Florida State University

College of Social Sciences & Public Policy

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Distinguished Alumni Award

Each year, the College of Social Sciences and Public Policy presents its Distinguished Alumni Award for professional achievements, contributions to society and support of the college and university.

2021: B. Dan Berger

Dan Berger (B.S. ’89 Economics) has distinguished himself as an effective strategist and advocate for public policy and as a staunch supporter of FSU and the college. 

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 is an author and a sought-after public speaker and commentator on national news outlets and publications, discussing issues ranging from leadership and management to politics and policy.

While at FSU he was a member of Pi Kappa Phi fraternity and numerous on-campus clubs and organizations.  He is a lifetime member of the FSU Alumni Association and chair of its board and a member of the Seminole Boosters. He is also active with the Career Center’s ProfessioNole mentoring program, which connects FSU students with alumni and supporters for career advice and guidance. 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. 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.”

2021: Rosemary Magee

Rosemary Magee (B.A. ’73 Sociology) has spent her entire professional career in higher education, most of it at Emory University in Atlanta, where she and her husband have lived for 44 years.

After earning her bachelor’s degree and then a master’s in religion at FSU in 1975, she served as an instructor and academic advisor at Valencia Community College. She later received her Ph.D. (1982) from Emory University and for the next 40+ years served in various roles there, including faculty member, dean, director and vice-president. She also 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.

Magee 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. She stepped down from that role in 2018 to serve a sabbatical year as a senior faculty fellow at the Fox Center for Humanistic Inquiry before she retired in 2019.

“I truly believe in the transformative power of education. I believe in it because I experienced it first at FSU in the sociology department. 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.”

2021: Mel Martinez

Mel Martinez (B.A. ’69 International Affairs) has years of accomplished public service that are best summed up in the title of his 2008 book, “A Sense of Belonging: From Castro’s Cuba to the U.S. Senate, One Man’s Pursuit of the American Dream.”

Martinez came from Cuba in 1962 at the age of 15 as part of Operation Peter Pan, a humanitarian program sponsored by the Catholic Church and the U.S. government. While working to graduate from high school, he lived in resettlement camps and two foster homes before being reunited with his parents in 1966. After completing his bachelor’s degree in the college, he worked in the Florida Secretary of State’s office and earned his law degree at FSU in 1973. 

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).

Martinez’s reputation as a centrist on certain issues (such as immigration reform) and his proven ability to work with senators on both sides of the aisle made him the perfect choice as one of two politicians to speak about bipartisan cooperation and political civility at the kick-off keynote for the FSU Institute of Politics in January 2021.

Today, he continues his role as chairman for the Southeast and Latin America for JPMorgan Chase. He and his wife, Kathryn (Kitty), proud of their three children and five grandchildren, live in Winter Park, Fla.

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. 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.”

2021: Karen Rasler

In her decades of research and teaching at major universities throughout the U.S., Karen Rasler (M.S. ’77, Ph.D. ’81 Political Science) has inspired, mentored and supported a generation of scholars; many are women, and all owe her a great debt.

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.   

Since retiring from IU, Rasler has divided her time between homes in Arizona and on Camano Island, Washington, with her husband Bill Thompson, an academic she met at FSU and with whom she has frequently co-authored scholarly works.

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. 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.”

Previous Honorees

2020: Jeff Butler (B.S. ’95 Interdisciplinary Social Science), entrepreneur and senior executive in the healthcare and technology industries; Jorge Gonzalez (B.S. ’87 Political Science, M.S.P. ’89 Urban and Regional Planning), real estate professional and CEO of St. Joe Company; Robert Hummer (M.S. ’90, Ph.D. ’93 Sociology), distinguished professor of sociology at UNC and acclaimed scholar of population health and mortality patterns and trends; Angela Riley Santone (B.S. ’93 Sociology); Angela Riley Santone (B.S. ’93 Sociology), Senior Executive Vice President for Human Resources at AT&T

2019: William Desvousges (M.S. ’74, Ph.D. ’77 Economics), natural resource damage assessment specialist; Joyce Godwin (B.A. ’65 Political Science), philanthropist and corporate/nonprofit/education board member and consultant; Patrick D. Sargent (B.S. ’85 Political Science), commander of the U.S. Army Medical Department Center and School Health Readiness Center of Excellence

2018: Eric Reading (B.S. ’92, M.S. 93 International Affairs): Executive Vice President of Chemonics International development firm

2017: Marshall Cohn (B.S. Economics, Social Sciences ’81): Founder of real estate firm The Dunhill Companies; teaching assistant for online MBA classes at FSU in real estate finance and valuation; sponsor of the university’s annual Real Estate Trends Conference; Florida State University Real Estate Network Award in 2014

2016: Susan MacManus (B.A. Political Science ’68, Ph.D. Political Science ’75): Distinguished Professor, Department of Government and International Affairs, University of South Florida; political expert for state and national media

2015: Ed Moore (M.P.A. Public Administration ’76, Ph.D. Public Administration ’07): President, Independent Colleges and Universities of Florida; former president and CEO, James Madison Institute; former executive director, Broward County Community Mental Health Board; Fulbright SpecialistFlorida Advisory Council for U.S. Global Leadership Coalition

