O'Connor Honored With Alumni Award

By Sean Smith
Staff Writer

Prof. Emeritus Thomas O'Connor (History), '49 MA '50, was presented with the Boston College Alumni Association's highest accolade, the William V. McKenney Award, at the association's annual ceremony on May 8 honoring outstanding graduates.

Approximately 400 people attended the event in Robsham Theater, where 10 Awards of Excellence were given to alumni who have achieved prominence in fields such as law, science and religion.

O'Connor, who began teaching at BC in 1950, is an acclaimed author of numerous books and articles on Boston history, including South Boston: My Home Town , The Boston Irish: A Political History and Civil War Boston: Homefront and Battlefield . He also narrated and provided consultation for the WGBH-TV documentary "Boston: The Way It Was," for which he received an Emmy Award.

The McKenney Award was presented to O'Connor for his distinguished academic career, generosity of spirit to his fellow alumni, and his service "to the Church of Boston as chronicler of its story," among his other achievements.

Guy Rotella, PhD '76, a Northeastern University English professor, received the Arts and Humanities Award of Excellence. He is considered a leading critic of modern American poetry, and is founder and editor of the Morse Poetry Prize.

The Commerce Award of Excellence was presented to COM/Electric and COM/Gas President and Chief Operating Officer Deborah McLaughlin, '80, the only woman in the US to head a combined electric and gas company.

Franklin Tucker, '72, earned the Award of Excellence in Education for his work as founder and president of the National Center to Rehabilitate Violent Youth Inc., which helps schools, police departments and others establish youth violence prevention programs.

The Health Professions award was given to Francis Neelon, MD '58, an associate professor of medicine at Duke University and editor of the North Carolina Journal of Medicine .

Retired Suffolk County Family and Probate Court Associate Justice Mary Beatty Muse, JD '50, one of the first women accepted to the Law School, was honored for her contributions to the legal profession.

Jennie Chin Hansen Abrams, '70, and Massachusetts State Sen. Frederick Berry, '72, were selected for the Excellence in Public Service Award. Abrams is the executive director of On Lok Inc., a comprehensive elderly care program in San Francisco, and president of the American Society on Aging.

Berry entered the Massachusetts Senate in 1983 and is chairman of the Steering and Policy Committee.

The Award of Excellence in Religion went to Fr. Michael Duffy, OFM, '61, director of Saint Francis Inn in Philadelphia.

John L. LaMattina '71, vice president of US Discovery Operations at Pfizer Inc., received the Award of Excellence in Science. He was cited for his innovative research, which helped result in the discovery of a new drug for the treatment of diabetic complications, and for devising a more effective and productive system for organizing the work of research groups.

The association presented its Young Alumni Achievement Award to Robert Abbanat, '92, co-founder and president of a company which produces multimedia computer technology instructional materials for the engineering field.

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