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Each year, the Saint Rose Alumni Association recognizes outstanding alumni and faculty with the Distinguished Alumni Award and Thomas A. Manion Distinguished Faculty Award. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic meant the in-person celebrations could not be held for 2020 and 2021, but the recipients were celebrated in two prerecorded ceremonies that are available on the College’s YouTube channel.

The Distinguished Alumni Award acknowledges a Saint Rose alum for demonstrating the excellence of a Saint Rose education through outstanding accomplishments or significant contributions to society. The distinction must lie in one of the following areas: professional, academic, cultural, service, or creative expression. Selection for the award is based on the quality of achievement, the scope of its impact, and the extent to which it exceeds the nominee’s customary professional responsibilities.

The Thomas A Manion Distinguished Faculty Award was established in honor of former Saint Rose President Thomas A. Manion. This award is presented to an eligible faculty member in recognition of excellence in teaching, outstanding professional accomplishment, and concern for student, demonstrated by influencing their professional and personal lives.

Al Chapleau, associate professor

2020 Thomas A. Manion Distinguished Faculty Award:
Al Chapleau, associate professor of criminal justice and law
Al Chapleau, associate professor of criminal justice and law, is known by students for being a dynamic and demanding but always fair member of our faculty, and as a result, he has received numerous faculty awards throughout this career. He gives countless hours to our outstanding Mock Trial Team, where students gain real-world skills that assist them in future legal careers or in other fields they may choose. A former Schenectady County chief assistant district attorney and former New York State assistant attorney general, Chapleau is proud of students who are admitted to law school, underscored by the fact that he remains connected with those alumni as they move on to successful careers.

Teaching – people think it’s so directive. It’s not directive. It’s inspiring them to have an imagination.” – Al Chapleau

In addition to an orientation toward excellence and dedication to developing the whole person, Chapleau gives back to our dear neighbor by training New York State town and village justices and their clerks – education that is vital to a fair and just system.

“I don’t ever teach anybody. If I do a really good job, I set up the atmosphere that allows them to learn,” Chapleau says. “Teaching – people think it’s so directive. It’s not directive. It’s inspiring them to have an imagination.”

Michael D. Normandin ʼ87

2020 Distinguished Alumni Award:
Michael D. Normandin ʼ87
From an orientation toward excellence that led him to start his own computer consulting firm as a fresh graduate of Saint Rose, to his work for the U.S. Veterans Administration because he felt it was important to serve those who serve our country, to making the decision to leave the workforce to care for his parents, Michael D. Normandin ’87 reflects the spirit of Saint Rose.

In addition to hiring Saint Rose graduates and interns and serving as a mentor for Saint Rose students, Normandin, who earned his degree in computer information systems at Saint Rose, established an endowed award titled the Michael D. Normandin Innovative Computing and Technology Award. This award is given out annually to the most promising student in either the computer technology or music industry fields of study.

A gifted musician with a big heart, Normandin says he has always believed in a phrase coined by author and motivational speaker Zig Ziglar, who said, “You can get anything in life you want if you’ll just help enough other people get what they want.”

Graham C. Knowles G’94

2021 Distinguished Alumni Award:
Graham C. Knowles G’94
For the past 25 years, Graham C. Knowles G’94, who earned a Master of Science in Education in College Student Personnel Services at Saint Rose, has invested his time, energy, and wisdom into thousands of students, including graduate students at Saint Rose during his time as a College employee. As a student-development professional, he dedicates his professional life to program development, advising, counseling, student-leadership development, classroom instruction and curriculum development, and event planning. Knowles is currently an associate director/lecturer for the Archer Center for Student Leadership Development at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York. He joined the Archer Center in 2005 after a varied career in higher education at Siena College, Saint Rose, and Hudson Valley Community College.

“Graham’s professional accomplishments exceed well beyond the office and classroom,” the nomination for Graham’s award read. “Graham characterizes an ultimate servant leader whose passion and purpose is to help others achieve their potential. His mission focuses on helping others align their values and standards with their purpose in order to foster collaboration, teamwork, and, ultimately, achieve success.”

In addition to teaching, supporting RPI’s athletic department, and advising for the Rensselaer chapter of The National Society of Leadership and Success, Graham recently designed a new virtual team builder for curriculum that has a provisional U.S. patent. Knowles said a number of people he interacted with during his time at Saint Rose influenced who he would later become as a higher education administrator.

“It was all of their role modeling that gave me the things that I do today and the person that I am today,” he said. “I think of Saint Rose impacting my life in two different ways. It impacted my life greatly in the profession that I went into and the professional and educator that I am in higher ed … and then certainly my personal life, as well. I met my wife here.”

