Alumni CLASnotes Spring 2006
In This Issue:

Updates from CLASmates

Alumna Goes Ape for Chimps

Carole Noon (M.A., Anthropology, 1990; Ph.D., 1996)
Carole Noon
UF alumna Carole Noon (M.A., Anthropology, 1990; Ph.D., 1996) has created the world’s largest chimpanzee refuge that, once completed in 2008, will offer a comfortable and nurturing home for 291 rescue chimps in a cage-free, natural environment. Save the Chimps, a non-profit established by Noon in 1997, first formed to gain custody of 21 survivors of the NASA “chimpanaut” program. These former lab animals now reside in a secure and enriching environment on 200 acres in Ft. Pierce, Florida.

A $3.7 million grant from the Arcus Foundation in 2002 enabled the foundation to purchase the Coulston Lab in New Mexico, rescuing 266 additional chimps. The Florida facility is now being expanded to accommodate the New Mexico chimps and construction of eleven three-acre islands, each linked to indoor accommodations by a land bridge, is underway. The natural environment will give the chimpanzees a comfortable home in which to socialize and rebuild confidence shattered by countless years spent in small cages. They will live together as the largest captive chimp social group in the world—expressing their natural behaviors without human interference.

“It took someone like Carole Noon to rescue the chimpanzees at Coulston,” world-renowned primatologist Jane Goodall, a member of the Save the Chimps board of directors, told the Orlando-Sentinel in September. “The individual stories of their rehabilitation are truly moving.” For more information, visit

From Beaker Boiler to Toast Maker

Dilip Abayasekara (B.S., Chemistry, 1978)
Dilip Abayasekara
After 12 years as a successful industrial chemist with three patents to show for his work, Dilip Abayasekara (B.S., Chemistry, 1978) made a drastic career change. Preferring to interact with people rather than chemicals, he became a leadership skills and public speaking coach in 1996. The self-proclaimed “human performance engineer” is now president and CEO of Speaker Services Unlimited, where he helps a variety of clients—from public officials and business executives to members of the clergy—hone their communication skills.

In August, Abayasekara completed his one-year term as president of Toastmasters International, a non-profit organization that offers public speaking training to more than 200,000 members in 90 countries. He placed second at the Toastmasters World Championship of Public Speaking in 1992 and, in addition to his work at Speakers Services Unlimited, serves as a part-time assistant to the president of Central Pennsylvania College—developing the college’s strategic plan, training staff in presentation skills and running a student leadership institute. A native of Colombo, Sri Lanka, he holds a Ph.D. in chemistry from Virginia Commonwealth University.

In Brief


Louie N. Adcock, Jr. (B.A., Political Science) has been recognized for his outstanding contributions to the St. Petersburg community by Stetson University’s College of Law, which presented him the William Reece Smith, Jr. Public Service Award in May. He has led more than 15 community service organizations since graduating from UF with his law degree in 1956, including serving as chair of the Florida Bar Foundation. He has spent his entire career at Fisher & Sauls, P.A. and is board certified in wills, trusts and estates.


Fred Ward (B.A., Political Science; M.A., Mass Communications, 1959) retired from a long and distinguished career as a freelance photographer for the Black Star agency in 1991. His work appeared in Life, Time, Newsweek and National Geographic—and he landed the Life cover for both the John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. assassinations. For nearly 30 years he was a freelance writer-photographer for National Geographic. He later turned his stories on the history of gemstones into the Fred Ward Gem Book Series. He is currently enjoying his retirement in Malibu, California.


Robert Parks (B.A., Political Science) was recently elected to serve on the International Academy of Trial Lawyers Foundation’s Board of Directors. He holds a law degree from Georgetown University and is a partner in the Coral Gables law firm Haggard, Parks, Haggard and Lewis, P.A. He is past president and a fellow of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers and was listed as one of the 2006 Super Lawyers in Florida, a comprehensive listing of top attorneys, published by Law and Politics magazine.


Henry S. Katz (M.S., Physics) retired from the National Security Agency in 1997 and now teaches computer science part-time at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Over his 30-year career, his projects included working for the Apollo Space Program in the 1960s, doing re-entry studies on satellites, writing Fortran programs for the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, and studying the Soviet space program for the National Security Agency. In addition to his master’s in physics, he also holds a B.A. in aeronautical engineering from UF and a Ph.D. in international studies from Army War College.


Dennis Maugere (B.A., History; M.A.T., American History, 1976) teaches 11th and 12th grade history courses at Cooper City High School in Broward County, Florida. He has received several national honors for excellence in teaching, including Marquis Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in American Education, Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers and the National Honor Roll’s Outstanding American Teachers. He is also a new general partner in the Solidarity House Thoroughbred Breeding Partnership in Lexington, Kentucky.


Terry Holzheimer (B.A., Economics) was awarded a Ph.D. by George Mason University’s School of Public Policy in May 2006, specializing in regional development. Since 1996, he has served as Director of Economic Development for Arlington County, Virginia. He is also a member of the adjunct faculty at Virginia Tech in the School of Urban Affairs and Planning.


Lenard M. Hughes (B.S., Chemistry) received his M.D. from Meharry Medical College in 1980 and completed a general surgery residency in Iowa, followed by two years of urology training. He later completed a pediatric surgery fellowship and currently practices in both pediatric and adult surgery in Florida. He is certified by the American Board of Surgery and is a fellow of the American College of Surgeons.


