Founders Day honors distinguished alumni

At the annual Founders Day ceremony to be held Saturday, Nov. 8, in America’s Center, the Alumni Association will present the Distinguished Alumni Award to six individuals who are being honored for outstanding contributions to their profession, society and alma mater.

Recipients are: John Berra (EN ’69), president of Emerson Process Management; Mel F. Brown (LA ’57, LW ’61), retired president and chief executive officer of Deutsche Financial Services; Hank S. Klibanoff (LA ’71), journalist and author; Leslie F. Loewe (LA ’42), retired chairman of Angelica Corp.; Sanford Loewentheil (LA ’76), vice chairman of L&M Development Partners; and Cynthia Weese (AR ’62, AR ’65), principal of Weese Langley Weese Architects Ltd.

(This is the second of a two-part story on Founders Day. The Oct. 30 Record profiled four faculty members receiving the Distinguished Faculty Awards as well as the recipients of the Robert S. Brookings Awards.)

John Berra

After earning a bachelor’s degree in systems science and engineering in the School of Engineering in 1969, Berra joined Monsanto Corp. From there he went to Rosemount Inc., a move not only physical — he relocated to Minneapolis — but also one that marked a career shift — he moved into marketing.


When Rosemount was acquired by Emerson in 1976, Berra rose through the ranks, from vice president of marketing to general manager and finally to president in 1989. Four years later, he was tapped to head Emerson’s new division, Control Systems. After that, he was appointed as president of Emerson Process Management, a role he continues today.

Berra’s success owes much to his ability to anticipate market trends and drive the development of technologies, standards and process control strategies to meet future needs.

He spearheaded the formation of several industry standards bodies and communications protocols that helped usher in the age of microprocessor-based plant automation. That significant contribution helped create the safe, efficient and profitable performance of thousands of manufacturing facilities operating today and helped make Emerson an industry leader.

These accomplishments were cited in 2002, when Berra received the Instrumentation, Systems and Automation Society Lifetime Achievement Award, an honor bestowed upon only 12 others.

Berra and his wife, Charlotte King Berra, a 1969 graduate in Arts & Sciences, are members of the University’s Danforth Circle. Their generosity to their alma mater includes sponsoring four annual engineering scholarships.

Mel F. Brown

Brown’s dedication and service to WUSTL is evident from his long list of leadership appointments: a member of the Board of Trustees for four years; executive vice chair and chair of the Alumni Board of Governors (and another two years as ex officio trustee); a member of the William Greenleaf Eliot Executive Committee, serving as the National Patrons chair; and president of the Eliot Society.


Brown has been especially supportive of the School of Law. He is a founding member of its National Council; co-chaired the Building Through Strength campaign to build Anheuser-Busch Hall; and served on many of its committees. Brown also is a member of the San Diego Regional Cabinet.

Brown’s generosity of spirit and dedication come as no surprise to those who knew him as a student. Before earning a degree in political science in Arts & Sciences in 1957, he was active in the Interfraternity Council, Thurtene Honorary and Omicron Delta Kappa honorary society.

He earned a juris doctorate from the School of Law in 1961, at which time he began a legal career in private practice. Brown was president and chief executive officer of ITT Commercial Finance until Deutsche Bank acquired the company in 1995. He held the same positions for the bank’s financial services unit until his retirement. Brown is chairman of Triad Bancorp.

For his service to Washington University, Brown received a Distinguished Alumnus Award from the School of Law in 1996 and from Arts & Sciences in 2002.

Brown’s wife, Pamela Brown, also is an active volunteer at WUSTL. Continuing the proud tradition, two of their sons and two daughters-in-law are alumni.

Hank S. Klibanoff

Klibanoff has practiced journalism for 35 years, and during his career he has held a number of editorial and management positions in major newspapers. While he has gained considerable distinction in these capacities, it was his first book, published in 2006, that catapulted him into the national spotlight. “The Race Beat: The Press, the Civil Rights Struggle and the Awakening of a Nation,” co-written with fellow newsman Gene Roberts, won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for history.


The Alabama native came to WUSTL in 1967 and earned a bachelor’s degree in English in Arts & Sciences in 1971. He then earned a master’s degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. As a cub reporter, Klibanoff covered state news for newspapers in the Mississippi Delta region and along the Gulf Coast.

