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10-23-2009

Clarkson University Honors Abraham Lackman with Bertrand H. Snell Award

[A photograph for media use is available at http://www.clarkson.edu/news/photos/lackman.jpg.]

Clarkson University’s highest community service honor, the Bertrand H. Snell Award, was bestowed upon Commission on Independent Colleges (cIcu) and Universities Sixth President Abraham M. Lackman at a dinner hosted by Clarkson President Tony Collins and University trustees on campus Friday night.

The Bertrand H. Snell Award was created by the board of trustees in 1981 to recognize individuals of outstanding merit and to honor Snell’s significant contributions to the University, the North Country, and the nation. Snell, the congressman who introduced the original St. Lawrence Seaway legislation in 1917, was a Clarkson trustee for 47 years.lackman

The award was presented to Lackman by Clarkson University Chair of the Board of Trustees Everett G. Foster, Snell’s grandson Trustee W. Hollis Petersen, and President Collins.

"During his seven-year tenure as the president of the state’s private higher education advocacy group, Abe Lackman raised the profile of all of New York’s higher education assets to a national level," said Collins. "In particular, he brought relevance to the international stature of New York’s prized global research enterprise, which generated a true sense of pride among the hard-working cohort of educators, students and alumni who are committed to New York’s colleges and universities, as well as the welfare of their communities. All colleges and universities in New York State -- not just the independent sector -- are better off today because of Abe."

Foster added that, "New York State’s critical support of higher education opportunity programs for youth, scholarship aid and investments in research to build economic development are in large part due to the voice and persistence in seeking action that Lackman brought to the issues. The North Country and its young people who want to build rewarding careers and family lives in our communities all benefit."

In accepting the award, Lackman said, "I am deeply honored to be a recipient of this prestigious award. I have long recognized the ties between higher education and economic development, a connection I know that Clarkson University recognizes at its core. Clarkson faculty and their students embody a spirit of innovation and in terms of where we as a state and nation need to be with respect to math, science and engineering education, New York State is fortunate to have Clarkson as an asset."

Abraham M. Lackman was selected as the sixth president of the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities (cIcu) in 2002. He will conclude his tenure at cIcu at the end of October of 2009. At cIcu, Lackman was responsible for leading and coordinating the state and federal public policy advocacy of more than 100 college presidents of New York State’s private, non-profit, independent institutions of higher education and for carrying out the policy directives of cIcu’s Board of Trustees.

Prior to joining cIcu, Lackman was secretary of the New York State Senate Finance Committee since 1995. Concurrently, he was a special advisor to the Senate’s Majority Leader, Joseph L. Bruno. In the preceding year he served as budget director of the City of New York under Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. For ten years, 1984-93, he was the Senate Finance Committee’s director of Fiscal Studies. Earlier, he was for four years a legislative analyst for the committee.

Lackman has served on numerous community, state, and national boards and committees. On the state level, he was appointed to the New York State Commission on Higher Education, the Public Authority Governance Advisory Committee and the Special Commission on the Future of the New York State Courts.

Lackman is the immediate past-chair of NAICUSE, the umbrella group for state executives of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities.

Bertrand H. Snell was one of the North Country’s most highly regarded political leaders and entrepreneurs. Born in Colton, N.Y., he founded the Raquette River Paper Company in Potsdam and the Snell Power Company at Higley Falls. In 1914 Snell won his first race for elected office, a seat in the House of Representatives. Later, despite the endorsement of his opponent by President Herbert Hoover, Snell won the House Minority Leader’s position, which he held for eight years until his retirement in 1938.

One of his most enduring contributions to the North Country during his 24-year career in Washington was his sponsorship of the original St. Lawrence Seaway legislation. Snell died just months before the Seaway opened in 1958.

In his 47 years as a Clarkson trustee, including 25 as chairman of the board, Snell and his family generously supported projects like Snell Hall, the Sara M. Snell Auditorium, and the Snell Athletic Field. Snell’s late daughter, Helen Snell Cheel, was also a generous benefactor of the University who helped make possible the construction of both the Cheel Campus Center and Bertrand H. Snell Hall. His son-in-law, William E. Petersen, and his grandson, W. Hollis Petersen, continued the family tradition of support of the North Country and Clarkson University, serving as trustees.

The Bertrand H. Snell Award assures the remembrance of Clarkson’s patron, while it recognizes and honors a new generation of leaders who embrace the institution’s mission and its role in the North Country regional economy. Recipients of the award are chosen for their professional, business or educational accomplishments, combined with demonstrated integrity and concern for the community.

The award is a five-inch, cast-bronze medallion, revolving in a bronze ring and set on a polished block of Potsdam Sandstone. A likeness of Bertrand Snell is cast on the obverse side with the words "achievement, integrity and community concern" displayed on the reverse.

Founded in 1956 by a small group of private, not-for-profit college and university presidents, the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities is a statewide association representing the public policy interests of the chief executives of more than 100 independent colleges and universities in New York State.

Clarkson University launches leaders into the global economy. One in six alumni already leads as a CEO, VP or equivalent senior executive of a company. Located just outside the Adirondack Park in Potsdam, N.Y., Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university for undergraduates with select graduate programs in signature areas of academic excellence directed toward the world’s pressing issues. Through 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, sciences and health sciences, the entire learning-living community spans boundaries across disciplines, nations and cultures to build powers of observation, challenge the status quo, and connect discovery and engineering innovation with enterprise.

Photo caption: Clarkson University’s highest community service honor, the Bertrand H. Snell Award, was bestowed upon Commission on Independent Colleges (cIcu) and Universities Sixth President Abraham M. Lackman at a dinner hosted by Clarkson President Tony Collins and University trustees on campus Friday night. Left to right: Collins, and Lackman and his wife, Jeanne Alice.

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Michael P. Griffin, director of News & Digital Content Services, at 315-268-6716 or mgriffin@clarkson.edu.]

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