Five Alumni to Receive 2023 Awards from Alumni Executive Council
St. Lawrence University’s Alumni Executive Council has announced that William W. Dennett '68, M'74, Jeremy T. Smith '73 and Erica Silver Dahl '93 will receive Alumni Citations for their dedication and service to the Laurentian Community, while Christopher L. Bunting ’93 and Francis Chachu Ganya ’96 will receive the Sol Feinstone Award for Humanitarian Service.
These honors will be presented during Reunion Weekend on June 3, 2023.
Alumni Citation Recipients
Alumni Citations are awarded to graduates of the University for long-term and exemplary service to the University or for exemplary professional accomplishment or community volunteer activities.
William W. Dennett '68, M'74
A Laurentian who has been steadfast in his support of St. Lawrence students for 55 years while building a lifelong career in education, Bill Dennett ’68, M’74 studied sociology as an undergraduate while competing on the football and lacrosse teams. A member of the L-Club, he was also a brother in Phi Sigma Kappa, Circulation Manager for the Hill News, Co-Director of the Community Development Corps, and member of the local VISTA supervisory board. Following graduation, Bill served in the Peace Corps in Paraguay before enlisting in the United States Army.
Bill returned to St. Lawrence in 1972 and earned a Master’s Degree in Counseling while working as head resident of Whitman Hall and interning in Student Activities. This work launched a career in education that has spanned over 50 years, including as an Assistant Dean of Students at both Dartmouth College and Lake Forest College. He earned his Certificate of Advanced Studies from the University of Chicago, while working in their undergraduate admissions office as Associate Dean, and then served as the Dean of Admissions at Denison University, Emma Willard School, and Choate Rosemary Hall School in turn. Since 2004, Bill has worked as a private educational consultant and in 2013, started his own consulting company.
Bill has always been motivated by public service. Since the summer of 1964, he has been affiliated with the Quebec-Labrador Foundation (QLF), which engages environmental leaders worldwide to advance community-based and larger-scale conservation of natural resources and cultural heritage. Bill is one of two state-wide community members who sit on the Institutional Review Board at the University of Connecticut and also works with Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Service (IRIS) to settle refugees escaping economic and political chaos to various Connecticut communities. Bill and his brother-in-law have worked with New Haven Farms, a non-profit that assists inner city medical clinics in providing community members struggling with systemic diseases to raise good food. Bill also previously served on the boards of the Marvelwood School and The Country School in Connecticut.
That willingness to help his community extends to his alma mater, as Bill has previously served as a member on the Alumni Executive Council. He has been a career advisor, admissions coordinator, and Reunion volunteer.
Bill’s family legacy at St. Lawrence dates back over a century, and includes both his grandfather, Dr. Roger H. Dennett, Sr., class of 1898, his father, Dr. Roger H. Dennett, Jr. ’36, and both his aunt, Whilomina Brown, and niece, Sophia Negaro. This has inspired unwavering loyalty to the University, including his philanthropy to the St. Lawrence Fund as a Sustaining Saint. Because of his grandfather’s service on the Board of Trustees alongside Owen D. Young, class of 1894, Bill has also dependably supported the Friends of Owen D. Young Library.
Jeremy T. Smith ’73
Jeremy Smith ’73 has earned the admiration of both the Laurentian community and the North Country thanks to his devotion to the arts and the environment. A multi-field major during his undergraduate days at St. Lawrence, he was a brother of Sigma Alpha Epsilon, and following his Commencement, earned a Master’s in Fine Arts from the Yale School of Drama, recently renamed the David Geffen School of Drama at Yale University.
An actor and supporter of the arts in all capacities, Jeremy is a member of the Actors Center NYC and is involved with a myriad of non-profit theaters. He serves on the Juilliard School Council, the Board of Advisors of the David Geffen School of Drama at Yale University, the Dean’s Council of the Columbia University School of the Arts, and the Film Committee of the Museum of Modern Art. Jeremy also serves on the boards of Primary Stages, Page 73 Productions, OnStage in America, and the Alliance for the Development of Theatre Artists. Regionally, Jeremy also serves on the Advisory Board of the River Hospital Foundation, Alexandria Bay; the Thousand Islands Land Trust Wellesley Island Advisory Committee, Wellesley Island; and the International Advisory Council of the Antique Boat Museum, Clayton.
As the Vice Chairman and Vice President of the E.J. Noble Foundation, Jeremy has overseen wonderful, meaningful support of many North Country organizations rooted in the arts and the environment. This list includes the Thousand Islands Performing Arts Fund, Save the River!, the Antique Boat Museum, the Community Performance Series at SUNY Potsdam, the E.J. Noble Guild of Canton-Potsdam Hospital, the Thousand Island Land Trust, and Traditional Arts of Upstate New York (TAUNY), among others. He is also the founder of the JTS Fund at the New York Community Trust, where he focuses on supporting the arts, education, film and theatre.
Jeremy is also President and CEO of the St. Catherine’s Island Foundation, aimed at promoting conservation of natural resources, the survival of endangered species, and the preservation of historic sites, and to expand human knowledge in the fields of ecology, botany, zoology, natural history, archaeology, and other scientific and educational disciplines. The island is classified as a National Historic Landmark.
Jeremy has been a loyal supporter of St. Lawrence as a longtime Sustaining Saint, and is a member of the G. Atwood Manley Society. His gifts have primarily supported the St. Lawrence Fund and the Performance and Communication Arts department, with his generosity helping to bring artists in residence to campus.
