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ESF Honors Outstanding Alumni During December Convocation

James "Jake" McKenna and Edward K. Mullen receive Graduate of Distinction awards

The SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry awarded 140 degrees, including seven Doctors of Philosophy, during the 2008 December Convocation.

The college also honored two alumni during convocation as James "Jake" McKenna, '77 BS, '79 MS, and Edward K. Mullen '47 received Graduate of Distinction awards.

McKenna, who majored in construction management at ESF, is owner of Parsons-McKenna Construction Co., a general contracting company based in Liverpool, N.Y., that concentrates on the design/build method of project delivery.

He also played a key role in revitalization of the village of Baldwinsville by renovating Baldwinsville's Red Mill from a gristmill to a lodging and meeting facility. McKenna is the president of the ESF College Foundation, Inc.

"ESF has had a dramatic influence on my background and on my career," McKenna said, after accepting his award. He said the value of his education was "immeasurable" and advised the new graduates to retain their ties to the college and the resources it offers as they begin their careers.

Mullen graduated from ESF's paper science engineering program. He co-founded Book Covers, Inc., and he and a business partner earned 10 patents dealing with paperboard structures.

Mullen merged Box Covers, Inc., with Newark Boxboard, bought several mills from Continental Can, and then acquired Newark Boxboard. He turned this into the Newark Group, which uses vast amounts of waste paper to make a variety of high-quality products, and employs thousands of workers while promoting recycling.

Mullen is a strong supporter of ESF and the Syracuse Pulp and Paper Foundation.
He said the convocation, held in Hendricks Chapel on the Syracuse University campus, had special significance for him because he and his wife, Joanne, were married there in 1947. He said the event marked the couple's first return to the chapel since their wedding.

Pointing out the abundance of depressing news found currently in the media, Mullen said the December graduates offer a reason to be hopeful. "This collection of people right here," he said, pointing at the rows of young adults in caps and gowns, "that's what's going to make a difference down the road for us."