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Student Life
April 28, 2017

Charter Day Celebrates Scholarship

Duns Scotus Honor Society Students, Global Humanitarian Fr. Patrick Desbois & Thomas J. Volpe Honored

St. Francis College proudly celebrated its top students and Fr. Patrick Desbois, a man working to honor victims of the Holocaust, at the 133rd Charter Day convocation on April 28, 2017.

(Watch the Charter Day Ceremony)

During the event, President of the Duns Scotus Honor Society Adriannah Rodriguez '17 inducted the new class of Honor Society Members and helped announce the recipient of the Duns Scotus Scholarship and next year's President Valerie Kaufmann '18.

(See the SFCTV story on Duns Scotus)

In addition Josephine Leone '08, HR Business Partner, Global Finance & Audit at National Grid announced the three accounting students who were awarded the National Grid Scholarship and Internship, Jimmy Blanc '18, Barry Margulies '18, and Ginal Patel '19, whose scholarship is named for recently retired Executive Vice President June McGrisken '76. McGrisken is one of more than 100 St. Francis graduates who went on to work at National Grid and its predecessors Brooklyn Union and KeySpan.

duns scotus

The Keynote address was delivered by Father Patrick Desbois, a Professor at the Center for Jewish Civilization at Georgetown University. Fr. Desbois is also President of Yahad-In Unum, a global humanitarian organization dedicated to identifying and commemorating the sites of Jewish and Roma mass executions in Eastern Europe during World War II. Fr. Desbois was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa.

Thomas J. Volpe, Chairman Emeritus of the St. Francis College Board of Trustees received the St. Francis College Entrepreneurship Award. Mr. Volpe founded the Thomas J. Volpe Lecture Series more than 20 years ago and has helped bring a long list of world leaders in a variety of field to St. Francis College; including Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson (Cosmos), Jerry Greenfield (Ben & Jerry's), Mariane Pearl (wife of slain reporter Daniel Pearl), Paul Rusesabagina (the real Hotel Rwanda hero), and Lech Walesa (former President of Poland, Nobel Prize winner).

The College also honored faculty, administrators and staff who have served at St. Francis for 15 and 25 years.

Duns Scotus Honor Society Inductees
Founded in 1935, the Duns Scotus Society is named for the Blessed Duns Scotus, a Franciscan scholar and champion of Our Lady's Immaculate Conception. Election to membership in the Society is based on scholastic standing, participation in extracurricular activities, evidence of loyalty to the ideals of St. Francis College and demonstration of a true Franciscan spirit.

Duns Scotus Inductees
Kurt Timothy Dee '17
Courtney Eng '17
Vuk Kesic '17
Milica Mladjenovic '17
Christina E. Nicolazzi '17
Krisztina Rudinszky '17
Arber Sejdiu '17
Dena Marie Cronen '18
Quynh Truc Dang '18
Valerie Patricia Kaufmann '18
Kejsi Shkreta '18

Honorary Duns Scotus Inductees
Naomi Kinley, Director of the Career Center

David B. Loutfi '13, Supervisor of Community Partnerships & Special Events, Office of Community Partnerships, Special Events, and Campus Security

Pax et Bonum Medal
Instituted by the Board of Trustees and named from one of the earliest greetings of St. Francis of Assisi, this medal recognizes and honors those members of the faculty who have completed 15 or 25 years or more of dedicated, loyal preeminent service at St. Francis College. "Peace and Goodness" is a simple yet meaningful expression of the objective of Franciscan educators.

15 years

  • Esther Adebayo-Olojo, Ph.D., Adjunct Instructor, Chemistry & Physics Department
  • Elizabeth Albrecht, Adjunct Instructor, English Department
  • Yakov Bass, Adjunct Instructor, Chemistry & Physics Department
  • Anthony Diodato, Adjunct Instructor, Management & Information Technology Department
  • Mark Gjelaj, Adjunct Instructor, Sociology and Criminal Justice Department
  • Leonard T. Jordan '98, Adjunct Instructor, Management & Information Technology Department
  • Steven M. Lipson, Ph.D., Professor, Biology & Health Science Department
  • Mary L. Martin, Adjunct Instructor, Nursing Department
  • Carmine P. Nogara, Professor & Chair, Accounting & Business Law Department
  • Erez Shochat '97, Associate Professor, Mathematics Department
  • Simonetta Wiener, J.D., Adjunct Instructor, Foreign Languages, Fine Arts & International Cultural Studies Department

President's Award
The President's Award was instituted in 1972 to honor non-instructional personnel and the significant contribution they make to St. Francis College. The award recognizes administration and staff who have 15 years and 25 years of meritorious service.

