gave me a gift before I started classes. It was a watch. 'Son, it's time, time to take a close look not only at who and where you are, but where you are going and who you need to be to get there,' she said. During my undergrad years at Delaware, I watched and absorbed what was around me. I call those my 'spectator' years. My graduate years in the PTTP were, without question, the most profound and enlightening. I was able to identify the courage it takes to execute ideas with integrity and recognize my own potential to see that come to fruition. I was no longer a spectator but rather a player on the field," Jones says.

Mark A. Lasoff

Lasoff received bachelor's degrees from UD in electrical engineering in 1984 and in computer and information sciences in 1985. He received an Oscar for his visual effects work on the film Titanic in 1997, which has catapulted him to the top of filmmaking's visual effects world.

Lasoff has worked on several other award-winning films, including Apollo 13, The Hollow Man, True Lies, Total Recall, and The Scorpion King. He also received an Emmy Award as animation supervisor for the opening of NBC-TV's 1992 Summer Olympics. Today, he is an art director for Electronic Arts, the world's leading interactive entertainment software company. Lasoff currently lives in Oak Park, Calif., with his wife Karen.

"Quite simply, the University of Delaware transformed my life. My University experience sprang into high gear upon entering UD's Honors Program, an intimate, small college experience, within a large, well-resourced University. I was literally presented with boundless opportunities, extremely high standards, great professors and outstanding courses. I seized the opportunity. As I look back on my choice to enter the fledgling and largely unproven field of 3-D computer graphics and digital visual effects, I finally understand UD's most precious gift of all, the ability to pursue my dreams," Lasoff says.

Ann M. Lemon

Lemon graduated cum laude from the University of Delaware in 1984 with a bachelor of arts degree in visual communication and headed to New York City to begin a successful career in advertising. She now is executive creative director at the Romann Group, a midtown Manhattan advertising agency, handling such clients as Benihana Restaurants, TVGuide.com, PeopleSoft Consulting and the DISH Network. She supervises all creative output by agency writers, art directors and designers. Lemon also volunteers for such groups as the Reading Public Museum, the Caron Foundation (a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center) and the Rosie Kearney House (a halfway house for recovering women). She resides in New York City and in Mohnton, Pa., with her husband, Dane Burkhart, and their son, Amos.

"As a 17-year-old freshman in the Honors Program from Indiana, I really did not have a good grasp of the geographic location of the state of Delaware--let alone the state of my future. But my lucky star guided me, first through the wonderful classes of the Honors Program, and then into the maelstrom of Ray Nichols' Visual Communications group. I remember painting a huge banner for the front of Recitation Hall reading 'Passion'–and passion is what I found here–for thinking, for questioning, for creating, for giving back. I hope I (we) never lose it," Lemon says.

Zhi Lin

Zhi Lin, a graduate of the China National Academy of Fine Arts and the Slade School of Fine Art at the University of London, received a master's of fine arts degree in 1992 from the University of Delaware. Over the last 10 years, he has received recognition for the poignant way his artwork presents the need for social change. Lin's important works to date include a series of five large paintings, which illustrate "Five Capital Executions in China." Begun in 1992, three years after the Tiananmen Square massacre, he has focused on brutal torture methods used in China for centuries. On one level, these are beautiful works of art, but they also depict the painful, horrific brutality of the event. Currently, Lin is an assistant professor of painting at the School of Art at the University of Washington and resides in Seattle, Wash., with his wife, Mindy.

"After studying studio art in China and England, in 1989, I came to the University of Delaware. By then, I had decided to make two important transitions in my artwork: one was to relate my work to the advocacy of the positive changes in our society; the second was to represent my views in an interdisciplinary and intercultural way. The faculty and the curriculum of the UD's MFA program and the outstanding collections of art at the Library, facilitated my making such transitions," Lin says.

Richard S. Mroz

Mroz received a bachelor of arts degree in political science from the University of Delaware in 1983, graduating cum laude. He went on to receive his law degree from Villanova University and was admitted to the bar of New Jersey, Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia. In 1993, newly elected New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman appointed Mroz as the counsel for, and liaison to, the state's largest independent agencies. In 1999 Mroz was appointed to serve as Whitman's chief counsel and as her primary adviser. Today, he works as a lawyer, lobbyist and public affairs consultant concentrating on corporate matters and business development for the law firm of Stradley, Ronon, Stevens & Young.

