News 2011: Alumni honored for achievement and service

News 2011: Alumni honored for achievement and service
Alumni honored for achievement and service

James Karam, '71; Margaret Xifaras,'78; Gregory Tapis, '04; Michael Knodler, '99; Donald Burton '97; Christopher Markey, JD '94; Alicia Brown, JD '11; Dr. Brian Howes receive awards.

The UMass Dartmouth Alumni Association last night honored seven distinguished alumni who have achieved professional success and made major contributions to their community, and a professor who has worked for decades to preserve the Massachusetts coastline.

"Tonight, we take a moment to shine a light on individuals who prove every day the power and value of UMass Dartmouth," Chancellor Jean F. MacCormack said. "We honor individuals who have used their UMass Dartmouth education as a catalyst for accomplishment. We honor individuals who have been courageous advocates for the University because they appreciate the opportunities provided to them by the University. And we honor a faculty member who represents the best of our mission to fully engage our intellectual resources in the life of our Commonwealth."

For the first time, the alumni awards ceremony included graduates of the UMass School of Law, which graduated its first class in May, 2011.

The honorees include:

James Karam, '71
UMass Dartmouth Alumni Association Distinguished Lifetime Service Award
The Chairman of the University of Massachusetts Board of Trustees, James Karam has been a champion of creating and sustaining high quality and accessible higher education opportunities for the citizens of Massachusetts while also leveraging UMass intellectual resources to strengthen the Massachusetts economy. Mr. Karam has been a strong force in establishing the UMass School of Law at UMass Dartmouth. Founder, president and CEO of the Fall River-based First Bristol Corporation, a real estate development and management company focusing on development of quality retail shopping centers, first-class office buildings and hotels throughout southern New England. Mr. Karam is also co-owner of WSAR and WHTB radio stations, serving the Massachusetts SouthCoast region. In addition to his UMass service, Mr. Karam has devoted many hours to civic and charitable organizations, including as chairman of the Board of Governors of Caritas Christi Health Care System, co-chairman of the SouthCoast CEO Group and SouthCoast Economic Development partnership. He also serves on the Board of Directors of Steward Health Care System, a for-profit portfolio company of Cerberus Capital Management.

Margaret Xifaras, MBA '78
UMass Law Distinguished Lifetime Achievement Award
Margaret Xifaras is a recently appointed member of the University of Massachusetts Board of Trustees. Former chair of the Southern New England School of Law, "Mardee" Xifaras has been a strong advocate of creating the UMass School of Law through a donation of Southern New England's assets to the university. A partner in the law firm of Lang, Xifaras & Bullard in New Bedford. "Mardee" Xifaras graduated from the University of Illinois and has Master's degrees from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and the UMass Dartmouth and received her law degree from Boston University. Admitted to practice in Massachusetts and Florida, she is also admitted to practice in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts. She is a member of the Massachusetts Bar Association, the Bristol County Bar Association and the New Bedford Bar Association. She was the former Chair of the Family Law Section of the Massachusetts Bar Association and is a frequent panelist or presenter on family law and ethics.

Gregory Tapis, '04
UMass Dartmouth Alumni Association Young Alumni Award
Upon graduating from UMass Dartmouth, Gregory Tapis worked as a staff consultant at Berry, Dunn, McNeil & Parker in Portland, Maine. Within two years, he was promoted to a senior consultant and earned the following professional designations: Certified Management Accountant (CMA), Certified Financial Manager (CFM), Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA), and Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE). In 2007 Mr. Tapis decided to return to school at Mississippi State University to earn his PhD in Management, and he currently serves as an assistant professor in Management at Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois. While at Mississippi State, he taught courses in management, accounting and finance. At Augustana College his primary teaching focus includes entrepreneurship, business policy and international business. He has produced three published papers in refereed academic journals and five published refereed conference proceedings. He has also presented 19 papers at academic conferences in three countries and seven states. Gregory has received awards for his research including the Best Idea Award and Best Paper Award at the 2010 meeting of the Rocky Mountain Academy of Legal Studies in Business. His research interests include family business, legal issues in management, international business, and ethics.