In the early 1980s, he joined the Boston Globe as a reporter, then moved to the Philadelphia Inquirer. There, Klibanoff served as its Midwest correspondent, covering a 12-state region before moving into a series of editing positions.

When he left the Inquirer in 2001, he was its deputy managing editor. Throughout his stint in Philadelphia, Klibanoff taught journalism at the University of Pennsylvania. In 2002, he returned to the South and was managing editor of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution until earlier this year.

He serves on a number of boards, including the Associated Press Managing Editors Association and the John Chancellor Award for Excellence in Journalism.

Leslie F. Loewe

Loewe’s lifelong relationship with WUSTL began in 1938, when the St. Louis native entered as a freshman. He earned a bachelor’s degree in political science in Arts & Sciences. In 1942, he entered the U.S. Army, where he served as a captain. After leaving the Army, he earned a master of business administration from Harvard University.


That same year, he began another long relationship, this one with Angelica Corp., the largest supplier of uniforms to restaurants, hotels and hospitals in the United States. By the time Loewe retired in 1990, he had served as executive vice president, then president and chief executive officer, and finally chairman. With Loewe at the helm, Angelica expanded operations in the textile rental services industry and increased its retail stores to 300.

An interest in supporting the University’s Weidenbaum Center on the Economy, Government, and Public Policy grew to include creating endowed scholarships in Arts & Sciences and the Olin Business School. With his late wife, he also established the Leslie F. and Carol W. Loewe Research Fund in the School of Medicine.

Their income life gift has been made in honor of Susan Mackinnon, Ph.D., the Sydney M. Jr. and Robert H. Shoenberg Professor and chief of the Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery in the School of Medicine. He is a Life Fellow of the William Greenleaf Eliot Society.

As a way of motivating giving to the University, Loewe has established a $3 million challenge to match gifts to the Annual Fund through June 30, 2009. His service to the University includes membership in the Alumni Board of Governors. He received a Distinguished Alumni Award from Arts & Sciences in 2002.

Sanford Loewentheil

After earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology in Arts & Sciences in 1976, Loewentheil returned to his native New York and joined the family business in luxury home building.


Over the years, his focus shifted to building and developing affordable housing to the point at which, in 2007, he co-founded L&M Development Partners and became its vice chairman.

The new company has been successful building and developing mixed-income residential housing in the New York City metropolitan area. Its 150-employees have completed more than $2 billion in construction and development in more than 8,000 residential units, of which more than half or owned and operated by L&M.

His dedication to investing in communities includes sponsoring scholarships for at-risk youth; this has led him to consider ways to involve his alma mater.

In 2007, he hosted a scholarship seminar in Harlem, whereby a group of high-school principals, college advisers and New York City community leaders met with a contingent from the University. The result of that meeting was the first Harlem student enrolling at WUSTL with a full scholarship. Loewentheil hopes to expand this effort.

A generous alumnus in time and resources, he serves on the Arts & Sciences National Council, is a member of the New York Regional Council and a Life Member of the William Greenleaf Eliot Society.

In addition to two Harlem student scholarships he supports, he also funds several annual scholarships.

Cynthia Weese

As a former professor and dean of the School of Architecture in the Sam Fox School from 1993-2005, Weese’s contributions to WUSTL are significant and well known; perhaps not so well known is her distinguished career as a practicing architect.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in architectural sciences in 1962 and one in architecture in 1965, then worked independently for several years before joining Joe Karr & Associates, a landscape architecture firm, in 1972.


She returned to independent practice again after a two-year stint with Harry Weese & Associates. In 1977, she co-founded the Chicago company of Weese Langley Weese Architects Ltd.

For the past three decades, Weese Langley Weese has received prestigious awards for many of its new building and renovation designs, most notably from the American Institute of Architects (AIA).

Her work also received distinctions, with a number of AIA design awards, two AIA Distinguished Service Awards and the Tau Sigma Delta Gold Medal in Architecture.

Her contributions to the profession include serving as president of AIA Chicago and as vice president of the national AIA board. The first female dean of the University’s School of Architecture, she also is a founding member of Chicago Women in Architecture and the Chicago Architecture Club. She was named a fellow of the AIA in 1991.

During her tenure as dean, she initiated new programs that enhanced international study, introduced computer technology into the curriculum and created new design courses.

In addition, she contributed to a number of committees, among them the Sam Fox Arts Center Executive Committee, the Campus Planning Committee and the Buildings and Grounds Committee.