Four alumni receive Alumni Association awards for loyalty, service
Congratulations to the 2009 recipients of the Alumni Association Awards. These recipients will be honored during Reunion Weekend, both during class events and with all alumni at Reunion Rally on Saturday, May 30, at 10:45 a.m. in the Weis Center for the Performing Arts.
Stuart E. Berelson, Class of 1959
Loyalty to Bucknell
Stuart E. Berelson graduated from Bucknell in 1959 with a degree in Political Science. He was a member of Sigma Alpha Mu fraternity and the varsity swimming and diving team. He was elected to Tau Kappa Alpha, the national debating honorary society. He has been an active loyal alumnus since graduation.
Following Bucknell, “Stu” obtained Juris Doctorate and Master of Law (Taxation) degrees from New York University School of Law, and embarked on a 48-year career in law. He served as a first lieutenant in the military police and served two years in Germany. He is counsel with the New York law firm of Wormser, Kiely, Galef & Jacobs and is active in the practice.
Stu’s long service to Bucknell University includes serving as a member of the National Committee on Annual Giving and as former Director of the Alumni Association. He served as President of the Alumni Club of Greater New York for six years and Vice President for 15 years.
Stu and his wife, Betty, have been frequent and generous hosts for Bucknell alumni events and for individual alumni and parents, and have hosted student receptions and prospective student groups and individuals, all while working closely, if under the radar and out of public notice, with Bucknell staff.
Stu was appointed to Bucknell’s Board of Trustees in 1983 and has remained an active member for over 25 years. He chairs the Board’s risk management and legal committees. Since the 1980s, his expertise in real estate, contract and tax law benefited many of Bucknell’s capital projects, including securing bond financing and construction contracts.
As a knowledgeable Bucknell staff member put it, “Others have almost always gotten credit for Stu’s best work, and that is exactly as he wanted it. He has been a tireless and thoughtful advocate for Bucknell; however his advocacy is not uncritical, and his criticism, because it is grounded in his abiding care for Bucknell, is all the more valuable.
The specifics of his contributions as a volunteer are perhaps less significant than the manner in which he consistently lends his aid. There is no one anywhere who is happier to help, easier to work with or more accommodating of Bucknell’s needs, interests and aspirations.”
Stu has given generously to Bucknell. The Judaica Collection of the Bertrand Library was a gift in 1989 in honor of his parents. The collection contains exquisite rare imprints, that are housed in the Special Collections section of the library, as well as materials that reflect Jewish experience that are among the library’s general holdings. The Berelson Center for Jewish Life is the new home for the Bucknell Jewish community; the Center was a project that Stu envisioned, for which he led fundraising, and to which he contributed the most support. He has also been active in non-Bucknell charities.
Stu is married to his wife Betty (Gold), and they reside in Rowayton, Connecticut. They are proud parents of four children, two of whom graduated from Bucknell: son Joel, Class of 1985, and daughter Wendy, Class of 1991. Other daughters are Lori and stepdaughter Meredith.
It is with great pleasure that the Bucknell Alumni Association honors Stuart E. Berelson with its Loyalty to Bucknell Award.
Ronald Billings, Class of 1969
Outstanding Achievement in Chosen Profession
Ron Billings, Class of 1969, embraced the concept of “multi-tasking” while a student at Bucknell, and he displayed excellence in all areas. Consider the following: he entered his freshman year as a French major, and he graduated 4 years later Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering; he was Phi Beta Kappa and Tau Beta Pi (Engineering honorary); he was recognized by Chemical Engineering magazine as “Chemical Engineering Student of the Year;” he was on the varsity track and basketball teams and was a member of Phi Gamma Delta fraternity.
Mr. Billings was recruited out of Bucknell by Mobil Oil Corporation, so in the summer of 1969 he went to work as a Process Engineer in Mobil’s Paulsboro, New Jersey, Research Laboratory. Even with his achievements at Bucknell, he started somewhere near the bottom of the Mobil professional ladder.
Mr. Billings initially worked on Mobil’s process to convert natural gas into gasoline, and a large scale plant utilizing this process was later constructed in New Zealand. During his initial stint in Paulsboro, he advanced into a supervisory engineering position, and in his “spare time” he completed his MBA at Drexel University. He also caught the attention of Mobil’s senior management, and in 1978 he was transferred to a developmental assignment at Mobil’s Headquarters in New York. He returned to Paulsboro 2 years later, this time as Manager of Process Services, heading up a group of approximately 120 engineers who provided technical support to Mobil refineries worldwide.
