The Alumni Office at the School of Information Studies (iSchool) will be holding its inaugural Alumni Awards & Recognition Program event during Syracuse University’s Orange Central alumni weekend festivities on Friday afternoon. 

The Awards & Recognition Program serves to highlight members of the iSchool community and showcase their contributions and talents. This year’s event will recognize four iSchool alumni, each selected for their involvement in their community or career field, and their close ties with the iSchool.

“We started the program as a way to highlight the great work of our alumni,” said Kim Pietro, Assistant Dean for Advancement at the iSchool. “We have graduates doing wonderful work for their community, for their industry, and for the iSchool’s current students. These alums are involved with us in many different ways; they advise and mentor our students, recruit them for jobs and internships and host them for company visits. We thought this was a good way to recognize what they give back.”

This year, the following alumni will be recognized: 

Bence Oliver, a 1995 graduate of the iSchool’s Information Management and Technology program, will receive the Dean’s Award. This award is the highest honor bestowed by the iSchool, and recognizes an alumnus who has achieved broad attention for extraordinary creativity and advancement of knowledge or technology through application of their iSchool education.

Oliver worked at eBay as Director of International Strategic Sourcing and previously as founder of the company’s Sustainability and Renewable Energy Program, where he coordinated all aspects for multiple renewable energy investments, formalizing the building blocks behind eBay’s commitment towards energy conservation, and chairing eBay’s executive Sustainability Steering Committee. He served as the iSchool’s convocation speaker in 2013.

Andrew Farah, a 2011 graduate of the iSchool’s MS in Information Management program will be given the Bridge to Success Alumni Award, which recognizes early career achievement with the potential for continued success.

Farah is the CEO of Density, Inc., a company that has developed a small sensor that measures how busy a location is in real time. Density is an offshoot of his prior venture, Rounded, a digital agency and software development firm that was based in Syracuse. Andrew found his entrepreneurial spirit at the iSchool, taking courses in the School’s Information Technology, Design, and Startups curriculum, and spending time in the Syracuse Student Sandbox developing and launching his venture. Density announced the availability of their sensor product, and closed a $4 million round of Series A venture funding this summer.

Sue Kowalski, a 2003 graduate of the iSchool’s MS in Library and Information Science program will be recognized with the Impact of the Year Award for her work as a librarian in the East Syracuse-Minoa School district, and her involvement with the iSchool in this role. The Impact of the Year Award celebrates an alumnus who makes significant contributions to the iSchool community that include leadership, vision and mentorship.

Throughout her career as a librarian, Kowalski has stayed in close contact with the iSchool, generously giving of her time to participate in information sessions for prospective students, visit classes, supervise interns, and serve as a role model for future librarians. At her school library, she has received recognition from many sources, including a National School Library Program of the Year award from the American Association of School Librarians in 2011, a Teacher Librarian Leadership Award from the Teacher Librarian Journal in 2012, and the I Love My Librarian Award from the New York Library Association in 2012. 

Neil Winston, a 2014 graduate of the iSchool’s Information Management and Technology bachelor’s program, will receive the Outstanding Alumni Service Award. This award recognizes the service of a volunteer who has had a major impact on the University, its schools, colleges, departments, or faculty, or to the iSchool Alumni Office. 

Winston has been active and generous with his time with the regional alumni clubs in Cleveland and Boston, and is a strong supporter and advocate of the iSchool’s experiential learning Road Trip programs. He frequently returns to the iSchool’s career events to recruit students for his company, Cognizant Technology Solutions, where he currently serves as an associate. While a student, he was awarded Outstanding Freshman by iSchool faculty and staff, was a member of the Syracuse University Emerging Student Leaders program, participated in the General Electric Leadership @ Work Conference, the Ernst & Young LAUNCH Program, and received the Undergraduate Service Award at graduation.

“I’m pleased that Bence, Andrew, Sue, and Neil have been selected as our inaugural award winners,” said Pietro. “They embody the iSchool sprit – a great attitude, enthusiasm for their work and their industry, and a continuous and deep involvement with our school and our students. I’m proud to recognize them this week.”