Carnegie Mellon University
October 24, 2011

Press Release: Carnegie Mellon To Present Alumni Awards During Inaugural Cèilidh Weekend, Oct. 27-30


Contact: Abby Simmons / 412-268-4290 /

PITTSBURGH—The inventor of, a world-renowned cancer researcher, the production designer for the "Spider Man" trilogy, a decorated Naval officer and a Grammy Award-winning musician are among 16 individuals Carnegie Mellon University's Alumni Association will honor during Cèilidh Weekend, Oct. 27-30.

This new fall event combines the university's Homecoming, Family Weekend and International Festival into one celebration. The Scottish Gaelic word Cèilidh represents a traditional social gathering and pays tribute to the heritage of CMU founder Andrew Carnegie.

The following are descriptions of the award recipients' professional accomplishments and service to the university and its alumni.

Alumni Distinguished Achievement

M. Dale Clevenger (A'62): This three-time Grammy Award-winning virtuoso of the French horn is a sought-after soloist and conductor for symphonic, chamber music and jazz performances around the globe. In addition to serving as principal horn of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for more than 45 years, he is a faculty member at Roosevelt University and the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University. He received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Horn Society in 2010. As a guest conductor and soloist for the Carnegie Mellon Philharmonic several years ago, Clevenger thrilled and inspired students with his consummate musicianship.

Hillard M. Lazarus (E'70): An internationally renowned hematologist and oncologist, this professor of medicine at Case Western Reserve University is a member of the American Cancer Society's Cancer Care Hall of Fame and a recipient of the organization's Lifetime Achievement Award. Lazarus used stem cells from living adults to perform the first non-embryonic stem cell transplant in Ohio in 1976. As director of Novel Cell Therapies for University Hospitals Case Medical Center, he advances blood and transplantation techniques to treat diseases such as leukemia, lymphoma, myeloma and aplastic anemia. Lazarus has returned to Carnegie Mellon to speak to biomedical engineering classes, serves on academic and admissions advisory councils, and established a Holleran Scholarship with his wife, Joan, in 2003.

Alumni Achievement

Nikhil Balram (E'86, '88, '92): This entrepreneurial engineer played an instrumental role in bringing movie-theater quality video to consumers' homes. His video-processing algorithms power devices such as rear-projection and LCD flat-screen televisions, DVD and Blu-ray players and recorders, projectors, audio-visual receivers and flat-panel computer displays. Balram has held senior leadership positions at Faroudja Labs, National Semiconductor and Marvell Semiconductor Inc. He currently is president and CEO of Ricoh Innovations Inc.

Daniel M. Fawcett (TPR'88): As president of digital media for Fox Entertainment Group (FEG), Fawcett revolutionized the entertainment industry with the creation of, a free-online service offering streaming video of television programs and movies. Fawcett's career journey depicts Carnegie Mellon's interdisciplinary tradition. After serving as a partner at the Pittsburgh-based law firm Reed Smith, he joined Fox Cable Network as executive vice president of business and legal affairs and then served as executive vice president of content acquisition for DIRECTV. Today, he is responsible for supporting FEG's vast cable, TV and film brands online and leading Fox's digital media strategy.

Paul Jacob III (A'71): Architect Paul F. Jacob III, retired chairman of RTKL Associates Inc., has helped redefine American cities and suburban shopping centers. With more than 40 years of experience in the field, Jacob was instrumental in creating ID8, a service of RTKL that focuses on entertainment design. His large-scale projects include Universal Studios and Desert Passage, the centerpiece of the Aladdin Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, which won the Society for Environmental Graphic Design Merit Award for Placemaking in 2002. Jacob brings RTKL recruiters to the Creative Arts Opportunities Conference on campus each year, and he coordinated the inaugural School of Architecture Spring Carnival Alumni Day.

Rajeev K. Mehta (TPR'92): With an unmatched commitment to customer service, Mehta has helped Cognizant Technology Solutions Inc. grow from a startup to a global, multi-billion-dollar provider of information technology, consulting and business process outsourcing services. Fellow alumnus and university trustee Francisco D'Souza (TPR'92), president and CEO of Cognizant, said Mehta helped establish a customer base in the company's Banking and Financial Services division that now represents more than a quarter of Cognizant's business. Mehta, now chief operating officer of Global Client Services, has been named to the exclusive Global 50 leadership forum.

Neil J. Spisak (A'78): For more than 30 years, this top Hollywood production designer has supervised hundreds of people, managed budgets worth millions of dollars and made time to mentor School of Drama students on both the East and West coasts. Spisak created stunning visuals for blockbusters such as the "Spider-Man" trilogy, the Al Pacino/Robert DeNiro thriller "Heat" and the John Travolta/Nicolas Cage action film "Face/Off." Spisak has returned to Carnegie Mellon's Pittsburgh campus to conduct workshops and portfolio reviews for students. In Los Angeles, he has helped students to become familiar with the entertainment industry, hired several Carnegie Mellon alumni and hosted fundraising events for the School of Drama.

