Alumni Association, UIC honor six for outstanding contributions
UIC and the University of Illinois Alumni Association will honor these outstanding graduates at the 2014 UIC Alumni Awards dinner and awards ceremony Oct. 10.
Alumni Achievement Awards
Naeema H. Al-Gasseer, ’87 MS Nursing, ’90 Ph.D. Nursing
Assistant regional director, Eastern Mediterranean region
Representative to Egypt, World Health Organization
Naeema Al-Gasseer joined the World Health Organization in 1998 as a technical officer in training and curriculum development. As senior scientist for nursing and midwifery at WHO headquarters in Geneva, she established global policies for nursing and midwifery development. She represented the WHO director general in Iraq from 2003-10.
In her current position, Al-Gasseer is responsible for strategic planning, management and partnerships for sustainable health development and emergency preparedness and response.
Curtis Granderson ’03 CBA
Founder and chairman, Grand Kids Foundation
Outfielder, New York Mets
Curtis Granderson is only 33, but he has lots of Grand Kids who benefit from his Grand Kids Foundation, established in 2007 to attract inner-city children to education and baseball.
An All-Star outfielder, Granderson has played for the Detroit Tigers, New York Yankees and the New York Mets.
One of only 38 current professional baseball players with a four-year college degree, Granderson donated $5 million to UIC for Curtis Granderson Stadium, which will serve UIC’s baseball team and Chicago-area youth.
John H. Laub ’75 LAS
Distinguished professor of criminology and criminal justice, University of Maryland
As former director of the National Institute of Justice in the U.S. Department of Justice (2010-13) and professor at the University of Maryland, College Park, John Laub has conducted extensive research on criminal justice, public policy, the history of crime and how and why offenders stop their criminal activities.
The co-author of two award-winning books on crime and criminals, he is a fellow of the American Society of Criminology, which he served as president. He received the 2011 Stockholm Prize in Criminology and the Edwin H. Sutherland Award from the American Society of Criminology.
Distinguished Service Award
Emanuel D. Pollack
Senior associate dean for undergraduate affairs, UIC College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Emanuel Pollack oversees nearly 10,000 undergraduates in the UIC College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, but seems to make an impact on every one of them.
Pollack is responsible for all aspects of undergraduate academic life, from admissions to degree completion. He is among the first faces new students see (at orientation) and among the last to say farewell (as marshal of the college’s graduation ceremony). His focus is on student retention and success; during his nearly two decades at the college, its graduation rate has nearly doubled.
Pollack, who holds faculty appointments in biological sciences and medicine, was instrumental in founding neuroscience as an independently recognized discipline at UIC. A certified university mediator and Honors Fellow of the Year, he received the INSPIRE and Horizon League Sportsmanship awards.
Alumni Humanitarian Award
Anthony S. Rinella, ’96 MD
Founder, Illinois Spine & Scoliosis Center
Co-founder, Global Spine Outreach
Every year for the past 10 years, Anthony Rinella has left his Chicago-area medical practice to help children in Colombia and Poland who have spinal disorders.
Rinella and his team of surgeons, health professionals and volunteers offer major surgery to children with rare spinal conditions and train local medical personnel to perform the procedures.
Rinella’s medical mission, Global Spine Outreach, makes four weeklong visits a year.
He received the 2010 De La Salle Award from Lewis University and the 2012 Walter P. Blount Humanitarian Award from the Scoliosis Research Society.
UIC City Partner Award
Michael Papka, ’94 MS Engineering
Deputy associate director, Argonne National Laboratory
A computer science expert in large data analysis and visualization, Michael Papka is deputy associate laboratory director for Argonne’s Computing, Environment and Life Sciences Directorate. He heads the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility, where one of the world’s fastest supercomputers dedicated to open science tackles problems in science and engineering.
As a senior fellow at the University of Chicago/Argonne National Laboratory Computation Institute, Papka conducts interdisciplinary research with multi-scale simulation data.
A computer science professor at Northern Illinois University, he is an advocate for greater emphasis on computer science in high school and middle school.