Ambassador Carey Cavanaugh (B.A., Russian) is a 22-year veteran of the U.S. Foreign Service and has been named the new director of the University of Kentucky’s Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce. As a Foreign Service officer, Cavanaugh served in Washington, D.C. and at the American embassies in Germany, Russia, Georgia, Italy and Switzerland. His diplomatic career centered on conflict resolution, assistance and humanitarian issues.

Michael Givel (B.A., Political Science; M.A., Urban and Regional Planning, 1980) also holds an M.A. and Ph.D. in political science from the University of California, Riverside. He has been promoted to associate professor of political science with tenure at the University of Oklahoma. His teaching and research interests include public policy, health policy and urban politics. He was named to the Who’s Who in Health Care and Medicine for 2006-2007.


Al Searcy (B.A., Sociology) has been a certified financial planning professional since 1990 and is a principal partner of Searcy, Weems-Scott & Cleare, which specializes in retirement planning and helping clients transition from wealth accumulation to strategic wealth distribution. He holds an M.B.A. from Kennesaw State University, as well as an M.S. in finance and estate planning. He is also a member of the Georgia chapter of the Financial Planning Association and is a featured speaker at seminars and financial workshops throughout north Georgia. Al is married to Laura F. Searcy (B.S., Nursing, 1976).

Ellen Van Velsor (M.A., Sociology; Ph.D., 1980) is a senior fellow and group director in Research and Innovation at the Center for Creative Leadership, a non-profit educational organization dedicated to improving the practice of leadership through research and education. She has co-authored numerous books and journal articles and is co-editor of the first and second editions of The Center for Creative Leadership Handbook of Leadership Development. She joined the center in 1982, after completing a postdoctoral fellowship at Duke University.


Scott Notowitz (B.A., Political Science) is a financial advisor for UBS Financial in Boca Raton. He is married to Shari Gars Notowitz (B.A., Theatre, 1979) and they have two sons.


Lawrence M. Kovach (B.A., Russian) has retired from the Department of Defense after 27 years in intelligence assignments in Europe and the U.S. He is a graduate of the U.S. Army’s Interrogator Course, the Defense Language Institute and the National Imagery Analysis Course.


Debra Picchi (Ph.D., Anthropology) is a professor of anthropology at Franklin Pierce College and was named the 2005 New Hampshire Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. Her field research on indigenous populations in Brazil resulted in the publication of her 2000 ethnography, The Bakairi Indians of Brazil: Politics, Ecology and Change.


William H. Herbstman (B.A., Political Science) is a highly successful television sports producer. Since 1993 he has been nominated for 21 Emmy Awards, winning on four occasions. His many production credits for NBC include covering Wimbledon, the Ryder Cup, the U.S. Open Golf Championship and the Olympics.


Joseph L. Scarpaci (Ph.D., Geography) is on faculty in the Department of Geography at Virginia Tech. He completed a Senior Fulbright Lectureship in Uruguay in May 2006 and his 2005 book, Plazas and Barrios: Heritage Tourism and Globalization in the Latin American Centro Histórico, earned the Al Sturm Outstanding Book Award through the Mu Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa.


Nanci Landy (B.A., Political Science) is the managing partner of Landy & Asselta, P.A. of Fort Lauderdale, which she founded in 1995. She has been practicing law in South Florida for nearly 20 years, concentrating in the areas of business and securities litigation. She recently achieved an AV Peer Review Rating from the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, signifying the height of her professional excellence and recognizing her attainment of the highest level of skill and integrity in the field.


Catherine Wehlburg-Krasowsky (B.S., Psychology; Ph.D., Educational Psychology, 1992) was recently named the executive director of the Office for Assessment and Quality Enhancement at Texas Christian University. She has also published her first book, Meaningful Course Revision: Enhancing Academic Engagement Using Student Learning Data, through Anker Publishing.


Larry Nash White (B.A., History) is currently teaching in East Carolina University’s Department of Library Science and Instructional Technology, where he is developing a leadership training program for library administrators and researching organizational informatics and leadership.


Shawn Johnson (B.A., Sociology) is the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dowling Park. He holds Master and Doctorate of Ministry degrees from Andersonville Theological Seminary.


Naoki Matsunaga (M.S., Physics; Ph.D., 2000) recently began working in the Toshiba Corporation’s Flash Memory Development Division in Tokyo, Japan. He was previously employed by the NEC Electronics Corporation and PDF Solutions, Inc., before accepting the new position.


Steven J. Davis (B.A., Philosophy and Political Science) received his law degree from the University of Virginia in 2001 and practiced corporate and securities law in California’s Silicon Valley for several years before returning to graduate school. He is pursuing a Ph.D. in earth science at Stanford University, where his dissertation research employs isotopic geochemistry to resolve Cenozoic paleotopography and paleoclimate of the Southern Rocky Mountains.


Christine (D’Angelo) Dassow (B.S., Psychology; M.Ed./Ed.S., Education, 2002) has opened her own company,, specializing in handmade soap, soap-making supplies and custom wedding favors.


Thy M. Nguyen (B.A., Political Science) joined the U.S. State Department as a Presidential Management Fellow in September 2005. She holds an M.A. in international studies from Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies and is currently serving as a Foreign Affairs Officer in the Bureau for International Security and Nonproliferation. Thy covers strategic security and nuclear issues for China, and provides assistance on the North Korea nuclear portfolio. As an undergraduate at UF, she interned in the House of Commons in the British Parliament and with the U.S. State Department’s U.S. Mission to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Vienna, Austria. She was also a Student Government Senator and an officer in the CLAS Student Council.

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