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Mercy College Hosts 36th Annual Mercy College Trustees' Scholarship Dinner

Mercy College looks forward to their 36th Annual Mercy College Trustees' Scholarship Dinner. This year, they will be honoring Joseph V. Apicella '85, Managing Director of Development, The MacQuesten Companies, Hoda Kotb, Co-host of NBC's TODAY Show, Dr. Gregory H. Williams, M.B.A. '14, Trustee of Mercy College and 11th President of City College of New York and 27th President of University of Cincinnati. The Lifetime Achievement Award will be awarded to Neil D. Judge, Former Athletics Director of Mercy College. 

Gregory Howard Williams, Ph.D.

At the age of ten, Gregory Howard Williams moved to the Black housing projects of Muncie, Indiana where he first learned of his father's African American heritage. Confused and bewildered, this bi-racial young man found himself in the middle of an intensely divided community. In his best selling book, Life on the Color Line: The True Story of a White Boy Who Discovered He Was Black, Williams recounts in vivid detail the racism, poverty, abandonment, alcoholism, and finally the Christian support that guided his search for a place in society.  

Williams received the coveted Los Angeles Times Prize for Book of the Year. The New York Times called Life on the Color Line, "a stunning perspective on racial oppression and identity" and added Williams' "recollections are precise, balanced and well-written."  The San Francisco Chronicle called his work, "A stunning journey to the heart of the racial dilemma in this country ...  a story that stays with us, wraps itself around us and won't go away."

In spite of the turmoil of his early life, Williams emerged from the poverty and racism of his youth and became one of America's most respected college presidents and inspirational speakers. He has spoken nationwide on college and university campuses, and in cities like Kansas City, Kansas and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, struggling with racial and economic division, as well as before American corporate giants. He captivated an audience of 14,000 in the Carrier Dome on Syracuse University's campus, spoke to 6,000 students at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. Fortune 500 companies have recognized him as understanding their needs and capable of relating his experience to the business environment. He served as the Keynote Speaker at IBM's Diversity Celebration in Raleigh, North Carolina and the Black History Month Celebration at Texaco's headquarters outside White Plains, New York.  He has been a Keynote Speaker at the Annual NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) Conference) and firms like the pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly, Procter and Gamble, Kroger and Macys. The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times and The Washington Post have solicited articles from Williams. He has appeared on Dateline, Nightline, Oprah, Larry King, the Tony Brown Show and on NPR with Michel Martin's Tell Me More and the Diane Rehm Show.

Williams has been a national leader in higher education. As President, Williams spearheaded the Renaissance of The City College of New York, resurrecting a once proud institution, the College home of nine Nobel Prize winners, and returned the College to its rightful place of prominence among America's urban universities. He raised admission standards, increased the student body 60%, and catapulted City College fund raising to fourth in New York City behind, Columbia, NYU, and Rockefeller University. He has been the major fund-raiser in three university $1 Billion campaigns. DIVERSE ISSUES magazine celebrated President Williams turnaround leadership of The City College of New York in an article titled,  "The Right Man for the Job." He later served as President of the University of Cincinnati and also served as a major leader of The Big East Athletic Conference. While a college president, he also chaired the Committee on Access, Diversity and Excellence of the National Association of Public and Land Grant Universities, helping shape historic and groundbreaking work on developing College Diversity Plans.

 His biracial background, the formative years of his youth spent in a racially tense urban community, combined with his service as a law enforcement officer and Chair of an Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights has given him a singularly unique perspective on campus and community issues dealing with race and racism and police and policing. He is a tested and proven leader in resolving divisive campus and community issues. His advice and counsel are often sought.

He received the Judge Leon Higginbotham Award from the National Bar Association for his contributions to the Preservation of Human and Civil Rights and the Dean of the Year Award from the National Association of Public Interest Law. President Bill Clinton drew on his expertise in Clinton's Call to Action to promote diversity in the American legal community.  While serving as President of the Association of American Law Schools, Williams was asked to speak at a White House Press Conference announcing President Clinton's Call to Action. 

Williams, the former Dean and Carter C. Kissell Professor of Law at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, holds eleven degrees including a J.D., Ph.D, MBA and five honorary doctorates, as well as the Distinguished Alumni Professional Achievement Award from his alma mater, The George Washington University. Williams has travelled widely and served as a Visiting Scholar at Cambridge University, Professor of Law at Durham University (United Kingdom) as well as Associate Vice President for International Programs and Professor of Law at the University of Iowa. He has worked with the Minister of Education in Austria who awarded Williams the Austrian Cross of Honor, First Class; he has pursued program development initiatives with university leaders in Canada, China, England, Mexico, Nigeria, Rwanda, and Slovakia, the President of the Dominican Republic, and The King of Spain.

Dr. Williams and his wife live in Hastings on Hudson, New York. They have four children including twin brothers adopted in El Progresso, Honduras. 

Neil Judge

Former Athletics Director, Head Coach and Instructor, Mercy College

Neil Judge joined Mercy College in 1969 as a part-time physical education instructor. Two years later, he was named Mercy's first athletics director, serving in that role for 34 years until his retirement in 2005.

Known and respected throughout the Mercy community, Judge coached every team at some point, including three stints as head coach of the softball team and director of Mercy's summer sports camps. He was instrumental in securing membership in the Eastern College Athletic Conference in 1973 and the National College Athletic Association (NCAA) in 1975. He also guided Mercy toward becoming a charter member of the New York Collegiate Athletic Conference (now known as the East Coast Conference) in 1989.

