[CUA Office of Public Affairs]           

Sept. 30, 2002

CUA to Present Gibbons Medal to Aaron Neville

Singer Joins ‘Blue’s Clues’ Creator and 9 Others Receiving Awards at Oct. 19 Banquet


American gospel and blues treasure Aaron Neville will receive The Catholic University of America Alumni Association’s highest honor, the James Cardinal Gibbons Medal, during festivities beginning at 7 p.m., Oct. 19, at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C.


Catholic University also will honor nine distinguished alumni who have been chosen to receive the Alumni Achievement Award for outstanding accomplishments in fields representing the university’s strengths. They include Thomas Scully, head of the federal agency that oversees Medicare/ Medicaid, and other leaders in public service, health care, business, the performing arts and academia.  (See below for complete list.)


A 10th alumna, Angela Capobianco Santomero, B.A. 1990, is this year’s Young Alumni Merit Award Winner. The New York City resident, who co-created Nickelodeon’s “Blue’s Clues,”  will be honored for her work with educational children’s programming for cable television. Now in its seventh season, “Blue’s Clues” is a television phenomenon, with more than 8 million viewers each week, scores of fan sites on the Internet, a popular CD recording of songs, a live Broadway show and a host of educational products, games and toys.


Aaron Neville, 61, is a four-time Grammy winner and lifelong Catholic who gained critical acclaim and worldwide popularity with songs like 1967’s “Tell It Like It Is” and his 1989 duet with Linda Ronstadt, “Don’t Know Much.” The New Orleans native, who has worn an earring fashioned from a St. Jude medal for the past 20 years, has included a religious-themed song on each of his albums. His latest recording – devoted to Gospel music — includes “There Is Still A Dream,” which he sang as part of Catholic World Youth Day in Rome in August 2000.


He will be awarded the Gibbons medal for his “devotion to music that touches the soul and serves as an inspiration to many,” said the Very Rev. David M. O’Connell, C.M., president of CUA. “His music, as an expression of his faith, has made a real difference in the world.”


Former recipients of the Gibbons Medal include President John F. Kennedy, Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and actress Helen Hayes. Created in 1947, the medal is given to individuals who may or may not be alumni, but have served the United States, the Catholic Church or Catholic University with great distinction.


To follow is a list of this year’s Alumni Achievement Award recipients:


George Dove, M. Arch. 1972, of Washington, D.C., managing principal for Weihe Design Group — among the 40 largest architectural firms in the nation — for his work in architecture. He has served as principal-in-charge of more than 30 million square feet of new building designs.


Mary Anne Gibbons, J.D. 1980, of Washington, D.C., general counsel and vice president of the U.S. Postal Service, for her work in law and the courts. She coordinated the legal response to last year’s anthrax crisis at U.S. postal facilities.


Charles O. Heller, Ph.D. 1968, of Arnold, Md., an entrepreneur who founded CADCOM, Inc., for his achievements in business and finance. CADCOM helped pioneer CAD/CAM computer-aided design software — the market for which now exceeds $10 billion yearly.


Joyce E. Johnson, M.S.N. 1976, D.N.Sc. 1982, of Rockville, Md., senior vice president of operations at Georgetown University Hospital, for her work in nursing at one of the nation’s leading medical centers.


Diane Nester Kresh, B.A. 1976, M.S.L.S., 1980, of Washington, D.C., director of the Public Service Collections at the Library of Congress, for her work in library and information science. She is overseeing the creation of a Web portal to more than 100 libraries around the world.


Carol A. Nacy, B.S. 1970, M.S. 1975, Ph.D. 1977, of Rockville, Md., CEO of Sequella, Inc., for her advances in science, including work on the development of products to detect and treat tuberculosis.


Thomas Scully, J.D. 1986, of Alexandria, Va., a health care lawyer appointed by President George W. Bush to head the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare — the federal agency formerly known as the Health Care Financing Administration — for his contributions to government and politics.


Denes Striny, B.M. 1966, M.M. 1969, of New York City, an opera star in the United States and abroad, for his contributions to music. He directs an annual opera festival, where he also conducts, and runs the Shoshana Foundation, offering financial aid to young opera singers.


James Youniss, Ph.D. 1962, of Hyattsville, Md., CUA professor of psychology, for his research and scholarship in the area of child psychological development.


The awards banquet is one of the highlights of the Oct. 18 to 20 Homecoming Weekend at Catholic University. Other featured events include a cornerstone ceremony at 4 p.m., Friday, Oct. 18, when alumni will have a chance to view the Edward J. Pryzbyla University Center, currently under construction. Families will also be taking their children to “Breakfast with Blue,” a book reading by “Blue’s Clues” creator Angela Santomero, scheduled from 10 to 11 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 19, at the Raymond A. DuFour (Athletic) Center.  


A homecoming Mass is scheduled for 6 p.m., Oct. 19, at the Omni Shoreham Hotel, located at 2500 Calvert St., N.W., Washington, D.C. The Alumni Awards reception will begin at the hotel at 7 p.m., followed by the banquet and awards presentation at 8 p.m.


NOTE TO MEDIA: Coverage is invited, but first please contact Chris Harrison or Victor Nakas at 202-319-5600.






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Revised: Feb. 18, 2002

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