College honors distinguished alumni for 2021
The College of Social Sciences and Public Policy has named its Distinguished Alumni for 2021, four accomplished individuals who excel in their respective fields and credit their time at the college with much of the success they have since achieved.
Established in 1992, the annual awards honor alumni from throughout the college’s 11 departments and interdisciplinary programs 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.”
The honorees for 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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”