Sister J. Elizabeth (Betsy) VanDeusen, CSJ '84

2021 Distinguished Alumni Award:
Sister J. Elizabeth (Betsy) VanDeusen, CSJ ’84
After earning a bachelor’s degree in sociology and religious studies from Saint Rose in 1984, Sister J. Elizabeth (Betsy) VanDeusen, CSJ has devoted her life to helping others. In her early years – before joining the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet – she worked at Unity House in Troy, assisting those struggling with poverty, mental illness, HIV and AIDS, and domestic violence.

After becoming a Sister of St. Joseph in 1991, VanDeusen became the head of the St. John’s/St. Ann’s Center in Albany, New York, which offers food and other aid for people in need. Six years later, she became the first-ever Catholic nun to serve as director of church relations for Habitat for Humanity International, based in Americus, Georgia.

In 2000, VanDeusen returned to the Capital Region and worked in several positions, including St. Helen’s parish and the St. Joseph Worker program, both in Schenectady. After Hurricane Irene hit, she spent a year helping people in six counties of the Diocese rebuild their lives as case manager for Catholic Charities. Since 2013, she has been director of community partnerships for the Albany diocesan Catholic Charities.

It should also be noted that VanDeusen has continued to support the College, both by serving as a Saint Rose Trustee and by participating in programs and connecting with students at any opportunity that arises.

“The Sisters of St. Joseph talk a great deal about the dear neighbor and working with a dear neighbor,” she said. “I am humbled (by the award), and I pray and trust that I will continue to be with the spirit of The College of Saint Rose and the Sisters of St. Joseph as long as I live and breathe.”

2021 Thomas A. Manion Distinguished Faculty Award:
Dr. Christina Pfister, professor of education
Dr. Christina Pfister is a professor of education at Saint Rose and is presidentelect of the New York Association of Teacher Educators. She was the Teacher-Education Department chair at Saint Rose for 2 ½ years, and has published at least four researchbased articles in the field of education, and remains active as a researcher. She encourages her students to be active researchers, and many of them have presented at conferences.

In the award nomination form, Pfister’s commitment to students was described this way: “Dr. Pfister goes above and beyond for her students. When classes were in person, her door was always open and students could go in and ask any question, whether it related to class, advising, or just for some advice and a snack. As an advisor, Dr. Pfister would create a ‘Master Plan’ for her students to help them decide when to take classes that they would need to graduate. It was suggested that Dr. Pfister might like to move her office, but she insisted on being close to the ‘common’ area, which provides ready access to students.”

Pfister’s collection of materials that she loans to students is so extensive, the nominator goes on to say, that the curriculum librarian in the Thelma P. Lally School of Education often refers to her collection as the “second-best curriculum library.” She is known for never forgetting a birthday or other significant event in the lives of those around her.

“I’m just I’m so honored to receive an award for doing something that I love doing. And, you know, there’s an old cliché about, ‘Do something you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life’ or something along those lines,” she said. “This, of course, is an award from the Alumni Association. … It just means a lot to know that the alumni are still thinking about the College and still thinking about the folks here and know that we really do still care about them, even if it’s been three, five, 10 years.”

By Jennifer Gish

About the Alumni Association
The Alumni Association aspires to strengthen the distinction of Saint Rose alumni and today’s community of scholars, while enhancing the mission of Saint Rose. The association comprises five elected officers and 16 elected directors, as well as appointed representatives who serve as nonvoting members. Can’t make the time commitment for a full board position? Join a committee! Spaces are open at the committee-member and director levels. Committees include governance, finance, reunion, and awards and honors. We have members and directors all over the country and have virtual attendance available for all meetings. The next election is coming up in spring 2022.

Want to learn more? Email us at, and someone from the board will contact you.

There is no fee to join the Alumni Association. All graduates become members upon graduation.

  • As a member of the Alumni Association, you can continue to utilize Career Services. You can also assist current students by referring your organization/ company job openings and internship opportunities.
  • Family members of alumni are eligible to apply for the Delaney Scholarship — which is only for legacy families — when they enroll as first-year students. Undergraduate legacy students can also receive a four-year $1,000 award under the Authentically You Awards program.
  • As a member of the Alumni Association, you are eligible for a discount on services from Liberty Mutual Insurance.
  • The Alumni Store is open 24/7 at
  • The Alumni Association currently has two operating chapters: Schenectady and the Capital District. New members are always welcome. For more information, visit and click on the chapter link or contact the Office of Alumni Relations.

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