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The Platters Will Headline Ramapo College Distinguished Citizens Dinner

(PDF) (DOC) (JPG)February 18, 2000

(Mahwah) — The soulful sounds of ’50s rock and roll group The Platters will entertain guests at this year’s Ramapo College Foundation Distinguished Citizens Dinner, to be held Saturday, March 4 at the Rockleigh Country Club. The annual benefit dinner raises funds for student scholarships, college programs and faculty development opportunities.

The Platters, who were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and have received numerous gold records in their four-decade career, were made famous by such hits as Only You,” My Prayer,” and The Great Pretender.” They will be introduced by the mellow sounds of the band Matrix. The dinner will honor four distinguished citizens for their leadership and commitment to higher education: Michael W. Azzara, president and CEO of Valley Health System, Inc.; Elizabeth G. Christopherson, executive director and CEO of New Jersey Network (NJN); John Durkin, vice president of Garban LLC Government Bond Brokerage and past president of the Ramapo College Alumni Association; and Douglas L. Kennedy, president and CEO of Fleet Bank, New Jersey. The evening’s events will begin with a cocktail reception at 6 p.m., followed by the dinner program, entertainment and dancing. Black tie is preferred. For more information, please contact Lucille O’Connor at (201) 684-7613.

Distinguished Citizens’s Dinner Honorees 2000

Michael W. Azzara

Michael W. Azzara has served as the President and CEO of Valley Health System, Inc. an integrated delivery system composed of two hospitals, a management contract at a third hospital, a home health agency, and the Health Net Medical Group since its inception in 1997. He received a bachelor’s degree with honors from Rutgers University in 1969 and a master’s degree with distinction in Hospital and Health Services Administration from Cornell graduate School of Business and Public Administration in 1971. From June to September 1970, he served his administrative residency at Burlington County Memorial Hospital, Mount Holly, NJ. From 1971 to 1972 Mr. Azzara served as Administrative Assistant at The Valley Hospital, and in January 1973 was promoted to Assistant Director. He served in that capacity until November 1979 when he became Senior Vice President of Mountainside Hospital in Montclair, NJ, a 426-bed hospital. In May 1981, Mr. Azzara returned to The Valley Hospital where he served as President until January, 1999. Mr. Azzara was instrumental in forming the Valley Health System, Inc. in August 1997 when The Valley Hospital partnered with Chilton Memorial Hospital and he became the first President and Chief Executive Officer of the System”.

Elizabeth G. Christopherson

Elizabeth G. Christopherson was elected executive director and chief executive officer of New Jersey Network (NJN) in May 1994 by the New Jersey Public Broadcasting Authority. Since that time, she also has served as president of the NJN Foundation, a non-profit corporation established to support and promote the state’s public broadcasting services. During her tenure, NJN has set new records for professional recognition of its original programming and increased viewership and community support. Growth in individual, corporate and foundation support has earned NJN national awards. NJN is the state’s most accessible educational and cultural public broadcast network, available to virtually all of New Jersey’s television households, including 30 percent without cable. NJN reaches hundreds of thousands of children and adults with award-winning programs that teach and inspire. Ms. Christopherson has a record of achievement with many national and statewide organizations. Her public television activities include membership on the national PBS Board of Directors and PBS Education Task Force, and service to the Central Education Network (trustee), the Organization of State Broadcasting Executives, the Public Television Outreach Alliance’s Advisory Council, and the National Forum for Public Executives.

John Durkin ’75

Ramapo College alumnus John Durkin graduated from Ramapo in 1975 with a degree in political science. His first position was right at Ramapo where he assumed dual positions of director of Intramurals and Recreation and assistant soccer coach. Since 1982 he has been employed as a Government Bond Broker and currently is vice president of Garban LLC Government Bond Brokerage. He served as a member of the Ramapo College Alumni Association Board from 1978-’83 and again from 1985-’91, on the executive board from 1994-’96, and is the Alumni Association’s immediate past president. In addition to his Ramapo commitments he is a youth recreation soccer coach in Suffern, New York and a C.Y.O. basketball coach at Sacred Heart Church, also in Suffern. He is the recipient of the Ramapo College Distinguished Alumnus Award, the Ramapo College Athletic Department Alumnus Award, and a merit Award from the Ramapo College Physical Education and Athletic Department. Mr. Durkin is married to Debra Joerger and has three children, Jillian, 13; Kelly,11; and Jack,7.

Douglas L. Kennedy

Douglas L. Kennedy is Senior Executive Vice President and Deputy Manager of Corporate Banking for Summit Bancorp. Prior to joining Summit Bancorp in February Mr. Kennedy was President and Chief Executive Officer of Fleet Bank – New Jersey. Mr. Kennedy joined Fleet Bank in May of 1996, when Fleet Bank acquired the U.S. domestic banking arm of National Westminster Bank Plc. Prior to being appointed to his current position, Mr. Kennedy served as Executive Vice President and Market Manager for the Commercial Services Group. Formerly, while at NatWest, he held various supervisory positions. In 1991, he was appointed President of NatWest USA Connecticut Corporation. He was appointed Senior Vice President of NatWest Bancorp and head of Corporate Banking for New Jersey in 1992. In 1995, Mr. Kennedy was selected to head the bank’s Pennsylvania Loan Production Office, as well as the Central and Southern area. Mr. Kennedy serves on the boards of the New Jersey State Chamber of Commerce, New Jersey Performing Arts Center’s Council of Trustees, Bergen County Economic Development Corporation, Prosperity New Jersey, Edison Partnership, Hackensack Medical Center Foundation, Liberty Science Center and the Tri-County Scholarship. He is a member of Sales & Marketing Executive International, NJ Bankers Association and the New Jersey District Export Council. Mr. Kennedy earned a MBA degree from Sacred Heart University of Fairfield, CT. He and his family live in Mountain Lakes, NJ.



About Ramapo College

Ramapo College of New Jersey is the state’s premier public liberal arts college and is committed to academic excellence through interdisciplinary and experiential learning, and international and intercultural understanding. The comprehensive college is situated among the beautiful Ramapo Mountains, is within commuting distance to New York City, was named one of the 50 Most Beautiful College Campuses in America by CondeNast Traveler, and boasts the best on-campus housing in New Jersey per Established in 1969, Ramapo College offers bachelor’s degrees in the arts, business, data science, humanities, social sciences and the sciences, as well as in professional studies, which include business, education, nursing and social work. In addition, the College offers courses leading to teacher certification at the elementary and secondary levels, and offers graduate programs leading to master’s degrees in Accounting, Applied Mathematics, Business Administration, Contemporary Instructional Design, Computer Science, Creative Music Technology, Data Science, Educational Leadership, Nursing, Social Work and Special Education, as well as a Doctor of Nursing Practice.


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