10 UD alumni honored as Presidential Citation for Outstanding Achievement recipients
11:42 a.m., Oct. 24, 2014--Ten University of Delaware alumni were honored as recipients of the Presidential Citation for Outstanding Achievement during a ceremony held Friday evening, Oct. 17, in the Roselle Center for the Arts as part of Homecoming Weekend festivities.
UD President Patrick Harker welcomed the honorees and their guests and noted that Friday’s event marked the 21st year for the Presidential Citations.
Underdogs no more
Harker told the attendees, “In a community of more than 165,000 living Blue Hens, we have our fair share of exceptional alumni, graduates who embody the UD ideals of excellence, of talent, discipline, passion, and vision. Tonight’s honorees join a much smaller, more distinguished group of 233 members.”
He spoke about the recipients at this year’s ceremony being leaders in social networking and entertainment IT, agriculture and farming, education, engineering and environmental research, finance, politics, higher education, law, and nursing and health sciences. He went on to say, “That’s a big footprint in a lot of different disciplines.”
Harker thanked the citation recipients for “being leaders who give back. I thank you for caring about this University and its students. I thank you for your generosity, of time and talent, of intellect and energy. I thank you for helping us build a better UD, not just by the distinction of your achievements, but by the power of your service and the wisdom of your counsel. I thank you for constantly renewing your relationship with the University, for showing us the strength in community, for living our mission every day in your commitment to excellence, and for helping us graduate young men and women whom we hope to recognize with an honor like this a few years from now.”
Scott A. Barber, who earned his bachelor’s degree in chemistry and an endorsement to teach high school chemistry in 1996, is head of quality for Community Operations at Facebook. In this role, he leads the team working to improve and scale the effectiveness of the company’s account support and abusive content review processes for the 1.3 billion people Facebook serves.
His team works closely with teams across Facebook to design and launch global programs to track and improve quality so that Facebook can continue to grow as a safe place where people share the important moments in their life with their friends and family.
Prior to joining Facebook in 2012, Barber spent 12 years with Apple Inc. in a variety of technical and operations management roles supporting their Education Sales division. He helped to grow Apple’s Professional Development and Services organization and managed service provider quality, field consulting and operations teams. He was successful in helping public schools and colleges implement Apple's products and was named systems engineer of the year in 2001, outstanding consulting engineer in 2004, and consulting engineer of the year in 2005.
His career in educational technology started as director of technology for the Cranbury Township School District after teaching in New Jersey for a few years after graduation.
James (Jay) H. Baxter IV, who earned his bachelor’s degree in agriculture in 2002, is a fourth generation farmer at Baxter Farms Inc. in Georgetown, Delaware. The Baxter farming operation was established from a small farm and tomato canning operation when James Baxter Sr. moved from Baltimore in the early 1900s.
Baxter currently manages and farms the 2,800 acres owned by his family. A majority of the acreage that is tilled is corn and soybeans, but he continues to increase the acreage into food grade crops including sweet corn, lima beans, and edamame.
Baxter Farms is committed to preserving today’s farmland and is proud to include over 1,200 acres into Delaware’s Farmland Preservation. The corporation has recently expanded its tillable land with the purchase of adjacent farmland and rental opportunities in order to continue to feed local and national families.
The farming operation also includes overseeing the production of 200,000 broiler chickens, which are raised for Mountaire Farms Inc.
Baxter’s professional service to Delaware agriculture has grown to include leadership roles with the Delaware Farm Bureau, the Delaware Soybean Board, the Young Farmers and Ranchers, and the Delmarva Poultry Industry. In addition, as a member of the Georgetown Volunteer Fire Company, he has provided great support to the citizens of Sussex County.
Emmanuel Caulk Jr. received his bachelor’s degree in elementary education and teaching in 1996 and master’s degree in educational leadership and administration in 2002, both from UD. He also earned a juris doctor’s degree from Widener University School of Law in 2001.
He is the superintendent of Portland Public Schools in Portland, Maine. Portland Public Schools is the largest district in the state of Maine serving 7,000 students prekindergarten through grade 12 and over 4,000 adults who attended the Portland Adult Education program.