Michael Knodler, '99
UMass Dartmouth Alumni Association Achievement Award
Dr. Michael Knodler, Jr. is an associate professor in the Transportation Engineering Program in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at UMass Amherst. He also serves as the Principal Investigator with UMassSAFE and is the associate director of the Human Performance Laboratory. Considered a leader in the transportation engineering field, his primary areas of focus include traffic safety, operations, design, and education. His research has made several important and significant contributions to transportation engineering. He is currently working on projects for the National Highway Safety Administration and the New England Transportation Consortium, and has been involved in several safety related initiatives including the statewide safety belt usage study for Massachusetts, a pedestrian crossing behavior study, and speed related crash analyses. Dr. Knodler is also actively involved in the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE), the professional society serving the transportation engineering profession. He has served as president of the New England section and is currently the advisor for the ITE UMass Student Chapter. His commitment to the advancement of the transportation engineering profession has earned him the honor of the 2011 Distinguished Service Award, which is nominated and voted on by industry peers. He received a B.S. in civil & environmental engineering at UMass Dartmouth, as well as an M.S. in civil engineering and a Ph.D. in civil engineering from the UMass Amherst.

Donald Burton '97
UMass Dartmouth Alumni Association Achievement Award
A creative director and editor currently working in the entertainment industry, Don Burton graduated from UMass Dartmouth with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Sculpture. Raised on the SouthCoast, he journeyed to Los Angeles in 1998 and has spent the last 8 years working with The Post Studio in Manhattan Beach, California, where he specializes in new media and video-driven promotional campaigns. A New Englander at heart, Mr. Burton strives to bridge the coasts by returning for projects yearly. He is currently working with UMass Dartmouth to produce the second season of the "Faces of UMass Dartmouth" video series. Mr. Burton also co-founded a new media, film and arts initiative,, which connects creative communities by sponsoring events that encourage cross pollination between creative fields, technology, business and education.

Dr. Brian Howes
UMass Dartmouth Alumni Association University Service Award
Dr. Brian Howes is director of the Massachusetts Estuaries Project based at the UMass Dartmouth School of Marine Sciences and Technology. A professor in the Department of Estuarine and Ocean Sciences and director of the Coastal Systems Program, Dr. Howes has published more than 65 journal articles, 30 general articles and published reports and 70 technical reports pertaining to wetland restoration, enhancement of natural attenuation and benthic animals. Under Dr. Howes' leadership, the Coastal Systems Program provides high-quality basic and applied information to address the growing ecological degradation of coastal ecosystems. The program uses state-of-the-art instrumentation and methodologies, conducts a wide spectrum of biogeochemical analyses relating to water quality, nutrient related ecological health and coastal pollution with an emphasis on public outreach and education. Dr. Howes received a Bachelor of Arts from Rutgers University. He then received his Master of Arts and a Doctoral degree from Boston University Marine Program.

Christopher Markey, JD '94
UMass Law Alumni Achievement Award
Recently elected member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, Christopher Markey is a trial attorney and former Bristol County prosecutor. Born and raised in New Bedford, Rep. Markey attended Stonehill College and earned his degree in economics in 1990. He attended law school at night while working full time as a victim witness advocate in the Bristol County District Attorney's office. His experiences in this role led him to become a prosecutor and for the next twelve years, where he served as an assistant district attorney handling cases in the District Courts and Superior Courts throughout Bristol County. As a faculty member of the of the National District Attorney Association, Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education, Massachusetts Bar Association, and the Massachusetts District Attorney's Association, Rep. Markey has lectured around the country and published training materials. He has volunteered with a number of community organizations including the Dartmouth Youth Soccer Association, Dartmouth Girl's Athletic League, Dartmouth Youth Lacrosse Association, and St. Vincent DePaul Society. He also serves as vice chairman of the Dartmouth Housing Authority; trustee of the New Bedford Industrial Foundation; board member of the Community Preservation Committee for the Town of Dartmouth; and executive council member of the New Bedford Bar Association.

Alicia Brown, JD '11
UMass Law Alumni Ambassador Award
During her three years at UMass Law, Alicia Brown actively participated in numerous organizations, including the Student Bar Association and the Law Review, and encouraged her classmates to increase their involvement as well. She was involved in the planning of a multitude of law school events and was chosen by the Dean to be a pro bono tutor for other law students while also working in the school's law library. In 2010, Ms. Brown was appointed the executive director and symposium conference coordinator of the Law Review while being an integral part of the editorial board that transitioned this publication into its new two-year format. She was then appointed and served as the 2011 managing editor of the newly designed "University of Massachusetts Roundtable Symposium Law Journal." She also competed as a member of the law school's team in the Philip C. Jessup International Moot Court Competition in New York City. A member of UMass School of Law's first graduating class in 2010, Ms. Brown passed the Massachusetts Bar Exam in July.