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Past Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients

2013 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipient


Retd. Professional Basketball Player/Garment District Salesman
Brooklyn Distinguished Alumnus


A pioneer of the National Basketball Association, Oscar “Ossie” B. Schectman scored the very first basket in league history.

Raised in Manhattan and East Flatbush, Brooklyn, Mr. Schectman began his playing career at Samuel J. Tilden High School in Brooklyn. Later, playing guard and forward for legendary coach Clair Bee, Mr. Schectman helped lead LIU Brooklyn’s undefeated 1939 NIT and national championship team. In 1941, he was named Converse first-team All-American.

Mr. Schectman graduated from LIU with a bachelor’s degree, then joined the Philadelphia Sphas (the South Philadelphia Hebrew Association) in the American Basketball League. The Sphas won the league championship in his second season, with Mr. Schectman finishing second in the league in scoring.

Mr. Schectman remained with the Sphas until 1946, before joining a new league called the Basketball Association of America. On Nov. 1, 1946, in the opening game of the fledgling BAA, Mr. Schectman sank the opening basket for the New York Knickerbockers against the Toronto Huskies. He and his teammates went on to win the game, 68–66, and finish the season with a 33–27 record. In 1949, the BAA became the NBA, with league officials acknowledging that Mr. Schectman's shot was the first made basket in the NBA.

Among his honors, Mr. Schectman is prominently featured in the documentary film, The First Basket, about Jewish basketball history. He was inducted into the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in 1998 and the Long Island University Athletic Hall of Fame in 2000. He is a member of the New York City Basketball Hall of Fame and is included in the Jewish Museum of Florida as a noteworthy athlete.

After his time on the court, Mr. Schectman enjoyed a successful career in business, working in sales for over three decades in Manhattan’s garment district, eventually retiring from Collins and Aikman.

Mr. Schectman and his late wife, Evelyn, have two children, Stewart and Peter, and two grandchildren. He lives in New City in Rockland County.

Set-shooter, playmaker, All-American, Ossie Schectman was a college star on the great LIU Brooklyn teams that won the prestigious National Invitation Tournament in 1939 and 1941. He helped to make LIU a household name in the world of college basketball. Later, he played on the first Knicks team in 1946, scoring the first points in the history of the NBA.

Ossie Schectman also performed with dedication in other areas of his life. He served his country as a member of the Air Corps during World War II. He had a thriving career in the garment industry. And he is a great family man. Today, we commend Ossie Schectman for his pioneering efforts with the Distinguished Alumnus Award.

2012 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipient


John L. and Helen Kellogg Dean and Professor, College of Nursing, Rush University


Melanie Creagan Dreher is a nationally recognized leader in nursing education and cross-cultural nursing research. Since 2006, Dr. Dreher has held the prestigious position of John L. and Helen Kellogg Dean and Professor at Rush University College of Nursing in Chicago, Ill. The professor is renowned for her long-term ethnographic studies on the effects of marijuana use in the rural parts of the island of Jamaica, including how marijuana use by pregnant mothers affects the development of their children. She also has conducted extensive research in cross-cultural studies of health care systems and the financing of community health care.

Over three decades, her research has yielded influential reports including “Childhood Cannabis Use in Jamaica,” “Working Men and Ganja” and “An Ethnographic Study of Drug Consumption and Distribution in Jamaica.” She co-edited “Women and Cannabis: Medicine Science and Sociology” and wrote “Healthy Places, Healthy People: A Handbook for Culturally Competent Community Nursing Practice.”

After graduating magna cum laude from LIU Brooklyn’s School of Nursing in 1967, Dr. Dreher studied at Columbia University, earning an M.A. in anthropology in 1974, an M.Phil. in 1976 and a Ph.D. in anthropology, with distinction, in 1977. She began her career as a faculty member at Columbia's School of Public Health and School of Nursing.

Before assuming her current position at Rush University, she served as dean at the University of Iowa College of Nursing, where she established a master’s degree in nursing and health care practice. The degree program became the national model for professional nursing education. Dr. Dreher also developed an institutional pre-doctoral fellowship program in transcultural nursing. In 1988, Dr. Dreher was elected to the American Academy of Nursing. She also is a fellow of the Institute of Medicine of Chicago Dr. Dreher has two sons, a stepdaughter and 11 grandchildren. She resides in Chicago, Ill.

Distinguished Alumni Award Recipient Year
Wang Ping '87 (M.A.) 2011
Harvey Tanenbaum '65 2011
Judith Korek Amorosa, M.D. '65    2010
Mark Paul Steingard '61 2010
Daniel Stateman 2010
Lorna E. Davis-Robinson '94 (M.S.) 2009
Daniel Fisher '67 2009
Mohammed Saleh 2008
James A. Detura 2008
Jack C. Stokes '73 2008
Guy Marge '65, '67 (M.B.A.) 2008
Mera Rubell '68 (M.S.Ed.) 2008
Michael Bivona '60 2007
Richard Izquierdo, M.D. '51 2007 
John V. Cocchiara 2007
Ronald Del Gaudio 2007
Lee Joffee 2007
Michael Philip Devine '68 2006
Raymond K. Tung '70 2006
Hal Edward Broxmeyer '69 (M.S., Ph.D.) 2005
Linda Zango-Haley B '71 2005
Byron E. Lewis '53 2004
Diane Goetz Person '61 (B.A., Ph.D.) 2004
Ellyn E. Altman '63, '68, '72, '73 (B.A., M.S. , M.A., Ph.D.) 2003
Albert Vann '74 (M.S.) 2003
Jorge B. Cruz '94 2002
Betty Jean Smith '86 2002