Erica Silver Dahl '93
A true believer and investor in St. Lawrence’s nationally-ranked alumni network, Erica Silver Dahl ’93 is a dedicated advocate for good public policy and the Scarlet and Brown. During her time as a student at St. Lawrence, she majored in government with a minor in history, and was a member of the Thelomathesian Society, the Women’s Resource Project, and Calling All Saints. Following her Commencement, the Bay Area native served as an intern in the San Francisco District Office of Senator Dianne Feinstein before joining the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce for three years. The public private partnership lessons she learned in those roles led her to pursue a Master of Public Policy degree from Georgetown University.
Erica began her policy career centered around highly regulated industries as a Vice President of Government Relations for Bank of America in San Francisco, where she led the Bank's legislative and regulatory work across seven states. She relocated to Salt Lake City and spent a decade as the Regional Director of Community Relations for Intermountain Health, the largest private employer in Utah. Her contributions were critical to the organization’s commitment to serve the unmet medical needs of Utah’s most vulnerable populations and to safeguard the organization's non-profit tax status while competing with for-profit hospital systems to improve best practices and lower costs.
She followed by building out the policy functions at Vivint Solar, the nation's second-largest residential solar installer; at findhelp, the nation’s largest social care e-referral network; and at ChargeNet Stations, an EV charging infrastructure and software startup. During her time at Vivint Solar, her contributions contributed to the extension of the federal Investment Tax Credit and passage of state legislation to increase the availability of financing options and greater access for residential solar. This led to Erica being recognized by Utah Business Magazine as one of “30 Women to Watch.”
Though thousands of miles from Canton, Erica has been a pillar in the Laurentian community, always finding time for her alma mater. She has been an active volunteer, serving our students as a panelist, advisor, and mentor as part of Laurentians Investing in Networking and Careers (LINC). Her philanthropy has been centered on the St. Lawrence Fund, career programming, and Public Leadership Education Network (PLEN).
Sol Feinstone Humanitarian Award
The Feinstone Award is presented to a graduate who, through devotion of his or her resources or personal effort, has demonstrated deep commitment to the advancement of the freedom of people to pursue and attain personal, professional and economic freedom.
Christopher L. Bunting '93 and Francis Chachu Ganya '96
Christopher Bunting ’93 and Francis Chachu Ganya ’96 have centered their passion and partnership to enhance education opportunities for the children of Northern Kenya. When Chris studied abroad in Kenya in 1992, he met Chachu, who was preparing to attend St. Lawrence. They became close friends, and having stayed in touch throughout the years, Chris connected with Chachu when he returned to Kenya in 1998. That trip was the cornerstone of their partnership, as they made plans to establish the Wema Scholarship Fund, which started aiding a few students’ education aspirations by 1999. Then, in 2004, this Laurentian duo decided to develop a U.S.-based non-profit to support these efforts titled the Northern Kenya Fund to utilize the gift of education to help reduce poverty in the Chalbi Desert region, one of the poorest in Kenya. In the last two and half decades of operation, they have supported 2,336 students and are currently providing scholarships to 500 students. They’ve also supported eight students in pursuing university education who are now all gainfully employed.
Chris graduated with honors from St. Lawrence in 1993 in Environmental Studies and Sociology. The Bozeman, Montana native was a member of the Mountain Bike Club, Outdoor Guides, Sidewaves Magazine and was a brother of Phi Sigma Kappa. Chris also served as a Student Coordinator for the Kenya Semester Program and his time studying abroad in Kenya in 1992 helped shape his future, as the social entrepreneur focuses on creating greater well-being for both the planet and individuals. Chris is the co-founder of the two nonprofits and strategically guides several others through board participation. Prior to the Northern Kenya Fund, he and his wife Rebekah co-founded Beyond Boundaries Institute in 2001, a nonprofit entity utilizing hatha yoga to help people enhance their physical and inner well-being. Chris currently serves as the board president of the Bunting Family Foundation, board chair of the Montana Wilderness School and a board member of Ktunuxa Cultural Exchange.
Having become interested in attending St. Lawrence after interacting with students on the Kenya Semester Program, Chachu went on to graduate from St. Lawrence in 1996 with honors in Environmental Studies and Government. He served as a Student Coordinator for the Kenya Abroad Program while also working as a Resident Assistant. Following his Commencement, Chachu earned a post-graduate certificate in non-profit management and a Master’s degree in Public Administration from George Mason University with a concentration in environmental policy and management. He returned to Kenya in 1999 where he began his career as the executive director of the Pastoralist Integrated Support Programme (PISP). During his eight years of service, he led the non-governmental organization in its efforts to reduce poverty and vulnerability in Marsabit County’s pastoralist communities by supporting water sanitation, peace building, education, microenterprises, livelihood, emergency intervention, good governance, and health and nutrition. He was elected to the Parliament of the Republic of Kenya in 2007 representing the North Horr Constituency and was re-elected in both 2013 and 2017. Chachu currently works as a Stakeholders Engagement Consultant with the Northern Range Lands Trust (NRT) in Kenya, dedicated to strengthening ties between local communities, the government and the country’s resources. He is a past president of the World Alliance of Mobile Indigenous Peoples, a global alliance of pastoralist communities and mobile indigenous peoples, and has been involved in several noteworthy summits. He is also the Founder and Chairman of the Board Chalbi Scholars Organization, a Kenya non-profit and sister organization to the Northern Kenya Fund, to which his wife, Shanu Bashuna Chachu, serves as Executive Director.