Caldwell, N.J., April 7, 2016 – Thanks to the modern technology of Skype, Caldwell University connected overseas with United States Army Colonel. Christopher Doneski ‘ 90 to recognize him with the Veritas Award for Excellence in Military Service.
The Veritas Award is the highest honor Caldwell bestows on graduates for professional excellence.
Colonel Doneski’s mother, Mary Louise Donnelly Doneski ’56, received the Veritas Award for Excellence in Leadership and Service and Eileen Curtis ’68 received the Veritas Award for Excellence in Cultural Programming. Family members and friends of the honorees, along with the Caldwell University community, gathered for a celebratory dinner on April 1 at Essex Fells Country Club.
Colonel Doneski’s brother, Colonel Terrence Doneski (USAF, retired) introduced his brother and his mother before they received their awards.
Colonel Christopher recalled his days at Caldwell, the people who made a difference in his life, and how he learned to be both a good follower and a leader during his college career. “Caldwell (university) will always feel like home,” he said. Mrs. Doneski and Colonel Doneski both remembered fondly their aunt, Sister Marita Donnelly, a Sister of St. Dominic of Caldwell, an inspirational woman, who had an impact on their lives.
Colonel Doneski has 25 years experience in the United States Army and has made a name for himself as a leader, expert observer, coach, and mentor. Currently he is part of the Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR), which is responsible for running counter ISIL operations in Iraq and Syria. In 2015, he was selected to serve as the director of the Armored Warfighting Forum, which was established to enhance the professional and leadership development of the Army’s maneuver warfare community.
Mary Lou Donnelly Doneski ’56 has been a trailblazer for women in the military., She was the first woman to be commissioned as a Naval officer directly from a college or university in New Jersey. As a lieutenant, Mrs. Doneski was assigned to the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations. After that, she continued to serve her country as a military spouse, supporting her husband’s career in the Army. She raised five children through nine family moves and her husband’s two deployments to Vietnam and Korea. She mentored the spouses of junior officers.
Eileen Curtis ’68 was introduced by her husband Marshall Curtis who pointed out that Eileen has won just about every award for her broadcasting work including a Peabody.
She was previous music director at WGMS Radio in Washington D.C. where she enjoyed a career producing cultural documentaries that gained her the Peabody Award and a Silver Medal for the Arts from the Government of Austria. Among the many highlights of her career, she collaborated with pyrotechnic experts to create the music for the fireworks on the Washington Mall that accompanied the return of the Iranian hostages, for which she was thanked by President Ronald Reagan.
Music education student Nicholas Bushey appreciated meeting Curtis. “She took the time to talk to me about where I am in my career and she told stories about her experiences. She was very encouraging to me and her passion for everything that she does was inspiring.”
Sophomore Dennis Brady said it was an honor to be invited to the dinner and be in the presence of successful alums. “I thought it was great to connect with alumni and explain to them my experiences of Caldwell University today.”
Senior Shyam Sharma said the honorees are an inspiration to students. “It was amazing to see how, as an institution, we’ve grown so much over the years, yet the values and foundation of the university remain consistent with our beginnings.”
Marshall Curtis announced the establishment of a Caldwell University scholarship fund in honor of Eileen.
The Doneski family announced the establishment of The Mary Louise Donnelly Doneski Scholarship, which will be awarded annually to a student interested in military or other public service.