UMass Amherst Alumni Awards 2021

Celebrating the Flagship's Finest

UMass Amherst honors seven alumni and friends who represent the university’s revolutionary and innovative spirit.

On November 4, UMass Amherst announced the recipients of the annual UMass Alumni Honors. The seven individuals honored represent the university’s revolutionary and innovative spirit. They have translated their educational experiences into exceptional achievements, furthering the mission and impact of the university around the globe.



This year’s awards include:

Rachael Rollins

Excellence in Service Award

Rachael Splaine Rollins ’94 is the first woman in Suffolk County history to be elected as district attorney (DA) and the first woman of color ever to serve as a Massachusetts DA. As the chief law enforcement official for Boston, Chelsea, Revere, and Winthrop, she oversees 300 people who handle about 35,000 new cases each year.


Charlie Sennott

Distinguished Leader Award

Charlie Sennott ’84 is one of the nation’s most accomplished foreign correspondents. He is founder and director of The GroundTruth Project, which produced an in-depth investigation of America’s involvement in Afghanistan. Sennott is also co-founder of GlobalPost, a nonprofit that produces original international reporting rooted in integrity, accuracy, independence, and powerful storytelling.


Outstanding Young Alumni Award

Benjamin Gallacher

Benjamin James Anderson Gallacher ’16 is co-founder and principal at Blue Deer, an exempt market dealer headquartered in Toronto, Canada, and co-founder and executive chairman at Voxel AI, a company that helps patients assess brain trauma more effectively. Gallacher also serves as a director at the medical device software and design firm Orthagonal and the bioelectronic therapies company Panaxium, among other roles.



Richard John Mahoney

Lifetime Achievement Award

Richard John Mahoney ’55, ’83 H is the retired chief executive officer and chairman of Monsanto and a consistent contributor to UMass. He helped develop the notable Integrated Concentration in Science (iCons) program and the Mahoney Life Sciences Prize. With his brothers William Mahoney ’55 and Robert Mahoney ’70, he helped fund the cutting-edge interdisciplinary Integrated Sciences Building. He was also instrumental in developing several prizes, including the Mahoney Alumni Award, the Family Life Sciences Award, the iCons Instructional Fund, the Executive Directorship iCons, the iCons Evolution Fund, and the Mahoney Life Sciences Prize.


Dr. Sue Hagedorn

Revolutionary Spirit Award

Dr. Sue Hagedorn ’77 is a nurse practitioner and educator, as well as a philanthropist, filmmaker, and activist whose career has been dedicated to social justice. She has produced more than 20 documentary films focused on nursing and social justice. Hagedorn is a Fellow of the American Academies of Nursing and Nurse Practitioners and received the Kathleen Ann Mullen Memorial Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Field of Adolescent Health in the Rocky Mountain Region in 2017. She is a donor adviser of the Hagedorn Foundation, which supports and promotes social equity on Long Island.


Dr. Michael J. Weir ’76 and Dr. Miriam M. Graddick-Weir

Randolph W. “Bill” Bromery Legacy Award

Dr. Michael J. Weir ’76 and Dr. Miriam M. Graddick-Weir received this award, named in honor of UMass Amherst’s first African-American chancellor (1971–79), for their deep and abiding commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. They are the founders of the Massenberg Foundation, whose aim is to “construct a sturdier ladder for more students of color and low-income students” studying science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The foundation recently launched the Massenberg Summer STEM Institute, a collaboration between the Robert and Donna Manning College of Information and Computer Sciences, the College of Engineering, the College of Natural Sciences, and the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences. The program offers low-income students and students of color the chance to explore various areas in STEM with college students and professors who are also from backgrounds that are underrepresented in STEM—while living on campus and getting a feel for college life.

Learn more about all the awards and the recipients.