Saint Peter’s College Honors Distinguished Alumni at Awards Ceremony – April 3, 2008

Jersey City, NJ – This year, on Thursday, April 3, Saint Peter’s College honors three individuals and a family of four at the Distinguished Alumni Awards held at the Pleasantdale Chateau in West Orange, New Jersey. Created in 1992 to recognize the outstanding contributions made by the College’s graduates in their profession, community or to alma mater, the Awards include the Professional Achievement Award, the Service to Community Award and the Loyalty to Alma Mater Award. In 1997, the Honorary Alumnus Award was added. All proceeds from this annual event support the Annual Scholarship Fund for undergraduate students at the Jesuit College of New Jersey.


Ralph R. Russo, President & CEO of Strategic Polymer, Inc., is the recipient of this year’s Professional Achievement Award. The 1970 graduate of Saint Peter’s has more than 30 years of experience managing firms through challenging business situations. Most of his career was spent at Apple Computer Corporation where he eventually became Vice-President of World-Wide Operations and a member of the company’s Executive Committee. Ralph earned his MBA from Regis University in Denver, Colorado; he also holds certificates in operations and marketing management from the Harvard Business School and Stanford Business School. A member of the Board of Trustees of Seton Medical Center in Daly City, California, he is also on the Volunteer Services staff for Sequoia Hospital in Redwood City, California. He lives in Atherton, California with his family.


The Service to Community Award will be given to Robert G. Lahita, MD, Ph.D, FACP, FACR, FRCP, who is Chairman of the Department of Medicine at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center. He also serves as a senior attending physician at Saint Vincent’s Medical Center in New York City, and teaches at Mount Sinai Medical Center and New York Medical College in the same city. Bob’s generosity and civic-mindedness are legendary: his responses to the World Trade Center attacks in 1993 and in 2001 in both Jersey City and at Ground Zero are among the many instances when he immediately assisted during a crisis. He also offers his time as a member of the Board of Trustees at Saint Peter’s, where he received his BA in 1967. Bob earned his medical degree from the Jefferson Medical College and his doctorate in microbiology from the Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia. Currently, he resides with his wife in Saddle River, New Jersey.


The Loyalty to Alma Mater Award will honor the Michalik family, whose relationship with Saint Peter’s began in 1947, when Benjamin, now deceased, became Professor of Economics, eventually serving as both associate chairman and chairman of the department. During his 46-year tenure with the College, Benjamin received the Bene Merenti Medal and the George F. Johnson, S.J. Award for excellence in teaching.


Following in their father’s footsteps, the Michalik children, Geraldine, Cecilia and Joseph, studied economics, earning their undergraduate degrees from Saint Peter’s College. Geraldine, a graduate from the class of 1971, later received her MBA from New York University and doctorate from Pacific Western University. Currently, she is Chief Operating Officer and Director of Credit Research for Ryan Labs; at one time, she was an adjunct lecturer of economics at Saint Peter’s. Her sister, Cecilia, who graduated from Saint Peter’s in 1971, received her MBA from Boston College. Most recently, she was Executive Vice President with Ford Credit U.S. until her retirement in 2007. She is currently on the College’s Board of Trustees. Joseph, an alumnus from the class of 1983, also received his MBA from New York University. Presently Vice President and Chief Credit Officer of MetLife Bank, NA, Joseph served on Saint Peter’s Alumni Board from 1991 – 1997.


The Honorary Alumnus Award will be given to Fred Cranwell, who arrived at Saint Peter’s as a student in 1952. Although he withdrew from classes two years later, he remained at the College as Director of Sports Information. Throughout the next fifty years, Fred developed a career in sports journalism at publications such as the New York Daily News, Newsday and the Jersey Journal; during that period, he also returned to Saint Peter’s to manage sports information. From 1995 until he retired ten years later, Fred worked as the College’s Director of Public Affairs and Director of Publications. A member of Saint Peter’s Athletic Hall of Fame, as well as the Hudson County Hall of Fame, he currently lives in Cornelius, North Carolina.


For more information about the scholarship fund or to purchase tickets for the dinner ($350 each), phone 201-761-6122.


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Saint Peter’s College is the Jesuit College of New Jersey. Founded in 1872, Saint Peter’s has an enrollment of approximately 3,000 students in undergraduate and graduate programs. The main campus is located in Jersey City. The College has a branch campus for adults in Englewood Cliffs, NJ and also offers courses at various corporate sites at the Jersey City waterfront and in South Amboy, NJ.