Nasser J. Kazeminy, Chairman of NECO (left), and Jerry M. Hultin, President of NYU-Poly
Jerry M. Hultin, President of Polytechnic Institute of New York University, was among the American leaders honored Saturday with the Ellis Island Medal of Honor from the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations. Medalists of diverse ethnic origins were celebrated for outstanding contributions to their communities, their nation, and the world at a dramatic ceremony on Ellis Island.
Each year since 1986, NECO – whose mission is to “honor our diverse past, to advocate for positive change in the present and to build strong leaders for the future” – has recognized America’s diverse past by sponsoring the Ellis Island Medals of Honor. The honor pays tribute to the ancestry groups that comprise America’s unique cultural mosaic.
The grandson of Swedish immigrants, President Hultin was recognized for his contributions to providing immigrants and their sons and daughters with educations that lead to successful lives around the globe. Even before joining NYU-Poly as president in 2005, he demonstrated a commitment to improving the lives of Americans through educational opportunities developed by community leadership projects in Ohio and, while Under Secretary of the Navy, by guiding the U.S. Navy to a position of securing America’s role in the global economy.
He built upon NYU-Poly’s storied 156-year history of engineering and scientific leadership in immigrant-rich Brooklyn. The Institute’s undergraduate student body consistently ranks among the most ethnically diverse. In addition to its many students who are the first in their immigrant families to enter college, NYU-Poly is also educating students from 55 countries. As a leader of the affiliation with New York University, President Hultin paved the way for NYU-Poly students to broaden their global experience through NYU’s vast network of campuses and affiliates. He works tirelessly to expand upon the school’s tradition of graduating immigrants like Eugene Kleiner, computer chip creator and founder of venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins, and Paul Soros, an engineer and port builder whose charitable foundation funds graduate education for immigrants.
According to Nasser J. Kazeminy, Chairman of NECO, “NECO is about investing in the power of caring, whereas people from all cultures and walks of life stand together arm in arm to make a real difference in our world through shared compassion and philanthropy – not just for now, but to also inspire future generations who will continue to preserve and build upon the legacy that each of our cultures has contributed. With our medalists, we will see America at its best. We will see every color, every race from so many walks of life – together – celebrating the magic that is America. Our medalists’ influence and achievements truly inspire and touch the lives of people everywhere.”
Among this year’s recipients are Golden Globe-winning actress Jayne Seymour, Academy Award-winning director James Keach, Emmy-winning actor Robert Loggia and former MLB All-Star Mike Piazza.
Past Ellis Island Medal of Honor recipients include six presidents of the United States, Nobel Prize winners, athletes, leaders of industry, artists and others whose work has made a lasting impact on humanity. The medals are awarded annually to outstanding American citizens from all walks of life who have distinguished themselves through significant contributions to this country. The Ellis Island Medal of Honor ranks among the nation’s most prestigious awards. The U.S. Senate and House of Representatives have officially recognized the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, and each year the recipients are listed in the Congressional Record. To date, more than 1,600 American citizens have received Ellis Island Medals of Honor.
Previous medalists include: U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist; Generals Norman Schwarzkopf and Colin Powell; Sen. John McCain; Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell; New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani; U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno; Lee Iacocca; Dr. Michael E. DeBakey; Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao; Rosa Parks; Elie Wiesel; Frank Sinatra; Bob Hope; Opera diva Renee Fleming; Yogi Berra; Muhammad Ali; Arnold Palmer; Tom Brokaw; Walter Cronkite; Barbara Walters; Mike Wallace; Quincy Jones; Gloria & Emilio Estefan, Gary Sinise, Siegfried & Roy, and H.E. Sheikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa, President – United Nations 61st Session General Assembly (International Recipient).