Office of Public Affairs
(315) 312-2265
May 21, 2003
CONTACT: Michele Reed, 312-5489
OSWEGO -- Several SUNY Oswego alumni will receive awards for outstanding achievements during Reunion Weekend, June 6 to 8. Joseph Coughlin of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Robert O'Connor of SUNY Oswego, both 1982 graduates, will receive Distinguished Alumni Awards.
Coughlin directs the AgeLab at MIT. He heads a team that develops policy and products to maximize quality of life for the country's aging population. Coughlin and his team explore ways to improve home life, transportation and lifelong learning for senior citizens. He has engaged in public policy programs with universities, corporations and even the White House. Coughlin holds a bachelor's in political science from Oswego and a master's in public policy from Brown University.
An assistant professor of English at Oswego, O'Connor won fame for his novel "Buffalo Soldiers," which was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. The New York Times named it a Notable Book of 1993, and Esquire magazine selected it as one of the decade's two best works of fiction. A movie based on the book stars Joaquin Phoenix, Anna Paquin and Ed Harris. Miramax Films picked it up but has yet to put it into wide release. O'Connor has been teaching fiction writing at Oswego since 1985.
Also during the reunion, Gordon Lenz of Bellport on Long Island will accept an Anniversary Class Award, while Barbara Friends of Wolcott in Wayne County will receive an Alumni Service Award.
In the span of 40 years, Lenz, a 1958 Oswego graduate, has grown his company, New York State Business Group/Conference Associates, into a successful venture administering health insurance for more than 150,000 small business owners. He is a recognized and published leader in the field, as well as a community advocate and fund-raiser for hospitals, hospices and other health-related and cultural charities.
Dedication to her alma mater and other causes earned Friends the Alumni Service Award. She spearheaded fund-raising efforts for her class of 1953's 50th reunion gift, which has exceeded $30,000 toward a continuing scholarship for students pursuing teaching. She has volunteered for more than 40 years in support of international projects for the United Methodist Church Volunteers in Mission Program.
The Distinguished Alumni and Anniversary Class awards will be presented at the Anniversary Class Dinner on June 7. The Alumni Service award will be conferred at the Golden Alumni Society Luncheon earlier that day.
SUNY Oswego's Reunion Weekend, which will take place a month earlier this year, will feature a variety of recreational and social activities, as well as mini-reunions and recognition for anniversary attendees.
For more information, visit or call 312-2258.
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