Five alumni to be honored at annual alumni assembly for their service to Yale

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Five individuals have been selected by the Association of Yale Alumni (AYA) to receive the 2015 Yale Medal at the AYA Assembly LXXV in November. This year’s recipients are R. Kemerer (Kem) Edwards ’49, Melanie A. Ginter ’78, ‘81 M.S., Steve Scher ’56, ’66 Ph.D., Theodore (Ted) Shen ’66, and Barbara Wagner ’73.

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 303 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 service on behalf of Yale as a whole or one of its many schools, institutes, or programs.”

The AYA’s citations for this year’s medalists follow:

R. Kemerer (Kem) Edwards is a quintessential and tireless volunteer and alumni leader for Yale and his Class of 1949, serving in many volunteer roles for over 50 years in Yale Clubs, Alumni Schools Committees (ASC), and the Yale Alumni Fund from coast to coast. He has been Chair of Agents for the Class since 1991, and Gift Chair since his 50th reunion. He was a member of the Alumni Fund Board from 1994 to 2009, including a term on the Executive Committee, and is currently serving terms that run from 2010 to 2016. Kem has served on his Class Council since 1980 and became class secretary in 2014. He is a Mory’s Council member, a fellow of Jonathan Edwards College, and a trustee emeritus of the Yale Whiffenpoof Alumni. Kem enjoys advocating for Yale in numerous ways, whether sharing his own story or encouraging others to join him in supporting the university. He is also an enthusiastic “student,” having audited over 129 Yale College courses in the last 20 years.

Melanie A. Ginter’s dedication extends to many areas of the university and its host city. She has served as president of the New Haven Preservation Trust, encouraging Yale to preserve its historic architecture as it renovates for the future. At Mory’s she chaired its Building Renovation Committee, and was the first woman to serve as a board officer. She championed financial aid for G&P students during her two terms as president of the Yale Club of New Haven, where she received the AYA Club Recognition Award for her leadership. She has served on the AYA Board of Governors, as an AYA delegate for two different constituencies, as co-chair of her class reunion or gift committee for the past four reunions, and as an active member of numerous boards, planning and advisory groups across the university community, including those of the Yale Cancer Center, the Yale Development Council, the Yale Tercentennial, the Yale Swimming and Diving Association, and several major initiatives of Yale Athletics.

Steve Scher has shown exceptional devotion to Yale through a variety of commitments. Foremost among them was his inspired leadership at a critical moment, when the Graduate School Alumni Association (GSAA) was encouraged to expand its membership in 1998 by joining forces with the AYA and its delegate structure. His vision and willingness to draft a new constitution for the GSAA laid the groundwork for an increasingly fruitful role for its alumni. As the first chair of the GSAA under the new constitution, Steve guided the organization through its initial two years. He has served as a member of the AYA Board of Governors and chaired the AYA assembly on sustainability in 2007 to much acclaim. He has taken on a leadership role with the Yale Day of Service, and with considerable success has encouraged others to become involved. Steve serves on the board of the Yale Alumni Association of New York and on the Council of the Yale Club of New York.

Theodore (Ted) Shen has been a consummate volunteer for Yale over the years. He served for six years on the Yale Corporation, the university’s governing board, from 2001 to 2007. When the university needed to update its squash courts in the early 1990s to conform to new international standards, Ted gave a leadership gift to start construction. He has been a member of the governing board of the Yale University Art Gallery since 2001 and currently serves as chairman. Yale’s innovative undergraduate musical theater program (named the Shen Musical Theater Curriculum), developed in 2005, has been funded from inception by the Ted & Mary Jo Shen Charitable Gift Fund. He has served for two years on the President’s University Council and six years on the Yale Investment Committee, which oversees the university’s endowment. Ted’s numerous contributions to the university have also included serving on his Class Council, its Reunion Gift Committee, and the Yale Tomorrow Executive Committee.

Barbara Wagner embodies the role of ambassador for Yale: she has devotedly served the university with depth and breadth for more than 25 years. Barbara has led the ASC in her area since 1990, recruiting a committee of volunteers who annually interview over 95% of local applicants to Yale, organizing receptions for admitted students and networking opportunities for local undergrads, and administering a local summer scholarship program. She was co-chair of Yale’s 2010 conference celebrating 40 years of co-education at Yale and is a founding member of YaleWomen. Barbara belongs to WISER, a Yale athletics alumnae support group. She served five years as Ohio coordinator for the Yale Day of Service and has organized class reunion programs. She has participated in six YaleGALE programs and was a country producer of the 2015 inaugural Yale Alumni Schools Ambassadors trip to the Balkans. She has served on the AYA Board of Governors and as president of the Cincinnati Yale Club, and has been a CYC board member for more than two decades.

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