University News

WNE Honors Ken Rickson with the 2022 Alumnus of the Year Award

Published: July 18, 2022 | Categories: All News
Ken Rickson standing with Dr. Johnson

The WNE Alumni Association hosted the Michael A. Serafino Alumnus of the Year Award ceremony and luncheon on Thursday, June 9, in honor of inaugural award recipient Ken Rickson '75.

For over 50 years, the Western New England University Alumni Association has presented the Alumnus of the Year Award in celebration of members of the Golden Bear alumni community who display an extraordinary commitment to professional achievement, to civic responsibility, to high personal standards, and to WNE with a spirit of knowledge, integrity, and service.

In 2022, the award continues to honor this proud tradition, now named in tribute to and in fond remembrance of Michael (Mike) A. Serafino '77, who passed away in November 2021. The Michael A. Serafino Alumnus of the Year Award celebrates Mike's legacy and the impact dedicated Golden Bears like him continue to make on campus and to the community at large.

"This is a bittersweet moment as we think about this celebration, this acknowledgement of the life, the leadership, the legacy of Mike Serafino," said President Johnson. "He was a proud and true supporter of his alma mater and embodied every aspect of the time, talent, and treasure trifecta."

Joining this special memorial and award celebration included current and former members of the WNE Board of Trustees, University leadership, and friends and family of Mike Serafino and Ken Rickson. "Western New England University and Michael Serafino go hand in hand for many people who knew him," said Pat Serafino '77, Mike's wife, reflecting on how proud Mike was of his college, his degree, and all the years he served WNE as a student and an alum. "It is such a great honor for this alumnus of the year award to be named for Michael, he would be so proud and humbled. What an amazing way for his legacy of giving to live on."

The inaugural Michael A. Serafino Alumnus of the Year Award honors Ken Rickson '75, who has proudly served WNE and the WNE Board of Trustees alongside Mike Serafino. Ken has been actively involved with WNE for nearly 50 years—as a student, alumni volunteer, trustee, and donor.

"Thank you, Mike. I'm truly honored to be the first recipient of your award, and I can't thank you enough for all you did for me and this institution while you were here with us," said Ken Rickson. "For now, I will continue, I have two more years as board chair and will continue to do whatever I can to contribute to make us a better board and to make WNE more successful."

Ken was elected as a one-year alumni trustee in 1975 and rejoined the board in 1996 after being elected to serve as a two-year alumni trustee. He became a full trustee in 1998 and has been on the board ever since, serving in a number of capacities, including Board Chair in 2018 and leader of the University Presidential Search Committee following the retirement of President Emeritus Anthony S. Caprio.

"It's so meaningful that Ken Rickson is the inaugural recipient of the Michael A. Serafino Alumnus of the Year Award," said President Johnson. "He is an exceptional person. When I think about his name and the acronyms K, E, and N, I think about K for his kindness, it's who he is, it's not a façade; when I think about the E in his name, I think about someone who just enjoys life; when I think about the N in his name, I think about never giving up, someone who is steadfast, someone who will keep moving forward no matter what."

On behalf of the WNE community, President Johnson and Beverly Dwight, Vice President for Advancement, proudly thanked Mike, Ken, and their families for all they have done for Western New England University. "To the Serafino family, thank you for sharing Mike with us for all these years. He is a tremendous individual and this is a true honor for us," said Beverly Dwight. "You are members of the Golden Bear family now and forever."

View photos from the Michael A. Serafino Alumnus of the Year Award Luncheon at Learn more about Michael A. Serafino and his legacy at WNE at