Recent Alumni

Elizabeth (Higgins) Durika (E'03): In less than a decade after graduating from the College of Engineering on a Navy ROTC scholarship, Lt. Durika has become a decorated military leader with important assignments on three continents. As the officer-in-charge for the Seabee Detachment, her team drilled wells to provide African communities with access to clean water and built an eight-room hospital with a much-needed maternity ward in Ghana. Durika has received the Navy Achievement Medal three times and the Navy Commendation Medal twice. She is currently the public works officer for SIXTH Fleet in Naples, Italy.

Keith A. Eich (E'02, '04, HNZ'04): This rising executive is a champion of Carnegie Mellon students and alumni. Eich became vice president of operations and project management for this summer and previously served as director of digital distribution operations for GE/NBC Universal, where he worked on the broadcast of the 2008 Olympics and received a General Electric Ovation Award. As president of Carnegie Mellon's Los Angeles Alumni Chapter, he built chapter leadership, improved the number and range of alumni programs and forged stronger ties with the university's West Coast Drama Alumni group. Eich is a frequent guest speaker at Carnegie Mellon and has referred numerous job opportunities to the university's Career and Professional Development Center.

Alumni Service

Teresa Allison (HNZ'99): For more than a decade, Allison has served Carnegie Mellon alumni and students in the Washington, D.C., area. In her early years in the nation's capital, she founded the Heinz College's Washington, D.C., Alumni Chapter and served as vice president of the university's Alumni Chapter. She has created and hosted numerous events, including happy hours, networking lunches, a lecture series and a "Moving to D.C." panel discussion for alumni and students relocating to the region. Allison also became a board member of the Heinz College Alumni Association in 2006 and president of the association in 2009.

Myron R. Lewis (S'54): Carnegie Mellon's Boston Alumni Chapter has benefited from Lewis' service for more than 40 years and looks forward to the summer clambake he and his wife, DeAnne Rosenberg, host at their seaside home. Clambake attendance exceeds 150 individuals each year, in part because Lewis has expanded the guest list to include students from the area who plan to begin their studies at Carnegie Mellon in the fall. Lewis has held several positions on the chapter's board since 1970 while leading a variety of applied science companies.

Timothy S. K. Liu (HS'85): Liu has made an enormous impact on volunteerism and engagement at Carnegie Mellon while serving in a variety of roles at the regional and national levels. He has helped with class reunions, admissions and served as a member of the Andrew Carnegie Society Executive Board. He spearheaded the creation of the Regional Chapter Handbook and was instrumental in reshaping the Alumni Association Board in 2004. A resident of Chicago, he regularly attends alumni events there, in addition to traveling to events in Pittsburgh, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., where he formerly led the alumni chapter in the nation's capital.

Christine (Hayes) Nolin (S'85): Nolin demonstrates an exceptional commitment to giving time, talent and treasure to the university. She shines in her interaction with students, especially in providing counsel to the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority. The sorority expresses gratitude for her willingness to attend chapter meetings and for surprising members with breakfast, a seemingly small thing noticed in a big way by busy, hardworking students. Nolin also is actively engaged in university fundraising efforts as a member of the Peer Giving Program, Faculty and Staff Annual Fund Committee, and class reunion planning and giving committees.

Student Service

Suraj R. Baxi (HS'12): This senior decision science major has made a lasting impact on campus and in the Pittsburgh community. As president of Bhangra in the Burgh, Baxi and his team hosted a national collegiate dance competition that has raised more than $30,000 for the Children's Home of Pittsburgh. He also is a community adviser for West Wing House, a Highland Ambassador, emergency medical technician and executive board member for the Mayur South Asian Student Alliance.

Maricel Paz (HS'12):
Building on her experience as the 2010 Student Homecoming Committee Chair, this senior psychology major helped to launch a new university tradition as the 2011 Student Cèilidh Weekend Committee co-chair. Paz has helped to educate and engage students in the Loyal Scot program, which recognizes alumni and students who stay informed, get involved, give back and show their university pride. She also is the online editor of The Tartan student newspaper, a costume crew member for Scotch'n'Soda Theatre, and a member of the Carnegie Clan and Alpha Chi Omega Society.

Erica F. Spiritos (E'11):
This recent College of Engineering graduate has advocated for causes that have improved the Carnegie Mellon student experience, impacted the environment and provided basic human needs to residents of developing countries. Spiritos is an avid supporter of CMU's Hunt Library, where she spearheaded initiatives to improve group study areas. She co-founded the university's Engineers Without Borders (EWB) chapter and the Environment Today mini-course. Spiritos also has led two service trips to Ecuador, one in which her EWB team implemented a water supply and purification project and another in which she supervised a group of U.S. high school students who constructed school bathrooms.