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FAU Honors Outstanding Leaders at 2013 Talon Awards Ceremony

BOCA RATON, Fla. (November 21, 2013) –  Florida Atlantic University recently hosted its annual Talon Awards ceremony as part of Homecoming 2013. Since 1997, the Talon Awards ceremony has recognized outstanding leaders from the community, alumni, faculty and student body constituencies. Co-sponsored by the FAU Alumni Association (FAUAA) and FAU Student Government, the ceremony and reception were held at the Marleen & Harold Forkas Alumni Center on FAU’s Boca Raton campus. Honored that evening were Eric M. Kelly ’11, president of Quantum Foundation; Edith Stern ’68, distinguished engineer at IBM; Myriam Swennen Ruthenberg, Ph.D., associate professor and head of Italian and comparative literature at FAU; and Kadeem Ricketts, a senior in the Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College.

“The Talon Awards ceremony is a wonderful opportunity to pause during homecoming week and express our admiration and gratitude to four outstanding individuals for their leadership and service to FAU,” said FAU Interim President Dennis Crudele. “On behalf of FAU’s students, alumni, faculty and staff, I offer congratulations to our honorees and their families.”

Kelly was the recipient of the 2013 President’s Talon Award. Before being named president, he served as vice president of programs for Quantum Foundation, a private foundation with $140 million in investment assets that awards $6.5 million in grants annually to nonprofit and educational institutions to improve the health of people living in Palm Beach County. Previously , Kelly served as  Palm Beach regional vice president for Allegany Franciscan Ministries, Inc. and director of agency relations for United Way of Palm Beach County. He received a master’s degree in nonprofit management from FAU.

Stern, who earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from FAU at the age of 15, received the Alumni Talon Award. She is the youngest graduate in FAU history. Immediately after graduating from FAU, Stern went on to receive a master’s degree in mathematics from Michigan State University and then began working for IBM. An “IBMer” for more than 40 years, Stern is a distinguished engineer, responsible for architecture of the Tivoli Netcool/OMNIbus event management software and leading the work on leveraging analytics for operations. Her previous experience includes managing a team pioneering the use of remote healthcare monitoring for the elderly and researching broadband imaging input for mobile devices.

Ruthenberg accepted the Faculty Talon Award for her exceptional leadership, commitment and service to FAU students. She has served as a fundraiser for scholarships, lectures, symposia, program building, faculty support and library holdings, resulting in the creation of the second-largest Italian studies program in the Florida State University System. Ruthenberg also is involved with FAU’s Weppner Center for Civic Engagement & Service, student leadership circles and conferences, service learning abroad and the Global Connections Living Learning Community. In 2007, she was knighted by the Republic of Italy with the title of “Cavaliere” in the Order of the Star of Italian Solidarity.

Ricketts was the recipient of the Student Talon Award, honored for his academic excellence and commitment to the university and community. A liberal arts and sciences major and active in Student Government, he received the Kenan Social Engagement Scholarship, which provides financial assistance for planning and implementing a social entrepreneurship activity, as well as the prestigious Henry Morrison Flagler Scholarship, a full merit award. Ricketts has served internships with the Broadway Reinvestment Coalition and Community Redevelopment Agencies of Riviera Beach, and the offices of State Representatives Perry Thurston and Mark Pafford. This past summer, he studied responsible investment and strategic knowledge at The Stockholm School of Business in Sweden.

Prior to the Talon Awards presentation, eight FAU graduates were inducted into the Parliament of OWLs (Older, Wiser Leaders), the University’s alumni honor society which recognizes outstanding former student leaders, past presidents of the FAUAA, distinguished alumni of the colleges and Alumni Hall of Fame members. Inductees included Stewart Baskin, BSOE ’13; John Cordero (December 2013); Ernesto Fagundo (December 2013); Eileen Hammond (December 2013); Eric Marmer, BA ’13; Melissa Milfort (December 2013); Kadeem Ricketts (May 2014); and Taylor Ann Rodriguez (December 2013).

For more information about the FAU Alumni Association, call 1-888-FAU-ALUM (328-2586) or visit


Florida Atlantic University, established in 1961, officially opened its doors in 1964 as the fifth public university in Florida. Today, the University, with an annual economic impact of $6.3 billion, serves more than 30,000 undergraduate and graduate students at sites throughout its six-county service region in southeast Florida. FAU’s world-class teaching and research faculty serves students through 10 colleges: the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters, the College of Business, the College for Design and Social Inquiry, the College of Education, the College of Engineering and Computer Science, the Graduate College, the Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College, the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine, the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing and the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science. FAU is ranked as a High Research Activity institution by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The University is placing special focus on the rapid development of three signature themes – marine and coastal issues, biotechnology and contemporary societal challenges – which provide opportunities for faculty and students to build upon FAU’s existing strengths in research and scholarship. For more information, visit

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