UB to celebrate 2017 Athletics Hall of Fame inductees and Distinguished Alumni at inaugural UB Awards Dinner

University will honor notable alumni, including the ’91 and ‘92 NCAA championship men’s basketball teams

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The University of Bridgeport (UB) has announced the recipients of its first UB Awards, which recognize its impressive and impactful alumni. The honorees will be recognized at the UB Awards Dinner on Saturday, October 7, during Homecoming Weekend. Accolades presented at the dinner will include inductions into the Athletics Hall of Fame, the Fran Bacon Lifetime Achievement & Coaching Award, the Purple Knight Shield of Merit Award, two Distinguished Alumni Awards, and the Honorary Alumnus Award.

In addition to the individuals being acknowledged, UB will celebrate the ’91 and ’92 NCAA Division II Men’s Basketball Championship players. During a time of unrest for the University, former Head Coach Bruce Webster, who passed away earlier this year, brought the 1990-91 and 1991-92 teams to back-to-back championship games, becoming the winningest coach at that time for both Division II and Division I men’s basketball, and bringing unity and UB pride to the University.

“Coach Webster and his players were a much-needed source of positivity in the early ‘90s, and continue to be models of perseverance and triumph for UB athletics today,” said Anthony Vitti, Director of Athletics. “We are so excited to welcome these two teams—as well as our other notable athletes and recipients—back to campus to receive the proper show of appreciation that they each deserve.”

Along with their induction into the UB Athletics Hall of Fame, the basketball players will each accept a championship game ring from his respective year(s). Though Webster passed away this past April at the age of 80, he and his legacy will be celebrated with the Honorary Alumnus Award.

The 2017 UB Awards recipients include:

Athletics Hall of Fame Inductees

  • 1990-91 Men’s Basketball Team: Glen Colello, Ron Guzas, Keith Hanley, Winston Jones, Brian Kumm, Rob Maurer, Ahia Mocha, Sean Morgan, Pat Morris, Derrick Russell, Lambert Shell, David Silverberg, Chris Tate, Joel Teague, Steve Wills
  • 1991-92 Men’s Basketball Team: Paul Coleman, Ian Ellis, Keith Hanley, Lamont Jones, Winston Jones, Rob Maurer, Sean Morgan, Pat Morris, Amadi Penn, Derrick Russell, Lambert Shell, Chris Tate, Steve Wills
  • Ivana Kovacevic-Jurasin ’09: A three-time All-Conference performer in volleyball, Kovsacevic-Jurasin helped lead the Purple Knights to both conference and regional titles, as well as a national tournament appearance. During her four record-setting seasons, she totaled 1,515 kills and 1,388 digs in 498 career sets played, and finished in the national top 25 in service aces per set in both 2008 and 2009.
  • Monica Mesalles-Nassi ’13: An Olympian who represented her home country of Spain in 2004, Mesalles-Nassi was part of the UB team that captured the USA Gymnastics National Collegiate Team crown and the ECAC Division II title each of her four seasons. In 2012, she won the USAG National Championship All-Around title, and in 2013 she earned the National Association of Collegiate Gymnastics Coaches’ NCAA Division II Women’s Gymnast of the Year Award.

 Fran Bacon Lifetime Achievement & Coaching Awardee

  • Jesse Braverman ’73: A 2015 inductee in the New York State Baseball Hall of Fame, Braverman taught and coached in the Bethlehem Central School District for 32 years, where he won his first of several Class AA sectional titles during his stellar career. For the last 17 years, Braverman has coached at La Salle Institute, where he helped the Cadets become the only Big 10 team in the league’s history to win a Class AA title when his teams triumphed in 2005 and 2008.

Purple Knight Shield of Merit Awardees

  • Howard Abner ’59 & Maxine Abner ’62: Long-time supporters of the University of Bridgeport, the Abners made a transformative and impactful gift to the UB Athletics program that paved the way for the expansion and development of the Abner Fitness Center in Hubbell Gym. The Abners have allowed UB athletics to reach new heights, as the strength and performance of its student athletes have been positively impacted by their generosity.

Distinguished Alumni Awardees

  • Barbara James ’74: A current member of the University of Bridgeport Board of Trustees and the Industry Advisory Board, James serves as the Managing Director at Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited. She is a consistent supporter of UB and its students, and received the President’s Distinguished Alumni Recognition Award at Commencement in 2012.
  • Dusan Bogunovic, Ph.D. ’04: Bogunovic is an assistant professor in the Department of Microbiology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York City and a pioneer in developing the world’s first broad-spectrum antiviral drug. The Bogunovic lab at Mt. Sinai focuses on the study of human immunogenetics and aims to improve the understanding of the human immune system by studying individuals with unusual clinical presentations. 

Honorary Alumnus Awardee

  • Coach Bruce Webster: Webster served as the head Purple Knights’ men’s basketball coach for 34 seasons, from the 1965-66 through 1998-99 seasons. During his tenure, his teams posted 549 wins, making him the school’s all-time leader in career victories. Under his direction, the Purple Knights made a total of 12 NCAA National Tournament appearances and reached the NCAA Division II National Championship Game in 1991 and 1992.

The presentation of the UB Awards comes on the heels of the school’s inaugural Rising Star Awards, which acknowledged remarkable alumni under the age of 40.

“The alumni we are honoring have all made considerable contributions to their professional fields, within their communities, and, of course, back here on campus, “ said Aimee Marcella, Executive Director of Alumni & Family Engagement. “We are thrilled to recognize and celebrate these extraordinary alumni through events like our UB Awards Dinner and Rising Star Awards.”

The UB Awards Dinner on October 7 is one of the many notable events happening across campus during the 2017 Homecoming Weekend. In addition to various tours, exhibits, sporting events, and festivities, the university will hold its annual Purple Knight 5K on the morning of Sunday, October 8. The race, open to the public, will begin at Mandeville Hall and take participants on a scenic route through the UB campus and its neighboring Seaside Park.

To learn more about UB’s 2017 Homecoming Weekend activities, visit http://homecoming.bridgeport.edu.

Contact: Aimee Marcella, 203 57604133, amarcell@bridgeport.edu

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