2014: Gordon Gaster (B.S. Economics ’58): Financial consultant, Florida State University Foundation trustee and vice chair, FSU Alumni Association president, founder of the Gordon D. Gaster Endowment Fund supporting the Gus Stavros Center for Economic Education and its Economic Literacy Initiative, 2010 Circle of Gold honoree

2013: Mark Ellis (B.A. Economics ’79): Executive Director of International Bar Association, director of American Bar Association Central European and Eurasian Law Initiative, Fulbright Scholar, media commentator, author

2012: Stephen Lawry (B.S. Political Science ’73, M.S.P. Urban and Regional Planning ’75): Global Practice Lead for Land Tenure and Property Rights at consulting group Development Alternatives, Inc., president Antioch College, associate director for Africa programs at University of Wisconsin Land Tenure Center, director Ford Foundation Office of Management Services

2011: Lettie Bien (B.S. Political Science ’76): Retired U.S. Army Reserve Colonel, Senior Adviser to Iraqi Ministry of Industry and Minerals, South Florida Area Coordinator for Admissions at West Point, recipient of Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star, and the Meritorious Civilian Service Award

2010: Harry Lerner (B.S. Economics ’82, M.S.P. Urban and Regional Planning ’84): President of Maxcy Development Group, Inc., member of Association of Florida Community Developers and Urban Land Institute, City of Jacksonville planner, planning project manager for private firms

2009: Victor Holcomb (B.S. Economics ’76): Senior principal Holcomb & Mayts law firm, trustee Kaul Foundation; and John Holcomb (B.S. Political Science ’77): Partner with Hill, Ward, & Henderson law firm, National President of American Board of Trial Advocates, trustee Kaul Foundation

2008: Clyda S. Rent (B.A. Sociology ’64, M.S. Sociology ’66, Ph.D. Sociology ’68): President Emerita of Mississippi University for Women; and George Rent (Ph.D. Sociology ’68): Associate Provost at Mississippi State University; faculty at University of North Carolina at Charlotte; consultant to U.S. Office of Higher Education, National Science Foundation, and United Family Services

2007: Laird Anderson (B.S. International Affairs ’58): Professor Emeritus of Journalism, School of Communication, American University; retired Colonel, US Army Reserves; reporter for Wall Street Journal, Chicago and Washington bureaus; Tallahassee bureau chief, Miami News and Palm Beach Times; international lecturer U.S. State Department

2006: Thomas M. Culligan (B.S. Political Science ’73, M.P.A. Public Administration ’77), M.S. Public Administration): Executive Vice President of Business Development for Raytheon Company, CEO of Raytheon International, Inc.

2005: Janice Kaminis Platt (B.S. Political Science ’58): Hillsborough County Commissioner

2004: Mark Filteau (M.S.P. Urban and Regional Planning ’76): President, Facilities Division, Johnson Controls

2003: Manuel H. Johnson (M.S. Economics ’75, Ph.D. Economics ’77): Senior Partner Johnson Smick International; Assistant Secretary of the Treasury (1982-86); vice chair Board of Governors of Federal Reserve System (1986-90);

2002: Carl Blackwell (B.S. Education ’58, M.S. Political Science ’59): Interim Chancellor of Florida Board of Education, Associate Vice Chancellor of of Planning and Budgeting of Florida Board of Regents, Associate State Budget Director and Chief of Bureau of Budgeting in Department of Administration

2001: Barbara W. White (Ph.D. Political Science ’86): Dean of School of Social Work,University of Texas (Austin); Associate Dean School of Social Work, Florida State University

2000: Alan Sundberg (B.S. Political Science ’55): Florida Supreme Court Justice 1975-1982, Chief Justice 1980-82.

1999: Arnold Greenfield (B.S. Social Sciences ’58): Investment banker, managing director of Lehman Brothers, Chair of Florida Preservation Advisory Council

1998: Barby Barone (B.S. Political Science ’69, M.S. Political Science ’70): Founder of Biltmore Advisers Inc., strategic investment management and financial planning

1997: Melvin Magidson (B.S. Economics ’48, M.S. Economics ’49): President and CEO of MCM Financial Corp.; and Lynda Keever (B.S. Political Science ’69): Publisher of Florida Trend magazine; board member of Florida Chamber of Commerce, Leroy Collins Center, Florida Education Foundation, Florida Council on Economic Education; Board of Trustees Florida State University and Leadership Florida

1996: Peter F. Romero (M.A. International Affairs ’72): CEO Experior Advisory, U.S. Ambassador to Ecuador, Assistant Secretary of State of Western Hemisphere Affairs Bureau, Chief of Mission for U.S. Embassy in San Salvador

1995: James Ammons (M.S. Political Science ’75, Ph.D. Political Science ’77): President of Florida A&M University, Chancellor of North Carolina Central University

1994: Alan Bayer (M.S. Sociology ’63, Ph.D. Sociology ’65): Professor Emeritus Virgina Tech; and Reuben O’D. Askew (B.S. Public Administration ’51): 37th Governor of Florida (1971-79)

1993: Parris Glendening (B.A. Political Science ’64, M.A. Political Science ’65, Ph.D. Political Science ’67): 59th Governor of Maryland

1992: David Coburn (B.S. Political Science ’73, M.S.P. Urban and Regional Planning ’77): Chief of staff in Florida House and Senate; staff director of Senate Rules Committee, Senate Ways and Means Committee, House Appropriations Committee