Alumni Award

Chris Meehan '99 receives Honors Alumni Award for 2019

Honors director Catherine Peebles presents the award to Chris Meehan
Director Catherine Peebles presents the Alumni Award to Chris Meehan 

According to Chris Meehan, mentorship is the key to a fulfilling and successful career. At a reception honoring both him and the graduating seniors of the class of 2019, he recounted how each step of his own path was shaped by academic and professional mentors, starting with Professor Ray Cook in the Civil Engineering program at UNH. "There comes a time," he said, "when you need to give that back, and be a mentor, rather than a mentee." He has embraced this charge in his current position as Associate Professor of Civil Engineering at the University of Delaware, where his predominant areas of research and teaching are in the fields of soil mechanics and geotechnical engineering. He also has an emerging interest in energy applications in civil and environmental engineering.

 In addition to his award-winning teaching and research, Dr. Meehan has worked on projects of broad public interest over the course of his career. As a graduate student, he was involved with expert witness legislation concerning the levies that broke during Hurricane Katrina. More recently, he has been involved in exploring the environmental and social issues associated with shale energy engineering, also known as fracking.

Dr. Meehan offered several pieces of advice to graduating students.  "Have a value system that doesn't value money as a primary objective," he said; for example, a job with a good mentoring situation might be better than one with a higher salary. He also advised becoming an active member in one's community, and being flexible about unexpected turns in the career path. "Honors students tend to plan their paths rigidly," he said, but "Really neat experiences come out of these paths that you don't anticipate. Don't be so rigid. Priorities can change." The average person, he noted, changes careers six times in the course of their life; a diverse course of study will both prepare students for future career changes, and help create an educated citizenry. 

One audience member, Kendall Dapprich '19, asked what it means to be a good mentee. "Be enthusiastic about knowledge, not money," said Dr. Meehan. "Being passionate about everything you do differentiates you from 98% of people."


Amy Seif Hattem '93 wins 2018 Honors Alumni Award

Honors director Jerry Marx presents the award to Amy Seif Hattem
Director Jerry Marx presents the Alumni Award to Amy Seif Hattem.

The Honors Program presented our fourth annual Honors Alumni Award to Amy Seif Hattan, Corporate Sustainability Officer for Thornton Thomasetti, a global engineering firm. Ms. Hattan spoke with graduating seniors and offered some wisdom gained in the course of her career: find a good mentor; don’t always worry about winning; and pursue the good life rather than fame and fortune.

As a member of the Honors Program, Ms. Hattan formed close connections with Robert Mennel and Chris Sohl, who were the program’s Director and Assistant Director at the time, as well as with several of her professors. After completing a master’s degree in evironmental journalism at the University of Wisconsin, Ms. Hattan reached out to her Honors Program connections, who helped her get her first job in the field. 

 She has worked on sustainability issues at UNH, the Rocky Mountain Institute, Middlebury College, and Second Nature, and earned a second graduate degree in public administration at Harvard’s Kennedy School. 

Ms. Hattem emphasized that the path between her experiences has taken unexpected turns, making room for diverse experiences. She also noted how often she has turned to her UNH connections for help along the way. 
In her current position, Ms. Hattem “works to embed sustainability and corporate responsibility into our operations and projects around the world.” The firm hads designed some of the tallest structures in the world, as well as famous places like Yankee Stadium. There, said Hattem, “I feel that I have made a difference and have the continuing opportunity to have a large impact. 

2017 Honors Alumni Award Presented to Geoff Cardner '93

Geoff Cardner receiving his award from Dr. Jerry Marx

Senior Vice Provost P.T. Vasudevan (left) and Honors Program Director Jerry Marx (right) presented the 2017 Honors Alumni Award to Geoffrey Cardner '93 (center).

On April 28, 2017, Geoff Cardner recalled interviewing for his first post-college job 24 years before. "My Honors thesis got me my first job," he told a group of graduating Honors students, gathered for a senior reception and award presentation. After doing research on a NH banking crisis for his Honors thesis is Business Adminstration, he was well prepared for a job at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. (His thesis advisor, Professor Ahmad Etebari, attended the award presentation.) He later moved to Sun Life Financial, holding positions in both the United States and Hong Kong, and earned an MBA from Babson College. He is currently the Director of Federal Tax Audits at Sun Life. Married to a fellow UNH graduate, he has two children. 

Since graduating with Honors in Business Administration, Mr. Cardner has supported the Honors Program, initiating LinkedIn and Facebook groups, and volunteering to connect with current students as well as through financial contributions. "Connect with me on LinkedIn," he offered, and concluded by advising the graduating class to keep in touch with the UNH community, and give back when they can.  An interview with Mr. Cardner is available at www. .


Casey Otis earns second annual Honors Alumni Award

Casey Otis receiving her award from Dr. Jerry Marx

Casey Otis receiving her award from Dr. Jerry Marx, the UHP's Faculty Director (Photo: Peter Otis,

The second annual Honors Alumni Award was presented to Casey Otis ’97 at a reception for graduating seniors in May. Otis is the Director of Custom Programs in Harvard Business School’s Executive Education department.  Otis spoke to students about her decision to attend UNH, her political science major, and her career journey. Otis previously worked for Harvard’s Kennedy School, where she helped to build the Gleitsman Program in Leadership for Social Change. She has also been an education policy analyst and the chief of staff for Massachusetts’s Department of Early Education and Care; a donor steward at MIT; and a grassroots organizer for the National Safety Council.  Otis holds an MBA from Boston College and an Ed.M. from Harvard Graduate School of Education.  She has long supported the Honors Program through payroll donations and by volunteering as an alumni mentor.


Honors Program recognizes alumnus Patrick Closson '95

Lisa MacFarlane, Patrick Closson, and Jerry Marx
Provost Lisa MacFarlane and Honors Director Jerry Marx presented the inaugural Honors Program Alumni Award to Patrick Closson


The University Honors Program presented its inaugural Alumni Award to Patrick Closson, Class of 1995. The award is presented to "an exemplar for the students of the University Honors Program, in celebration of a distinguished career, dedicated service, and generous support."

The fellow alumnus who nominated Mr. Closson for the award wrote that "Pat is a passionate and ardent supporter of UNH. I've often heard him speak of his experience in the Honors Program, how it augmented his academic achievement at UNH and also gave him skills which translated into his professional life. He is a very smart guy who is also a great friend and a wonderful reflection of UNH and the Honors Program."

Mr. Closson graduated with University Honors in History in 1995. He went on to Boston College Law School and became a business lawyer with the firm of McLane, Graf, Raulerson, and Middleton, where he is now Managing Director of the Portsmouth office and chair of the healthcare group.

In addition to his active professional life, he has offered his time and expertise to organizations including City Year, Child and Family Services,  and the Greater Portsmouth Chamber of Commerce. He is a past participant and present board chair of Leadership Seacoast. He is also a past lecturer at UNH and has joined the Alumni Board of Directors.

He attended the May 5th ceremony with his wife, Angela, a healthcare-administration consultant who is also a graduate of UNH. Provost Lisa MacFarlane presented the award before an audience of Honors seniors. Mr. Closson counseled the graduating students to appreciate the special scholarly opportunities afforded by the thesis, recalling an instance in which his seemingly esoteric work on European history had enabled an unexpected connection.

The Honors Program will solicit nominations for the 2016 Alumni Award next spring.