Ceremony to Honor Distinguished Alumni

(MIAMI) - November 9, 2000

The Florida International University Alumni Association will recognize distinguished alumni and professors at the Torch Awards 2000 ceremony.

"The torch awards are named after the Torch of Knowledge, which serves as a centerpiece of University Park," said Carlos Becerra, Acting Director of the Office of Alumni Relations. "We are pleased to bestow these awards on members of the FIU family who have made selfless contributions to the university and the community."

The Outstanding Achievement Awards will be given to Manny Garcia '90, Carmen Argamasilla '87 and Erick Pfeffer '77.

Garcia is the lead investigative reporter for The Miami Herald and his work lead a Herald team to earn a 1999 Pulitzer Prize.

Argamasilla, vice president of corporate communications at HBO Latin America Group, is a role model for Hispanic-American women who seek to succeed in today's multi-cultural business environment.

Pfeffer, chairman and chief executive officer of Cendant Corporation's Hotel Division, is recognized as one of the world's leading hotel executives.

The Charles E. Perry Visionary Award, named after FIU's founding president, will be awarded to Ivan J. Parron '94, Gabriel A. Rincon-Mora '92 and Rachelle H. Weiss '93.

Parron, president and co-founder of Ritmoteca.com, has worked hand-in-hand with recording labels to amass the exclusive rights to more than 100,000 songs by some of the most popular Hispanic-American artists recording today.

Rincon-Mora is senior integrated circuit designer for Texas Instruments and an adjunct professor at Georgia Institute of Technology. At the age of 28, he holds several patents and has authored a widely used textbook.

Weiss is founder and president of Physicians Diagnostic Systems. Weiss has realized her dream of making critical healthcare services available to Florida's rural and low-income residents.

The community Leadership Awards will be presented to Jayne Harris Abess '77, Marleine Bastien '86, and Allen Susser '78.

Abess is director of community affairs for City National Bank and has chaired Goodwill Industries of South Florida and served on the boards of the United Way and Mount Sinai Foundation's Cancer Lifeline.

Bastien is a political activist and social worker and the founder and president of Haitian Women of Miami. Described as a "voice for the voiceless," she has fought to empower Haitian women.

Susser is Chef and owner of Chef Allen's Restaurant and has distinguished himself for his extraordinary efforts on behalf of such causes as homelessness, hunger relief and prenatal care.

The FIU Service Awards will be presented to Carlos B. Castillo '88, Gerald Grant, Jr., MBA '78 and Mary Lou Pfeiffer '96.

Castillo, an attorney with White & Case, LLP, worked tirelessly to promote the establishing of the FIU College of Law, despite resistance among some top names in his profession.

Grant, who is the regional vice president of AXA Advisors, is a past president of the FIU Alumni Association and a current member of its board of directors. He initiated FIU's inaugural entry into Miami-Dade County's annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Parade.

Pfeiffer is a member of the College of Arts & Sciences Dean's Board of Advisors where she has shown her commitment to improving the academic unit from which she earned her bachelor's degree. In 1999 she made a groundbreaking gift to the university---the largest received to date from an FIU graduate---that has allowed the college's Department of Religious Studies to establish an endowment in support of a new program in Native American religions.

The Outstanding Faculty Awards will be given to William Keppler, Public Health, Lillian Lodge Kopenhaver, Journalism & Mass Communications and Butler Waugh, English.

Keppler, a professor in the Department of Public Health, exhibits great interest in and concern for all his student and for the last seven years has led students in feeding the homeless in downtown Miami.

Kopenhaver, a professor and an associate dean in the School of Journalism & Mass Communications and has won many professional and service recognitions.

Waugh, a professor in the Department of English, was tapped by FIU founding president Charles E. Perry to help build the university. FIU's first employee, Waugh served for five years as the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences before returning to the classroom and now looks forward to assisting FIU in the organization of its new Phi Beta Kappa chapter.

The awards ceremony will take place at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, November 29th in the Graham Center Ballrooms, located on University Park, 112th Avenue and SW 8th Street. Space is limited and pre-paid reservations are required by November 17. Tickets are $50 for general admission and $40 for FIU Alumni Association members and guests. A table of 10 is $450. Call 305-FIU-ALUM (348-2586) or visit the Office of Alumni Relations, University Park PC 234.

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