Previously, he served as the assistant superintendent with the school district of Philadelphia and he supervised Academic Division 8 comprised of 36 schools serving 16,500 students. Under his leadership schools demonstrated gains in reading and math as measured by student performance on the state assessment. He also served as the assistant regional superintendent and deputy chief for the office of instruction and leadership support.
Caulk previously served as a leadership coach on the high school transformation project with Chicago public schools and later as a regional director with a charter organization.
He is currently a board member on the New England School Development Council, the Boys and Girls Club of Southern Maine, the United Way of Greater Portland, and is a former board member of the Addiction Coalition of Delaware.
Cedrick A. Johnson, who received a bachelor of science degree in civil engineering in 1995, is the founder and president of Airport Design Consultants Inc. (ADCI). ADCI has grown to 40 professionals in just eight years during challenging economic times and provides services in over 13 states nationwide. ADCI has won multiple awards for design excellence in the U.S.
Johnson is a licensed professional engineer in 10 states and is highly sought after to provide clients with solutions that are easily able to integrate complex airfield improvement projects into an airport’s active, operating environment. His experience includes both large commercial service and regional airports throughout the country.
He works with airport sponsors and authorities, operations, airlines, tenants, the Federal Aviation Administration, and air traffic control tower personnel.
Previously, he was employed at URS Corporation, the largest engineering firm in the U.S., where he rose quickly from an entry-level engineer to a highly sought after senior project manager.
He is a frequent speaker at the University of Pennsylvania’s annual airports conference. This nationally recognized conference provides government officials, airport owners/management, consultants, contractors, and others with the latest information on airport programs and policies as well as practical experience for developing an airport system that will satisfy aviation needs/interests, consider related economics, environmental compatibility, local property rights, and safeguard the public’s investment.
M. Brandon Jones, who received his master’s degree and doctorate in marine studies in 1995 and 2004, respectively, is the assistant center director for ecosystems research with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In this role, he coordinates the infusion of ecosystems concepts to support an integrated vision of human health, tribal and fellowship focused research as it relates to the Office of Research and Development’s Sustainable and Healthy Communities Research Program.
As the Matrix interface, he serves on the Sustainable and Healthy Communities national program director's team as the point person for research matters concerning EPA’s National Center for Environmental Research. He also serves as the fellowship programs manager, where he is the lead for EPA’s higher education student support and professional development programs, including both the STAR graduate and GRO undergraduate fellowships.
In 2009, he received the agency award for Exemplary Leadership in National Equal Employment Opportunities and EPA region awards in 2010 and 2013. He serves as: the EPA representative for OSTP’s STEM Strategic Plan Inter-agency Task Force; a member of the National Science Foundation’s Advisory Committee for Environmental Science and Education Programs, Diversity Initiative; a member of the National Science Foundation’s Committee of Visitors for Ocean Sciences Directorate; and as a member of the Center of Ocean Science Education Excellence National Advisory Committee.
David L. Margalit was a Eugene du Pont Distinguished Scholar and earned his bachelor’s degree from the Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics in 1997. In 2001, he earned his MBA from Harvard Business School. He is the chief operating officer for the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority. In this role he is responsible for developing and implementing strategies and systems to scale the clean energy economy and provide a more resilient and efficient energy system in New York.
Formerly a senior adviser in the office of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, he led the city of New York’s efforts to improve customer service and online services for businesses. As deputy commissioner for the city’s Department of Small Business Services, he led the development and delivery of a suite of services to help businesses start and expand, drove a turnaround of the city’s job and training services, and instituted improvements to customer service across multiple city agencies.
His experiences in the private sector include work at Accela Inc., where as vice president of services he grew the company’s ability to implement technology that automates government services. Additionally, he worked at Oracle Corp. and has served as an adjunct professor at the Wagner School of Public Policy at New York University.
Wesley T. Proctor received his bachelor's degree in English with a concentration in business and technical writing in 1993. He earned a master's degree in 1994 from Temple University in education with a concentration in higher education administration. After obtaining his master's degree, he was awarded the Dr. Marcus Foster Fellowship for outstanding academic and community service. He obtained the doctorate of education degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1998. His dissertation was titled A Piece of the Ivy: A Case Study of Black Student Retention and his final defense merited distinction by his committee.
