Awards recognize town-gown contributions

Nothing demonstrates the current era of good feeling in town-gown relations better than an awards ceremony.

On Tuesday, the annual Seton Elm and Ivy Awards were presented at a luncheon in Woolsey Hall to 10 members of the Yale and New Haven community. These awards recognize both Yale and non-Yale affiliates who have made outstanding efforts to increase cooperation between the University and the city. Both Yale President Richard Levin and Mayor John DeStefano Jr. thanked the award recipients for their valuable contributions to the community.

“I think that the great monuments, the enduring monuments of community are not buildings or programs,” DeStefano said. “I think the enduring monuments are values and convictions, monuments of shared humanity, of the worth of each individual, in the worth of each of us being enlarged by our connection to one another. As we celebrate all of you today, that indeed is what we celebrate here in New Haven.”

The Seton Elm and Ivy Awards were established in 1979 by Fenmore R. Seton ’38 and his wife Phyllis. Seton, a New Haven resident, approached both the University and the city to raise the possibility of recognizing community members on both sides who strive to connect the town-gown divide. The result was the creation of the Elm and Ivy Trust, which every year honors five members of the New Haven community with Elm awards and five members of the Yale community with Ivy awards. Since he graduated, Seton said, the relations between Yale and New Haven have blossomed.

“There’s no question that with the wonderful attitude and the wonderful outreach by President Levin to the city, and the warm reception by Mayor DeStefano, that the Yale-New Haven relationship is very possibly at its best peak in the past 300 years,” Seton said.

This year’s winners of the Elm awards are Victor Budnick, the executive director of Connecticut Innovations, an organization that is drawing biotech firms to the city; Josephine Bush, an active civic volunteer; Queen Edwards, a career counselor at Hillhouse High School and coach at Wilbur Cross; Herbert Pearce, a New Haven philanthropist; and Ann Robinson, a civic leader and activist.

The 2000 Ivy award recipients are Constance Clement, deputy director of the Yale Center for British Art; Linda Honan Pellico, program director for the Graduate Entry Program in Nursing at the Yale School of Nursing; Robert Solomon, a clinical professor at the Law School and executive director of the New Haven Housing Authority; Andrea Pizziconi ’01, a retail recruiter for University Properties; and Eric Ashton EPH ’02, a graduate student studying for the master’s of public health degree.

Solomon, whom DeStefano singled out for work to make public housing more accessible and affordable, was surprised at being recognized for what he considers just doing his job.

“I have over the years been recommending graduate students and law students who I think do great work, and I’m always really proud of them when they win. This is for me unexpected, being as old as I am and just trying to do the job for which I get paid, but it is a great honor,” Solomon said.

Pizziconi, who recruited Gourmet Heaven and women’s accessories retailer Alexia Crawford to the Broadway district, said she believes her award is a testament to cooperation between the University, the Town Green Special Services District and New Haven merchants.

“I’m in so much appreciation for everything they’ve done. I’m just one person, and I feel like the collaboration is from so many people that if anything, maybe this represents an award to the collaboration itself,” Pizziconi said.

New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr. and Yale President Richard Levin were on hand to present the Seton Elm Award to Herbert Pearce, a New Haven philanthropist. He was one of ten winners awarded the honor.
Stephen Milbank
New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr. and Yale President Richard Levin were on hand to present the Seton Elm Award to Herbert Pearce, a New Haven philanthropist. He was one of ten winners awarded the honor.

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