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Yale Alumni Association Names


New Haven, Conn — Five Yale University alumni have been selected by the Association of Yale Alumni (AYA) to receive the Yale Medal in 2007.

This year’s recipients are Victor E. Chears, Samuel D. Kushlan, John E. Pepper Jr., Jon E. Steffensen and Vera F. Wells.

Inaugurated in 1952, the Yale Medal is the highest award presented by the Association of Yale Alumni and is conferred solely to recognize and honor outstanding individual service to the University. Since its inception, the Yale Medal has been presented to 262 individuals, all of whom not only showed extraordinary devotion to the ideals of the University, but also were conspicuous in demonstrating their support of Yale through extensive, exemplary voluntary service on behalf of Yale as a whole or one of its many schools, institutes, or programs.

Chears has served Yale with distinction and devotion in his many volunteer leadership roles for almost 30 years, since his graduation from Yale College in 1974. After serving as an AYA delegate, he was elected to the AYA Board of Governors in 1988 and served as Secretary from 1991 to 1992. Chears chaired the board of the Afro-American Cultural Center at Yale in the early 1980s, and was co-chair of its 35th anniversary celebration in 2004. He has been an ASC interviewer for over 25 years and continues to serve as a Board member of the Yale Club of Chicago, where he is a former president.

Dr. Kushlan, a 1932 alumnus of Yale College, has been the consummate volunteer and alumni leader for the Yale Medical School, serving in many volunteer roles since his graduation in 1935. Kushlan has taught residents, medical students and physicians voluntarily at the School of Medicine for over 50 years. At age 95 he continues to attend “morning report” of Yale-New Haven Hospital Department of Medicine where one of the services bears his name. He has also established Merit Awards for the Medical House Staff and Digestive Disease Fellows. In addition, Kushlan has volunteered his time and resources to create an outstanding Capital Visiting Professorship in Gastroenterology.

Pepper has served the Yale community, first as a member of the Development Board and later as a member of the 1960 Class Council and Reunion Gift Committee. Pepper also taught a course for a semester as an adjunct professor and was a member of the Advisory Committee at the School of Management. He was a member of the Yale Corporation, the University’s governing board, for eight years, including service as Senior Fellow for 18 months. He stepped down from the Corporation when asked by the University to serve as vice president for finance and administration. Given his major commitments in his home city of Cincinnati, Pepper served just two years in this capacity. In that time, Pepper initiated a critical transformation of the university’s administrative and financial operations.

Steffensen’s affection for Yale is evident from his many volunteer leadership roles since his graduation from Yale College in 1968. His longtime service and leadership for the Yale Club of Boston led him to become an AYA delegate in 1981. He was then elected to the AYA Board of Governors in 1984, and served as Secretary in 1987. From there he went on to serve on the University’s Honorary Degree Committee. Steffensen’s strong leadership skills led him to become chair of the Scholarship Trust of the Yale Club of Boston, which has been instrumental in helping undergraduates in the Boston area meet the cost of a Yale education.

Wells has helped organize events for both women and Black alumni and has championed efforts to raise funds to support the Afro-American Cultural Center and Women Faculty Forum. A Yale College graduate of the Class of 1971, she is on the Campaign Committee and is an at-large member of the University Council, where she served on its Theater Review Committee. A former student of Professor Sylvia Ardyn Boone, the first African-American woman to receive tenure at Yale, Wells is executor of Boone’s literary estate and Director of the Boone Memorial Project. Wells used her own assets to endow an undergraduate scholarship and a graduate student prize to honor her professor at Yale.


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