While at Penn, he worked for Judith Rodin, the first female president of the University of Pennsylvania, as her speechwriter. In 2003, he was appointed as the director of Multicultural Recruitment Program for the University of Pennsylvania. Proctor is the executive administrator and youth pastor of Victory Christian Center. He has published four books: How to Give Your Pastor a Happy Anniversary; Footprints of the Future: A Youth Journal Vol. I; Footprints of the Future: A Christian Guide to Sexual Issues Vol. II; and Footprints of the Future, the Complete Edition. In addition, he is the CEO and founder of Wesley Proctor Ministries Inc., which is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting spiritual and academic excellence.
Michael R. Seidl earned his doctorate in English from UD in 1995 and prior to that he earned both his undergraduate and graduates degrees from James Madison University. While still writing his Ph.D. dissertation, he enrolled in law school, and later graduated from Georgetown University Law Center, where he served as managing editor of the Journal of Law and Policy in International Business.
Seidl is a partner and attorney at Pachulski Stang Ziehl and Jones LLP in Wilmington, Delaware, and is admitted to practice law in Delaware and the District of Columbia. In his current capacity, he advises and represents corporate debtors, committees, and others on bankruptcy, insolvency, and related litigation. He has provided legal representation to a multitude of companies including: AmeriServe Food Distribution, American Eco Holding Corp., eToys, Filene’s Basement, Superior TeleCom, the Great Train Store Co., Pathmark Stores, United Artists Theatre Co. and Western Nonwovens.
His expertise is in business litigation, Chapter 11 and bankruptcy and he served as co-counsel for several cases that were recognized with awards to his firm. Prior to joining Pachulski Stang Ziehl and Jones, Seidl served as an associate with Wolf Block where he represented clients in bankruptcy and corporate matters.
Mark L. Strazzer earned his bachelor’s degree in health and physical education in 2002 and a master’s in health education and promotion from East Carolina University in 2012. He serves as a health and physical education teacher, coach and athletic director at Rainbow Community School in Asheville, North Carolina. Previously, he served as a health and physical education teacher at Owen Middle School where he chaired the encore team and wellness committee and served on the literacy team.
Previously, he worked as an assistant program director in Saathi, Mumbai, India, teaching health, physical education and teamwork to homeless K-12 youth. He worked with the Youth Initiative Project and created a Games and Initiatives Packet to facilitate staff training on how to implement the activities in their daily outreach work with homeless teens of Mumbai.
In 2006, he was named the North Carolina Alliance for Athletics, Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance (NCAAHPERD) Middle School Coach of the Year. He has presented at several NCAAHPERD conferences and the National PE Conference and has published lesson plans on PECentral.org. He partners with many community organizations such as Our Voice and the YMCA to expand upon the learning experience for all students and he’s served on the board of directors for the Asheville Ultimate Community since 2002.
Norine Watson, who received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing in 1993 and 1997, respectively, is the director of nursing excellence with Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children (AIDH). In this role, she is responsible for the nursing professional development team, which includes nurse clinicians, clinical nurse specialists, clinical nurse educators, healing touch practitioner and a lactation consultant.
She develops departmental budgets, plans and implements continuing education programs and coordinates all of the affiliate schools of nursing clinical experiences, including those for University of Delaware nursing students.
She served as president of the Delaware Nurses Association and was selected as a representative of the American Nurses Association during a health care reform rally at Arcadia University in 2010 where she joined President Barack Obama on stage.
One of her most significant accomplishments was her leadership in the pursuit of AIDH’s Magnet designation, recognizing the hospital for nursing excellence and outstanding patient care. She facilitated the development of goals and timelines and AIDH was awarded Magnet Designation in fall 2012. She has received numerous awards including Delaware Today’s 2013 “Top Nurse” in the category of Advancing and Leading the Profession, 2012 Nurse of the Year at the Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children and several others in leadership, mentorship and nursing education.
Photos by Kathy F. Atkinson