College Honors 2008 Alumni Award Winners

This year's award winners were honored at a reception and introduced to the McKeon Pavilion crowd during Gaelfest on Jan. 17.

Alumnus of the Year

This year's award winners were honored at a reception and introduced to the McKeon Pavilion crowd during Gaelfest on Jan. 17. has more than 40 years of global executive experience in wireless communication and telephone companies, including TeleSoft, Omnipoint, AirTouch, Mannesmann Mobilfunk, Pacific Telesis and AT&T. He currently serves as managing director and SBIC director at TeleSoft and is on the boards of several communications companies.

Schmitt was president of Omnipoint Communication Services until VoiceStream acquired the company in 2000. Deutsche Telekom later acquired VoiceStream to form T-Mobile U.S. Prior to working at Omnipoint, Schmitt was president and CEO of PCS PrimeCo (now part of Verizon Wireless).

Schmitt's career began in Oliver Hall, where he worked for SAGA Catering alongside Jim Guyette '67, CEO of Rolls-Royce America, and Nick Moore '63, former chairman of PriceWaterhouseCoopers. He now serves on the College's Board of Trustees.

Schmitt and his wife, Clare, support the College through the $1 million John Joseph Schmitt Student Fund, named in honor of their late son. They also host the Nevada alumni gathering each summer at their home on Lake Tahoe, which benefits the College's Northern Nevada Scholarship Fund. In 2008, Clare was named an honorary alumna of Saint Mary's for her many efforts on behalf of the College.

Signum Fidei Award

Robert Kozlowski '50 was winemaker at Kenwood Winery in Sonoma County. In 1996, Kozlowski helped establish the "Class of '50 Think Tank," a group of classmates that has raised money for a variety of causes at the College. During their 50th reunion year, this group started the Class of '50 Scholarship Fund, the first scholarship created by a Saint Mary's class, which now stands at $560,000. Following Kozlowski and his classmates' example, six Saint Mary's alumni classes have since established scholarships at the College. A proud beneficiary and advocate of the College's winemaking tradition, Kozlowski founded the Gaels in Wine alumni chapter in 2008, which now has 50 members working in the industry.

Saint John Baptist de La Salle Award

Dr. John Dennis, a beloved teacher at Saint Mary's College from 1979 to 2008 and a former director of the College's High Potential Program for first-generation college students, was killed at his home in Oakland in February 2008. During his 29 years at the College, "Dr. D" taught thousands of students in an extraordinary variety of courses ranging from Modern African History to Early Christian Thought. Beyond the classroom, Dennis was a lay chaplain for Catholic Charities at the Bryant Street Jail in San Francisco and at Saint Benedict's Catholic Church in East Oakland, where he was a parishioner.

Certificate of Merit

Michael Johnson '87 is managing partner of Johnson & Johnson LLP and CEO of William-Wallace, Inc., both in San Juan Capistrano. An attorney since 1990, Johnson's specialties include real estate, trusts and title operations. Johnson is a devoted fan of Saint Mary's sports. He has also served on the Alumni Board of Directors and is president of the Orange County alumni chapter. At Saint Mary's, he played on the varsity football and rugby teams, and received the Miliken Award at graduation for his involvement in student affairs. He lives with his family in Ladera Ranch.

G.O.L.D. Award

Erin Gilbert '02 majored in politics with a minor in business administration. She was chair of the Student Rank and Tenure Board for two years, worked in the Admissions Office and rowed on the crew team for a year. At graduation, she received the Paul Harris Fellow Award from Rotary International and moved to Sacramento to work as a legislative aide. For the past five years, she has advocated for local governments as a lobbyist for Carpi & Clay. She is a Saint Mary's President's Club member, a former Alumni Board member and president of the Sacramento alumni chapter.