Throughout the 1980’s Mr. Billings progressed rapidly through a variety of planning and management positions, working in New York and Richmond, VA. He gained experience across the spectrum of Mobil businesses, Chemicals, Mining and Minerals, Marketing and Refining, and Exploration and Producing.
In 1990, Mr. Billings was named President of Mobil Oil Canada, working and living in Calgary, primarily focusing on exploration and production activities. In 1992 he returned to Fairfax, VA as a Vice President of Mobil Chemical Company, responsible for worldwide Petrochemicals.
In the mid-1990’s Mr. Billings moved into the area that has become his latter-career focus, Liquified Natural Gas or LNG. LNG represents great opportunity for producers and consumers. Gas is environmentally friendly, in that it is clean-burning, and upon being transported to developed areas of the world it is re-gassified and thus able to be distributed through existing gas networks. Large quantities of gas have been and continue to be found, but they are in remote areas of the world, primarily the Middle East, the Asia/Pacific Region and Africa. In order to safely and efficiently transport gas from remote areas to developed markets, it is necessary to compress and refrigerate gas to the point that it becomes liquid, thus “LNG.” The problem of course is that this requires huge capital investment for exploration and producing, cryogenic processing, transportation and receiving of LNG, as well as complex business arrangements and permitting. Mr. Billings has been instrumental in significantly expanding Mobil’s and now ExxonMobil’s LNG business, which has required investment of many tens of billions of dollars. Mr. Billings initially tackled the problem as an executive assigned to a vastly endowed producing country (Vice President Exploration and Producing, Middle East working in the Persian Gulf country of Qatar) and now as Vice President of ExxonMobil Gas Marketing responsible for ExxonMobil’s worldwide LNG business. A current example of extension of this business, and one that may directly benefit people living in the Northeast United States, is recent announcement of a project called “Blue Ocean;” ExxonMobil is developing an LNG receiving facility 20 miles offshore of the coastline of New Jersey, and thus provide large quantities of gas into the northeast region.
During Christmas vacation of his freshman year, Ron married his wife Ruth (Ralph) ’70. They now reside in Houston and are celebrating 44 years of marriage, 2 daughters, and 3 grandchildren.
It is with great pleasure that the Bucknell Alumni Association honors Ron Billings with its award for Outstanding Achievement in a Profession.
- James Nevels, Class of 1974
Service to Humanity
James E ‘Jim’ Nevels, Class of 1974, graduated cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in both political science and philosophy. He was elected to Phi Beta Kappa honorary society and was a member of Delta Upsilon fraternity. After graduation he pursued a Masters of Business Administration from the Wharton School and a Juris Doctor from the University of Pennsylvania, receiving both degrees in 1978.
The following years he spent practicing law as a counsel in bond transactions and working as an investment banker. He had discovered that he had a head for business and he found it more creative and “fun.” In 1991 he co-founded The Swarthmore Group, Inc., an independent investment advisory and financial advisory firm. Through his success in the securities industry, he built a solid record of performance and a reputation for being adept at building consensus among those with differing viewpoints.
His passion for education, along with his experience and negotiating skills, led him to serve as a member of the three-person Board of Control for the Chester-Upland School District in Delaware County, Pennsylvania. He and his colleagues were responsible for overseeing the $61 million budget and improving the quality of education for the troubled school district.
In late 2001, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Education Secretary signed a Declaration of Distress for the Philadelphia School District, triggering the formation of a School Reform Commission to oversee the troubled public school system. Less than six hours later, the Commonwealth turned over operations of the school district to the Commission and Jim was appointed interim chairperson. By the third week of January, the Reform Commission was in place with two members appointed by then-mayor John Street and three members appointed by then-governor Mark Schweiker. Jim was its volunteer chairman.
