The UMassD Alumni Association held its 48th Annual Alumni Awards Ceremony on Thursday, April 26, recognizing four individuals for their career accomplishments and service to UMass Dartmouth and the community. Joseph W. Augustyn ’69, Jennifer L. Granger Sullivan ’05, and Elisabeth Spinnato ’06 received alumni awards, and the late Rev. Dr. Robert P. Lawrence was honored for his dedication to the University and the community.
Alumni Association Board President Greg McCarthy ’13 and Vice President Matthew Witzgall ’15 presented the Alumni Achievement Award, Volunteer Service Award, Rising Star Award, and the inaugural Blue & Gold Legacy Award to this year’s recipients in the Robert F. Stoico/FirstFed Grand Reading Room in the Claire T. Carney Library. Family and friends of the honorees, faculty, staff, and students were present to hear the recipients speak fondly of their relationships with UMass Dartmouth.
Chancellor Robert E. Johnson welcomed the crowd. “You exemplify the power of a UMassD education. We are grateful for what you’ve done to change the world and promote this University.”
Alumni Achievement Award: Joseph W. Augustyn '69
Joseph Augustyn ’69 received the Alumni Achievement Award in recognition of his distinguished career achievements in homeland security and intelligence and dedication to UMass Dartmouth. The Alumni Achievement Award recognizes a UMass Dartmouth graduate who, because of distinguished stature in a chosen profession, has attained great respect, had a strong impact on his or her field and enhanced the reputation of the University.
During his 28-year career with the Central Intelligence Agency, Augustyn held senior positions as chief of station, chief of staff for the CIA’s deputy director for operations, deputy division chief for the CIA’s East Asia Division, and director of CIA's defector resettlement center. After 9/11, he was Deputy Associate Director of Central Intelligence for Homeland Security. As senior advisor to the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Augustyn was a member of the panel of experts that produced “Homeland Security 3.0.”
“UMass Dartmouth opened my eyes to the wonders of the world, my professors inspired me, they challenged me, they built up my confidence and for that I will be eternally grateful, so thank you UMassD, thank you for listening, and thank you for this tremendous honor tonight,” Augustyn said.
Augustyn is currently executive vice president of Jefferson Waterman International in Washington, DC. He serves on the advisory board for the UMassD College of Arts and Sciences.
Alumni Volunteer Service Award: Jennifer L. Granger Sullivan '05
Jennifer Granger Sullivan ’05 is the recipient of the Alumni Volunteer Service Award, given to a graduate in recognition of loyal, unselfish, and consistent service to the UMass Dartmouth and the Alumni Association. Sullivan has given nearly a decade of service to UMass Dartmouth as both a past president and at-large member of the Alumni Association Board. Her tenure on the board included serving as president from 2014-2017, spearheading several events that engaged alumni and managing alumni scholarships to current UMassD students. Sullivan is currently director of student activities and orientation at Lasell College in Newton, MA, and is pursuing a doctorate in higher education at Northeastern University.
“Since the first day I walked onto this campus, UMassD has given back to me,” Sullivan said. “UMass Dartmouth taught me the value and importance of public higher education, and I am a proud graduate of this University.”
Rising Star Alumni Award: Elisabeth Spinnato '06
In recognition of her accomplishments in her career in media, Elisabeth Spinnato ’06 was selected for the Rising Star Alumni Award, which celebrates the accomplishments of a UMassD graduate of the last 10-15 years whose exceptional achievements in career, public service, or volunteer activities bring honor to UMass Dartmouth. She began her career in digital media as a production intern at The Rachael Ray Show, then produced award-winning content while at Yahoo News. She is director for digital strategy at WE Communications and teaches at Columbia University in a graduate program.
“The lessons I learned at UMass Dartmouth—to be curious, find inspiration, follow your passions—continue to be my North stars and lead me today,” Spinnato said.
Blue & Gold Legacy Award: Rev. Dr. Robert P. Lawrence
Rev. Dr. Robert P. Lawrence posthumously received the inaugural Blue & Gold Legacy Award for his commitment to UMassD and the community. His wife, Elizabeth L. Duffy, accepted on his behalf. The Blue & Gold Legacy Award was established this year to honor an individual who is not a graduate of UMass Dartmouth or its predecessor institutions, but who is recognized for exceptional career accomplishments or service to UMassD and the community at large.
Rev. Lawrence was an integral part of the UMass Dartmouth community for many years as spiritual leader, inspiring students, faculty, staff and alumni to make a commitment to public service. His dedication to civic engagement guided the University’s work to strengthen the community and instill the value of service in students. In recognition of his spiritual and civic leadership spanning more than 50 years, Rev. Lawrence received an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from UMass Dartmouth in 2007 and the meeting hall at Woodland Commons bears his name.
In the community, Rev. Lawrence was the senior minister of the First Congregational Church in Fall River. He served churches in Little Compton and Fall River and also ministered to those in federal prisons. Beyond his church, Rev. Lawrence began the Pastoral Care Department at the Charlton Memorial site of Southcoast Hospitals. He championed efforts to remove more than 3,000 guns from the streets of Fall River, create the first Fall River police K-9 unit, and purchase public safety equipment such as defibrillators. Rev. Lawrence passed away on October 2, 2018 after an illness. His passion for community service and leadership endures at UMass Dartmouth through the work of the Leduc Center for Civic Engagement. Each year, The Rev. Lawrence Lecture brings individuals who share in his belief of civic engagement to address the UMassD community.
In her acceptance speech on behalf of her late husband, Elizabeth Duffy described Rev. Lawrence’s dedication to UMassD. “Bob loved UMassD because its guiding principles reflected his beliefs. UMassD embodies the core values of opportunity, education, and service that defined Bob’s life.”