15 years

  • Jaime Chauca, Director of Enterprise Systems, Information Technology Department
  • Monica Michalski '01, Associate Dean for Student Success, Freshman Studies Department
  • Linda Werbel Dashefsky, J.D., Vice President of Government & Community Relations, Government & Community Relations Department

25 years

  • Sofiya Kagan, Library Clerk, Library Department

Charter Day commemorates May 8, 1884, the day the Legislature of the State of New York granted an official Charter to the Board of Trustees of St. Francis Monastery allowing the College to formally award degrees to students. The St. Francis Academy was founded almost thirty years earlier in 1859 by two Franciscan Brothers who were sent to Brooklyn from Ireland with the mission of educating the borough's working class people.

Fr. Patrick Desbois
Father Patrick Desbois has devoted his life to researching the Holocaust, fighting anti-Semitism, and furthering relations between Catholics and Jews. Father Desbois is a Catholic priest and President of Yahad – In Unum, a global humanitarian organization he founded in 2004 dedicated to identifying and commemorating the sites of Jewish and Roma mass executions in Eastern Europe during World War II.

Father Desbois is a Professor at Georgetown University, where he is on the faculty for the Center for Jewish Civilization. He also served as director of the Episcopal Committee for Catholic-Judeo Relations from 1999 until 2016, under the auspices of the French Conference of Bishops. He is the grandson of a WWII French prisoner held in the Rawa Ruska camp on the Poland-Ukraine border. In 2004, he began to research the story of the Jews, Roma and other victims murdered in Eastern Europe during WWII by the Nazi mobile killing units, the Einsatzgruppen. His work through Yahad has been recognized through numerous awards and public commentary in France and throughout the world. Father Desbois is also the author of "The Holocaust by Bullets: A Priest's Journey to Uncover the Truth Behind the Murder of 1.5 Million Jews", Winner of the National Jewish Book Award, and the recently released "The Fabric of Terrorists: Into the Secrets of Daesh", based on his investigation of the Yezidid genocide in Iraq.

Thomas J. Volpe
Thomas J. Volpe, the former Senior Vice President of Financial Operations for The Interpublic Group of Companies and Chairman Emeritus of the St. Francis College Board of Trustees, is also the founder and benefactor of the prestigious Thomas J. Volpe Lecture Series, which is designed to further expand the horizons of SFC students by introducing them to world-renowned speakers from the arenas of politics, literature, journalism, business and entertainment.

Throughout his career, Thomas has always found the time to be involved with civic and community affairs, including, but not limited to his strong support of the Center for Entrepreneurship.

After graduating from Brooklyn College in 1957, Tom earned his MBA in marketing and finance from Baruch College. After working for Deloitte Haskins & Sells, he joined Colgate Palmolive Company where he held a series of international positions before becoming Vice President and Treasurer in 1981. In 1986, Tom joined The Interpublic Group of Companies, Inc. He served as director of several public companies and currently with private equity investments.

Tom also serves as a board member for Englewood Hospital in New Jersey and Urban Glass in Brooklyn. He is former president of the New York Chapter of Financial Executives International. St. Francis College presented Tom with an honorary doctorate degree of Commercial Sciences in 1997.

Tom and his wife, Anita, live in New York City and New Jersey. They have three children, seven granddaughters and one grandson.

St. Francis College, founded in 1859 by the Franciscan Brothers of Brooklyn, is located in Brooklyn Heights, N.Y. Since its founding, the College has pursued its Franciscan mission to provide an affordable, high-quality education to students from New York City's five boroughs and beyond.


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