Beloit College Magazine

Beloit College Magazine

Fall 2016 (August 16, 2016 at 8:00 am)

Alumni Receive Highest Honors for Service


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August 5, 2016 at 12:32 pm

[F16] Distinguished Service Citations 2016
Alumni who received Distinguished Service Citations at Beloit’s 2016 Reunion join College President Scott Bierman in front of the President’s House on campus. From left are Matt Tolmach’86, Daniel Ames’91, Alisan Goldfarb’71, President Bierman, and Bob Norris’66.
Photo by: Amanda Reseburg

At Reunion, on a warm summer Saturday in June, four alumni were recognized for outstanding service to their respective communities and professions. The four received the Distinguished Service Citation, the Alumni Association’s highest honor, while one alumna received the Young Alumni Award, given by the Alumni Association to an outstanding member of the alumni community only 10 years beyond graduation. All five individuals were singled out during an especially entertaining and emotional Alumni Assembly, held during Reunion Weekend in Eaton Chapel. (See page 11 for President Scott Bierman’s letter about the “individually compelling and communally spectacular stories” that were told there.)

Bob Norris’66, who marked his 50th reunion this year, is an environmentalist and champion for human rights and the rights of immigrants in his home state of Colorado. With his Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the University of Notre Dame, he went on to become one of the founders of “in situ environmental remediation” and to acquire 11 U.S. patents on a variety of remediation technologies. Beyond serving his community, Bob has regularly returned to campus to meet with students and inspire them in their studies and potential careers. In memory of their son, he and his wife, Kathleen, also established the David Norris’92 Endowed Memorial Student Research Fund to help fund the research of Beloit science majors.

Dr. Alisan Goldfarb’71 is a trailblazing breast cancer surgeon, who studied biology at Beloit and then trained at Mount Sinai School of Medicine to become a general surgeon. Alisan was not deterred by the fact that only 4 percent of surgeons were women at that time. She forged on, developing a specialty in breast cancer surgery and earning respect for understanding the holistic needs of her patients. Among other honors, she received the American Cancer Society’s prestigious Physician of Distinction Award in 2011. She is credited with helping to pioneer the way that women undergo treatment for breast cancer by empowering them to make decisions about their care. Today she is helping to educate the next generation of surgeons at Mount Sinai School of Medicine.

Matt Tolmach’86 oversaw three of Columbia/Sony Pictures’ most successful years on record as the studio’s co-president. His brilliant career as a movie producer and studio executive includes bringing The Amazing Spider-Man movies to the screen. Matt left his post at Sony in 2010 to start Matt Tolmach Productions, which continues to work on the evolving Spider-Man movie franchise and many other films. While Matt has remained close to his Beloit friends, he wasn’t always in touch with his alma mater, until recently. When he spoke to the alumni assembled in Eaton Chapel, he pledged his support to the college, in particular to help address the question “What is Beloit?” He said he was asked this question repeatedly on his way up in the movie business. He asked for the audience’s help in getting the word out about “that completely unique little gem of a school that somehow found me and gave me so much.”

A social psychologist, Daniel Ames’91 is a rising star on the faculty of Columbia Business School at Columbia University. He joined the faculty in 2002. His research focuses on social judgment and behavior and how individuals’ judgments influence interactions, such as negotiations and conflicts. Daniel is currently the Ting Tsung and Wei Fong Chao Professor of Business Management at Columbia, where he has received a number of awards for his teaching. His service to Beloit includes his ongoing support of college initiatives, including his involvement with Econ Day, the premier networking event organized by the economics department and supported by economics alumni.

[F16] Dr. Larissa Thomas'06
Dr. Larissa Thomas’06 received the 2016 Young Alumni Award.
Photo by: Amanda Reseburg

Dr. Larissa Thomas’06 received the Young Alumni Award during Beloit’s 2016 Reunion. In many ways, she exemplifies the powerful potential of a Beloit education: As a student, she was an accomplished and inspiring performer who double-majored in biochemistry and dance, then danced professionally after Beloit before enrolling in medical school at Tulane University. She is now a physician in family practice in rural Oregon. “The characteristics Larissa exhibited at Beloit—her intelligence, her focus, her broad interests, her heart—have proven consistent and only blossomed in the 10 years since she crossed the Commencement stage,” her Young Alumni Award read.

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