Jim and the School Reform Committee (SRC) took on what seemed to be the impossible task of reviving a school system of 200,000 students and 15,000 teachers that was in trouble on nearly all fronts. Jim led the search for a CEO of the school district. Then the SRC and the new CEO worked tirelessly to re-invent the realities and perceptions of life in the Philadelphia public schools. An early major, and somewhat controversial, decision was to hire an outside, for-profit, educational company to help revamp 20 of the city’s worst elementary and middle schools, essentially privatizing them. They formed partnerships with political, business, and community leaders, purchased books and supplies, and re-vamped the curricula. The SRC under Jim’s leadership had to negotiate with parents, teachers, administrators, unions and School District officials to convince all of them that the SRC-recommended changes would benefit the school district’s “clients,” the children of Philadelphia.
Jim resigned as chair of the School Reform Commission in 2007. He had led the SRC for more than five years. During that time, math and reading scores improved each year. District-wide math scores were up more than 25 percent and reading scores were up by nearly 17 percent. The district was even showing marked improvement with all students at the high school level. Of course, the Philadelphia schools still had a long way to go, but Jim felt it was time for new leadership at the head of the SRC. For the benefit to the children of Philadelphia, it was time for fresh ideas. Upon his resignation, Governor Ed Rendell commended Jim saying, “…due to Jim’s leadership, a firm foundation has been built that will enable district and governance leaders to take the district to the next level. The hard part was building the foundation and I thank Jim Nevels for getting the heavy lifting done.”
Recently Jim Nevels became the non-executive Chairman of the Board of the Hershey Company. Jim has served on the Hershey Company board since November 2007. He is also a director of the Tasty Baking Co., the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and the Hershey Trust.
He is married to Lourene (Dellinger) Nevels, MA in education ’74, PhD University of Pennsylvania.
It is with great pleasure that the Bucknell Alumni Association honors James E. Nevels with its Service to Humanity Award.
- Katie Malague, Class of 1994
The Bucknell Young Alumni Award was created to highlight a young alumnus who has found a way to combine professional accomplishment, work to benefit society, and service to alma mater early in his/her career. Katie Malague, Class of 1994, has truly excelled in all of these areas.
While a student, Katie majored in education and history, expecting to become a history teacher. On campus, she was involved in numerous extracurricular activities – including College Democrats and Catholic Campus Ministry. After graduation, while looking for her first job in Washington, DC, she ended up with two unexpected positions. She went to work for U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg (from her home state of New Jersey) and also served as a youth minister at a local Catholic church, thanks to her connection to a former chaplain at Bucknell.
After three years in Washington, Katie returned to school and earned a Masters in educational policy from Harvard. She then joined Andersen Consulting (which later became Accenture) as a consultant, first with the state and local government practice in Boston and later with the federal government division in Washington, DC. But politics beckoned, and she left Washington again and moved to Iowa to manage regional field operations for Governor Howard Dean’s presidential campaign. Her political activities then drew her to the nonprofit sector.
Today, Katie is a senior program manager for the Partnership for Public Service, a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that works to revitalize our federal government by inspiring a new generation to serve and by transforming the way government works. Katie is the coordinator of the Presidential Management Initiative, focusing on federal government reform and management priorities for the administration and Congress. She even served on the Obama-Biden Transition Project, providing the incoming administration with the information necessary to make strategic policy, budgetary, and personnel decisions prior to the inauguration.
Katie’s Bucknell involvement is equally impressive. She attended her first club event shortly after arriving in Washington and soon began helping to strategize and plan club events. When she moved to Boston, she became the president of the Boston club; after she moved back to DC, she became president of the DC club. She served as co-chair of the Council of Club Presidents for several years. In 2006, Katie joined the Bucknell Alumni Association Board of Directors, where she currently serves as chair of the Clubs and Young Alumni Committee. The committee works to reconnect alumni, especially those within 15 years of graduation, with the university. Her goal is to bring a little bit of Lewisburg to alumni who may not often get back to campus.
Katie has assisted the Career Development Center as an organizer of the Bucknellians in Government event in Washington and is always willing to host students for job and networking fairs. She was also a presenter at the Student Leadership Conference on campus in 2007 and currently serves as a writing tutor for an incoming Bucknell student from Washington, DC, through the Posse Foundation.
As one of Katie’s nominators wrote, “She really is a remarkable leader and volunteer for Bucknell – an example for young and old, and a friend to many of us. Even as an undergraduate, Katie was a leader, but her extraordinary service to Bucknell in such a short time is to be celebrated.”
For her extraordinary commitment to Bucknell and her dedication to public service, it is with great pleasure that the Bucknell Alumni Association honors Katie Malague with its Young Alumni Award.