Judge graduated from Tarkio College in Missouri in 1968 with a BA in history. Always very athletic, he minored in physical education and played many different sports. He briefly held jobs at Chubb & Co. and the New York City Department of Social Services, and served six years in the New York National Guard. In 1977, he received a master's degree from Herbert Lehman College.

Manhattan-born and raised, Judge was the second of seven children born to a New York City police officer and a mother who worked nights at Macy's. As a boy he hoped to follow in his father's footsteps, or become a Yankee like his idol, Mickey Mantle. He was introduced to Mercy College through his future wife, Mary Anne, whom he met when she was a student in Mercy's first graduating class.

Throughout his tenure as Mercy's athletic director, Judge maintained focus on one primary goal: doing what was best for his student athletes and preparing them for any career, not just athletics. That dedication earned him the coveted Sister Gratia Maher Award for outstanding teaching. Early on, Judge was approached by President Gruenwald, Mercy's first lay president, who told him the college had funding for either a new library or a new gym, but not both. When asked for his opinion, the answer was immediate: Judge opted for the library--and for a few more years, continued to haul athletic equipment to and from games and practices in his car.

Judge, now 74, retired from Mercy in 2005, but he still travels from his home in Stratford, Conn., each year to attend Mercy's Senior Awards Night. He personally presents the award that was named for him: the Neil Judge Scholar Athlete Award, given to one male and one female graduating senior with the highest cumulative grade point average.

Many people still remember how Judge's office at Mercy was decorated with hundreds of graduation photos of students he'd coached or taught throughout the years. To this day he often hears from former student athletes who express their gratitude for his guidance and unswerving dedication. The pride and affection are mutual.



Hoda Kotb is the co-host of the fourth hour of NBC News' TODAY alongside Kathie Lee Gifford.  Since the duo teamed up in 2008, the Gifford-Kotb hour has been hailed as "appointment television" by Entertainment Weekly, "uproarious and irresistible" by People, and "TODAY's happy hour" by USA Today.  

Since joining NBC in 1998, Kotb has served as a correspondent for "Dateline NBC."  She has covered a wide variety of domestic and international stories across all NBC News platforms as well as numerous human-interest stories and features.  She covered the aftermath and one-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, a story personal to Kotb who lived in New Orleans for six years.  Additionally, she has reported on the war in Iraq, the conflict in the West Bank and Gaza, and the War on Terror in Afghanistan.  Kotb was a part of the network's extensive coverage of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London and the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio.  She also served as host of the weekly syndicated series "Your Total Health," from 2004 to 2008. 

A New York Times bestselling author, Kotb has written four books, Hoda: How I Survived War Zones, Bad Hair, Cancer and Kathie Lee; Ten Years Later: Six People Who Faced Adversity and Transformed Their Lives and Where They Belong.  Kotb is an 9-year breast cancer survivor and is involved in several initiatives to raise awareness about the disease. 

Kotb was recognized with a 2016 Gracie Award for Outstanding Host in Entertainment/Information for her radio show, "The Hoda Show on SiriusXM." In 2015, she was honored with a Gracie Award for Outstanding Host in News/Non-fiction and a Webby Award for her 'Truly Brave' music video, shining a light on pediatric cancer.  Kotb received additional Gracie Awards in 2008 and 2003, the Alfred I. duPont -Columbia University award in 2008, a Peabody Award in 2006 for her "Dateline NBC" report, "The Education of Ms. Groves" and a 2002 Edward R. Murrow Award. In 2010, 2011 and 2012, Kotb was awarded Daytime Emmys as part of TODAY's recognition as the best morning news program.   

Prior to joining NBC News, Kotb worked at WWL-TV, the CBS affiliate in New Orleans from 1992 to 1998 as an anchor and reporter for the 10 p.m. news broadcast. From 1989 to 1991, she was a weekend anchor and reporter for WINK-TV in Fort Myers, Florida.  

Kotb graduated from Virginia Tech University with a Bachelor of Arts in broadcast journalism. She resides in New York City. 

Joe Apicella

Managing Director of Development, The MacQuesten Companies

Joe Apicella is an accomplished Senior Real Estate Executive responsible for the acquisition, approvals, financing and construction of more than 2 billion dollars' worth of development in the tri-state area. He joined MacQuesten in 2015 as the Managing Director of Development. Joe holds extensive expertise in managing all aspects of commercial real estate development including site compliance, legal documentation, governmental approvals/grant awards, regulatory compliance, lease negotiations and asset management. He has an established network extending to all levels of county, state and federal government. In 1998 he was awarded the Distinguished Service Award by Yonkers Business Improvement District, in 2007 the Distinguished Citizenship Award by Yonkers YWCA and in 2009 New Rochelle Businessman of the Year. Some of Mr. Apicella's projects at MacQuesten include: 

Van Sinderen Plaza, Brooklyn, a $60,000,000, 193,675 square-feet mixed-use project  including 130 residential units and 20,000 + square-feet of commercial space located at the elevated train stop in  East New York. 

22 S West , Mount Vernon, a key Transit Oriented Development project in the Hudson Valley featuring a 20 story mixed-use 200 unit residential -retail development located at the foot of the Metro-North Mount Vernon West Train Station. 

Mount Vernon West Train  Station  Development , a 60,000 square-foot development including national retailers such as green grocers, banking, cafe and pharmacy. This project will also include 30,000 square-feet of class A office space, all situated and part of the actual redesigned and redeveloped train station building.  

Previously, Mr. Apicella was the Executive Vice President of The Cappelli Organization leading multi-million dollar projects and is considered instrumental in the downtown revitalization of two major cities. Some projects include The Ritz-Carlton, Westchester, City Center White Plains, Trump Plaza New Rochelle and Trump Park Residences Yorktown. 

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