Mroz also has maintained a strong connection with his alma mater, serving on the UD Alumni Association's board of directors for nearly 10 years and as president from 1997-99. He resides in Haddonfield, N.J., with his wife, Lynne, and their children, R.J., Julia and Caroline.

"The University of Delaware has meant many things to me. It was here that my life and experiences unfolded exponentially. The University has brought me great friends and acquaintances, the exposure to cultural and social diversity and certainly, a tremendous academic foundation that has permitted me to excel in my careers in law and public service," Mroz says.

Diane L. Robina

Robina is a 1982 graduate of the University of Delaware with a bachelor of arts degree in communication. In September 2000, she was named executive vice president and general manager of The New TNN: The National Network. Today, she leads the re-branding of the network and is responsible for its day-to-day management. A 12-year veteran of MTV Networks, Robina served as associate general manager and senior vice president of programming for TV Land since 1997 and played a key role in the programming strategy for Nick at Nite and TV Land, which she continues to do today. She currently resides in Mamaroneck, N.Y., with her husband, Mitchel Silberbush, and their two daughters, Jacqueline and Victoria.

"When I chose the University of Delaware, my decision was based on its physical attributes. The University offered a proximity to my hometown of Teaneck, N.J. It has a beautiful campus with The Green forming a canopy over bricklined paths as the stately Georgian buildings presided. However, as I began my studies, I soon discovered the true riches the University had to offer.

"My path led to the humanities and each component related to the next. At Delaware my world opened to film as a discipline, as well as the entire communication media field. The study of history, my initial major, played an equally important role as American society was studied through art, film and television–a visual approach to American history. Finally, it was the television production courses where my studies could be put into practical use.

"The greatest learning experience, however, was the life experience college offers. Delaware provided me a community to make life-long friends, whether through the classroom, dorm room or even in the back room at the Deer Park," Robina says.

Nancy R. Sottos

Sottos graduated from the University of Delaware with a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering in 1986 and earned a doctorate in mechanical engineering in 1991. Today at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, she continues her work in the field of fiber composites and applied mechanics as a professor in the department of theoretical and applied mechanics and the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology. In 1991, she became the first and remains the only female faculty member in the department. In 2002, Sottos was named University Scholar at the University of Illinois, one of six outstanding faculty members given funding each year to allow for scholarly growth. She lives in Champaign, Ill., with her husband, Greg Stanek.

"The University of Delaware provided me with an extraordinary set of educational, athletic and enrichment opportunities. My academic training was first rate, and I was fortunate to participate in the outstanding campus undergraduate research program that introduced me to scientific research at an early state and at the Center for Composite Materials, where I was immersed in interdisciplinary research. Equally important were the opportunities for personal development through participation in the women's varsity track and field program and many extracurricular activities, ranging from the Commission on the Status of Women to the Athletic Governing Board.

But, when I reflect on my years at Delaware, I realize the most profound influences came from the professors who I had the privilege to work with and learn from, in particular my Ph.D. adviser Roy McCullough, as well as the coaches, academic professionals and close friends I met along the way," Sottos says.

Leo E. Strine Jr.

In 1985, Stine received his bachelor of arts degree in political science and was elected a member of Phi Beta Kappa. While at UD, he was awarded a Harry S. Truman Scholarship and was selected as the outstanding graduate in political science. In 1988, he graduated magna cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania Law School and was selected as a member of the Order of Coif.

In November 1998, Strine was named vice chancellor of the Court of Chancery for the state of Delaware, the nationally renowned court, where litigants seek a resolution to problems involving corporate and fiduciary matters, trusts, land sales, real estate and commercial and contractual matters, before a judge without a jury. Previously, he served as counsel to then-Delaware Gov. Thomas R. Carper. Strine resides in Hockessin, with his wife, Carrie, and their sons, James and Benjamin.

"I will always look back fondly on my days at the University of Delaware. The school was sized right–big enough to be diverse and small enough to be welcoming and comfortable. The College of Arts and Science, in general, and the political science department, in particular, provided me with a challenging and substantive immersion in liberal arts and social sciences that continues to serve me well, both professionally and personally. The faculty was accessible and interested in my future, and I owe a debt of gratitude to many professors, especially Joe Pika and other members of the political science department, for their advice and friendship during those critical, formative years," Strine says.

--Lauren Dalton, AS 2003