Members of the School of Information Studies community gathered recently to recognize the contributions and talents of five successful alumni during the fourth annual iSchool alumni awards luncheon. This year’s recipients are Alyssa Gonzalez ’10, Scott Faller ’03, Beverly Williams G’11, Rob Harris ’77, G ’79, and Mike Eisenberg G’81, G’86.
The honorees expressed appreciation for the iSchool’s recognition, and in remarks following their award presentations, discussed how the iSchool had made life-changing impacts on them.
Alyssa Gonzalez said she was “thrilled” to discover she was receiving the Bridge to Success alumni award. Reflecting on her experience as a woman in the technology industry, she recalled the immense support she has received from the iSchool. “The iSchool means so much to me, and I’ve really tried to give back,” Gonzalez said. “Particularly as a woman in technology, I think it’s so important to build up those who come after you.” Gonzalez completed her undergraduate degree from the Newhouse School of Communications at Syracuse University and her information management graduate degree at the iSchool, both of which ultimately allowed her to excel in her current role as the senior director of workplace engineering at CBS Corporation, she said.
Scott Faller, the recipient of the Outstanding Service Award, shared how he has always wanted to give back to the iSchool for how it prepared him for the working world. “I always felt a passion for this school,” he told the gathering. “I felt like the iSchool had set me up well, and I always wanted to give back to students and make sure they were also prepared. In order to be successful in the working world you need to be well-rounded. You need those interpersonal, developmental, strategic, and leadership skills. It’s about understanding the greater picture of what you’re doing, and knowing how to communicate with different individuals, with different backgrounds, on different levels,” he emphasized.
Beverly Williams said her reaction to being selected for the Innovation Award was, “You’ve got to be kidding. Me?” Yet as a library and information professional, Williams told how she has dedicated herself to establishing higher standards of information service in Trinidad and Tobago, both as a director in the Public Libraries Division at the National Library and Information System Authority, and as a current leader of the Library Association of Trinidad and Tobago. Williams says that the iSchool made her into the person she is today, someone who now walks into meetings and business ventures with a newfound curiosity that helps her be consistently innovative. “This is our reason for being, to serve and to make informed decisions, because if we don’t, the world would be an irresponsible place,” she related. “You have to keep finding new ways, and the iSchool epitomizes that.”
Although Rob Harris hadn’t returned to Syracuse University for a long time, he said he was humbled to return to receive the Impact of the Year award at a place that still feels like home. “I realized through this process that I bleed orange. My heart belongs to Syracuse,” he added. Harris originally wasn’t familiar with the iSchool’s immersion trip program, he told the group. However, he became so impressed with the iSchool’s commitment to introducing students to world-class companies in that way that he and his family presented a generous donation to keep the program going and make it even more accessible to iSchool students.“There is no question that information is king, and information management is the future. I’ve come to realize how powerful and crucial the iSchool is to the future of our society,” he added.
An exuberant Mike Eisenberg, one of the founders of the information school movement, and an educator who retired as dean of the University of Washington Information School, graciously accepted the Dean’s Award. He discussed the impact of his alma mater, referencing it as a “mothership” because of its depth and reach of graduates and leaders in the information field nationally and internationally, both in business and in education. “I was really emotional and really touched to be so remembered and acknowledged,” he said. Eisenberg also noted his still-intense love for his alma mater, despite having lived on the West Coast for many years. “For years, living in Seattle, up until very recently, my license plate was SYR44,” he told the group, adding how he still has that license plate proudly hanging on his wall at home.
Header photo from left to right: Mike Eisenberg, Beverly Williams, Interim Dean David Seaman, Rob Harris, Scott Faller, Alyssa Gonzalez. Photo by Charles Wainwright.