2021 Distinguished Alumni celebrated for successes, service

The College of Social Sciences and Public Policy celebrated 2021 Distinguished Alumni – B. Dan Berger, Rosemary Magee, Mel Martinez and Karen Rasler – during its Distinguished Alumni Gala on February 25.

2021 Distinguished Alumni

Established in 1992, the annual awards honor accomplished alumni for their professional achievements, contributions to society and support of the college and university.

“This is the college’s highest honor for alumni, and these four individuals perfectly exemplify the kind of engaged leadership we strive to instill in our students, whatever their majors or future career plans,” said Dean Tim Chapin. ”I am proud to recognize these alumni for their professional success and their distinguished service to the college, the university and their communities.”

Berger, Magee, and Martinez each accepted the award and shared their experiences and gratitude for the honor. Due to unforeseen circumstances, Rasler was unable to attend the awards ceremony; however, Dean Chapin honored her in a short speech and noted her accomplishments as an award-winning faculty member and scholar.

“They have each had a remarkable career and are part of the story of a top 20 public university that is still climbing the ranks,” Chapin said.

B. Dan Berger (B.S. ’89 Economics)
Berger is an outstanding strategist and advocate for public policy and has supported the college and the university in many meaningful ways.

As president and CEO of the National Association of Federally Insured Credit Unions, he is responsible for the association’s overall advocacy, management, operations and strategic direction and acts as its chief advocate before Congress, the White House and federal regulatory agencies.  For 18 consecutive years, Berger has been recognized as one of the most influential lobbyists in Washington, D.C. He’s also a highly sought after author and speaker.

In addition, he has generously given of his time through his involvement as a lifetime member of the FSU Alumni Association and chair of its board and as a member of the Seminole Boosters. He serves as a mentor to FSU students through the Career Center’s ProfessioNole mentoring program. Berger and his wife, Aimee, established the Berger Family Endowed Scholarship in Economics, a CARES scholarship.

“I’m at a point in my career where I can give back using the theory of the three Ts – Time, Talent and Treasure,” Berger said. “I would recommend to all alumni that they grab one of these three Ts: Become a mentor, volunteer, make a contribution. No matter your stage in life or career, there is always a way to give back. The fact is, we all stand on the shoulders of those that came before us. We have an obligation to make our college better, our university better, and to have a positive impact on our communities and society.”

Rosemary Magee (B.A. ’73 Sociology)
Magee is an accomplished higher education professional, having served in various roles at Emory University over the span of 40+ years, including as a faculty member, dean, director, and vice-president.

She chaired the Creativity and Arts Initiative of the university’s strategic plan while leading the fundraising and design for the Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts. She also founded a series of interviews at Emory, now named the Rosemary Magee Creativity Conversations, to highlight creativity and imagination in dialogues between community members and distinguished writers and thinkers.

In 2012, she became director of the Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives and Rare Book Library at Emory, where she was closely involved with the acquisition of the Flannery O’Connor collection and letters of former U.S. President Barack Obama, along with expanding African American and Irish literary collections.

“I truly believe in the transformative power of education. I believe in it because I experienced it first at FSU in the sociology department,” Magee said. “My confidence in myself grew, and I felt I had the right combination of guidance and freedom. To think that I might be honored by this esteemed institution of higher learning and by the school where I focused my studies – that is profoundly astonishing and meaningful for me.”

Mel Martinez (B.A. ’69 International Affairs)
Martinez is an accomplished public servant with extensive experience at the highest levels of government and 25 years practicing law.

His impressive record of service in elected and appointed offices includes Mayor of Orange County (1998-2000); Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President George W. Bush (2001-2003), the first Cuban-American to hold that office; U.S. Senator (2005-2009), also the first Cuban-American elected to that office; and chair of the Republican National Committee (2006-2007). In the Senate, Martinez served on several committees, including Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, Armed Services and Foreign Relations, and became a trusted voice for foreign affairs and policy issues.

He credits the influence of faculty members like Richard Gray and Ross Oglesby with instilling in him the desire to play a role in international affairs and to think bigger than he ever had.

“I know that the education and mentoring I received at FSU is largely responsible for my professional success,” Martinez said. “With the many divisions in our country today, I believe public service to be a noble calling and one that needs the constant infusion of talent, vision and dedication for our country to flourish. My time at FSU allowed me to prepare myself for service to the nation that gave me refuge and allowed me to live my American Dream.”

Karen Rasler (M.A. ’77, Ph.D. ’81 Political Science)
During Rasler’s decades of research and teaching at major universities throughout the U.S., she has inspired, mentored and supported a generation of scholars.

Professor Emerita of Political Science at Indiana University, she has published many journal articles, co-authored five books and won awards and grants from the National Science Foundation, the World Society Foundation and the Middle East Studies Association of North America, among others. She previously served as Vice President of the International Studies Association, as a three-time co-editor of the International Studies Quarterly, as a senior editor of the Oxford Research Encyclopedia for Politics and as a senior mentor at Journeys in World Politics.  

The groundwork for her interest and expertise in global politics was laid during her time as a graduate student in the college’s political science department, which she says she chose because the faculty here was young, inventive and well-published, with a strong international relations and comparative focus.

“The faculty at FSU’s political science department had a long-lasting impact on my thinking and research orientation,” Rasler said. “They were generous in their mentorship throughout my graduate and post-graduate career. Despite the paucity of women in the department at the time, these scholars encouraged me to become a full member of their scholarly communities, always reminding me that I could and would be able to make important future research contributions. Their confidence and advice over the years have been invaluable. I have tried to extend these same values to my graduate students as well.”

For more information about each of our 2021 Distinguished Alumni, click here. View some of the photos below and the full album here on our Facebook page.